FanPost

The Tale of an A's Fan: Part 1 (Disclaimer: It's mildly long...)

EDITOR'S NOTE

I've moved this diary to the front page, hoping this will cause it to be read by more users, and will afford G&GG the chance to get a maximum amount of feedback. Other than Cindi, who hates G&GG because she ruins the grading curve for "straight C" students like Cindi and Bonni, I think it's safe to say that all of AN loves and appreciates G&GG. Let's help her out with as much constructive feedback as possible on "Operation Kiss-up"! :-} -Nico


Man, it's been a while since I've posted one of these things. I haven't had much time for AN or for much else lately. I feel like I'm abandoning The Internet People!!! :( That's never good.

Anyway, I've come to ask for everyone's opinion. I'm working on a paper which goes through my life as an A's fan for school. It's sort of an extracurricular paper that I don't have to write but I do because (1) I'm a kiss-up and I'll do anything to get on my English teacher's good side and (2) supposedly, this kind of writing "taps into my inner self" and will help me prepare for college. How, I do not know. Oh well. :)

All I ask from you guys is for an honest opinion on what you think about my paper. If you think it sucks, speak up so I can change it. You guys had such a huge influence on my Moneyball report, I decided to come back for another critique. It's only the first half of my paper (note the Part 1 in the title) since I have until the semester's over to turn it in. I'm being a procrastinator. ;)

Thanks!!!

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     I have been an A's fan for over seven years and every day that passes, being a fan gets more enjoyable. Throughout those years, I have been through several vicissitudes with my team and being such a big fan, I have developed an enormous passion for every aspect of the game. Having the immense fervor for the game that I have has not always been fun or easy. Every day I am discriminated for being a female enthusiast or loving them "too much." Every day is a new adventure of trying to get through life as a fan. Nevertheless, the joys of watching my team win a tough game or outsmarting the class baseball know-it-all, who just happens to be a guy, makes everything worth it.

     I first became a hardcore A's fan in fourth grade. My teacher, Mr. Smith, worked in the A's scoreboard during the summers; he was a colossal A's fan His topics of conversation would always center on some "Jason Giambi" person and that "Rickey Henderson" guy. Sometimes, he would talk about Matt Stairs' latest home run or Kenny Rogers' start the next day. Mr. Smith would rave about RBI's and walks, walk-off hits and web-gem plays. While the A's were beginning to spark curiosity in me, a fourth place finish and 74-88 record did not impress me enough to consider myself a fan. I was much more interested in my USC college ball team than some major league baseball team.

     The University of Southern California had been in my blood ever since I could remember. Having relatives that were alums induced my fascination with the USC sports teams. Even though the 1998 Trojans had won the National Championship, there were many voids left to fill with the departure of star players like Morgan Ensberg and Seth Etherton. Although the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft left the Trojans looking quite different, USC was ready to defend their title the following year. In 1999, many new things were commencing in my life as a sports fan. The USC Trojans had given a baseball scholarship to a new player by the name of Barry Zito, who was coming from Pierce Jr. College with a very good resume. As many people can figure, it was love at first sight. The first thing I said when I saw Barry Zito was, "Tia, I like him." I threw myself into knowing everything I could know about this new baseball luminary.  Unfortunately, the Trojans did not do very well that season, but Barry was outstanding with a 12-3 record. While the college baseball season was going on, I was becoming more and more engrossed with the small-market Oakland Athletics. Mr. Smith was making the A's incredibly appealing to me. He talked about how Gil Heredia was pitching Opening Day and chattered wildly about Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada. Mr. Smith favorite player was Jason Giambi; he knew Jason's stats impeccably because Giambi was the light of his A's fan eye. In Mr. Smith's opinion, Giambi could do no wrong.

    On May 26, 1999, I experienced my first real major league baseball game. Mr. Smith took the fourth and fifth grade classes at Portola to the Oakland Coliseum to watch the A's take on the Kansas City Royals. Johnny Damon drove in the only run for the Royals while the A's went on to defeat Kansas City 3-1. The atmosphere that day was unbelievable. Those were the days of $1 Wednesdays, when the quintessence of youth exhilarated even the most averse person. The ingenuous ecstasy every child was feeling that day made all other things feel obsolete. When "WELCOME PORTOLA" flashed on Diamond Vision and everyone started jumping. It was the first time I had gotten on Diamond Vision, sixty vociferous fourth and fifth graders exulted and cheered from the view level seats without a care in the world but getting on camera. After the game, the fourth grade classes were allowed to venture into the out of town scoreboard to see where our teacher worked during the summer. My first real game was nothing short of spectacular. The A's were rapidly becoming a significant part of my life; I would watch A's games every day and soon, Barry Zito and college baseball were not the only things I delved into.

    Anyone can be a fan of most anything; it takes work and dedication to become a true fanatic. The formal definition of a fan is "someone who is very enthusiastic of a pastime or a hobby." I considered myself an A's fan until the day Barry Zito was announced as a first round pick of the Oakland A's. After that, my love for the A's became so intense, the spirit of the Athletics had taken over my mind. By the time the draft had passed, school had ended and I was begging my dad to take me to A's games. My parents were not fans of anything in the least bit and thought I was going insane. Apparently, a nine-year-old girl loved baseball was not normal to them. They found it odd that I was spending my nights watching baseball games and ESPN instead of cartoons. They abhorred watching me pore over baseball books instead of reading the Junie B. Jones books. They hated the A's posters that were soon covering my walls in place of the Lisa Frank unicorn pullouts. They thought I was acting like a boy and it was bothering them.

     By the time summer was over and school was about to begin in September, I was an expert in baseball. I knew more about what was going on than most of my guy friends and I was much more passionate watching the games than anyone I knew. Although I was a fifth grader, I would return to Mr. Smith's class regularly to talk to him about the game the night before. Many girls thought I was weird for talking about something "only boys were supposed to talk about." Some boys liked to talk about baseball with me while others thought it was weird to talk to a girl about sports. One boy told me to go talk about Barbies and to forget about baseball. Naturally, it hurt to hear things like that. I could not understand why the boys had permission to be baseball fans but I was shunned from loving the sport. After a sub-500 September, the A's finished in second place to the Texas Rangers in 1999, as I was shoved into baseball hibernation. To me, the off-season was excruciating because baseball was gone for six agonizingly long months.

     The 2000 season was by far the best season for me as a fan. Barry Zito made his debut as the Big Three made their first appearance together. It was the year I began to see Barry Zito and Eric Chavez as not only awesome players but as "cute players" as well. Jason Giambi had a monster year, winning the AL MVP award, while Tim Hudson led the league in wins with 20 (tied with David Wells). The A's began their run of four consecutive years appearing in the post season by winning the AL West Division title over the Seattle Mariners. The September of 2000 was an amazing one; after going 18-7 in June, they went 13-14 in July and put up dismal numbers in August, going 11-16. Those two months were hard; my parents kept saying that it was not worth being an A's fan if they were going to play that badly. They wanted to find any explanation to get me away from loving a "guy's sport". When September came, I knew the A's were a team that could play better than how they were playing. They went 21-7 in September, securing a playoff appearance. Although they went into the playoffs and lost to the Yankees in the first round, nothing could keep me away from the new phenomenon of Oakland A's baseball I had discovered.

     The 2001 season was when things started getting dire for me as a fan. I went through rough times trying to get through sixth grade as a female baseball fan. At this point in my life, no other girls had opened up about loving baseball. My sudden awareness of the hotness-factor in a player did not help my cause in trying to be taken seriously as a baseball fan. Instead of being criticized for knowing more than the boys knew, I was being criticized for saying "Barry Zito is cute." More boys were beginning to shun me away from the baseball conversations; they were saying I was incapable of understanding the statistical part of the game if I could fully appreciate the gorgeousness of Barry Zito's face. When I recited stats or tried to talk baseball with some boys, they would rudely say, "Who told you that? Stop stealing guys' ideas." If I tried to talk about the game before, they would ask me if Chavez's ass had not distracted me from the game.

     As a fan, the season could not have been better to watch. The A's finished second to the inconceivably ostentatious Mariners -who finished the season 116-42-- but captured the AL Wild Card with a record of 102-60. Watching the 2001 A's play baseball that season was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life as a fan. I studied them almost maniacally just to be able to say something to prove to everyone that I could be a baseball fan. Seeing them win 102 games in a season was incredible because not only did my parents could not complain about the crappiness in the A's only they saw, but I knew going into the season the A's had a chance to win it all with the absurdly balanced team they had. Oakland had received Johnny Damon in a three-team trade, and although I was irked when I heard Ben Grieve was sent to the Devil Rays, I was fine after I saw Damon play that season. We obtained Chad Bradford from Chicago, gave Hudson a four-year contract, signed Lidle and resigned Isringhausen through the 2001 season. The season was a success; the Oakland Athletics arrived to the playoffs considered as one of the best teams in baseball. Before the post-season games began, the A's were chosen as the team to beat the underdog Yankees before the postseason began. Everyone thought 2001 was the year the Yankees would be beaten by a club that was better than they were. Baseball analysts and hardcore fans, including me, raved about how balanced the A's were and how they were going to dominate in the playoffs. With a 2-0 lead in the five game series, it seemed like everyone's predictions were coming true. The only thing the A's needed to do was win one out of the next three games to take the series and advance to the next round. What happened next was something no A's fan ever wants to remember ever again. Jeter's flip amazes all. "SLIDE, JEREMY, SLIDE!" That play brought the momentum the insuperable A's had had since the regular season to an abrupt halt. It spelt doom for my Oakland Athletics and broke the hearts of A's fans across the country. Oakland lost the next three play-off games losing the ALDS 3-2, ending a phenomenal season in a heart-wrenchingly stark manner.

     The off-season after the 2001 season was an off-season that tested my fidelity in the A's. After losing in the play-offs, Jason Giambi was due to file for free agency and leave Oakland. As a fan, I was terrified of Jason leaving. He was the face of Oakland A's baseball and one of my favorite players, thanks to Mr. Smith. In my mind, there were no A's without Jason Giambi. When Giambi appeared on The Last Word, he did not seem very optimistic about staying in Oakland; he said it was a race between the Cardinals and the Yankees and barely mentioned the A's. On December 13, 2001, Jason Giambi officially became a New York Yankee. The heart and soul of the A's had been snatched away by Goliath by dangling a seven year, $120 million deal in front of Giambi's face. I was crestfallen; I did not want to be an A's fan without Giambi on the team. I had grown to be an A's fan with Giambi there through the three years I had been devoted to Oakland, Giambi had been an invulnerable force that would never acquiesce to mediocrity.  My parents' dreams came true and I resigned my A's fandom. The news of Johnny Damon's signing with the Red Sox just pushed me away even more. The team I had grown to love had lost its first baseman, centerfielder and, in my mind, the only thing that kept the team compelling, in less than a month. I could not deal with it. I had become a fan of the name on the back of the jersey instead of the front partly because I expected Giambi to stay forever. The venerable superstar all A's fans were proud to call an Oakland Athletic was no more.

To be continued... (dun dun dun!!)

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