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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why fandom?

One of the things that came up in the Reds Blogger Roundtable today was a grade for the Cincinnati Reds' fans.  Generally speaking, the bloggers were not particularly complementary of ourselves.  Too impatient, too much complaining, bitching... etc, etc, etc.

That's probably all true.  I'm not sure that other fanbases are all that different, but I've seen a tremendous about of griping and complaining this year.  I've run across people who use their twitter accounts to do nothing but rant about the team, and put down anyone expresses anything positive about the team.  It really makes one wonder why they even follow the team when it clearly causes them so much anguish.

That's a question I've been asking myself lately.  Following Wayne Krivsky's firing in 2008, I sort of stepped back from the Reds for a while.  I'm always going to be a fan; the team is basically family, and being a Reds fan is a part of my identity.  But it's definitely the case that I didn't pay nearly as much attention to them on a day to day basis during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.  I'm sure I checked the score every day, and watched the few games that came onto TV.  But I was spending at least as much time being a baseball fan as I was being a Reds fan.

Last year, it probably took until July before I really started to believe that this team might win.  That's when I started following every inning again.  And this year, I went all in with an package, which I have used to watch at least part of almost every game this season.

It's been a lot of fun.  But it's also been mind-bogglingly frustrating at times.  Maybe I don't scream quite as loud as some others, but when the Reds are losing it can put me in a pretty negative mood.  There are other things that I enjoy doing besides watching the Reds blow it...things that are pretty much guaranteed to make me happy and put me in a good mood.  So why do I bother?

I guess the answer is that the good times, when they happen, are just so incredibly good that they keep you around during the bad times.  It's sort of like an abusive relationship that way.  But when Jay Bruce hit that home run last September, I don't think I've felt that amazing since I saw Todd Benzinger jumping up and down after he caught the ball in 1990.  At least, not from a baseball game.  That's the kind of payout you're looking for when you emotionally invest in a team.  But when you do it, you also open yourself up to anguish when they utterly and completely fail.

As I write this, the Reds are now parked 4 games behind the Brewdinals.  I'm trying to gear myself up for the second half.  So I look at the numbers, and I see that the Reds' overall performance, as measured by run differential or their component statistics, is right there with those two teams.  And I know that a four-game deficit just isn't that much when there are still two and a half months of games left.  And that the Reds have some terrific depth from which they can deal to upgrade the team.  The Reds' losses have been painful lately...but a couple of big series, and they can be right back in this.

The question is, am I ready to go all in with this team in the second half?  I honestly don't know if I can.  But I'm going to try.