The First Season Fan Part I: Why the Braves?

My friend Sarah is a big basketball and football fan, but as long as I’ve known her she’s never been particularly interested in baseball. This year she’s decided to change that. We’ll check in on her every so often throughout the season and see how she’s doing with her newfound fandom. After the jump, Sarah explains her history of ambivalence with the sport and how she decided to become an Atlanta Braves fan while living in New York.

Kenshin Kawakami: a new Brave for a new Braves fan

Kenshin Kawakami: a new Brave for a new Braves fan

My dad said to me when I was younger that I leaned baseball from him and Harry Carey. Starting in elementary school I was a Cubs fan; growing up in Kansas and getting all the Cubs game on WGN, it seemed liked a natural thing. Plus, I loved Harry Carey. In 1989, every entry of my sixth grade journal had something about how the Cubbies were doing in their quest for the pennant up through their loss to the Giants in the NLCS. I was sad about the loss but sadder that Harry Carey wouldn’t be calling more games until the next season.

Ryne Sandberg and his teammates made sixth grade Sarah sad.

Ryne Sandberg and his teammates made sixth grade Sarah sad.

In high school I started following the Braves because all the games were on TBS and, yes, because they were winning. I was never a die-hard fan, though. As I got older I found it much harder to follow a team for all 162 games. It didn’t help that I didn’t really feel a strong allegiance to one team like I did in pro football (Eagles) and college basketball (Kansas). When I moved to NYC

Rooting for Tom Glavines team might actually be a good way to take revenge on a Mets fan.

Rooting for Tom Glavine's team might actually be a good way to take revenge on a Mets fan.

over seven years ago, I thought I would become a Yankees fan, but my love for the city of New York could not overcome years of hating all New York teams. After a Mets fan broke my heart a few years ago, I tried again to be a Yankees fan; I tried even harder to cheer for the Yankees after a Mets season ticket holder broke my heart last summer, but it always felt unnatural that I was trying to be a fan of a team just to “get revenge” on a couple of boys.

I am an extremely passionate person so not having a team to cheer for made it very hard for me to want to follow baseball for an entire season. Over a month ago, I decided that I was going to find a team and make them my team for better or worse. One of my friends Geno (who is a Yankees fan) suggested I should be a Braves fan because every free agent was turning them down. Then I asked for ideas from my Facebook friends but I just got votes for the Royals from my friend who is a big Royals fan. I have no good reason not to pick them, other than I just knew I couldn’t be a Royals fan. If I picked either New York team it would be for all the wrong reasons. I decided on the Braves because I could watch most of their games on TBS, they weren’t a great team (but had potential), and my past history.

Now that I have picked a team comes the hard part: actually being a fan. I read what I can on-line and have some basic knowledge of what kind of team the Braves are, but while I’m waiting for the season to start I don’t really know what to do.

How did you become a fan of your favorite teams? Are there good resources (general baseball or Braves specific) to help Sarah follow her team? Have you ever been tempted to try “revenge fandom”? Discuss in the comments!

14 thoughts on “The First Season Fan Part I: Why the Braves?

  1. Sarah, I had a weird fling with the Braves when I was a kid. I’m not sure how my dad felt about it, since he is a big Mets fan. (We’re from northern NJ) I didn’t know anything about the team, but I rooted for them and had Braves pajamas. I had a similar fling with the 49ers. I was weird.

    I don’t root for them anymore, but somewhere deep inside is a soft spot.

    Also, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Browns since my high school football team wore the exact same uniforms when I was there.

    (Why I haven’t I mentioned my true team? Because they SUCK).

  2. Such an awesome post idea.

    I’m a Packers fan – we didn’t have the Colts when I was a kid, and the Pack played rough and tough football outside in the cold, just like it should happen. I still *really* don’t like the Colts, for many different reasons, and this makes me a Patriots fan by default.

    I’m a White Sox fan because I <3 Frank Thomas, and I’ve not left my allegiance since he was playing there. It has not diminshed my attraction to Joe Mauer one bit, although I root against the Twinkies every time the two meet.

    I’m a Red Wings fan because…well, I don’t know why. And I love Michigan football, basketball, and hockey because I don’t like any of the in-state schools, with the exception of Butler basketball, and that’s because my DH (darling husband) went there for his MBA.

    As for resources, I like the blogs that some of the teams have. There’s even a guy on WordPress that does a nice job on the Braves…just use the tag search for it.

  3. I’m a Braves fan because I grew up in Richmond, where the farm team was (this past season was their last in the city, and I’m sad). I followed them heavily in the early 90s when I was in high school and more casually through college. Afterwards, when the games were all on TBS, I got back into them heavily again, and have been following pretty religiously for the past 7 or so years.

    During Spring Training, I’ve been following the AJC’s beat guy, David O’Brien, at for all my Braves news.

    Also, I love Brian McCann. So much.

  4. as someone who has lived in north jersey her whole life, but somehow managed to become a braves fan, this makes me super happy :)

    i grew up as a yankees fan, and then one day in eighth grade i decided i hated all the yankee fans i knew and no longer wanted to be associated with them. and then i became a braves fan, much to my father’s dismay (he’s been a mets fan since the team started). i really don’t know why i picked the braves, but it was during their era of nl east dominance, so that probably had something to do with it.

    i’ve been kind of bad at really following the team during spring training (it’s hockey season, so the devils have taken over my life) but i try to check the braves website everyday for big news.

    anyway, welcome to being a braves fan! this season promises to be better than the last :)

  5. This is such a defining question!

    I grew up in Chi-town, a Cubbies fan, chanting Jo-dee, Jo-dee (for catcher Jody Davis) and taking the seventh inning stretch with jolly Harry Carey. And I still have the Bears’ Super Bowl Shuffle on VHS and a picture of me with the punky-QB McMahon at his short lived restaurant (which was on my street!!).

    But….I moved East…and met a boy…and fell in love….and that boy happened to have season tickets to the NY Giants…and partial season tickets to the Mets……

    So, now, seven years later, I am a hardcore NY Giants fan and have slowly, but surely, become a Mets fan.

    I’m ready to chant Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose…..again this season (which is not so far off from Jo-dee?) and am still relishing the recent Super Bowl win with Eli and my G-Men.

    When the Bears play the Giants, I want the Bears f’ed up to a pulp. And although I can no longer claim to be a Cubs fan (I just ordered two Mets shirts from when I sing take me out to the ball game, I can’t help but sing, “it’s root, root, root for the Cubbies”. It annoys my husband, but he loves his Chi-town girl anyway. As long as I’m wearing the right team colors, that is.

  6. I also grew up a Cubs and Braves fan because of WGN and TBS and will always have a soft spot for both teams. I even got to go to some of the Braves playoff games in the early 90’s – what an atmosphere! Growing up in Memphis I was also a Cardinals fan because they were the closest team and were on local tv a lot, but I was a Royals fan even then because Memphis had the Royals AA team for 10 years and we were season-ticket holders. Now that I live in Kansas City, the Royals are my #1 team but I still follow the others. I’m sad that TBS doesn’t show the Braves anymore, it’s just wrong!

  7. I’m 21 years old and have lived in rural North Carolina my entire life, which isn’t exactly a hotbed for pro-sports.
    Baseball, more specifically the White Sox, is my first love. It all started because my father, who has also lived in rural North Carolina his whole life, liked them. I loved Harold Baines. I remember as a little girl cheering for Big Frank (Frank Thomas) – my little brother was a pipsqueak but he wanted to grow up to be Big Frank. All my life I’ve been surrounded by Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees fans; the Braves thing I get based on location, but for the life of me I cannot understand why there are so many Yankees fans here. I dislike the Twins, Indians, and Cubs – I’m pretty sure there is a rule about that somewhere…
    I am a Carolina Panther fan, but I really don’t have a good story about why. I suppose it stems from the fact that we finally had a “home team” to cheer for. I do love them and was genuinely crushed when they lost Super Bowl XXXVIII – Peppers touched the ball and they should have never re-kicked that field goal.

  8. Most of my fave teams started either based on proximity (Bengals, Reds, Cavs, Crew) or specific player(s) on said teams (mmmm…Mario Lemieux!). But I have to admit, back in the nineties I also had a bit of a fling with the Braves (or the “Babes”, as my best friend called them). They were just loaded w/hotties and finally didn’t suck anymore.

    It’s always hard when you’re starting from scratch with fandom of a new team. One thing that helped me go from passive fan to active fan was zeroing in on a few players that really caught my fancy (it’s also a good way to keep interested in your team when they frickin’ blow and always let you down). Last year I vowed to be a more active Columbus Crew fan. I watched nearly all of their televised games and took an active interest in Will Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk and Robbie Rogers. It was a lot of fun, of course it helped that they won the championship, but I would have enjoyed it anyway (Srsly, I’m still a Bengals fan after all these years!).

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  10. I have been a Braves fan all my life. I played softball when I was younger and then there was not as much women’s softball to watch so I became passionate about the Braves. One of my favorite blogs is mostly because it is different. You can find stats and news on the Braves in a lot of places but this chick writes a pretty good blog. Other than that, have fun with it!!

  11. I’m probably not the best one to talk about the Braves, being a die-hard Jays fan, but they do have a solid manager in Bobby Cox and a lot of promising players this year.

    How did I become a Jays fan? Easy. I lived within walking distance of the park. My dad and uncle attended the “snow bowl” – the very first Jays game. I saw my first game at the tender age of ten just a few weeks after. And those first few years they made undated cheap tickets so I saw 20+ games a year, sitting near the bullpen. No one else ever had a chance.

  12. Oops! I read Part II first, and suggested Sarah become a NY Yankee fan. Sorry for that…

    I’m a Yankee fan because I was born in the Bronx, and Yankees games were part of the soundtrack of my childhood. In fact, as a kid I thought the World Series was a game created just for the Brooklyn Dodgers and NY Yankees to duke it out every year! I got away from baseball as an adult, but got into it in my old age again, and I can’t be anything BUT a Yankee fan. It’s in my blood. But I’m glad: though they’ve been slipping the past few years, they used to win so much I got to experience being a winner. Plus, there are really only a few teams with their kind of charisma, and none with their legendary history.

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