My earliest sports memory is watching Kirby Puckett mash a game-winning homer in game 6 of the ’91 World Series. He was a larger than life figure even on our 15-inch black and white with rabbit ears and no remote in my parent’s basement (I’m not that old we were just poor). I thought this man was a god. He was at the peak of his profession and looked so thrilled to be doing it. This was something I knew I wanted to be a part of.
At that age, I still had foolish dreams of being that guy. Of course, that would have required some sort of actual talent or skill or athleticism but I was a child and therefore an idiot. Once my dreams of being the next Kirby were inevitably crushed due to my obvious lack of being good at anything, I still found endless joy in watching these superheroes do their thing every chance I got. There was only one thing I never quite reconciled.
I grew up in Iowa where professional sports, or hope of any kind, do not exist.
I didn’t have a team that I was predisposed to follow. You could say that was a blessing as it allowed me to be able to choose whatever franchise I wanted to support but it always felt strangely empty. Like I was just tagging along to someone else’s party, just awkwardly sitting in the corner with my red solo pretending like I belonged but desperately hoping no one would notice or god forbid talk to me. I was a sports bastard. I still am, but my fear of being called out as some sort of wannabe poser drove me to ridiculous emersion in an attempt to overcompensate for what I was certain everyone else would see.
One way to combat this was to know as much as possible about every one of my chosen franchises. Every rostered player, every stat line, the history of it all, you name it, I knew it. Of course, I had to first choose my teams. The way I went about this probably says a lot more about me than any Tinder profile ever could. Of the three major sports, I selected the biggest losers I could think of in the hopes that no one could ever challenge my fanhood because who the hell would willingly support these wretched collections of men.
On my search for someone to care about, I started with the NFL.
The team I chose was the Minnesota Vikings. A franchise that was best known to me, along with the Bills, as the team to make the most Super Bowls without ever winning one. It’s four if you were wondering. Four. They’ve been to four and lost them all. So pretty strong start there.
Next, I chose my baseball team.
For this, I went with the Boston Red Sox. This one was twofold. Part of it was because they hadn’t won a World Series in around 80 years at the time. The second part was my best friend growing up was a huge Sox fan and it was just easier to go along with it since I spent so much time over there. Basically, I was just afraid of his dad and didn’t want to call any added attention to myself while there. I’m still scared of him. I’m in my 30’s.
Finally, I needed an NBA team.
This one came much later in life. I have lived quite a few places since leaving the lush plains of the Midwest. First, I was in Jacksonville Florida where they had no team, ambition or educational system. Then I was in England which fuck cricket. Then I found myself in San Francisco. I thought, this is perfect, I finally live in a city with a team so I can adopt them and no one can say a word!
Unfortunately for me, this was the first year the Warriors won the title. It just felt wrong to start rooting for a winner. It was hollow and unearned. I had to find another way. After this couple year stint on the West Coast, I moved to New York, a place flush with terrible basketball.
I could have gone with the Nets but honestly, who cares. The only real choice was the Knicks. The Knicks are basically a team that was created for me in a sad little lab, so much disappointment, so much dysfunction, so pointless. It fit better than any glove I could ever hope to buy. If there was a physical embodiment of who I am as a person, it would be the New York Knickerbockers.
This is basically all you need to know about me. I love hating on everyone else’s teams, but the only thing I love more is ripping my own. I will state it right now, so there is no confusion going forward, if you think I hate your team, it’s because I do.
So sit back, relax and enjoy the horrible things I will have to say about the squad you love. There will also be plenty of NFL Draft and MLB prospect talk too because, despite what it may seem like from the above, I am an eternal optimist, it just happens to all be framed in the body of a nihilist. I look forward to having it out in the comment section or going toe to toe on Twitter. This brings me the closest thing to, what I believe is considered, joy that I could possibly imagine. So, with that said, let’s go have some fun.