Tuesday, March 17, 2009
When the A-Rod saga broke, I felt a little bit of relief. Relief you ask? Well relief, because over a year ago I made a decision, one that at the time was tough to make. When A-Rod re-signed in New York last off season, I decided I was going to opt-out of being a fan of the New York Yankees. I was no longer going to be a fan, I was no longer going to religiously watch the YES Network, I was no longer going to defend the play by play antics of John Sterling. I was a baseball free agent and it was time to pick a new team. Here are the rules for this.
1. The new team cannot have won a World Series title in over 20 years.
This closed out a lot of teams over the last few years, and it keeps you from looking like a band wagon jumper.
2. You cannot root for your old team's rival.
Although, the 20 year rule can usually keep this from happening, it also means if you leave the Cardinals because you are tired of them putting together teams on the cheap, you cannot go root for the Cubs.
3. A team that is historically tortured is off-limits.
You cannot become a fan of the Cubs. The true fan base deserves to revel in the joy of a World Series title by themselves, not with you tagging on at the end. This would also go for the Arizona Cardinals, the LA Clippers, and other teams of the like.
4. You must be able to watch the new team regularly.
If you become a fan of a team, you must be able to watch them regularly. Period. That means you buy the sports package on satellite or cable or whatever. There is no excuse for this.
5. You must be able to name 10 players on that team without the aid of Google.
Saying you like the Mets because of David Wright is cute and all, but saying you like the versatility Marlon Anderson brings off the bench is much more knowledgeable.
6. You must make your intentions known publicly.
This can be accomplished on your local sports talk radio station, blogs, chat rooms, forums, whatever. You must let people know you are in a process of finding a new team.
7. You cannot leave a team based solely on a lack of winning.
Management, decisions you disagree with, a bad experience at the teams arena, whatever, their has to be a history of building discontent. Boston Bruins fans can help you analyze this.
8. You need to narrow it down and vote on finalists.
There has to be a process of elimination. You can't just pick a new team. You must analyze things like TV deals, proximity to new team, ability to see the team play on TV and live, knowledge of the franchise, things like that. You can't just wake up on Tuesday and say "I love the Kansas City Royals"
9. There is a 30 day cooling off period, go out and shop
From when you make the decision to opt-out, you have to wait 30 days before formally announcing the new team. When I opted out of the Yankees last season, I took a month to decide who it was going to be. Even did a trial fandom of a couple of other teams to see how they fit with my lifestyle. Free agents get dinner from teams, you have the right to sample the menu as a fan. See if you like the pre-game people. See if the daily beat writers are someone you can read daily. Make sure you know the entire aspect of the team before you dive in. You don;t get divorced without being single first and seeing what is out there. This is crucial. If you wake up one morning and decide you cannot handle the team's TV play by play guy, you just screwed yourself.
10. Make sure this is a long term relationship
You can't do this every 5 years. This is like finding a new significant other, this has to be something you go into with 100% effort. If your heart is not in it, do not even bother.
This is how I did it.
When I left the Yankees, I narrowed it down to 5 teams, the Mets, the Phillies, the Nationals, the Dodgers and the Giants. First I chose only National League teams because I hate the DH (personal preference). I was able to watch all 5 teams. The process of elimination went as follows.
Did not like them when Bonds was there, could not find myself rooting for a team where he was a big time alumni. No thanks.
The lack of HD games last season and poor PQ on the SD games turned me off. Also I was a fan of the Expos, it was a little like cheating on Montreal.
Every time they signed a former Red Sox player, I felt like I was violating rule number 2.
Everything you could ask for, but it did not feel right. Plus they have a cross-town feud with the yanks, so it is violation of rule number 2.
That made the Phillies the Winner, and I made the announcement in April 2008. I watched all of their games, watched their minor league team when it came to town, and really got into the team. Luck for me, they won the World Series in the first season. Unfortunately, that means there is no where for this to go but down. On the bright side, I now no longer have to defend the Yankees. Not a bad deal.
Remember you only live once, there is no reason you need to suffer. Sports is supposed to be fun. Make it that way again.