I grew up a fan of precisely two sports teams: the only hockey team of consequence, the Winnipeg Jets, and Canada's team, the Montreal Expos. I ate and slept those teams: I recently looked through a box of drawings I'd made when I was six years old - some cats, a fish, Dale Hawerchuk and Tim Raines. That was my entire repertoire.
And as I grew up, I had a true sports fan experience: my teams never won. Anything. In 1984-85, the Jets finished 4th overall...Then Jamie Macoun broke Dale Hawerchuk's ribs with a dirty crosscheck and put him out of the playoffs. Early the next season, superstar Dave Babych got shipped out of town for a bag of pucks, and that was it.
In 1993, the Montreal Expos finished 94-68 - three years too early for the Wild Card - and we Expos fans had to suffer through the indignity of watching the Toronto Blue Jays win another World Series (ok, I'm kidding here, I was able to eke out a little smile when the Jays beat the Phillies.) In 1994, the Expos had the best record in baseball, and so they canceled the goddamn season.
Then everybody started complaining that you couldn't have sports teams in Canada and they shipped the Jets and the Expos off to antiseptic new homes with people who would then begin to suffer their own indignities at the hands of the professional sports fates.
In the midst of this, I moved to California, and ultimately to San Francisco. It was an auspicious time to be a baseball fan around here - the A's made it to the first round of the playoffs every year, and the Giants found themselves in the World Series against the Anaheim Angels. People flooded the city's bars and started wearing heinous orange clothing everywhere they went. Even though I harbor a deep hatred of Orange County, I found myself wanting the Angels to win, but I couldn't put my finger on why.
Fast forward to 2010. The Giants had just suffered through five straight losing seasons, and for the first time, they weren't selling out their own antiseptic stadium. It always looked to me like Giants fans showed up for the 3rd through 5th innings, so it seemed ironic that people stopped coming to the game just because they were losing. In 2010, however, an epic late-season collapse by the San Diego Padres put the Giants into the playoffs and ultimately into the World Series. This time, it was obvious to me why I wanted them to lose.
It should go without saying that after I spilled about 1000 blog posts on this site, I like to talk about sports. But almost no one else I knew did. If I tried to get a baseball game on the TV in a bar, people just shook their heads at me. Yet in October 2010, all my friends who had sneered at my oh so unironic interest in the day-to-day progress of our local sports teams suddenly went out and bought orange clothing. "Who plays for the Giants?" I'd ask. "The guy with the beard, the kid with the stringy long hair and the fat panda guy," they'd answer, "But really, who cares? They're in the World Series!"
There are two times when I've really appreciated being outside the country: 1) April Fool's day my last year in university, when I almost certainly would have been arrested for what I'd set in motion before I left; 2) during the 2010 Giants World Series "victory parade".
In case it's not obvious, San Francisco is full of transplants from elsewhere in the country and the world. My neighborhood is O.G. - we're talking gold satin 49ers jackets and the elderly flashing gang signs on the bus - and still almost everyone is from somewhere else. And instead of living the life of suffering that all worthy sports fans endure before their team finally ekes out one championship, all of these casual sports fans get to tune in in October every few years to see if the Giants win the World Series.
It's like everyone now likes a band that I liked when they were unknown and uncool. I cannot share in their joy; I can only think of Dave Chappelle's Playa Hater's Ball and the man who called the cops on his drug-dealing neighbors not because it was the right thing to do, but just because he was jealous of all the money they were making.
Detroit in 6 - because it'll hurt more to watch the Tigers celebrate on the field in San Francisco than it will for the Giants to get swept.