It's been a rough year to be a fan of Major League Baseball - at least it has for me. I've been following the sport since I was 9 years old. The first World Series I can clearly remember was the 1967 match-up between the Cardinals and the Red Sox. I was a huge Bob Gibson fan (still am) and that Series was as good as it gets for a kid obsessed with baseball. When I moved to Berkeley in 1980 I started rooting for the Oakland A's, and I continued to be a loyal fan through good years and bad (plenty of the latter and just enough of the former) until July of last year. I wrote about why I dumped the A's on this blog; no need to rehash any of that here. The upshot of that break was and is that I have no legitimate favorite team in MLB.
This year I've been rooting for the Kansas City Royals, which makes me a bandwagon fan, something I'd always despised in others. I was born in Kansas City, so I have some legitimate claim to the team, and they're a fun team to watch, loaded with young talent and performing well in nearly every important aspect of the game. But the passion isn't there. I haven't invested years of emotion in their success. I don't surf to their website first thing in the morning to scour the box score, to discern statistical trends, or to read what others have written about their latest efforts and their immediate prospects. I don't get visibly angry when a bad call goes against them. Routine errors don't cause me to knot up in pain. Flashes of brilliance don't find their way into all of my conversations for the next 24 hours. All of the above, and much more, is what it means to me to be a team's fan. Without a team, I mean a team I really care about, none of that emotional roller coaster happens as it did from the time I was 9 years old until shortly before I turned 57. Too bad.
At the beginning of the 2015 season I predicted that the Oakland A's, who had the best record in all of Major League Baseball at the end of July of last year, would not manage to win 70 games. As of this writing they are 58-78, the worst record in the American League, a record which means they are on pace to win exactly 69 games for the season. I admit to deriving some slight satisfaction from watching Oakland's fall from grace due to the team's management's remarkable incompetence. However, that satisfaction pales in comparison to the satisfaction derived from rooting for my favorite team, for better or worse, year after year over a six-month season of daily highs and lows; it simply doesn't compare to being a real fan. I'm hoping for better from 2016. I guess I'll just have to pick a team and start all over again nearly half a century after first falling in love with the game.