A Fear of Decommitment

Anyone who has known me for some time knows that it’s highly unusual that I am getting married this fall. Mainly because I spent the first 26 years of my life announcing resolutely that I wasn’t getting married. Ever. And those very close to me know that this is because I had something of a commitment issue. Namely, I didn’t do it. After a couple years in a relationship I’d start to get restless and look around. So nobody was more surprised than I when I met my fiancé and came to realize that I was done. Finito. -33-. Farewell to all that. End of story.

Yet last night, in the face of temptation, I found myself once again questioning my ability to commit. I was sitting here:

watching the Nats, and almost without thought, cheering for them. It felt weird. If I was cheering a baseball team and it wasn’t a road game, I was supposed to be sitting in Camden Yards. I was supposed to be wrinkling my nose disdainfully at any team not wearing white, orange, and black. I was supposed to be yelling “Ohhhhh” during the Star Spangled Banner. (OK, admittedly I never actually did that because it’s goofy and undignified. But you get my general drift.) I was supposed to think that at the End of Days, this is the worst thing the Devil could see coming:

Oriole Bird

I am an O’s fan. I toddled around Memorial Stadium as a child, spent 20 horrifying minutes lost there one summer as a pre-teen when separated from my parents after performing the Star Spangled Banner, and the soundtrack of my childhood includes repeated urgings from my father to “lock the doors now” as we cruised 33rd Street looking for parking. I swung my little arms wildly with Wild Bill Hagy. I giggled along with my mother and older sister while they ogled the Ripkens—all three of them—standing on the field even though I didn’t really understand what we were looking at. I would to this day, without hesitation and risking prosecution, deliver a swift punch in the balls to this now-grown kid:

The only time in my entire collegiate career that I ever got homesick were the two consecutive nights that Cal tied and then broke The Streak. My family was there in the stands for both games. I was in a freshman dormroom in Clemson, South Carolina, watching it happen on TV and crying my eyes out because I was so far from the one place I wanted to be. I am an O’s fan.

But last night my eye began to wander. It had taken less than 25 minutes door-to-door to get from work to the game. No scrambling to get to Union Station and then the mad dash to jam onto the lumbering MARC train to Baltimore. Suddenly there was Major League Baseball and beer and a spiffy new stadium and veggie hotdogs and Cracker Jacks in my backyard. During the fourth inning I meandered the concourse and walked into a shop where before I knew it, I was handing over $22 for a red cap with the Nats’ logo emblazoned on it. I started hearing Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in my head and swore it was coming from the store’s stereo system.

“What have the Orioles ever really given me?” I wondered. The last time they won a World Series I was seven. With the exception of a playoff game that I sneaked out to in 1996 while interning on the Hill, they had brought me little joy in the last two decades. Slings and arrows suffered. For what? The honor of having Peter Angelos as an owner and having to justify stuff like this:

1988. Christ almighty, don’t even get me started on 1988.

“Does this make me a douchebag?” I asked my fiancé, sitting there having my commitment crisis in my new hat in Section 116…sweet, convenient-to-downtown, foul-ball-territory-for-the-lefties Section 116. “Not really,” he said. Glancing over at him, I noticed that his gaze was three rows up where four Yankees fans sat. We knew they were Yankees fans because there at a Nats-Marlins game, they were all wearing Jeter jerseys.

And that’s when I realized that it didn’t matter. I could risk being razzed by purists for being a lifelong O’s fan yet still cheering for the Nats as my new home team when I felt like going to a game. I wouldn’t be a total douchebag. Because that’s the great thing about baseball. There’s always a lower common denominator. And it’s always the Yankees.

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10 Responses to “A Fear of Decommitment”

  1. K Says:

    Oh, NO, bird. You did not just give all Yankees the thumbs-down.

    I’ll have you know an Oriole fan made extremely nasty, unwarranted comments to me in the parking lot at Camden Yard, in front of his four tween boy wards. It was horrible, and unprovoked.

    Then my big man came raging out from behind the car, yelling in a reborn Strong Island accent, Mattingly tee hugging his large frame.

    Let me tell you, that no-good O’s fan went running.

    We may be a bunch of lunkheads, but y’all are something far less enjoyable.

  2. I-66 Says:

    A few things… first of all, I hate the Orioles, but I loathe the Yankees.

    Second of all, you are not a total douchebag, no. But maybe just a little?

  3. fivehusbands Says:

    I love this post – it is so wonderful to be united against the Yankees.
    Signed, forever hopeful in Cleveland

  4. Disgusted Reader Says:

    To correct your husband, yes, you are a douchebag. A total, complete douchebag.

    There is no excuse for giving up on your childhood team, short of having the team move to another city or being forced to grow up a Yankees fan. I’ll give you the example of a friend of mine who we shall call “David Garcia.” “Dave” grew up in Miami and was a diehard fan of the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes. Then he went to Florida State and converted to the Seminole Nation. Then, last year, when the Dolphins came up to play the Skins and I had multiple beers thrown at me for wearing my Dolphins jersey, he chose to wear a nondescript polo shirt since he’s now a fan of both teams. What’s the point? His life has unraveled because of this. All his friends have stopped speaking to him. He’s contracted an STD. I think the IRS is looking into him.

    Consider this a warning.

  5. Shelly C Says:

    I have faith that one day before I die the O’s will win another series. And those of us old enough to remember 1983 can sing “Orioles Magic, Feel it Happen,” our eyes brimming with tears of nostalgia.
    Memorial Stadium. It lacked panache but I still miss it.

  6. Bridal Bird Says:

    K-That was at an O’s game?! Mon dieu! On behalf of all O’s fans I say “Sorry, hon.”

    I-66-Douchebagette? Douchebagalina?

    FiveHubbies-Ahgreed. As a sign of your love for this post, please mail me a waffle cone with Graeter’s chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Kthanx.

    DisgustedReader-Look, there are a lot of kids who were ‘Canes fans who converted once going to college because nobody can actually get into or afford Miami. So I’m not blaming “Dave Garcia” for that. That said, that he decided to go to Florida State speaks to a bottomless lack of judgment when clearly there are much, much hotter girls at another ACC school. Also, that he is any kind of a Dolphins fan speaks to a tortured depravity of the soul. No wonder he wears polo shirts to football games.

    This is a good time to make a slight clarification. I’m not ditching my O’s fandom. That would be like waking up and deciding I’m not going to use my lungs to breathe anymore. And when the O’s and Nats play a Beltway Battle I would cheer for the Nats only if under the influence of some sort of narcotic. I’m merely saying that if on a random Thursday I decide to go to a game after work, I’m not going to feel bad about going to Nats Park and root, root, rooting for the home team.

    Shelly C-Ah, the old country. ‘Tis near and dear to me heart, too.

  7. Hammer Says:

    First off, I’m assuming you personally know “Disgusted Reader,” because if you didn’t, you would have “sugarbunned” him for sure.

    As for your post, in strictly MLB terms, if your first loyalty is to an out-of-town AL team (and yes, B’more counts as ‘out-of-town’), I see no issue with supporting a local NL team. I’m hitting my first game at the new digs tomorrow and forsee no angst in whipping out the Nats cap over my usual Red Sox selections because the larger issue here is just supporting baseball in general. I can personally confirm that baseball fever has spilled over into the community – after several worrisome years of little league participation dropping and dropping, we’re on a strong upswing now.

    It is a glorious time indeed, folks. Enjoy. Savor it. And in case anyone’s wondering, the best baseball game if the year has already been played. Check out this link – you won’t be disappointed:

    http://improveverywhere.com/2008/04/07/best-game-ever/#more-233

  8. J Says:

    loved this post! made me so glad to see that someone else feels the same. i felt a little funny the first time i cheered at a Reds game too – i felt like i was cheating on my Indians or something. but i’d moved – what was i to do – drive 3 hours to watch my favorite team in the world? or, for the sake of my favorite summer pastime, cheat a little? go Reds—err—Indians! 🙂

  9. Bridal Bird Says:

    Hammer-Yep, typically I reserve the dreaded sugarbunning for those whom I can’t actually sock in the babymaker. And that’s exactly the logic I’m looking for. Different leagues, out of town team—you get it. That link is awesome. I think you should petition them to come do one of your team’s games.

    J-I feel like we should start Guilty Baseball Fans Anonymous. “My name is Bridal Bird and I might be a baseball whore.” “Hiiii Bridal Bird.”

  10. K Says:

    Thanks for the apology. Alls I’m sayin’ is, I have, out of love for a former flame, worn Red Sox gear on the subway from Harlem down to Yankee Stadium on a 9/11 anniversary. And worn said gear in Yankee Stadium (and bars surrounding) while my companion (also in Sox gear) loudly bellowed anti-Yankees, pro-Sox enthusiasm. All the Yankees fans took it in stride and with good cheer.

    Contrast that with last summer, me wearing a very plain, very innocuous “Yankee Girl” tee-shirt in the O’s parking lot, and getting nasty, nasty comments from an O’s fan who actually made me cry, and made my man sorry he didn’t hit him (though he came very close).

    I’d take Yankee Stadium over Camden Yards any day now.

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