FAN on FAN Action: Sermon from The Mission
by Corey Menotti
I am always struck by the manner in which American fans brand themselves with sporting swag. I myself wear Padres gear in some form everyday. I have some personal rules that I abide by; part style, part shibboleth, part superstition. For example; I do not purchase a jersey with a Friar’s name on it unless they have retired. But for the most part I don these togs because I identify with my club, my squad or my town in a very real and tangible way.
Recent discussions with similarly situated individuals have made me ponder the entire hierarchy of fandom and idolatry as it relates to the 2015 Season.
I get why we identify with players, teams and regions towards which we gravitate; proximity, admiration, even a dabble of mild envy i suspect. Like most humans we have a need to identify with champions, so we seek them out in our choice of teams or players.
But why do we also foster animosity towards other devotees of the same ilk?
What would posses us to look at other club fanatics and enthusiasts in a harsh or even disagreeable light? What is the purpose of fabricating a hierarchy amongst ourselves, the fanbase?
I am baffled.
BIG BALLS: Us vs. Them
Sure I poke fun at the throngs of testy Trolley Bum fans that make the long drive down the 405 to America’s Finest. I might even get a kick out of pointing out a Frisco fan’s ugly face or inability to pronounce simple Spanish names like vallejo or San Rafael but I refuse to diminish her passion for her Lumbering Lilliputians. She should be proud… her team has claimed the series three freakin’ times since 2010. Good for her! So what if that blustery blue team above the Orange Curtain has a fan base that has a difficult time even spelling El Ley…
Che será será! Rah! Rah! Rah! Let baby have his baba…
The rub for me is when I hear the phrase “Diehard” bantered around. I get the point of reference; that one would rather die in an inferno of perdition than deny one’s own squad in a crowd of crucifiers. One might ponder internally “Let the cock crow now! For I am a Padres fan and I shall die hard to proclaim it!” This stalwart fan of a losing team wears his/her fidelity like a veil of tears, a scrim shot shawl of loyalty or threadbare flag cloaked in constancy. Integrity intact but porous of light.
I get even limper when I hear the phrase “bandwagon.” Persons of low birth and ill worth are these supposed chimeras of the fan-o-sphere. As a Padres fan, I deny they even exist. My fellow Dieguitos will come out to watch a good club, I muse. Our local minion have just been chomping at the bit to fill our Happy Haunt just like those damn Norcal brats do up in Baghdad By The Bay. Surely our homegrown homies and East County mavericks will flood Petco Park to watch a team that wins! Even O.B. Juan would come to a few games if our Gaslamp Gang gets some traction. The moniker “Bandwagoner” is the last refuge of scoundrels. It is meant to diminish fans who refuse to support shitty play.
Does this mean that Diehardniks are the enablers of this pecking order? Are those that keep their distance in lean times the real obstacle here or are they helping ownership correct their lack of commitment? After all the market will bear what the market will bear.
PADRE PRISM: Where we fall
By now you must be asking yourself: How will I be able to tell the Diehards from the Bandwagoners? We must have some test to be able to discriminate between who is real and who is… well frankly, a phony-phan.
Now, since secret handshakes are out and witch drownings only happen in Temecula these days I suggest an ocular test. Proof! One that can be performed upon first sight of fellow friar fan. Ask this question:
Which three years did the Padres win the NL Pennant?
Their answer will tell you where they lie on the valuable spectrum of fan-ulation. Those that know that this question is more psychological than it is factual must ponder the possibilities of the future along with the actual flags that fly above the bullpen:
- The Bandwagoner knows that we have them just perhaps not when they were achieved
- The Diehard knows it was 1984, 1998 and 2015
As fans, the choice of where we fall in this range is solely ours and ours alone. And bollocks to those that cast doubt on our level of commitment!
Corey is also known as the Dancing Friar. He can be found during most Padres home games dancing like a fool in the right field stands and leading the Friar Faithful in cheering on the home team.