From a Philadelphia-area friend comes this particular take on the Phillies’ entrance into the World Series:
This is what we expert, professional sports analyzers like to call “one way to look at it.” But it raises an interesting point: What is an “acceptable” way to celebrate en mass, who decides what that is, and how much room do we allow for cultural differences?
At the soil-bottom level of this question is: How do general sports fans, or those whose own teams have faced elimination (some for decades, some Cincinnatians–and I am one of them–might add) decide who to pull for in the playoffs?
My first consideration is geographical. Is the team from New York or California? You’re out. You get enough attention. I tend to favor the Rockies and Diamondbacks and Florida teams because their states are pretty and I want to live in them. Is your skyline stupid-looking? I hope you lose.
When two acceptable regions face off, the parameters loosen: Which one of you has pissed me off the least? But since that question was levelled ever since the entire MLB decided to cover itself in anti-fandom. If the team is an MLB team it has pissed me off. You see where this leaves me.
Sometimes this involves the travel of favored players. I frankly cannot understand how any human being who does not enjoy inhaling solid rain for weeks on end can stand to live in Seattle, so this battled with a natural desire to see former Reds who are solid human beings do well with the Mainers.
So then I am left to consider if one of the combatants is a divisional rival. Maybe this comes from a heavy dosage of “WE ARE THE NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TEAM AND WE ARE INDEPENDENT AND THAT MEANS SOMETHING, PAL” in my formative new-adult years, but I don’t quite understand a rooting hierarchy that depends upon league organization. It shocked me when I discovered that Ohio State students even really noticed that they were in the Big 12, let alone save special shakers of salt for the SEC.
But I cannot bring myself to fall into National League Conference line. If you’re the Pirates, I don’t want you to win. You’re still the Pirates. Get outta here with this Team NL Central business.
If all these produce a draw, I must fall to that unerring basis of all the best decision-making: My feelings. Who do I want to win? For this vital issue trumps all, and brings us back to the first question: Which fanbase is the most deserving, and what is that? Is it the most bereft? Which fanbase will win in a way that doesn’t, I don’t know, kill the power to an entire neighborhood of old people who just want to heat up their soup? Whose fans will appreciate it more?
Closer to home, has the management deliberately made decisions that would place the team into contention? And have the fans responded with support that shows appreciation? I imagine the collective reaction to the Cubs’ Series victory was best expressed as: “Congratulations. You’ve waited a long time for this. Good for you. Now shut up and go back to the basement.”
These tensions are tougher to suss out from several states away, but I think deeply embedded sports fans can recognize a beaten-down populace, one that “deserves to win,” no matter what the humanity in the front office or even on the field is up to.
So who have you been rooting for? Who deserves this one?