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The (not really) science of being a baseball fan: What is your Enneagram Fan Type?

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The EnneaFan: A new personality typing system to help you help yourself fan better

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays, Game 7 Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Enneagram has been all over lately. In fact, this particular personality typing system has been showing up in my feed so much — on Facebook, Twitter, popping up on my podcasts, dropping into articles I’ve been reading, into conversations with strangers (okay, I may be the one bringing it up there, and some folks have looked at me a little funny) — that it got me to thinking:

Why is there no Enneagram for baseball fans?

If you’ve somehow avoided the Enneagram so far, 1) congrats and 2) I’m sorry, because we’re gonna dive in. Baseball needs the Enneagram.

To sum it up, it is a personality typing system like the Myers-Briggs, but actually nothing like the Myers-Briggs. And sure, scientifically, like Myers-Briggs and pretty much every other personality-typing systems, the Enneagram is mostly bullshit.

However! Like a lot of things that are bullshit, it is also 1) a useful myth in understanding yourself and other people, and 2) fun as hell.

So why should everybody else have all the fun. Don’t baseball fans deserve to know what their fan type is? Let’s get to work!

I present to you:

The EnneaFan!

crafted lovingly during lunch
by John Ford

Before we get to the individual types, it is important to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to fan. It’s a big ol’ goofy baseball world, and while I wouldn’t want to paint the corners of it, the baseball gods need all of us. So lean in. Maybe you’ll learn something about your fellow fans and why they are the way the are. Heck, maybe you’ll even learn something about yourself...

Type 1: The Eckstein

Prime Motivation: Integrity

Cleveland Indians v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Eckstein is an idealist. There is nothing more important to an Eckstein than her integrity, except possibly the integrity of the game she loves. Sometimes a fan of bunts, double steals, and hard slides into second base, sometimes a data-driven spreadsheet jockey, she is always up for critiquing and/or defending how the game should be played, from pitchers hitting, to the ethics of bat flipping, all the way down to the relative effectiveness and ethics of the latest innovations in the shift and bullpenning.

In fact, the only thing more fun for an Eckstein than watching someone play the game the right way is arguing with another Eckstein who disagrees with her regarding exactly what that “right way” is. Because, above all, and regardless of her approach to the game, the Eckstein needs for you to know that her way is the right way. (And, as it happens, that YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG.) The Eckstein will fight you about the DH — 280 characters at a time — for days at a time to prove it.

A healthy Eckstein will move toward Type 7 (The Prospect Hound) as she expands her areas of expertise, thereby expanding the subject matter of which she can speak knowledgeably, and also just getting too dang busy to be such a giant jackass to everybody. An Eckstein under stress moves toward Type 4 (The Romantic), wherein she idolizes a game that is no longer played, and probably never existed in the first place.

Jersey in your closet: David Eckstein (duh); Chase Utley. Alternately, a handwritten shirsey espousing how much Chase Utley sucks.

Type 2: The Sidekick

Prime Motivation: Belonging

Baltimore Orioles v Kansas City Royals Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Here is a question: When you moved to a new town, how long did it take you to adopt the hometown nine as “your team?” A year? Five years?

Oh, how about “never?”

Then you are probably not a Sidekick.

The Sidekick is a people-watcher and a Crackerjack connoisseur. He adapts to his surroundings quickly, adopting new teams and new favorite players easily and as needed. Because for the Sidekick, it was never really about this particular team or player in the first place. It was always about the experience. Or to put it more precisely, about the community of people he watches this great game with. (Also the beer and the nachos, and the ice cream in the little helmets. Oh, and bobbleheads.)

A healthy Sidekick will move toward Type 4 (The Romantic), as he integrates himself more fully into broader history of his community, thereby avoiding the dreaded “bandwagon” label. Under stress, a Sidekick will move toward Type 8, the Superfan, and will absorb all the worst and most annoying attributes of the fans around him without first questioning them. In short, he boos Santa Claus not because Santa was drunk and making an ass of himself in front of the kids, but because booing Santa is some kind of sick badge of honor for the toughest fans in the business.

Jersey in your closet: All of them.

Type 3: The Frontrunner

Prime Motivation: Winning

To say that the Frontrunner is success-oriented is to state the obvious. But she is also pragmatic. Were you a seven year old Yankee fan, even though you lived in Cleveland? Then you might be a Frontrunner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I mean, Cleveland sucks, right? And you probably can’t wait to get out of this sad little town. So why not get started early?

Oh, what, you think that makes me shallow? Maybe. On the other hand, you can just Count Dah Rings, Suckahs!

The big question is: why is the Frontrunner this way? Here, personality scientists are deeply divided, peeling the onion over this seemingly shallow individual in search of a more profound meaning. But perhaps the most plausible explanation is also the most straightforward: Winning > Losing.

A healthy Frontrunner (yes, they do exist) will move toward Type 6 (The Diehard) and remain a fan of her adopted dynasty even if they no longer — um, dynast? Is that a word? No? Whatever. An unhealthy Frontrunner will move toward Type 9 (“It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal) and will only break out the cap when the teams is actually good.

Jersey in your closet: current — Kris Bryant; former — Derek Jeter; A-Rod

Type 4: The Romantic

Prime Motivation: Significance

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Sensitive and withdrawn about most things, the Romantic gushes about the National Pastime and gets all misty-eyed every year when Opening Day rolls around. He waxes poetic about the greats of the past (maybe the long past, like Babe and Ty and Shoeless Joe; maybe the team-past, like Fred McGriff, Wade Boggs and Scott Kazmir). He still chokes up when Ray Kinsella asks his dad if he wants to have a catch, and he always feels a stirring in his — uh, soul. Yeah, his soul, that’s it — during Crash Davis’s “I believe” monologue. In short, the Romantic is the sap without which the baseball entertainment complex would cease to exist.

So why is the Romantic this way? Because he is convinced that this game — because of it’s history, it’s scope, and it’s unique place in the American experience — this game matters.

Of course, this has its drawbacks, as sometimes the Romantic acts as if he is the only one who really “gets it.” After all, he knew Ben Zobrist was cool before Julianna did. Which is why he’s probably rocking the jersey of a guy you’ve never even heard of, like a sad baseball hipster.

A healthy Romantic will move toward Type 1, the Eckstein, and avoid over-sentimentalizing a game that has at best a complicated history. Under stress, the Romantic moves toward Type 2, the Sidekick, and gets so caught up in mainlining sweet nostalgia that he forgets you actually have to win the game on the field, and that a broken down third baseman past his prime is probably not gonna help with that.

Jersey in your closet: Something vintage. Alternately, a middle reliever.

Type 5: The Nerd

Prime Motivation: Being useful

The Nerd is maybe the most misunderstood type. Yes, she is intense and cerebral. Sure, she is an investigator, always trying to figure out what makes this great game click. What really separates the good players from the bad players? What is just luck and variance, and what is talent? Which conventional wisdom is true, and which is bogus?

It is the reason why the Nerd is like this that confounds people. Because, no, it isn’t that she wants to prove how much smarter than you she is. And no, she doesn’t think scouts are dumb for actually watching the game instead of a spreadsheet.

The Nerd just wants to make the game better using whatever gifts the baseball gods gave her. She want to — she needs to — be useful. That probably didn’t come from the ability to snap off a six-to-twelve curve, or through the ability to spot a guy with “good makeup.” Instead, it shows up in the most sacred of baseball touchstones: math.

Healthy Nerds move toward Type 8, the Superfan, by reminding themselves that “games are not played on a spreadsheet.” (Though this is rarely necessary, since everyone else is always reminding them of this anyway.) Under stress, a Nerd will retreat to Type 7, the Prospect Hound, and spend hours obsessing over something as inane as a 16 year old high schooler’s infield fly rate, convinced she has found the Next Mike Trout.

Jersey in your closet: Currently — Patrick Corbin; Formerly — Chris Archer; Permanently — Mike Trout

Type 6: The Diehard

Prime Motivation: Security

New York Mets v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Diehard is loyal. The Diehard is committed. The Diehard will root, root, root for the home team whether it’s a 100-win season or a 100-loss season. The Diehard is the reason your team hasn’t moved to Montreal. Yet.

Given to cynicism and slow to allow new players onto “his team,” the Diehard also maintains a deep devotion to certain players who have earned it long after those players are gone. As for the owner? Honestly, he hasn’t thought about the owner much at all, because the Diehard doesn’t believe a valuation from Forbes makes a group of players into a “team” anyway. No, it is the Diehard’s fandom, his cheering, that make a team.

The Diehard remembers that he was here before the current owner bought the team. He was here before any of the current players were inked. And the Diehard will still be here long after they are gone. Because there is only one certainty in this crazy, mixed up world, and that is this: We root for laundry.

Under the strain of losing, a healthy Diehard moves toward Type 9, the “It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal, thus insulating herself from getting overly cynical, while an unhealthy Diehard — under the strain of winning — will move toward Type 3, the Frontrunner. This is especially true if he is a fan of a long-suffering franchise that finally breaks some mythical curse, which leads him to start chirping “Count da rings, suckahs!” when the number of rings fit on one finger.

Jersey in your closet: Face of the Franchise; Former Face of the Franchise; team jersey with no name.

Type 7: The Prospect Hound

Prime Motivation: Happiness

Minor League Baseball: California League-All Star Game Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

There is a saying: Prospects will break your heart. No one knows this better than the Prospect Hound. Ironically, this is precisely why the Prospect Hound collects prospects: because for every bust, there will be two shiny new toys in Low-A.

The Prospect Hound is a busy gal. In addition to the big league team to which she swears her allegiance, there is a whole farm system to get to know. And not just your teams’ system. Because what happens if her team trades for somebody? And she doesn’t know anything about the newbie? What if gasp there are players about which she doesn’t yet have an opinion?

And then there are the high school kids and the college kids to get to know before the draft, and the Dominican League, and Winter ball, and and and oh my gosh There is soooo much baseball Isn’t it Glorious who has time to even notice we are in third place at the All-Star break?

A healthy Prospect Hound moves toward Type 5, the Nerd, and doesn’t necessarily trust everything a scout says about the makeup of a 19 year kid and whether that kid has a good face or is just a gritty gamer. A frustrated Prospect Hound moves toward Type 1, the Eckstein. Convinced that there is only one “right way” to play this game (e.g. with a big fastball and light tower power), she becomes blind to more subtle and refined tools a prospect will need in his development.

Jersey in your closet: Wander Franco

Type 8: The Superfan

Prime Motivation: Strength

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Superfan is often an anti-nerd. Powerful and dominating, and frequently superstitious, he is typically aware on some level of how little control over the direction of his favorite team he has. But dammit, that does not stop him from trying.

The different ways a Superfan will express himself are as numerous as the grains of salt on a good margarita. Some are vicious hecklers. Some paint themselves in team colors. Some consume nothing but sports talk radio. Some offer frequent appeasement rituals to the baseball gods. Some are loud. Some are even louder. And some are even in the comment section of this very blog...

All of them are raging against the dying of the light.

A healthy Superfan moves toward Type 2, the Sidekick, and realizes that there are other people at the damn game, and he is not the only person in the park. Unless he’s at the Trop on a Tuesday afternoon against Oakland, in which case he probably is the only person in the park, or at least in Section 141, and in that case he should feel free to let his Superfan Flag fly loud and proud. A stressed Superfan will move toward Type 5, the Nerd, and will pull any and every statistic he can find, regardless of whether it is actually relevant or even coherent, to support his priors.

Jersey in your closet: Team jersey with your own name on it.

Type 9: “It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal

Prime Motivation: Stability

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Okay, remember what I said about there “not being a right or wrong way to fan?” Yeah that was a lie.

See, in real life an Enneagram Type 9 is a Peacemaker. Easy-going, and self-effacing, this is a type that is easy to like, and almost impossible to hate, mostly because they don’t take themselves so damn seriously. They are agreeable, patient, and supportive. It is a super important type (not to mention one in very short supply) of a well-functioning society.

Unfortunately it is also annoying as hell in a sports fan.

“It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal is full of cliches, but not the good kind. In addition to the infuriating “It’s just a game!” (“Just?” Did you say “just”???), they are apt to toss off such winners as “Oh well, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow.” This is of course a pointed reminder that we didn’t get them today and oh my gosh don’t we just hate that guy/gal?

Seriously, did you even watch the game? Did you not see what just happened? Could you let us at least be mad about it for two minutes for heaven’s sake before you start spouting your rose-colored nonsense? M’kay? This team is obviously never going to win another game, and you and your glass-half-full bromides are not welcome here. What is wrong with you???

Wait, what were we talking about?

Under stress, the “It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal moves toward Type 6, the Diehard, and will spend an entire day in denial that actually, she kinda is pissed at Ol’ Stonehands for booting yet another grounder. As the losses mount, this compounds until she is in a deep funk of depressive denial, and all because a bunch of guys she doesn’t know who wear pajamas for a living lost a stupid game. (Oh, but it’s “Just a game!”)

Theoretically, a healthy “It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal — if such a unicorn did indeed exist, which is doesn’t — would move toward Type 3, the Frontrunner, and thus reduce the number of number of times she had to say “It’s just a game.” But that never really happens, because there are no good and healthy ways to be a “It’s Just a Game” Guy/Gal.

Seriously, this is sports. You play. To win. The game.

Jersey in your closet: The first player you ever loved, who broke your heart when he was traded, not that you’re still upset about it or anything.

So what is your Fan Type?

Take the Quiz!