ST. PETERSBURG - MAY 17: The Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their victory over the the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field on May 17, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Currently, the artful Carson Cistulli has poised the question "Why do you write?" to many of the most talented baseball bloggers on the internet. He’s posted two responses thus far on FanGraphs.com, and I suggest that you go check them out. Mr. Cistulli’s quest got me to thinking about something. Why do we as fans watch the games? And more specifically, why do we watch the Rays and care as deeply about them as we do. After all, the majority of fans don’t have any specific ties to the team, outside of their geographical location. We're not related to a player. We didn't play for the team. There's no real history of success with the franchise. We don't own shares of the team. We're just fans. But, why?
This question extends further than the usual, "I'm a huge baeball fan!" answer. We're all baseball fans. If you weren't you wouldn't be reading this. As Jerry Seinfeld
famously said in one of his routines, "Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify, because the players are always changing; the team could move to another city. You're actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it." He's not wrong. Seinfeld goes on to question why fans don't root for the players inside the clothes, instead of the actual clothes themselves. After all, the players make up the teams. Without them there is no team, no game.
You can branch that question out farther and ask why we root for any one specific team at all. Why don't we always root for the outcome that would create the most drama, inherently making it a more interesting narrative? Would we all benefit from the experiences of author and avid sports fan Chuck Klosterman, who was born in the professional sports geographical purgatory known as North Dakota? This allowed him free range to pick and choose who and what he has rooted for. With that comes one caveat. He will never experience the type joy that the 2008 Rays team brought its most loyal of fans. But he will also never experience the 10 years of misery that preceded it. He's the perpetual bachelor; never getting dumped while at the same time never falling in love. Is that a better scenario? I don't know.
There's no right or wrong answer to these questions. I'm just posing them to you to satiate my own curiosities. So, what do you think?