I am a baseball fan.
That is not a surprise to anyone who knows me.
I am a Nashville Predators fan.
This is also no surprise to anyone who has heard that Jill (my wife) and I are sharing a season ticket this year, with Catie (my daughter) owning the other one.
Now here is the difference. I love baseball. I am a huge fan of the Kansas City Royals, but my entire life has been invested in reading about baseball, watching baseball, and listening to baseball, and it doesn’t really matter who is playing. I read about the Gas House Gang, Roger Angell’s Boys of Summer, and the great Roberto Clemente. I have visited over 30 major league parks, about half of that number in the minors, and have spent countless hours of throwing rubber balls off the garage door, giving my mom a perpetual summer headache. (Not to mention the ball games I played with Scott and Mark as we took on the neighborhood, playing in the street, or the full season whiffle ball league with Kevin and Rex.)
I have every major league team cap, with the exception of the Nationals in their move from Montreal to Washington; although I confess I have not kept up with all of the recent changes for each team.
By far my allegiance has been to the Royals, followed closely by the St. Louis Cardinals, especially the early 1970’s version of Brock, Simmons, and Gibson. After receiving a 1973 Royals yearbook from my aunt and uncle, my now beloved Royals of Brett, White, and Patek became the Hosmer, Perez, and Davis World Series champions this year. But I have always loved the Brooks Robinson’s, the Robin Yount’s, and the Alan Trammel’s of the other teams through the years. Even the hated New York Yankees of the 70’s that took out my Royals three consecutive years did not discourage me from loving baseball.
This is not true for me in hockey. I love the Predators. I don’t love hockey. I love the Predators, and hate very other team. Hate may not even be a strong enough word. 1
Part of the reason is that I fully appreciate the suicide squeeze, and the infield fly rule in baseball. I think I understand icing, and I can identify hooking, but a full grasp of the intricacies of hockey is not mine.
Another reason is that while hockey fans are in general some of the nicest people you will know; there are certain fan bases that seem a tad entitled. I don’t even have to say the name, and some of you are already nodding that you too have seen Blackhawk fans up close, and have come away with a strong loathing.
Yet that is nothing compared to what I feel when I am watching on TV, or if I am watching in my beloved Bridgestone Arena.
I. Hate. The. Other. Team.
It doesn’t matter which team. I may have lost my mind on this, but fortunately not my testimony. 2
I actually called the director of NHL referees to let him know that his employees were struggling to apply the embellishment call equitably. Okay, I wasn’t so eloquent. I was civil in tone. But I also published his office number on my Twitter account. Yep, I am that guy.
I don’t apologize for it. In my mind, you cannot like any other NHL player. I am a fanatical fan of the Preds. There is never any call that is not against us. No other player can be trusted to be a good human being. If they are in an opposing sweater, they are the enemy. They deserve whatever is painful in their lives. Most of my vitriol is directed at Chicago…and Pittsburgh…and St. Louis…and Anaheim…and Winnipeg…and… See? It won’t stop.
As we move onto the second round of the playoffs, my revulsion for Anaheim’s Getzlaff, Perry, and that snot-nosed Perron has not subsided even after the gentleman’s hand shake at the end of the series.
Perhaps this would be a good time for repentance, seeing that I am a minister and all. It would probably be a good time to talk about redemption, and the fact that those of us who are in the grace business should practice it all the time.
But when it comes to the Preds, if you aren’t one of us, you aren’t getting any. After the NHL All Star game here this season, I enjoyed watching Burns and Pavelski of the Sharks. But starting Friday?