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Fandom makes for strange behavior

Being a fan of a team can morph into something more than merely rooting for your team of preference to win a ballgame. It leaks into everyday life in simple and innocuous ways, such as rearranging plans to watch a game or wearing team apparel in public. That’s not the only way fandom is exhibited for many fans, of course. There are some odd behaviors that can stem from being a fanatic, and I’m just as guilty as the rest of the sports-loving universe. I’d like to share a few of my own personal anecdotes. I’m not proud of all of them, but it’s part of who I am or was.

1. When I began looking at what colleges I wanted to attend a little more than a decade ago, I refused to consider any in Boston. My reason was simple: I did not want to live in Red Sox territory. Despite a few of my friends looking at various schools in the area, I had no interest in potentially joining them. From what I remember, I was appropriately teased for being so rigid despite there being some schools that might have been good fits for me there. Anyway, as you might have guessed it, I decided to go to college in New York. To be specific: in the Bronx at Fordham University, just a few subway stops away from Yankee Stadium. In no way do I regret where I chose to go, but rather, I just want to point out the absurdity of my teenage self.

2. In one particular instance (and probably more), I embodied the stereotypical jerk Yankee fan. I began eighth grade in the fall of 2003 and one of my classmates happened to be a Red Sox fan, the only one I knew of where I grew up in New Jersey. As we all fondly remember, now manager and then third baseman Aaron Boone walked off the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS that October. Being a churlish 13-year-old Yankee fan, the next day of school I decided to rub it in. I brought in a form I found online with a title along the lines of “Red Sox fan wishing to become a Yankee fan application” and handed it to the kid. How could I be so cruel? I guess 2004 was karma for that. I’m a much kinder person nowadays.

3. It took me until 2016 to stop doing this: I declined to roster any Red Sox players on my fantasy baseball teams for years. I suspect I am not unique with this, but it is a petty thing to do. I caved for Mookie Betts back in 2016, the best season of his career, and he helped me finish in second place. It felt dirty, though. I don’t think I had any Boston players on my squad last season, and I’d rather not do so again.

4. I was relieved that there was no playoff game on my wedding day a few months ago (October 7). It wasn’t planned that way, of course. My wife and I were planning our wedding while the 2016 baseball season was ongoing, and the Yankees didn’t seem like they were bound for the playoffs in the next year. I thought an October wedding would be perfect! Well, as the 2017 season went on and we started to realize the Yankees were good, I got worried. Of all the things to be worried about for an upcoming wedding…I was concerned about the postseason schedule. It was a pretty big relief when the playoff schedule was released and there was no American League Divisional Series game scheduled for our big day. At least during our honeymoon, I was able to make time to follow or watch the Yankees’ playoff games because almost all of them started at 2 am local time. Priorities.

5. A few years ago, I went out with a group of friends in lower Manhattan for drinks. Like how so many nights of drinking end, we all went searching for a place to grab a slice of pizza before heading home. Unfortunately, nothing was open in the vicinity of the bar we had just finished imbibing. So, I decided to go home. Of course, one of my good friends and former Fangraphs writer Chris Mitchell met A-Rod at the pizza place he had ventured to a little further from the bar we were at. It was some time after 4 am, I was settling into bed, and my then girlfriend and now wife informed me to check Snapchat. I sunk. I had never felt so much regret in my life. I didn’t sleep that night. I still feel jealous to this day.

6. I’ve never seen and will never, ever watch Fever Pitch.

7. I don’t think any other team has a better radio play-by-play announcer than the Yankees do in John Sterling. I know he can’t see a thing, but there is nobody more entertaining. His mannerisms and home run calls give me life. I’m sure I’d loathe him if I was a fan of any other team, but whatever.

I know I’m not alone in feeling certain ways or behaving in certain manners as a result of my fandom. What examples do you have?

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