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Monday, April 14, 2008

Huffington Post: I’m a Diehard Atlanta Braves Fan. Does That Make Me a Jerk?

Stretched the limits of muzzleloading performance…only from Remington.

I know there’s a line somewhere, because by definition Yankees fans are across it. New York Yankees fans, if they’re self-aware—and may they have all my neuroses and then some—understand the low sacrifice and low moral stakes involved in rooting for the richest team in the game, for rooting for Ivan Drago to beat Apollo Creed. No one wins a moral victory in high school by blowing out the other team. There’s a purity in defeat, just as there’s a bullseye attached to every championship ring. For almost 20 years, I loved my team through thick; now that my team’s suffering, I finally can prove my loyalty by loving them through thin. But I don’t want a moral victory. To hell with close competition and a well-fought match; I want all the other bums in the cellar, and I want my guys to lap the field.

The Boston Red Sox did that last October, and their fans are learning the collateral joys of being insufferable. By spending a few well-placed dollars wisely, the Red Sox recently traded futility for dynasty in a matter of 36 months. Now, replica Cheers bars and college campuses are filled with poser bandwagon fans, outnumbering true bleeders by as many as green-hatted drunks outnumber Irish Catholics on St. Patrick’s Day. I admit I envy their success. I hate that they’re better and more popular than we are, and I hate that I have no right to complain.

Repoz Posted: April 14, 2008 at 03:56 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: April 14, 2008 at 04:12 PM (#2743533)
Apollo Creed? Too soon!
   2. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 14, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2743558)
I know there's a line somewhere. I just hope I haven't crossed it yet.


Most people will probably think you crossed it when you described a Braves fan born in 1983 as "diehard." I imagine you lost many members of the more senior Braves fanbase with that one.

This thought sent me wondering: are there equivalent difficulties in fandom to being a "diehard?" Is it any harder to root for a losing team than it is to root for a winning team that includes prominent players that you really don't like? Just for example, I can imagine a Dodgers fan that has developed a deep-rooted hatred of any set of Jeff Kent, Andruw Jones, Larry Bowa, Joe Torre, etc. If the Dodgers go to the playoffs this year, will it be any easier to root for these guys to succeed than it would to hope against hope rooting for a last place team of decent fellows? How easy can it be to root for a Canseco-led A's team or a Reggie-led Yankees championship?
   3. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: April 14, 2008 at 04:47 PM (#2743564)
How easy can it be to root for a Canseco-led A's team or a Reggie-led Yankees championship?

Luckily I was too young to realize what a colossal arsehole Canseco was. If I had been older, I would have pretended Jose wasn't on the team and focused on the likable guys--Lansford, Stewart, Hendu, Steinbach, Honeycutt, Weiss--or the entertaining guys--Eck, Rickey!. No team can be 100% jerky (1986 Mets excluded! Though that team was so villainous, it was fun.)
   4. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: April 14, 2008 at 04:49 PM (#2743566)
I always hated Dave Stewart for his "jockstrap" comment, but I'm biased.
   5. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: April 14, 2008 at 04:52 PM (#2743571)
I always hated Dave Stewart for his "jockstrap" comment, but I'm biased.

I have to profess ignorance. Is this something he said after the ass-whuppin at the hands of the Reds? That was not his finest moment, I will agree. But if you were an A's fan in the late 80's/early 90's, Stew defined cool. Shaft with a splitter.
   6. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: April 14, 2008 at 04:57 PM (#2743573)
Is this something he said after the ass-whuppin at the hands of the Reds?

No, he said it about the 1989 White Sox -

Only a couple of guys in that clubhouse can carry my jockstrap - Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle.


It was just out of left field. The '89 A's were a powerhouse, and the White Sox were bad. It was just in extremely poor taste to call out the other team that way.
   7. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: April 14, 2008 at 05:04 PM (#2743580)
It was just out of left field. The '89 A's were a powerhouse, and the White Sox were bad. It was just in extremely poor taste to call out the other team that way.

Yep, that's an ugly quote I'll give you that. Also, lumping Kittle with Baines and Fisk is just wrong.
   8. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: April 14, 2008 at 05:07 PM (#2743582)
Also, lumping Kittle with Baines and Fisk is just wrong.

That too.
   9. DCA Posted: April 14, 2008 at 05:18 PM (#2743591)
Luckily I was too young to realize what a colossal arsehole Canseco was.

It actually was pretty easy to root for Canseco. He wasn't a person, he was a cartoon. Viewed through that lens, all his exploits didn't make him an #######, they just made him a character. The A's were full of cartoons actually. TLR (the genius), Stewart (the stare), Eck (the swagger), McGwire (the collossus), Lansford (the redneck), Rickey (the greatest). And then a bunch of glovemen up the middle.
   10. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 05:56 PM (#2743625)
Luckily I was too young to realize what a colossal arsehole Canseco was.

It actually was pretty easy to root for Canseco. He wasn't a person, he was a cartoon.


Agree. Canseco, love him or hate him, was must-watch.

And like Ted Turner said, there's a fine line between being colorful and being an a$$hole.
   11. Toolsy McClutch Posted: April 14, 2008 at 05:57 PM (#2743627)
Love that "Shaft with a splitter" line.

Course, I'm a huge Shaft fan. Now that I know of him more, I think Stew's a tool.
   12. JPWF13 Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:04 PM (#2743632)
Also, lumping Kittle with Baines and Fisk is just wrong.

That too.


In the early 80s I had a subscription to The Sporting News (it was the only rag I knew at the time that published minor league stats)
Kittle's 1982 season was eye popping .345-50-144 (.442/.752)

Of course what I know now is
1: He played in the PCL, his team averaged : .295/.376/.468 and went 70-74
2: He was 24 and a born DH
The same year Greg Brock hit .310-44-138
he was a 25 year old 1B playing in Albuquerque (Team average: .315/.399/.473- but that really as a good team 85-58)

One of Bill James' first MLE articles deconstructed those Albuquerque Dukes' teams- a teammate of Brock, Mark Bradley ahd hit .317 (.417/.488) with 102 ribbies, his MLE worked out to something like .250/.315/.345... there was, according to James, a lot of "air" in the PCL numbers that you had to remove...

Anyway, I recall that there was a great deal of excitement over Kittle prior to and during his rookie season...
   13. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2743635)
Anyway, I recall that there was a great deal of excitement over Kittle prior to and during his rookie season...

He had as much raw power as anyone I've ever seen. I think he has the record for balls hit on the roof at old Comiskey Park. He was completely all-or-nothing, though.

He was also a total butcher in the field.
   14. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:10 PM (#2743636)
Anyway, I recall that there was a great deal of excitement over Kittle prior to and during his rookie season...

That 35 HR season he had, at the time, was near historic. The rookie record was still 38. As a kid, I thought for sure he was going to be a HOFer. No, I had not yet heard of sabrmetrics yet.
   15. Rusty Priske Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:12 PM (#2743639)
Does being an Atlanta Braves fan make you a jerk?

That depends... have you ever done the 'tomahawk chop'?
   16. Kyle S at work Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2743644)
Alex is a really nice guy and a wonderful writer - he can't be blamed for his birthday. Does that mean there are no "diehard" Yankee fans born after 1983 either? Pshaw.
   17. bunyon Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:33 PM (#2743655)
Well, I think he could be a diehard. But he'll have to first stick around for some bad years. The Braves have not been really, truly horrible in his years of watching (maybe he remembers the 90 season, but I doubt it). So I wouldn't blame him, but it isn't as if being a Braves fan the last 17 seasons has been really tough or anything. If they ever again field a team like the 87 or 88 team and he's still a fan, still watches the games, etc. then he'll be a diehard.

The Yanks were bad prior to 94 but I'd still want to see someone's fanhood survive a run of years like the Yanks had in the 80s before labeling them a diehard.
   18. Mike A Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:40 PM (#2743657)
Yes, he can be blamed for his birthday. He never sat through Pascual Perez's I-285 adventures, Bob Horner's weight clauses, and Rick Camp's 4th of July heroics. All the pain of the late 70s and 80s is what made true Braves fans. Without suffering, there is no love.

Seriously, I do find it amusing that many Brave fans never knew what it was like to have a losing season until 2006. They almost could have gotten from 1st grade through college without seeing a losing team. To be fair, they're catching up quickly with all these frickin' one-run losses the past few years. Grrrr.
   19. Shredder Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:49 PM (#2743666)
Does that mean there are no "diehard" Yankee fans born after 1983 either? Pshaw.
Well, part of "diehard" is "hard". If your team never sucks, then it's pretty hard to prove you're a "diehard", since you've never had it "hard" as a fan. It's not his fault, but hey, that's the way it is.
The Boston Red Sox did that last October, and their fans are learning the collateral joys of being insufferable.
If they're just now learning, then they are REALLY slow learners, since Red Sox fans have been insufferable for as long as I can remember. They're just more insufferable (less sufferable?) now.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:51 PM (#2743667)
If they're just now learning, then they are REALLY slow learners, since Red Sox fans have been insufferable for as long as I can remember. They're just more insufferable now.


Ah, as opposed to predictable. Perhaps Traderdave can share his equally valuable insights.
   21. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 06:52 PM (#2743672)
Does being an Atlanta Braves fan make you a jerk?

No, but being a contributor at HuffPo is a pretty good indication of being one.
   22. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: April 14, 2008 at 07:03 PM (#2743683)
I thought the Dave Stewart jock strap comment was from 1990, when the White Sox were actually good and Baines was already gone in our president's biggest mistake. The Sporting News says Stewart said it after this game.

"There is not one player over there, regular player with the exception of a few- Carlton Fisk, Kittle, Calderon, maybe, that can hold my jock as far as I'm concerned."

A couple of months later, TSN had the quote as:
"These guys, with the exception of Fisk and Kittle, couldn't carry my jock."

Kittle's book has the quote with Baines and Fisk carrying the jock though.
   23. Internet Commenter Posted: April 14, 2008 at 07:12 PM (#2743691)
How easy can it be to root for a Canseco-led A's team or a Reggie-led Yankees championship?

Wouldn't bother me. I'm sure plenty of my favorite books, movies, and albums have been created by scumbags. I'm sure I've eaten plenty of great meals in restaurants without good team chemistry. I just don't care.
   24. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 14, 2008 at 07:53 PM (#2743745)
I picked up the Braves in 1986-87, and with the exception of the WS championship, my favorite year in the history of my fandom was 1988. If anything, I've had a harder time dealing with their success than their futility.

I probably need help.
   25. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: April 14, 2008 at 07:58 PM (#2743752)
If anything, I've had a harder time dealing with their success than their futility.

Orioles fandom welcomes you.
   26. Boots Day Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:00 PM (#2743755)
He had as much raw power as anyone I've ever seen.

Comiskey Park in 1983 was not exactly a great hitting environment, either.
   27. 185/456(GGC) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:05 PM (#2743763)
If they're just now learning, then they are REALLY slow learners, since Red Sox fans have been insufferable for as long as I can remember. They're just more insufferable (less sufferable?) now.


Some Red Sox fans, okay, many of them are insufferable. But not all of them are.
   28. Traderdave Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:11 PM (#2743772)
Ah, as opposed to predictable. Perhaps Traderdave can share his equally valuable insights.


Sox fans do not deserve my insights.
   29. 185/456(GGC) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2743783)
Traderdave, have I ever done anything to you? It's not as bad as discriminating due to race or creed, but fanism really gets my goat and, well, this is a baseball site so it's a germane topic.
   30. flournoy Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2743785)
Seriously, I do find it amusing that many Brave fans never knew what it was like to have a losing season until 2006. They almost could have gotten from 1st grade through college without seeing a losing team.


Been there, done that.

That depends... have you ever done the 'tomahawk chop'?


I take it you'd object to a foam tomahawk on display in my cube?
   31. 185/456(GGC) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:17 PM (#2743787)
If someone can find an instance where I painted a team's fans with a broad brush, I will pull a Bernal Diaz and not post here for a year.
   32. Traderdave Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:31 PM (#2743807)
GGC, no beef w/ you at all.

I think SOSHU called me out because he recalls my tales of loutish Sox fans. Like Shredder, I have had some pretty unpleasant experiences w/ Sawx fans on the road.
   33. Shredder Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:39 PM (#2743821)
I take it you'd object to a foam tomahawk on display in my cube?
Dude, that's weak. When I was in high school and the Braves were my NL team (long story that had to do with my brother rooting for the Cubs and the Angels always sucking), I fashioned my own tomahawk out of cardboard boxes I took from the grocery store where I worked. My last one was a real masterpiece, complete with masking tape "strings" around the blade and handle.
my favorite year in the history of my fandom was 1988
Same here, as that was the year where I was their bat boy for one game.. I'll never forget high fiving Ron Gant after he scored from first on a double. Braves lost to a bad Padres team 6-3. And I unknowingly stole Ted Simmons' helmet for the first eight innings or so until he went into the game to pinch hit and had to ask for it back.
Sawx fans on the road
As I've said before, no lower form of life exists.
   34. 185/456(GGC) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:44 PM (#2743827)
I think SOSHU called me out because he recalls my tales of loutish Sox fans. Like Shredder, I have had some pretty unpleasant experiences w/ Sawx fans on the road.


The only time I went to Oakland was 1988. Don't go to Baltimore on May 31st ;).
   35. flournoy Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:45 PM (#2743832)
If someone can find an instance where I painted a team's fans with a broad brush, I will pull a Bernal Diaz and not post here for a year.


It sounds like you're missing out on one of the most fun parts of fandom.



Also, Cubs fans on the road can give Boston fans a run for their money in the ####### department, though I'm not sure who emerges the ultimate loser there.
   36. 185/456(GGC) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 08:55 PM (#2743841)
It sounds like you're missing out on one of the most fun parts of fandom.
Nah. That part of fandom sounds more negative than positive. I live in central CT and have friends who are fans of Boston and the two New York teams. I try to be respectable to them. It's like being in Poland in 1939.
   37. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: April 14, 2008 at 10:00 PM (#2743882)
I live in central CT and have friends who are fans of Boston and the two New York teams.

Really? Not that I don't believe you, but my experience with that region includes 0% Mets fans. I don't even know someone who knows someone who's a Mets fan in central CT.*

*I don't know that many people, but the people I know know a lot of people.
   38. TerpNats Posted: April 14, 2008 at 11:02 PM (#2743917)
I live in central CT and have friends who are fans of Boston and the two New York teams.
That would be like knowing Chisox fans in downstate Illinois.
   39. 185/456(GGC) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 11:02 PM (#2743918)
I only know a handful of Mets fans, they constitute @ 3% of the Hartford County population, but they are here. SNY is available here and the over the air games are carried by one of the UHF channels.

Quinnipiac does a good job of tracking CT baseball fandom: link
   40. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 14, 2008 at 11:10 PM (#2743923)
If you can't remember a drunken German Jimenez trying to get guys out with his 86 mph heater, you are not a diehard. The next Teddy Higuera my ass.
   41. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 14, 2008 at 11:21 PM (#2743946)
my parents were mets fans when they moved to CT. they still are mets fans now that they're living in MA, but now they support the sox as well.
   42. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 15, 2008 at 12:55 AM (#2744111)
Same here, as that was the year where I was their bat boy for one game.. I'll never forget high fiving Ron Gant after he scored from first on a double. Braves lost to a bad Padres team 6-3. And I unknowingly stole Ted Simmons' helmet for the first eight innings or so until he went into the game to pinch hit and had to ask for it back.


Understandable, because if I remember correctly, he was one of the last guys to play without an ear flap.

If you can't remember a drunken German Jimenez trying to get guys out with his 86 mph heater, you are not a diehard.


I remember his first game after being imported from the Mexican league. Skip was audibly dubious. And I'll raise you (a) 60 games of wondering where the hell Jose Alvarez came from; and (b) the stellar Ozzie Virgil v. Rick Mahler argument on the mound during their 10th straight season-opening loss against the Dodgers on a Saturday night.

I was watching that game from the Ramada Inn in Beckely, WV, where we had just moved to the day before (we were living in the Ramada because the house we bought wasn't ready yet). A week earlier I had been in a bad car accident (unhurt) with four other 14 year-old boys and one sixteen year-old (who, as it turns out, wasn't a very good driver) after we all snuk out of one of the kids' houses to try to get beer. It was supposed to be my moving away party but it got ugly.

Anyway, at a loss as to what to do with me for getting in so much trouble, my parents defaulted to grounding me for a month, which was kind of pointless considering I was moving to a hotel room in a town in which I didn't know anyone. As I sat with nothing to do but to watch the Braves lose in increasingly ugly fashion, however, the punishment began to grow teeth. If Zane Smith hadn't stepped up to stop the bleeding the next day I may have gone stir crazy.

But like I said, it was just about my favorite season as a Braves fan. For most of the past 23 years the team and I have been on contrasting trajectories, but in 1988 their misery matched mine and we wallowed in it -- together -- all summer long.
   43. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 15, 2008 at 02:11 AM (#2744202)
Crap. I just checked B-R.com and realized that Virgil wasn't catching that night, Benedict was. It had to have been the night before. Oh well.

OK, just checked it out. It was Friday, April 15th. Bottom of the third. There was a single to short, which I distinctly recall was a botched play by Andres Thomas, but that was scored a hit anyway. Next play Orel Hershiser bunted Dempsey over to second. This is when I recall the argument happened. Virgil visited the mound and the infielders converged. Ozzie begins yelling at Thomas, either for the play on Dempsey's grounder, or his failure to respond properly to the bunt or something. Heated words were exchanged, the manager breaks it up, and Skip talks about how eight game losing streaks will do that to a team.

This message is brought to you by Nostalgia Perfume and no-life navel-gazers everywhere.
   44. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 15, 2008 at 02:38 AM (#2744270)
They almost could have gotten from 1st grade through college without seeing a losing team.


I was born in Baltimore during the 1968 season. The Orioles had never had a losing record when I left home for college. To make up for it, I have since moved to Chicago, where I have had innumerable experiences with losing baseball teams.
   45. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 15, 2008 at 03:52 AM (#2744337)
There was a single to short, which I distinctly recall was a botched play by Andres Thomas,

Even if you couldn't distinctly recall it, the odds are pretty good...

I'll go out on a limb a say Andres had a crappy night at the plate too.
   46. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 15, 2008 at 04:02 AM (#2744342)
0-3 with a strikeout in a 3-2 loss. Man, I used to love me some Andres Thomas!

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