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Introspection

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From time to time, I like to look inside and try and do a little self-analysis. Maybe it's just the way I'm built or the fact that introspection is very important to me in understanding my motivations and actions. I'm also a naturally curious guy.

But with the recent roller coaster of emotions the A's flung us on, I saw some pretty nasty stuff come out of AN. Yes, AN was built for the occasional venting and the very frequent ranting, but the comments about "killing" Macha were disturbing to me. Maybe I'm taking the comments too literally and comments made on a blog too seriously, but I've never felt like I wanted to "kill" someone over a baseball game. And that includes Mike Scioscia, Jeremy Giambi (slide, slide!) and Eric Byrnes (touch home!).

I don't want to delve into that too much, but instead I started to think about why we're fanatics and why we care so very much about our team. In truth, I do it because 90 percent of the time or so I get great joy out of it. AN Day was one of the best days of 2006 for me. I was able to share that commonality with everyone and the way it ended was something that I will never forget. When else do you get to jump up and down like a lunatic and hug complete strangers without being written up by human resources or being sized for a straightjacket? I feel an emotional connection to the guys who wear the green and gold, although that has gotten tougher and tougher as I get older and face the burden of letting go of that passion as they peel off the green and gold to go for wheelbarrels full of green. I'm not blaming them for leaving for more money, that's life in a capitalist society (and exactly why I will always love Eric Chavez, Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias until my dying day). The bottom line is that I get great joy out of watching the Oakland Athletics play baseball. I love the game and my team. The 10 percent does brings me grief, anger, sadness and embarrassment but it is a momentary feeling that always fades away. Yes, even the playoff failures didn't kill me.

So after Macha-Gate 2006 on Tuesday, I began to really wonder why many of the people who were approaching things violently are fans. I was really ticked off for about an hour, but I got over it. AN actually helps me in that process because I need to consciously try and calm myself down before approaching the keyboard. That's what I mean when I say that the site serves as my therapy. Maybe you are the same way and AN serves as a temporary outlet for that anger, but some fans just seem to wallow in negativity when it comes to their team. And my question is, if it does bring a fan so much pain, anger and negativity in their life, why do they do it? Why would you subject yourself to something that is nothing but negative energy?

Maybe I'm asking the wrong fanbase this question. Maybe it's better posed to Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates fans at this point, but I'm really curious, because of my ignorance, why people subject themselves to something that apparently brings them 90 percent unhappiness and an occasional 10 percent joy? Or even 100 percent unhappiness? If I had something that was making me that unhappy, it wouldn't be in my life for long.

Then again, I may be a bit different from the typical sports fan. I put thought into what teams I wanted to root for as a child rather than just following the family and cheering for the home team. To me, I wanted to scope out the teams and see what ones were appealing to me. I loved watching Jose Canseco swing the most violent bat in all of baseball, and as a kid I was attracted to the violent aspects of sports. So I loved pretending I was Canseco whenever my family played wiffleball in the back yard. Since I played a little hockey goalie as a kid and Sean Burke was a sensation for the Devils at the time, he became my favorite player and I've followed the New Jersey Devils ever since. So perhaps it's those who feel forever tied to a team by birth rather than choice who are the most likely to be unhappy in their sports fandom...which would explain the utter angst of Cubs fans and up until 2004, Red Sox fans. I guess Yankee fans feel it's their birthright to win the World Series every year which would explain why they're always unhappy unless the team is hoisting the trophy. Maybe a lot of A's fans who were around for the 72-74 run (I was less than a year old when the first championship came to Oakland) expect the same thing from the Athletics and that's the perspective they approach it?

Ultimately, maybe I just approach sports fandom from a different perspective than those who felt born and tied to a team. I was cerebral about pledging my allegiance (although funny thing was that I chose to root for a really mediocre hockey team at the time). Maybe that makes me wishy-washy or worse than those free agents who bolt for money? Who knows...but all this rambling comes down to a couple of questions and those are, why are you a fan and does it usually bring you more happiness than heartache? If you get more heartache out of it, why do you continue to keep sports as an integral part of your life?