Thursday, November 5, 2009

Root...Root...Root for the Home Team

A relative has begun signing her emails "Go Yankees". Conversation at the Happy Ladies Club luncheon today dwelled on Oregon's resurgent football team. Gardeners were meeting for an early dinner and a UofA volleyball game last week.

I am bereft. I have no team for which to cheer. I need a home team.

I love Peyton Manning, and the Little Cuter has outfitted me with a commemorative shirt


but I've never lived in Indianapolis so the Colts can't possibly be my home team.

The Cowboys may have been America's Team, but now, I think, the New Orleans Saints have earned that moniker. They are marvelously undefeated and totally fun to watch and it feels good to be able to share successful vibes with The Big Easy, but, again, they're not my home team.

Orb Kcrob never wears anything but Michigan t-shirts. It's where he went and he's damn proud of it. I find myself in collegiate gear from TBG and the Cuters and myself but I can't seem to make myself wear any of the University of Arizona paraphernalia I have acquired in pre-game shopping excursions. Somehow, the weather was never right for the outfit I'd purchased and a plain red shirt or sweater was just fine, thank you. UofA, though I live here, isn't my home team yet.

You have to live and die with a home team. You have to remember when and have the stories to prove it. Where you were when........ How it felt to watch........ How cold/hot/wet/windy it was that time ....... The stories and their connection to who you were at the time are inextricably intertwined with your sense of self.

I remember when the New York Metropolitans were created. The principal was substituting for our suddenly ailing teacher, and "Will you cheer for the new Mets team?" was the topic he chose to discuss with us. What was the right answer? Would the Mets be trendy and would we feel left behind if we didn't jump on the bandwagon early? Should we turn our allegiance from Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and pinstripes to a stadium in Queens with a team dressed in orange and blue? Weren't the Yankees our home team??

The dichotomy between fans in a two team town became crystal clear to me when we lived in Chicago. Though I spent 9 long months in Hyde Park, on the South Side, my baseball allegiance was formed early on -- on the North Side, in the bleachers of Wrigley Field. We took the train to the games. We stood on Waveland Avenue to buy $2.50 bleacher seats and drank beer and ate peanuts and sang along with whoever was in the announcers box during the 7th inning stretch. The White Sox played in a scary neighborhood; we bought our first house within walking distance of the Cubbies. Planting flowers in the backyard, I could hear the cheers and run inside to see the instant replay. It was the perfect way to watch baseball. Now the Little Cuter and Son-In-Rent have taken up the cause; there's a Cubs room in their apartment where some, but not all, of their memorabilia adorn the walls and bookshelves and windowsills and the rest has spilled over into the otherwise-very-adult living room. They live there and play on an eponymous co-ed softball team. The Cubs are their home team,now.

This summer, our painter, in assessing the house before starting the job, was surprised to hear that I'd never lived with stucco before. "Where did you live?" "New York and Chicago and San Francisco and now Arizona."

His response fits neatly right here: "Boy, what team do you cheer for?"


******
I want someone to give me credit for avoiding Seinfeld's "cheering for laundry" dismissal of team loyalty. Believe me, it was hard to avoid a rant on the subject. Perhaps... sometime soon...?

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