Friday, September 24, 2010

Learning Who I Am

Tonight is a big night for me. This weekend is a big weekend for me. I have grown up a fan of two NL teams and while that has been laughed at and even mocked by many, there is really nothing I can do about it.

You see in 1983 my parents split. I was three years old at the time and was just about to move from a tiny town in Ohio to a gigantic sunny city called San Diego. My world was changing 110% and I had no idea. How could I? I was three for Pete Rose's sake.

My Dad is a huge sports fan. Always has been and I presume always will be. He played fantasy baseball when no one had even heard of the internet and he took me to my first football game. A pre-season Cincinnati Bengals game in which I met Boomer Esiason. My Dad has always, and presumably will always root for the Bengals, thee Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Reds.

It's that last one that has stuck with me the most, although I do root pretty hard the Buckeyes and have even been known to yell at and/or throw things at Michigan fans. But, the Reds were the one.

My Mom also loved baseball while I grew up and, like all women in San Diego during the 80's, had a huge crush on Steve Garvey. We went to a lot of Padres games and of course I learned to love the team that represented my city. I spent most of the summers till I was 16 visiting my Dad in Ohio and the rest of my year in San Diego with my Mom. During the dog days I must have watched twenty Reds games a year, but spring and fall baseball was cheered on at the Murph.

You might think to yourself, well Dallas, it seems to me you should have tried to pick one team and stuck with them; this would have given you something to fight with your Dad about. But, I couldn't mainly because I truly began to love baseball in the late 80's and early 90's. This meant I never really saw a good Padres team live but got to watch a lot of great Reds teams on TV and once at Riverfront Stadium. I watched every game of their four game World Series sweep over the A's in 1990. Sure, I got to see Tony Gwynn hit, but I'd hear stories about Chris Sabo's diving play at 3rd or Eric Davis' line drive homerun. These stories were told to me threw my Dad who made this sound amazing and created a legend most fans only attributed to Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. To me Paul O'Neill was Joe D. and Tom Browning was Cy Young. They were almost mythical and the days I would get to listen to them play on the radio in Ohio made me feel like I was listening to history.

After the 1994 strike, like most fans I lost touch with the game. I moved on to playing basketball, skateboarding and listening to NOFX. When the Padres went to the World Series in 1998 I found myself being pulled back in to the game I once lived for. What made it even sweeter was the guy playing right field for the Yankees that year was Paul O'Neill. At that point the game was no longer Padres V. Yankees - it was Gwynn V. O'Neill. You have to understand that up until 1992 O'Neill and Barry Larkin were the Reds. People loved them and they loved the city. When Paulie O was traded to the Yankees that year a lot of people knew the era of the Reds being relevant was going bye-bye. As I watched the '98 Series play out and the Padres get pummeled I still smiled watching Paulie O win one more. I figured Gwynn would get another chance, I mean we had a great team so why would we not be back the next year...oh. Crap.

After that World Series I was back and found a new guy to cheer on in Cincinnati nicknamed 'The Mayor' - Sean Casey. I went to the Murph and watched Gwynn and Klesko and Owens and it was great because now things seemed a bit more level. The Reds and Padres were terrible together. I could root for both team knowing it wouldn't matter. That brings us to 2010...

While preparing for this weekend I had decided I wasn't going to go to any of the Reds/Padres games. I would watch from home and quietly cheer for neither team as they are both in contention for a playoff spot. But then like a gift from Randy Myers himself, the Cardinals started to lose and the Reds have taken a commanding lead in the Central. I decided I would go to the games, but I wouldn't wear gear for either side. Then, as tonight drew closer I figured the Padres needed all the support I could give. Half game out and needing to win this weekend series I made my peace with Dusty Baker and Joey Votto and put on my Padres hat and Tony Gwynn Hall of Fame shirt. You're in my city and my city needs this more than you do. I called my Dad and we talked about this series. He understands my decision and wishes both teams luck, but clearly wants another Reds World Series. I can't blame him. I'd like to know how the first one feels.

(And if they meet in the playoffs, yes, my head will explode and I'll probably never be able to speak to my Dad again.)

Let's get 'em Pads!


Liz said...

I don't like it, but goddammit, I respect it.

Aroldis "Mark David" Chapman said...

Good lord, why didn't Baker bring in Chapman to face Tejada? Who cares about the lefty on righty matchup. I'll take 103mph against anyone in that situation. Also, did you see Gonzo check the scoreboard for the velocity after he struck out? He glanced a look while undoing his chin guard.

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