I've been a Red Sox fan for most of my life, though I admit to not paying as much attention as I should have during high school and a little bit of college (hey, I was busy living life). But I've always been diehard about the BoSox, despite the fact that I've never actually been to Fenway, or even Boston. Don't judge me. It is entirely possible to be a huge fan without actually seeing your team's home stadium. This season is the first one since 2004 (when I met Christine, and therefore could actually afford to go to baseball games) that I haven't seen the Red Sox play at least one game (they play in Anaheim at least once every year), so it's not like I've had no connection.
Seven years ago, I moved to Los Angeles. And for the first three years or so, I didn't really pay attention to the Dodgers. I didn't go to a game at Dodger Stadium, even though I probably could have afforded it, in the pre-McCourt days anyway. I was working a lot, and when I wasn't working I was surviving on unemployment. I watched a lot of baseball on television, and was grateful at the time for the "east coast bias" on ESPN, since it meant I got to see several Red Sox games a year. They actually came to play the Dodgers the first year I lived in Los Angeles, but it was in the first few months I was in town, and there was no one to go with me, and no time to go anyway.
I never had anything against the Dodgers, but I was a Red Sox fan. And that, pre-2004 anyway, took a lot of effort. Even during 2004, I was busy rooting for my team, and getting someone else to do the same. Christine didn't even like baseball (maybe even hated it) before she met me, and suddenly she was as big a fan, if not bigger, than I was. When they won it all in 2004, about six months after we met, she took credit for it, and it was not something I was going to dispute.
And then, in 2006, I became a Dodger fan, too. Here's how it happened:
Christine: I think we should become Dodger fans.
Me: Uh, okay.
I was worried in the beginning, and it took a lot of reassuring from Christine to convince me that it would be okay. After all, with the exception of interleague play, and possibly the World Series, the teams would never meet in a game. They were in different leagues on opposite sides of the country, and one of them played in a stadium only ten miles from my house, so it certainly made sense from a geographical standpoint.
And so I went to a game or two that year. And I went to a playoff game that year, which was a lot of fun, even though the Dodgers lost. In 2007, we bought a mini plan of season tickets, which was for twelve games, though I think I went to more than fifteen that season. Last year, no mini ticket plan, but I went to 25 major league games (including three exhibition), seventeen of which were at Dodger Stadium. And this year, thanks to the hard sell from the Dodgers, we bought a 27-game plan.
This year is when I think the trouble really started. The problem with rooting for a team that plays 2,594 miles from your front door is just that--they are too far away. I have the MLB Extra Innings package, and I can watch almost every game the Red Sox play. But with the exception of two or three games a year, I can never see them play in person. Meanwhile, I'm heading over to Dodger Stadium and screaming my head off for that team fifteen or more times a year. And while Los Angeles isn't exactly a baseball town (at least not in the circles I run in), there's still something to be said about the way one feels when rooting for one's "hometown" team.
The question came up the other day (and last year, too, but it turned out to be for nothing) about what I would do if these two teams met in the World Series. In the beginning, part of the agreement with Christine was that if that World Series moment ever happened, all the Dodger gear would go in a trash bag in the garage. We were Red Sox fans, pure and simple. But the line has been blurred in recent years, and if October rolls around with both my teams with a chance to win it all, I can no longer say with confidence that the Red Sox will have my undying support. In fact, I'm really starting to lean the other way on that one.
For a long time, the Red Sox and I were a perfectly happy married couple. And then this little flirt with the sexy stadium and the overpriced parking started winking at me, and I faltered. I gave in to the temptation, and though I've never made any promises to the Dodgers that the marriage is almost over and I'll be leaving any time, I feel like Chavez Ravine has been pushing harder and harder for that outcome in the last year. Sick of being the concubine, she's begging for more and more attention, and she's getting it.
You know how Demi Moore and Bruce Willis got divorced, but now they have that weird relationship that involves vacationing with each other and their respective new spouses? Perhaps that will be how it is. Perhaps I will divorce the Red Sox amicably, but I'll maintain custody of my autographed balls, pictures, ticket stubs, and memories. We'll still see each other in person once every summer, and on television every day, but things will be different.
I really don't know yet if that's okay.