Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why I Became a Baseball Fan

I've come back to edit this post three times, and I'm still not happy with it. I'm not a fan of the way it's written, which is silly really since I don't expect anyone to actually read it. I also don't think I really conveyed what I wanted to say, but I'm not really sure what I'm missing, beyond the fact that something is definitely missing. Still, this is supposed to be a place I dump thoughts without worrying about it, so it's time to hit publish and get it off my mind.

In a lot of ways, I am very much a stereotypical Canadian. I drink beer, apologize for everything, and was wearing plaid shirts way before they became hipster. However, in one way I really differ from the mold (well two, I also hate Tim Hortons): I am not a hockey fan. I don't dislike hockey; I watch it when it's on TV, and I follow the league and transactions, but I do that more because I'm a sports fan than because of any specific affinity for hockey.

I used to be the biggest hockey fan I knew. I followed the league obsessively. When the Leafs went to the conference finals against the Hurricanes, I put Go Leafs Go in Christmas lights in my front window. I was obsessed. However, that all died away. I suspect I was more profoundly affected by the 2004-05 lockout than most other hockey fans. While the game was gone I lost interest, and the sorry state of the Leafs when it came back killed any chances of reigniting that fire.

Thankfully, the lost season paved the way for me to discover my new favourite sport: baseball. I always liked baseball, but with no hockey I latched right on tight to the Blue Jays, and fell in love with the game of baseball. Having watched two consecutive years of baseball without any hockey in between, I was already leaning toward baseball as my new favourite sport. The winter of 2005-06 really clinched it though. In their first year back from the lockout, the Leafs were terrible, on their way to missing the playoffs for the first of many seasons. The Jays, on the other hand, threw some money around, acquiring A.J. Burnett, Troy Glaus, and Lyle Overbay. It wasn't quite the same as this past off-season, but the team was exciting, and expectations were high for the first time since I had been paying attention. I was hooked.

The Leafs also priced themselves right out of my interest. I was 22 years old by the time I went to my first Leafs game, by which point I'd already been to dozens of Jays games. The same year I went to that Leafs game, I bought season passes in the upper deck of the Skydome. The Leafs tickets, also in the upper deck of the ACC, cost me more than half what I spent on the season passes, which got me admittance to 81 games. The reasonable cost of admission to baseball games is a huge part of why I became a fan.

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