One fan’s internal struggle: When is it okay to switch allegiances?

Disillusioned yet determined and possibly stoned young Red Sox fanFunny things happen when you grow up a sports fan.

In our misspent youth, we randomly cheer for players or teams without giving it a second thought.  Those allegiances are based upon where we grew up, which teams our parents rooted for (or against) or what player took the time to give us an autograph or shake our hand.  These are indelible memories that shape our very sports being.

As we mature, however, we start to see things in a different light.  No longer do we follow allegiances as blindly as we did when we were still bringing our baseball gloves to the ballpark.  Sure, we’ll always hold a soft spot in our hearts for those experiences but eventually we start to think things through more logically as we do, or at least should do, with everything in life.

Basically, we change our minds.  For whatever reason, we may no longer hold the same affinity for the team we grew up with.  Maybe we relocate.  Maybe the business we own, or run, is directly affected by the success or failure of the team in our new home town.  Maybe we befriend players or members of the organization.  Or maybe we just grow tired of the way one organization is run and become far fonder of another.  Aren’t we allowed to change our minds and why is there guilt involved in doing so?  Or is it just me?

I’m a grown man now.  I should be able to make educated decisions about who to root for.

Can you tell that I’m conflicted?

What I’m getting at here will come as a shock to those of you who have known me the longest.

YazI have been a Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember.  I suffered through them dropping a 14-game lead to the Yankees in 1978, punctuated by a nightmarish Bucky Dent home run over the Green Monster.  When Carl Yastrzemski fouled out to Gregg Nettles to end the game, and their season, I cried my eyes out while my father did his best to console me.

I lived through 1986 and even more repressed, Mookie-like memories I don’t care to relive.  Calvin Schiraldi should still be sending Bill Buckner Christmas cards.  True Red Sox fans will know just what I’m talking about.  I was going to school in Boston at the time.  Walking to class after the Game Six loss felt like attending a campus-wide wake.

By the time Aaron Boone hit his post-season dinger in 2003, I was already numb, as was every long-suffering Sox fan.  Losing in the most heart-breaking of fashions had become our identity.

Then came redemption: two World Series titles for a team that had been called cursed.  I cried again but this time for a different reason.  Ask any Sox fan what that was like and to this day, they’ll get choked up.

But I no longer live in Boston and never will again.  I live in Tampa and have going on five years now.  I also lived here as a child when they only dreamed of having a baseball team.  These days, in case you haven’t noticed, the town has fielded themselves a fairly competitive squad that just happens to be in the same division as my formerly beloved Red Sox… not to mention the fact that they’re squaring off in the upcoming American League Division Series.

When I first started going to “The Trop,” I’d wear my weather-beaten Red Sox hat, the same kind I’d worn for over thirty years.

Sox fans

But times have changed and so have I.

The Sox fans you’ll encounter these days feel a sense of entitlement, as if winning those two World Series magically eliminated the culture ingrained from eighty years of being also-rans.  The modern Sox fan knows not what the rest of us went through: always being the underdog, only because we knew we would always find a way to lose.

Let me be clear I am not a band-wagoner.  I am not jumping from team to team as they win titles.  After all, the Rays haven’t won one… yet.  I’m no Lakers, Cowboys or Yankees fan rooting for a team on a whim.  I live in Tampa and don’t plan on living anywhere else.  Sure the Rays have a problem drawing fans into their building.  They are only in the beginning of what’s bound to be some ugly negotiations regarding where to construct a new stadium.  But from top to bottom, they’re run the way an organization is supposed to be run.  Home grown talent, sustainable payroll, creative front office, one of the best managers in the game and no players busted for inappropriate behavior of any kind.

Tampa is a team that squeezes the most out of its investment dollar, one that has to pinch every penny in the face of stiff competition that can spend without care.  Moreover, they are likeable.  Whereas the Red Sox were always underdogs, now are the Rays.

waving rays flagI recently asked good friends of mine, the Chemical Brothers (I call them that because of all the drugs they’ve taken in their life time) when it’s okay for a sports fan to switch allegiances. They said five years.  After living in a new city for five years, it’s perfectly okay to start rooting for that new home team.

My home is now in Tampa.  My heart is in Tampa.  My family is in Tampa.  I won’t be living anywhere else anytime soon.  So who do I have to apologize to other than myself?

The Red Sox will always hold a dear place in my heart but the time for change has come and I have to pick a side in this series.

And I have.

Go Rays!

56 thoughts on “One fan’s internal struggle: When is it okay to switch allegiances?

  1. Cool! I’m a San Francisco Giants and 49ers fan. Have been since I was old enough to have a clue… That doesn’t stop me from pulling for other teams in MLB or NFL… Then a problem arose. I thought it was alright to pull for the Seattle Seahawks years back when I moved from Central California to Washington state. After all, the Seahawks were in the AFC and the Niners in the NFC… Then along comes realignment and my two favorite NFL teams end up in the same division and look what I have to contend with now! In MLB I used the same reasoning to pull for the Tampa Bay Rays since they’re in the AL… I understand talk of the Rays moving is picking up steam again… All I can do is hope they stay out east!

  2. Chris

    At least you have witnessed the BoSox finally making it to the promised land having won two World Series . But was that before the switch of allegiance to the Rays ?

    I made my switch from the Marlins to the Braves (2011) , but that was after two World Series’ triumphs . Now after last night’s demoralizing loss to the Dodgers. I am not so sure the switch was worth it . Damn , the Braves looked bad last night and they couldn’t get anything going at all .

    Greed is good ! The problem remains, when is enough not enough?

    tophatal ………….

  3. I was struggling with this one, Dwin. In fact, it took me a few years to write.

    I was as avid a Sox fan as you can imagine, that hat irremovable from my head.

    But I dig this Rays team and how they put it together. It’s just a well-run organization, top to bottom.

    It’s unfortunate I have to take a side but they’re rivals and for whatever reason, when I watch the two play each other, I end up rooting for the Rays.

    It’s happened and I’m not sure there’s much I can do about it.

  4. Al…

    I didn’t move (back) to Tampa until after the Sox had won their second World Series.

    And I never thought I’d be anything other than a Sox fan.

    But impartially, or as impartially as possible, it’s just difficult not to root for this Rays team if you live in this city.

  5. And yea, Dwin, to answer your moving question.

    I think they’ll do whatever it takes to keep them here. We’ll hear more talk about things in the off-season, I’m sure.

  6. WOW … I guess I saw that comming SC in things youd say to me.

    So you & PJD can ring the cowbell … and I’m just grateful to have you here.

    LOVE that first photo … love the SC.

    Great post. Thx.

  7. Don’t get me wrong, M.

    I think the cowbell is trite, unless of course there’s a guy banging it while wearing a blue wig on council. That was a nice touch.

    But when I watch these two teams play, again, I just find myself rooting for the home town team.

    Maybe we can just get them to change their name.

  8. You have the same problem I have with the Angels and the Twins. I grew up on the Angles; then lived in Minnesota for 15 years and came to be a fans of theirs as well. That was compounded by the fact that I liked the Twin s as a kid because many of the great players the Angels had came from the Twins (Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock, just to name two…)

    Much like a guy can have a wife and a girlfriend, guys do have more than one team. I’ve had a rough idea for a blog on this topic in my head for a while. Perhaps we could collaborate on such a piece. Drop me an email if you are interested.

  9. I’m sure this decision was made over a stiff cocktail and I will not make any comments until we, as well, have discussed this over a couple of stiff cocktails. What I will say is if you need help with this adjustment, talk to Eric. He switches allegiances on a daily basis.

  10. Donny C…

    I looked up ‘bandwagon’ in the dictionary and found a picture of Joe Morgan. Or was it Bruce Smith? Always so tough to tell the three apart. One thing is for certain. He was standing next to a fat girl.

    I think your friend’s mad.

  11. Chris

    I can understand where you’re coming from on that .

    Before I cut ties in South Florida from a personal and business standpoint , I was a die hard Marlins’ fan . Yet once Loria and the front office started with their web of lies and deceit that was it for me .

    With regard to A Rod , it is all a scare tactic on his part and he stands no chance at all with that legal action of seeking to sue MLB . What evidence does he possess to suggest that the hierarchy is seeking to drive him lout of baseball ? He has repeatedly broken the league’s rules and if asked to take the stand in his defense he will have to try and prove that the league and Tony Bosch (Biogenesis) have been lying as to the allegations against him .

    Bye bye Dusty Baker . The Reds will not be extending his contract which still has a year to run .

    tophatal …………….

  12. Chris

    Where do you believe Josh Freeman will end up if he clears waivers ? If he doesn’t then the Bucs will still owe him the $ 8 million (remainder) left on this season’s salary ?

  13. I mourned the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn.
    Rooted for no one team since.
    Rays have earned my allegiance for the same
    reasons they have yours, Chris

  14. Chris,

    God, the similarities between you and my older bro are frightening. Transplanted “Yankees”, please no confusion with the Bronx Bombers, to Tampa. Roots for the Rays but not as much as the Bosox. I tried to offer him a solution to his dilemma but he wouldn’t hear it. I’ll repeat it to you…. Show allegiance to your POCKET. Only root for the teams you are currently betting on. How’s that for living a subcultured mindset?

    BTW, still lmao over friends you labeled “Chemical Brothers”. I’m gonna use it some day.

  15. Ha ha & thank you for not putting up a link & ruining a mans political future (blue wig)! 😛

    As for the name, no…that’s not it. Didn’t even think about that really. Has more to do w/sentimentality; that cute kid in the picture & days past…yr Grandma (a die-hard BoSox fan), yr crazy, charming, sports-fanatic, gambler Grandpa, and how I grew-up with the beautiful natural sounds of baseball. Plus precious memories with, sweet young SC at many a baseball game.

    I cant break from those family ties & the team (along w/the “Miracle Mets”) who brung me.

    While I respect yr decision & adulthood… I’ll be the one cheering for the BoSox … because that’s how I roll.

    Want to place a bet? 🙂

  16. PS: U forgot to mention how some people… choose their college … based in their favorite baseball team (Red Sox).

  17. Al…

    It’s just like being with a woman you’ve loved forever and then, for whatever reason, grew apart from.

    The Marlins scorned you, used you. Sure, they showed you some good times but those were temporary, dare I suggest superficial.

    The decision to switch to another team was something I never thought I’d do but again, for the reasons stated above, I have. I don’t root against the Red Sox. I just can’t root for them when they’re playing the Rays.

    I can only imagine A-Rod is suing (counter-suing?) Major League Baseball to shorten his suspension but in the end, do any of us really care? Hopefully the drama will give us something to write about.

    I’m a little surprised Cincy cut ties with Dusty Baker unless they were looking to find a younger manager that would be better able to relate to that team. I’m pretty sure Dusty will be able to find a gig elsewhere if he really wants one.

  18. Al…

    I’m sure there are a few teams out there that would take a chance on Freeman.

    There’s apparently a lot of baggage that comes with though.

    By the way, are we ever going to hear the end of who leaked the drug addiction stuff?

  19. Coach…

    They’re a tough team to root against.

    Although after Game One’s ass-whoopin’, maybe I should have just told everyone I was still a Red Sox fan, huh?

  20. Bets…

    Maybe we’re related.

    And trust me. I know well enough to not lay money on teams I have an emotional attachment to.

    Unless of course they’re a fat moneyline dog when they shouldn’t be and then I lay loose.

  21. Dear Triple SC,
    You would not believe how much I have to say on this post. I’ve tried to write it…it’s too blasted long so I deleted it.. All I’m gonna say is you and I are sure cut from the same cloth it seems, but I was born and raised in Florida. I am a Red Sox fan, but I LOVE baseball and truly “live in the moment!” I’ve cheered for different teams all my life, except for the Yanks-I’ve never cheered for them! I watch baseball, whoever’s playing, not because of the team but because of baseball. That’s as condensed as I can get because if I go into my family/baseball history then I’ll talk the ears off of a brass monkey!

    I enjoyed the beginning of that 18 inning Orioles/Rays game on 9/20, but I was with a girlfriend & 2 kids who are not baseball fans and they all wanted to leave in the 7th ugh 🙁 I stayed up watching the box score on my phone and texting Yaz about the game!

    I’m Tropicana bound for Monday’s game, but this time I’m bringing a friend who loves baseball too. We are excited about going to a postseason game, albeit in nose bleed seats. She’ll be in her Rays gear and I’m wearing Red Sox.

    Are you going?

  22. Chris

    Baggage with Freeman ? What about his own apothecary and pharmacy ? Xanax , Zoloft , Paxil and any other damn anti-depressant that he may well be using ?

    Tell me that the Rays’ ‘ 12 -2 loss was simply an aberration ?

    My Braves put it on the Dodgers . With the series now squared at 1-1 , if they can sneak one of the two in Los Angeles . if not both , it will make for an interesting series !

    Theo Epstein and the Cubs having fired Dale Sveum , are now prepared to offer Joe Girardi the vacant managerial position and make him one of the two highest paid managers in baseball . Is that $5.5 million a year now buys you ? An overrated , over-bearing and spoiled a_hole ?

    Friday’s MLB results

    A Rod and his lawyers clearly have no idea what they are now getting themselves into . There’s a way to play the “game of chicken” , and this is not one of them , that’s for sure .

    Latest piece Pine tar , anyone ?

    tophatal ………………

  23. Dee Dee.

    The way the Rays are playing, Monday might be their last game of the season.

    I am gonna try to sneak in to see the game for sure. I sent you an email. Give me a shout when you’re in town.

    And here’s hoping there’s another game for us to watch on Tuesday.

  24. Still no word on any interest in Freeman, Al.

    The Rays got pummeled in Game One but at least their bats woke up a little bit in Game Two, currently down 5-3.

    And how much would you like to be the judge in the A-Rod case… that is if it ever sees the inside of a courtroom.

  25. The issue I have with the appeal’s hearing to be presided over by Fred Horowtiz is that the player won’t be asked to take the stand in his defense . It will simply his lawyers looking to weaken the presentation of the evidence possessed by MLB and how they went about obtaining it . The trial however , could very well be another can of worms altogether . What’s so asinine about the issue is the very fact that Bud Selig did not seek to have a speedy hearing to begin with . How b> goddamn clueless are the members of baseball’s hierarchy ?

    Pine tar , anyone ?

    tophatal ………..

  26. If I decided to make my home in Tampa, I might also follow the rays. However, I’m much more of a purist than you are in that I’d choose only towns where the local nine is easy to dislike. That’s why it would be easy for me to move back to NY, go to Baltimore (Who can like Peter Angelos), or move to Toronto (perennial underachievers). In fact, until 2008 there was nothing about the Rays that was even remotely lovable either.

    I do have a few caveats about today’s Rays, however: First, Maddon is a great manager but a little enamored of the spotlight. I like the fact that Francona and Farrell seek to diffuse attention rather than attracting it. It’s a little difficult to stomach his antics at times. Also, the team’s willingness to pick up some sketchy characters like Yunel Escobar and Delmon Young tells me that either character doesn’t play a prominent role in personnel decisions, or it’s such a small market that no one pays attention to a player’s rap sheet. But their talent judgement is second-to-none, especially around pitching, and the fact that they’ve succeeded without (in spite of?) any fan support whatsoever is commendable.

    But….Go Sox!

  27. Well it looks as if the Vikings will take a chance on Freeman . Is it that easy to earn $ 11 million in a year ? ($ 8million incl incentives with the Bucs and $ 3million now with the Vikings)

    tophatal ……………………..

  28. Uncle AF…

    They did take another flyer on Young and that kind of surprised me considering his past, however, he’s been a model citizen since re-signing… or at least he’s not swinging bats at umpire’s heads anymore.

    And you’re right about Maddon. His kumbaya attitude can get a little tired sometimes. We hear it all the time. But he’s still one of the best managers in the league and he knows how to get the most out of a discounted clubhouse.

    Trust me, as you well know, this was a difficult decision to make and as you suggest, had I moved back to NYC, there’s no way I could have ever rooted for the pinstripers. I mean, I do have SOME couth.

  29. Al…

    He’s a quarterback and at one point has had some success in the league. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that another team took a chance on him. The position is far too important and it’s not like he came with a heavy price tag.

    We’ll just see if he can earn that next one.

    It also wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

  30. Well Chris , the Rays’ season came to an abrupt end . So Joe Maddon doesn’t believe that Shane Victorino can play or hit in the postseason ?

    Is Steve Spurrier that much of an @ss jumping to the defense of Jadaveon Clowney ? And if the player believes he can be a class A one @s$hole, then so be it . But he can’t blame anyone but himself , if he fails to be a top five or top ten pick in the 2014 NFL Draft . Clowney claims there was some miscommunication with him taking himself out of South Carolina’s last game ? Is he kidding or what ? Collegiate athletics remains a damn joke and it always has been . And a butthole such Spurrier is now enabling this kid by coming to his defense . Oh I forgot , Steve Spurrier remains a conceited son of a ##tch anyway .

    tophatal …………

  31. Happy College Football Day to you Triple SC:)
    You said:

    “The Sox fans you’ll encounter these days feel a sense of entitlement…”

    After meeting me at the Red Sox/Rays game, I know you did not get that entitlement vibe from me. Yes, I had my broom in the purse for the sweep, but I was just so glad to be part of an exciting game. Why? Because! I AM A BASEBALL FAN- completely passionate , deliriously excited about the GAME.

    So let me ask you this…Are you wearing your Red Sox hat for the ALCS?

  32. Dee Dee…

    You’re also not the average fan. Far from it.

    And for the record, I still own plenty of Red Sox hats and not a single Rays one.

    Someone just smiled.

  33. Dee…

    The Sox have their work cut out for them against Detroit.

    They couldn’t hit the Tigers tonight and they still haven’t faced either Scherzer or Verlander yet.

  34. Oh believe me, it was a rough night for sure. Don’t you think West’s strike zone had something to do with my bearded bats not hitting? First postseason shutout for the Boston since..what did they say- 1918? And we almost saw the first combined pitcher no hitter? Man… I dreamt of Fenway last night and hopeful that’s a mighty good sign for the remainder of the games 😉

  35. Dee Dee…

    Wild game last night. I was at the bar slinging drinks on a pretty busy night.

    Detroit looked to have that game in hand, up 5-1.

    Someone later told me that Boston had tied it up and I couldn’t believe it.

    You’d think Benoit would know better than to throw a fastball right down the pipe to David Ortiz.

    Perhaps he hadn’t gotten the memo.

  36. Nice Lakers jab. The bandwaggon is a little lighter these days thanks to Sternhoio’s veto.

  37. Pingback: Sports Chump » Red Sox Fan Redux

  38. Never!!! 😉

    I’ve lived in central Florida for over going on 9 years now and I will NEVER abandon my Sox! My husband asked me a few months ago if I wanted to get season tickets next year…to the Rays. I just looked at him like he lost his mind. LOL.

    He might’ve taken the girl out of MA, but I will never be a Rays fan! 😉

    (Even if he is slowly but surely drifting in that direction. I’m used to us backing different sports teams. Pats/Dolphins games are always a good time in our house.)

  39. Ya Ya…

    Thanks for chiming in. Fresh faces and voices are always welcome.

    Look, I can’t explain how it happened. In fact, Bobby Valentine and the chicken wing incident may have had something to do with it.

    Meanwhile, down south, a hard-working team is doing their best to compete at one third the price.

    Either way, what’s done is done. I’ll never root against ’em but when they play the Rays, I had to pick a side… and did.

  40. Hey Chris…been five years since this conversation.. and I just now ran into it. Im thinking of switching myself. Here’s my story. Il try to keep short.
    I’ve been a Royals fan my entire life. I too…have been fortunate to witness two championships. My whole family are Royals fans. Thing is…Ive had some personal things happen to me in between the first championship and last years. I was literally more happy in my personal life during the almost 30 years of the Royals losing seasons. Amazingly…in the championship season last year I became more and more dissatisfied with my life in Kansas City. My whole life, I always envisioned myself bouncing my grandson or grandaughter (and no, Im not a grandpa yet, im still a young 46) on my knee telling them great Royals stories. Thing is….sometimes life gets in the way and change is needed. Even the great Cardinals announcer Haray Caray left for the Cubs after being accused of sleeping with owners wife of the Cardinals. Of course., im just a fan…but I too have experienced heartache in the place Ive grown up. Two years ago, I adopted the Lightning as my hockey team since KC does not have an NHL team..now Im finding my baseball passion again…..in the Rays. Also, its always been juuuuuust under the surface for me…the name Royals. Why would a town name a team after a “title” so closely associated with a country we had to defeat for our freedom? Im very patriotic, and it just bugs me. Granted, they were named after the Kansas City American Royal, a yearly fesival that comes to town once a year. But still, it bugs me. That being said though, the name isnt the biggest reason. Its the idea of starting over at a new place and knowing i wouldn’t be rooting for the same team that certain people in my family root for. Its not easy. I have passionately rooted for KC for a looooong time. But my unhappiness here crescendoed in their championship year. Incredibly. After rooting for Lightning last two years, I now have started listening to Rays. Lol…Im falling in love. Hopefully I dont have to explain that this isnt bandwagon jumping. Also…very well adjusted here, and I know this topic is all in fun. Like someone once said…Sports is the toy department in life. With you being a Ray fan…what do you think? Acceptable switch? Would Ray fan welcome me aboard?…. Sincerely, passionate baseball fan that loves Blue.

  41. David…

    First and foremost, I should warn you that being a Rays fan ain’t easy.

    Take today for example. They traded away Matt Moore, one of the best starting pitchers, to basically unload his salary.

    Fortunately the Rays have starting pitchers for days but there comes a point in every season, as long as this is a small market team with seemingly little or at least unrealistic playoff aspirations, that they routinely host fire sales before the trading deadline.

    It’s disconcerting.

    It’s good that the Royals finally exorcised those demons and won one last title… if you were even rooting for them at that point.

    But like I said, rooting for the Rays comes with a warning label. Heck, if I told the organization they had another interested fan, they’re probably welcome you with open arms and buy you dinner first.

  42. Lol…thanks for the response. Its not all about winning and losing from my personal stand point. Once aboard however…and if a new marriage happens…it does become about chanouinships. Believe it or not though…Im one of the most loyal team supporters you’ll ever find. IF I change my loyalties…it has nothing to do with the wins and losses. I put up with 30 years of losing and would have gone 30 more. No….like a lot of people out there….sometimes you wanna hop in your car and drive as far as you can…and start over. Lol… now please realize, I’m a very normal and well adjusted dude…the baseball part of my life is fun, I realize that. (Hope im not getting too personal). Ive just had …lets say…failed relationships and family issues that have quite literally taken my passion away from the game. I miss the passion. …Sighhhhhh. As far as Rays being small market, yea, I guess they are huh. On a good note though, it seems like I read somewhere that Tampa Bay’s market is closer to middle sized than tiny. If that is true….and they get a sweet stadium that can make peoples eyes bug out of their sockets….look out. I see nooooo problem with Lightning and Bucs support there. They need that ballpark…..and a owner thats committed to giving the Eastern division fits at all costs possible. Anyways….great chatting with you. Any advice is welcome 🙂

  43. David…

    I guess Tampa is considered a smaller market not necessarily based on the population (the entire Bay area still makes it a top 25 market in the nation, I believe) but the fact that the team continues to spend as little as possible certainly defines them as a smaller market than they actually might be.

    The idealist in me sees this team building a new stadium closer to Tampa which might mean better resources, a new environs and a well-needed breath of fresh air. That will be fun.

    The biggest question mark, aside from them breaking their current lease at the Trop, is who is going to pay for it all.

  44. yeaaaa…ive always been on the side of less taxes.Im a little partial when it comes to baseball though. Heres how I reason it….I think baseball keeps kids out of trouble , and right on through the rest of their lives. To what degree?….not sure, but I really believe it does. Its a smiley face on peoples lives when smiley faces are needed so bad… especially in todays world. I figure if we pay for street work and street lights…how about a good thing for people’s soul. Of course…there will always be the people who say education and healthcare come first. I do draw lines. I just happen to think baseball cures more ills than people realize. Of course, the Rays have work to do…Lol.

  45. You’re old school though, David.

    I’m not too sure baseball has the same effect on this generation than it did on us growing up.

    Look, I’m all for paying a penny tax if it’s for a structure that will benefit our community but I may be in the minority on that one.

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