September 10, 2009

Wake Me Up When September Starts

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Ah, September. Sports fans fully comprehend how dreadfully dead the months of July and August can be. Between the NBA playoffs and the start of the NFL season, therein lie the middle months of baseball, a sport that clings to life with few headlining series after an exciting beginning of the season where teams typically etch their names into their division banners early on. But I guess that when the voices of Buck, Costas or beloved Berman begin to fall hard on your ears, you can always flip channels to soccer or more likely, the World Series of Poker.
The most interesting thing to watch during the middle months of baseball is the graphical trend of how fanbases either disappear or exponentially grow. Where have all the Mets fans gone? Gone for Yankees, every one? And where did all these bandwagoning Phillies fans come from?
But then September comes along, and football mesmerizes us again. It is America’s new pastime. The questioning hovering is then, why do baseball fans come and go?
People may say that it is because all baseball players are on drugs and therefore are bad role models. But this doesn’t really make sense. Football players are the ones more likely to be publicized for vehicular manslaughter under the influence, pitting dogs against each other, abusing their wives and girlfriends, getting in fights at clubs or shooting themselves in the leg with an unlicensed weapon.
Some people say that baseball players are not real athletes compared to football players who throw their bodies on the line. Anybody who saw Sosa’s helmet break against Salomon Torres’ pitch, or Bronson Arroyo’s head block a line drive or even that poor bird who was smote mid-air by Randy Johnson would argue differently.
The truth is this: football fans have it a lot easier than baseball fans.
Because a football fan only spends 48 hours of his time following his sport during the regular season while a baseball fan spends more than 10 times that (also known as how much a Cornell student will sleep during the entire school year).
Because football is what makes a Sunday, while baseball knows no weekends.
Because waiting on some team to lose so your team can get the wildcard spot, out of three potential teams, in the NFL playoffs is a lot less heart wrenching than watching your team play their hearts out for 161 games and lose the division on the last game.
Because the National Football League was founded 12 years after the last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series.
Because a football player like Brett Favre can join his rival team and still be appreciated for his lifetime achievements by his hometown fans, but a baseball player can curse his team for 86 years.
But with the mass suffering that baseball fans undergo, I can honestly say there is no better reward than being a baseball fan. Being from Boston, I have personally experienced the positive side of being a sports fan. In ’01, when the Pats first won the Super Bowl, even my Dad, who limited the amount of time I could watch sports at night, had a smile on his face for a while, and suddenly there were snow angels all over the region. In ’08, the Celtics won their first ring since ’86, and thoughts of Antoine air-ing 3’s and requiring post-game All-American Reject concerts to sell tickets faded.
But when the Sox won in ‘04, I remember I didn’t sleep that night because I was so nervous that I would wake up or the Bambino would walk into my TV room and say “Gotcha!” I remember that in the Globe the following week, there was a jovial story about the significant increase in deaths among the elderly and that nine months later, there was also a significant increase in births. I remember that the Charles appearing to be alight as Bostonians danced in the streets into the wee hours of the morning.
Although chants of dynasty, a challenge for any team, for the Pats and the Celtics rang clear throughout America after their championships, it was apparent then which team has New England’s hearts.
I will admit that sometimes I fade away from the game, especially in such a time-consuming environment, but that whenever I have time in September, it’s always going to be the Sox.