Baseball: A Tip of the Cap to Oblivious Pseudo-Fans

by Phil Kehres

Have you ever gone out for a lovely day at the ballpark, hoping to take in a victory by your favorite team, only to be surrounded by oblivious wannabes wearing gear in support of teams that aren’t even playing? I suppose it’s not a big issue for most people, but it drives me nuts. It’s my biggest sports pet peeve. It’s a sports fashion faux pas, a crime against the integrity of real baseball fans.

Most of you know exactly who I’m talking about, though you may not have paid attention before. If you don’t know, then maybe you’re one of them. They’re the east coast yuppies wearing the pre-faded Yankees caps at a Nationals-Marlins game. They’re the clueless girls in pink Cubs hats at Indians-White Sox games, who couldn’t tell the difference between balls and strikes but swear their undying loyalty to those “lovable losers.” They’re the obnoxious drunk fratboys in green, St. Patrick’s day-themed Red Sox caps singing “Sweet Caroline” a capella at an Orioles-Rays game. Each and every one of them is a wretched stain on the fabric of baseball fandom. I once went to a Pirates-Cubs game at Wrigley Field, where there was a guy dressed in a full Joe DiMaggio jersey. He stuck out even in the sea of khaki and polo shirts that make Wrigley so, um, historic. I don’t care if you’re Joe DiMaggio himself, there’s no excuse for that.

Now, some of you who are familiar with my opinions on sports will say “Wait a minute, isn’t that just a sign of loyalty and dedication, which you value in sports fandom?” The answer is no, and here’s why. One, I’d be willing to bet that at least 90 percent of people like this have no legitimate reasons to be fans of soul-sucking, evil, corporate shams like the Yankees, Cubs or Red Sox. No, having a brother whose girlfriend’s aunt’s co-worker went to Harvard does not give you license to cheer for the Sawx (in fact, I’d be willing to pay $1 to every one of these people who could actually present a logical explanation of the oft-lauded “Yankee Tradition” that doesn’t include the phrase “COUNT THE RINGS!!!” or who actually cheered for the North Siders before Wrigleyville became a hipster haven). Two, truly loyal fans who have a real appreciation and respect for the game know that rocking the gear of a non-playing team makes a mockery of our national pastime, even if the team on the field — for example, the Washington Nationals — is itself a mockery.

Other excuses for wearing non-playing team gear range from lame to laughable. My favorite is something along the lines of: “Oh, it’s the only baseball cap I have and I didn’t think it mattered, plus I needed something to keep the sun out of my eyes!” Weak. You know what you’re doing, Joe Bro. Man up and deal with the sun. Wear neutral clothes. Besides, that pre-faded Cubs cap with the 1908 logo doesn’t match your crocs and plaid shorts.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one way to deal with this idiocy. Institute a ticket tax. Add $10 to the cost of the ticket for people wearing any gear that supports a team not participating in that day’s game. Add $15 if that gear is in a color other than the offending team’s primary colors… $20 if that “off” color is pink, and $25 if it’s green and St. Patrick’s day-themed. That ought to get these heathens thinking twice about their egregious ballpark garb. Until Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig gets around to that, though, there’s nothing we can do but tip our (properly branded) caps to the unabashed obliviousness of these pseudo-fans.

(Phil Kehres also is the co-author of Excuse Me, Is This Your Blog?)

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Voltaire said...

I take issue with Reason 2. Why, exactly, is wearing non-playing team gear a mockery of the game? I see no evidence for this point. I wore an Indians hat and jersey to Wrigley when I saw a Cubs game. I owned no Cubs gear, and the thought of entering a ballpark without wearing a ballcap felt like a sin.

Let me ask you this - would you rather I have gone in street clothes and blended in perfectly with the lawyers sitting around me, talking shop, paying no attention to the game, and knowing nothing about who was playing? My non-playing Indians hat proclaimed that I loved baseball so much I'd go to a game where the closest connection to the team I loved was Bob Howry's relief appearance.

Suzie said...

I proudly wore my 2008 World Series Champions t-shirt to the Nats-Braves game on Monday. As you know, I've been a loyal Phillies fan since birth (I was born in April). And I will take any opportunity to brag about my Phillies.

PJ Kehres said...

Volt, you make a valid point. I suppose I'm railing against poser Yanks/Cubs/Sawx fans as much as anything, as those teams are by far the most popular for the sake of being popular. It still doesn't sit right with me, though.

Suzie, I dunno... that's bordering on baseball arrogance. But I'll allow it, just this once.

Jeff Siegel said...

Phil, you owe me a dollar. I lived at 3744 1/2 N. Sheffield in 19790-80. The area around Wrigley Field was known as Lakeview, I voted at the fire station across the street from the ball park, and even had gas siphoned from my car when it was parked on the street.

There has been a controversy about new-style Cubs fans for decades, since WGN started airing games across the country on cable. The contention is that they don't have much sense of history and go to the games to get drunk. There's a lot of truth to that, and I'm glad to see that someone else acknowledges the problem.

Though I don't see how you can compare the Cubs, in any way, to the hated Yankees. The Cubs are losers, and the Yankees aren't. (And losing, I'd argue, is actually more American than winning.) The Yankees had DiMaggio and Mantle and Ford, and the Cubs had Moose Moryn and Aldopho Phillips and Bill Bonham.

PJ Kehres said...

Jeff... Good to see a real Cubs fan acknowledge the dichotomy. I do, indeed, owe you a dollar.

My beef with the Cubs admittedly stems mostly from their "fans." But I also have a real problem with the way they run their team. Like the Yankees, their solution to problems mirrors 1970's US foreign aid -- throw money at it and hope something works out. I can't feel good about a team that operates that way... Soriano, Fukudome, etc. Though I'll say that they seem to be starting to get it with the young talent they've developed, if only Pinella and his gritty tough guy act doesn't ruin them first like Dusty did before him. It comes down to this... if the Cubs had a little bit more front office savvy, I don't think they'd have been playing this "lovable losers" card for so long.

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