Sunday, April 25, 2004
Reading some of the blogs, and sitting in my school today, I was struck by how many people root (or blog) for out-of-town teams. Technically speaking, I do too: I've lived in Pittsburgh for the last nine years (and I'm likely to continue to do so) but I'm hopelessly devoted to the Phils. One of my classmates, a Pittsburgher, is a Red Sox fan, and has been wearing a beaten up Red Sox cap to class every day for the last three years. One of my best friends is, despite having lived pretty much all of his life in Western Pennsylvania, a huge Red Sox fan. (My fiancée and I went to last June's “turn back the clock” game celebrating the centennial of the first World Series between the Pirates and Red Sox with him and his wife. The previous day's double-header was the first time that he had actually ever seen the Sox play in person.) I've come across three out-of-town bloggers recently: A's Ya'll, Tribescribe and Roses and Rattlers, three terrific blogs done by guys who don't live in same town as the teams they blog for. They root for teams from either their hometown, or places they've never even lived at. Given the transitory nature of American life, this can be taken for granted. (Cable TV helps - thanks to ESPN's West Coast ballgame coverage, I've seen the A's more times this season then I've seen the Phillies and Pirates put together.)
People keep a project a certain identity with teams, which is probably why in Sports Illustrated's "50 states, 50 years" poll, there are more Pirates fans in Pennsylvania because people all throughout the central and northern parts of the state identify themselves culturally with Pittsburgh and not Philadelphia, despite the fact that Philadelphia is a much bigger market.
I think that is the terrific thing about these blogs: they help us interact with our original homes and help us keep connected with our roots. This blog is about the current team, but it is also a little about what made the past, my memories about The Vet and the Phillies, special. (I look at this blog as being two parts The Best Week Ever, and one part I Love the Eighties. Just with baseball ... and not quite as much humor.)
In An Empire Wilderness, Kaplan wrote about how sports teams might bind communities together more than anything else in modern American society. (Off subject, but I highly recommend Kaplan's books, which are usually about his travels in foreign countries. His book Balkan Ghosts is simply amazing to read. Kaplan's dispatches for The Atlantic Monthly are excellant too.) I think that I see what he means: with blogs disparate people have gone out into cyberspace (if that term even used anymore) and they’ve created communities for themselves based on shared interests. It's a good thing for fandom, and a good thing for the game of baseball.
Anyone else out there an out-of-town blogger?