Jobu explores his inner feelings and kicks off Decision 2013, a campaign to chose a new hockey team to root for.
Hello Readers. As many of you have probably noticed, I have some weird combinations when it comes to the teams I root for. For the last 25 years or so, since my family first came to the United States, I have split my fandom between two cities that probably couldn’t hate each other more (sports wise, at least) if they tried. In baseball, I root for the Yankees. In football, it’s the Giants. Sounds pretty normal, right? Well… I also consider myself a big fan of the Boston Celtics, and until recently, I rooted for the Boston Bruins in hockey.
Until recently, you ask? Yes. In fact, it was Game four of the Stanley Cup Finals that basically ended my relationship with the Bruins. It was late in the third when I put the game on, and the score was tied at four. Then, it happened. The Blackhawks scored, and I felt a rush I didn’t expect. I threw my arms in the air and shouted “Yes!” I had confused even myself. I thought I liked the Bruins. I know I used to have a Blackhawks hat when I was like 10, but I certainly wasn’t rooting for them. When I looked deep inside, I realized I just wanted the Bruins to lose. When Chicago won game six on Monday night, I got my wish. It was still odd though. In the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals, with the Bruins holding a 2-1 series lead, I turned my back on them. There’s no turning back once you root for a team to lose. The bridge is burned. You’ve broken up. It’s the ultimate betrayal, and I am guilty as charged.
I do feel a little guilty, but I feel like this is a long time coming. The problem is that now, I’m a potential fan without a team. I must now choose where my allegiance will fall. That’s why I am kicking off Decision ’13, the Quest for A New Team. But how do I even begin to make this decision? Maybe it’s important to chase down the roots of my other sports team ties. If I can get to the bottom of that, maybe I can figure this whole thing out. Let’s begin.
I’m sure you are all thinking that I’m one of those fair-weather fans, who probably never even knew what a pinstripe was until October of 1996, but I can assure you that isn’t the case. The first five years of my life were spent in a country that didn’t have baseball. I’d never heard of the sport. I’d never seen a bat, a glove or a little stitched up ball. When I got to the United States, I had a pretty much clean slate. I don’t even really remember how I first learned about baseball. I just remember watching the Yankees over fuzzy interference and just listening to the sounds, much like I would, in later years, sneak a peek at the playboy channel (all of you who grew up without cable boxes on all of your TVs know exactly what I’m talking about).
I remember the first box set of baseball cards that I bought. It was the 1989 Topps set. I have a distinct memory of liking a lot of teams, as I’m sure many five or six year olds learning a new sport would do. I remember looking at the Joe Morgan card (the former manager, not the ESPN buffoon) and thinking… “I like the Red Sox uniforms, I’ll put them in the ‘teams I might like’ pile.” As far as local teams went, I was either going to be a Yankees fan or a Mets fan. For some reason, we chose the Yankees. I really don’t know why. It really could have gone either way.
It would have made more sense for us to become Mets fans, because they were Amazin’ in the late 80s. Guys like Straw, Gooden and Hernandez were like Gods in New York, and the Mets were in contention every year. However, I always gravitated towards Don Mattingly. He was my hero growing up, and he represents every reason why I became the die-hard Yankees fan I am today. By the way, Joe Morgan went right to the hate pile once i discovered the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry.
Like baseball, I’d never seen American Football until I got to the U.S. The weird part about watching football is that, where I live in Fairfield County, we get both teams every week. And not just when they’re both contending, like these days. We got them every week when they were both terrible too. Because of that, I rooted for the Giants in the NFC, and the Patriots in the AFC. The two teams were never really good at the same time, so I thought this was OK. When they would play each other, I’d root for the Giants, but Drew Bledsoe was definitely one of my favorite players growing up.
I was happy that the Patriots won Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. I watched with my college buddies and cheered on Tom Brady. Now, those words take like battery acid on my tongue. I hate the Patriots more than anything, possibly even more than the Sox. Why? What could have happened to make me turn on them in the middle of their most successful run? Believe it or not, the Red Sox won the World Series.
Let me explain. First of all, I fully believe now that you should root for one team and one team only. The Patriots were never going to win that battle, no matter how many Lombardi Trophies Brady brought home. Secondly, I was living in Boston during a time when the Pats were winning almost every year, and then the lovable loser Red Sox won. In my heart, I felt the people of Boston had won enough. I didn’t want them to ever experience winning ever again. The media had established residency in Tom Brady’s butt, and he was basically looked at as a God. I hated it. The first Patriots team to win the Super Bowl was a real team. A rag-tag bunch that worked hard and came together to win as a team. As they got more successful, they became all about Brady. I’d had enough.
I left the patriots behind and instantly hated them. I remember the moment it happened. They were facing the Steelers on either Monday or Sunday night. I came home and watched the game, all the while cheering for (gag) Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Now that’s hate (although Ben wasn’t a rapist back then, so it’s not so dirty feeling). From that moment on, I focused all of my energies on the Giants. Just a few years later, I watched my boys create the third ever 18-1 season (1984 49ers, 1985 Bears… but the won the Super Bowl). It was amazing.
This one won’t be as long. My Celtics’ fandom can be explained quickly, and can be traced back to one man… Larry Bird. I’ve actually been a Celtics fan longer than I’ve been a Yankees or Giants fan. You see, back in Uruguay, we used to get NBA games every once in a while. Back then, it was usually either Larry Bird and the Celtics or Magic Johnson and the Lakers. We chose Bird and the guys in green. It’s that simple. I actually didn’t know that until I was about 22 years old, when I finally asked my brother why it was that we rooted for the Celtics and not the Knicks or Nets.
I remained a fan through some pretty dry years, when guys like Marty Conlon, Brett Szabo and Stojko Vrankovic were on the court more often than not. I remember the first big boost I got as a fan was when they drafted Antoine Walker. ‘Toine immediately became my favorite player, and I emulated his shuffle whenever I could (you all remember it). I was there through the awful Rick Pitino years, when Robert Parish wasn’t walking through the door. When the C’s drafted Paul Pierce and started actually getting good, I rode the wave to the top. Even when the Sox won, I didn’t turn on the Celtics. I think it was because the Celtics hadn’t won yet. When they finally did raise a banner, I liked the team too much to leave them.
Today, I’m still a Celtics fan. It’s fun when the Knicks are good because a lot of my buddies are Knicks fans. They get into it, and it’s hard not to get sucked in. However, I have never found myself rooting against the Celtics, even though I am not entirely thrilled with the front office right now. Danny Ainge just isn’t very likable, and now the Paul Pierce trade rumors are flying around. I really don’t know how I’ll react if they trade away “The Truth.” He really should end his career in Green, unless he leaves on his own. We’ll see soon enough, I guess.
I really don’t know why my brother and I have always liked the Bruins. I haven’t even asked him. I just remember my brother having the 1988 Bruins Yearbook in the house when I was five or six, and reading it cover to cover. I loved guys like Ray Bourque and Cam Neely. The truth is that I’m not really that into hockey. I love going to hockey games in person. At Boston College, I went to as many games as I could go to, and I cheered my head off for my school. I’ve never really been into the NHL though. It’s hard to get into a sport when you don’t have any big ties to it and your team is never on in your market.
Maybe if the Hartford Whalers had never moved, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. At the very least, I’d probably be a Whalers fan, and I’d probably be into hockey as much as I am into basketball (a little less than baseball and football, which are #1 and #2 in my book). Since my ties to the Bruins never really ran that deeply, and I tend to dislike anything and everything Boston Sports related (I don’t even like the Revolution, for crying out loud), I’m not really shocked that I’ve turned on the Bruins. Ray Bourque and Cam Neely are long gone, and Andy Moog ain’t skating through that door. Sorry Bruins.
So Now What?
As I mentioned long ago at the beginning of this post, it’s time for me to choose a team. I want to get into hockey (sorry to my lady, who thinks I watch way too many sports already). If I’m going to get into hockey, I need to dive in with a new team. I just have to figure out which team that’s going to be.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be researching the local teams. I hope to talk to some friends that root for each team, organize my thoughts in blog post form and eventually make a decision, which I will also reveal on the blog for you guys. Be on the lookout for posts about the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, and the eventual decision to come.
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