Okay, I'm going to be up front here, and say that in terms of the articles I've done this is far from the most analytical piece ever, but I felt it necessary. You see, with the season beginning very soon, and my Royals Review T-Shirt finally arriving, the blood in my veins is heating up. Baseball is imminent, the temperature is above fifteen degrees for two days in a row, and this is the time of year where every single fan of every team in the league - sometimes against all rationality - believes his of her favorite team can compete.
However, there are fans of 29 other baseball teams out there, and if your team was among those that didn't win at all last year, your fan ego may be dangerously low. It was proven by in imaginary study that I made up in my brain that fans of teams that haven't had much in the way of a winning tradition over the last couple seasons are ill-equipped to fire off a barrage of irrational team propaganda. For instance, when the Red Sox went approximately 2-531 over the last two months of the season, it became increasingly harder for me to come up with convincing retorts to obnoxious Yankee fans ("everyone got hurt" was one of my mainstays). This week's Spreadsheet Baseball column is devoted to getting everyone's irrational fan tendencies in shape. Peruse the list of attributes needed to be An Obnoxious Baseball Fan, and see what you need to do to bring your score up into passing range. Remember, it's Spring Training, so it's okay to score low the first time.
How This Scale Works: definitively displaying each OBF attribute is worth a certain amount of points, with the most points possible list in paranthesis. Descriptions of the attribute will sometimes include opportunity for bonus points (unlike the four tests I took last week) and half-credit. See where you score on each, then carry out the examples if you don't rank as high as you want to. Anyone with a little bit of heart and a brain capable of making them yell really loud probably has it in them to be a true OBF.
At Your Team's Ballpark
When visiting fans are in town, it's important to let them know that you - and by extension, your team - are the boss. In the case of the residents of this blog, we're talking about going to the K. I admit I don't know much about the specifics of the stadium, but these methods can be applied effectively to almost anywhere.
Talking Really Loudly During Pre-Game (5 pts): make sure that you never ever ever let anyone wearing a White Sox hat (those bastards) have a moment of peace. When you enter the ballpark with your friends/spouse/dog/children, make sure that you have loud discussion about `how good the team is this year,' if you're sitting near enemy (that's right, enemy) fans. If you're not sitting near them, make sure they hear snatches of your conversation about Gathright's impending breakout year or Mark Teahen's slugging percentage over the last four months while in the line at a concession stand, on the way to your seats, on the way to the concession stands, in bathroom, etc. You can't let the other team's fans - or any of your fellow Royals fans - see any weakness whatsoever. You believe godammit, you believe.
Ex. "I tell ya, Bill! This is DeJesus's year: he's going to hit thirty home runs and score one-ten,"
Ex 2. "Meche is overpaid? The [other team] is paying just as much or more for [Jason Marquis, Jon Garland, etc.]
Ex 3 . "Dayton Moore is a goddamn genius!" (for best results, say this while some young Royal is taking BP, or just after Meche strikes out the side)
Extra credit (1): if you're not sitting near any of those godforsaken Rangers fans, let them hear part of your conversation by interspersing into a request to get something from a vendor. To do this, simply raise your voice before you actually ask for a Coke.
Ex. "...so anyway GORDON'S THE NEXT HONUS WAGNER - COULD I GET A COKE, THANKS BUDDY - I'm telling you he's going to be great, etc."
You can safely lower your voice after the request, because the enemy fans will now be hanging on your every word as you explain why Alex Gordon is the best thing since they put a pocket in pitas.
Pretend Your Don't Know Any of the Other Team's Players (5 pts)
Nothing is more obnoxious to an opposing team's than pleading total ignorance to know who some opposing superstar. It's simple, effectively, and all you need is a program and the ability to be deadpan.
Ex. "Who's this next. `Thome'?"
(Look down to consult your program)
(The White Sox fan behind you is seething)
WSF: "He's our DH, he hit thirty-"
You (finished leafing through program): "Huh. DH. Hit some dingers last year, I guess. Seems like an okay player."
WSF: (grinds teeth)
(Your Friend appears, back from taking a bathroom break)
Friend: "I'm telling you, [your name], Dayton Moore's a goddamn genius!"
Extra-Credit (1 pt each):
- Drop your program while looking up the guy's name, ask someone next to you to look up `this bum named Teixeira' for you.
- Take until the player in question flies out to left field to `figure out' his name.
Root Obnxiously Throughout The Game(9 pts)
The reason that this category is worth nine points is that you should be able to apply throughout an entire nine-inning ball game. There are many different methods of doing this, some of which have already been alluded to. I'm sure all of you have your own rooting styles, but here are some suggestions:
· High-five people you don't know when Emil Brown/Reggie Sanders/Jason LaRue (some modestly talented offensive player) singles up the middle with two outs and nobody on. (Bonus: yell "attaboy, Emil!")
· Whistle along to the songs played in-between batters/innings. For best results, declare each song awesome. (Ex. "I love this song!" [during some "Sweet Caroline-ish" pop tune)
· Declare loudly that one of you utility guys, right after he doubles in the gap for his first extra base hit of the year (say...Fernando Cortez) "could start for any other team in the league!" For best results, have a friend ask you "why?" and then point to Cortez on second base (wondering how he got there) and scream over the PA announcer introducing the next hitter "why not? He's gamer!"
· Choreagraph a special type of high five with the people you went to game with. Save this for when Gordon takes someone deep or when someone comes through with the go-ahead single in the seventh. (Alternative: do this every time your team scores, which is higher on the numerical annoyance count, but lower on the annoyance value per annoyance scale)
· Throw a home run ball from the other team back. This is a classic.
· Yell witticisms such as "they suck!" or "this is a major league team?" referring to the hitters when Zack Greinke induces two ground-outs and a warning track fly ball to end the first.
Extra-Credit (1 pt each): come to the ballpark with (or buy) some piece of Royal memorbilia other than a hat. Plus one point for a jersey, a foam hand, an inflatable bat with "ROYALS" on it, blue athletic pants. Minus one for stirrups. Plus two for a sign that say "suck it, [other team]!" that security does not confiscate.
The ESPN Special (100 Bonus pts)
If a walk-off home run is hit by a member of the Royals, celebrate so wildly (sing something in unison, storm the field, etc.) that ESPN overcomes its large-market bias and uses the Royals' victory as the lead SportsCenter story. (NOTE: this is actually impossible, but why not try?)
Ex. "I'm Stuart Scott, official dumbass, and this is Scott Van Pelt. Welcome to SportsCenter. Today, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 11-3 in a rain delayed six innings in April, but today the rivalry was officially rekindled."
Ex. "...so Michelle Wie is in the lead after seven holes at a women's event..."
Ex. "Iverson dropped 34 points on the Mavs. In a word: sick-ill-nasty."
Ex. "Blah, blah. Derek Jeter's ass is made of gold. Blah, blah."
Ex. "The Orioles beat the Devil Rays, 4-2."
Ex. "The Intenational Blimp-Racing Championships is a little-known event, but could it be that perhaps we haven't given it enough press?"
Ex. "Timmy is a kid in a wheelchair, who has dreams of playing a sport and using performance enhancing drugs."
SportsCenter ends with no Royals highlights
Baseball Tonight comes on
Ex. "I'm Karl Ravech and I actually make sense. Sadly, that means that they've paired me with John Kruk and Steve Phillips, two people who refuse ever do any goddamn research or tangible analysis. Since I'm a talking head, they don't ever let me analyze things, and as a result this show usually sucks when Peter Gammons isn't around to help me. Peter!!!"
The highlights of ten or so games pass, then...
Ex. Ravech: "And to the Royals-Angels, Reggie Sanders goes deep off K-Rod to end the game! 6-5 Royals!"
Kruk: "To me, that means he should get more playing time, Karl!"
Ravech: "He's hitting .194, Krukker."
Kruk: "Doesn't matter! Walk-off home run, get him in there the next day!"
Phillips: "I'd love to have Reggie Brown on my team. He's a clutch player. I'm also in love with Jason Lane."
/end personal vendetta against BBTN
Watching On TV
Obviously, if you're a typical fan, you don't have the opportunity the go see a game in person anywhere near as much as you'll be able to see the game on TV. Watching the game at a bar gives you an audience for you to project upon (I assume), which can be handy, but watching the game at home--where you can force the people you live with to listen to you--has its own, more relaxed setting.
Highjack The Television (10 pts)
Sometimes this is the entire battle, so ten points might not really do this justice. Point is, whereever you are, you can establish your loyalty to the Royals by making sure the game is on. To apply this to OBFdom, simply let someone else have the TV and then storm in, demaning to see the game. Don't wait for an answer! Change the channel immediately, or tell whoever has the remote to change it/toss you the remote. Do not give in! Do you want to spend your evening watching Hockey? The Emmy Awards? Buffy The Vampire Slayer? America's Next Top Model (retch)? NO! This is a Royals only zone! The key here is to be obnoxious about taking over the set, even if no one resisting. That way, everyone will see your hardcoreness.
Ex. "The Royals are on, turn this crap off!" (grab remote, change channel)
Ex. "I can't believe you're watching [show. If talking to your sister, call whatever she's watching `this MTV crap' even if it's Animal Planet]! The Royals are on!"
Ex. "Barkeep! The Royals are on!"
You get the idea. I actaully would have no idea how to address a bartender at a Sports Bar. I imagine you should either be polite/rude enough that he'll you the remote willingly/trying to hit you in the face with it. This is not my area of expertise. The rest of these will apply to watching the game at home/at someone else's house (with family/friends).
Do Not Leave The Room Where You Watching The Game (5 pts)
You are helpless. Remember that. You must watch ever second of the game, even if Gil Meche is pitching, and you can't leave the room for anything: not dinner, not taking out the garbage, not feeding the cats, not for the resurrection of Christ. Who cares if the score is 8-2 in the seventh against the Rockies? The Game is on!
Ex. "Could you bring my dinner out here? The Royals are up!"
Ex. "I'll do that later! Meche is facing Gonzalez !" (Luis A., but the casual fans in your house [wife, sister, brother, mother] will assume Gonzalez must be good)
Ex. "God! The game's on! NOT NOW!"
Bathroom breaks in-between innings are acceptable, but make sure you establish a routine of leaving the room on either half-innings (after the top of the inning) or completed innings (after the bottom). Interspersing both could bring bad luck down on the home team.
Trump Anything Anyone Else Says About A Player (5 pts)
This is fun. Show off your baseball knowledge by every single time your brother/mother/father/sister/girlfriend/dog says something about a player, state something about that player in a corrective tone. It doesn't even to be related to what the fool said. It doesn't even have to be true. It just has to make it seem like you know more about baseball then anyone in the hizzy.
Exs. Friend: "Guerrero's a great player,"
You: "Well, he's a good hitter anyway."
Friend: "Gordon's a great player,"
You: "It's his rookie year! He hasn't even lived up to his potential yet!"
Friend: "K-Rod's a great pitcher,"
You: "Well, yeah.But he's an arm injury waiting to happen."
Sorry, took longer than I expected, plus I am terrible at this whole HTML thing...
Clap At Your TV (5 pts and a smack on the back of the head)
There is nothing more annoying in the history of sitting around in front of a TV than clapping for something that happens on the screen. Nothing. No one is ever ready for it, and so it's a great way to make yourself look like a complete ass by clapping by yourself. That said, the only way to receive all five points is to clap for an event that don't deserve applause in the first place, like applauding a broken bat single by a white utility-scrub-with-a-big-heart in a 7-2 ballgame in the ninth with your team ahead. Partial Credit: Clapping for Home Runs. These are praiseworthy events, and it is perfectly acceptable (and thus worth no points) to fist pump or high five your friend.
Bonus Points (2 possible): To get more than five points, yell "Attaboy, Ross!" for one more point. To get the full possible 2 extra points, insert your favorite nickname for the player who just singled: "Attaboy, Ro-Glo!"
The Art of Heckling
If you can't heckle - whether at the ballpark or watching on TV - you ain't nothing when it comes to being an OBF. This is the last and perhaps most crucial aspect of being an OBF. Heckling comes in many shapes and sizes, but it is important to be creative and get your point across. Even if the only one who's watching the game with you is your dog (because no one else in his/her right mind wants to be in your living room when that fucking bastard Buddy Bell yanks Brian Bannister for Ken Freakin' Ray in a ST game). It is necessary, really I can't stress this enough, to experiment. However, if you need to get jump started, use this handy-dandy formula.
For Batters: "Sit down, you [insult A][insult B][insult C]!"
Overweight, Overpaid, Overrated, Lazy, Shitty, Fat, Underwhelming, Total Freakin', World-Class, Useless
Jerkwad, No-Talent, Moron, Cretinish, Mothereffing, Noodlehead, Minor League, Crayon-Brained
Has Been, Never Will Be, Devil Ray, Puke, Superstar (apply sarcasm where needed), Asshat, Chaff, Mailer-Inner (sometimes real words will fail you), No-Effort Schlub (other times they won't), Rey Ordonez, Loser, Triple-A All-Star
For Pitchers: "Get this [A][B] off the [c] mound!"
Joke of a(n), Moronic, Loser Extraordinaire, Russ, Ridiculous, Ludicrous, Failed, Foolish, Triple-A
Pitcher (heavy sarcasm when needed), Moron, Enemy Agent, Prospect (more sarcasm), Ortiz, Drunk, Excuse for a Pitcher, Schlub, Monkey
Freakin', Flippin', Friggin', Frickin', Frakkin', Fragging, Effing, Forking, Fecking, Funking, Stupid
For Managers: "[A] could've managed this game better than you, you [B][C]!"
Donkey Kong, Grady Little, Big Bird, Chuck Norris, Helen Keller, Michelle Wie, Dr. Doom, My Sister, My Grandmother, Me Blindfolded
Anti-Intellectual, Blind, Piece of Excrement, Dogpoop, Freakishly Bad, No-Account
Manager!!! (lots of sarcasm here, too), Clown, Joker, Garbageman, Burger Flipper, Yes Man, Dope
Follow these easy instructions and the art of heckling will soon be something you understand and can be creative with without even having to consult this chart! To be safe, perhaps you should print it out.
Spreadsheet Baseball returns next week with some *drumroll*...tangible analysis! However, as usual, comments are welcome/encouraged on this week's article. Get your homerism in shape, people!