Okay, this is weird.
I am watching the tail end of a Yankees/Padres game that I don’t care about, waiting for the start of a Dodgers-Mets game that I do.
I don’t recall the specifics – as I was just killing time – but suddenly, as they mounted a rally in the ninth and last inning,
I found myself, rooting for the Padres.
For no explainable reason, I was hoping the Padres would win. A team from San Diego. Whose dominant “Team Color” is brown.
Think about that. A game I was watching, only because the game I intended to watch had not started. And there I am, (silently) chanting, “Let’s go, Padres!”
Yes, I resented the Yankees since they swaggered to two “unearned” World Series wins against the superior Dodgers back in the 70’s. But was that really a reason? A fifty year-old grudge against a Yankees contingent, now retired, and in some cases, passed on?
Apparently, it is.
Raising the more general question,
Can I not watch a game without reflexively rooting for one team?
In my personal experience,
The proclivity of rooting is more than “Let’s make the game interesting”, a reason for upping the “ante” in an uninteresting card game. It’s like something inside me – and maybe others as well – makes picking a side an inseparable component in the game-watching procedure.
Consider the evidence. (By which I mean mine. But we can extrapolate, can’t we?)
When the Dodgers were in the World Series against the victorious ‘77 and ’78 Yankees, I had lived in Los Angeles, counting from ‘77, less than three years. Which, you will, agree is not a particularly long time.
Yet there I am, screaming my lungs out when Yankees’ Reggie Jackson brazenly stuck out his hip – changing the course of the Series – and was not immediately called “Out” for “Deliberate Inference.” I mean, three years, and I go nuts over a “blown call”, punishing “My team”?
How were they suddenly “My team”? L.A. With its smothering smog and its hideous traffic, where, five weeks after my arrival, the LAPD, looking for Patti Hearst, burned down a house, with five people inside it?
I’m rooting for that?
The process of rooting, which makes no reasonable sense, is as illogical as it is seemingly mandatory. I mean, what are we talking about? The players constantly switch teams. Almost none of them come from the places they play for. The one reliable “constant” are the uniforms.
We are not rooting for people.
We are rooting for their shirts.
I pity the fans, supporting minor league ball clubs like the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Amarillo Sod Poodles. They can’t help it. Whatever the logo, sensible people are screaming,
“Go, Sod Poodles!!!”
Savoring the “highs.”
Suffering through Sod Poodle defeats.
We seem viscerally “programmed” to root, automatically when it’s about nothing – such as the Padres – more rabidly passionately when it’s about something. Which had me thinking about that today.
I write this earlier that day, so I do not know the outcome, but starting last night, the Toronto Raptors – representing my actual hometown, whose local constabulary, to my knowledge, never incinerated a house with five people in it – made their maiden “NBA Finals” appearance, against the Golden State Warriors.
Which is exciting.
Except, backing the Raptors?
That is really going to hurt.
Having appeared in the finals in each of the past four seasons – winning three of those four consecutive appearances – the Golden State Warriors are the anointed “Team of the Century.” While the Toronto Raptors, if they were lucky last night, are, at best, “The team of That Thursday.”
What can I tell you?
I have to pull for Toronto. I may pretend I don’t care. (Due to the calamitous “mismatch”, I need emotional “armor” to withstand the inevitable.) But deep down, I shall root for hopefully the Raptors.
Because they’re my Sod Poodles.
And I don’t have a choice.