My favorite baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, are bad. And by “bad” I mean hideously, unwatchably, bad. They are currently in last-place in the NL Central, already 19 games out of first place, and they have the 3rd-worst record in the major leagues. Their bullpen is historically awful: they have the worst bullpen ERA in the majors, and it’s not even close. In fact, the difference between their ERA and the 2nd-worst bullpen (Texas) is the same as the difference between the Rangers’ bullpen ERA and the 14th-best bullpen (Tampa Bay). Watching the Reds this year has become an exercise in guessing how they will lose.
So what is a fan to do? The Reds are, and always will be, my “team,” but does that mean I’m required to sit through the punishment of watching them night-in, night-out this year? After all, baseball is fundamentally entertainment – what do I do when my team isn’t entertaining?
My answer is to become a “temporary fan” of another team. That’s right, simply pick another team and follow them for the year. Some might say that is disloyal to your own team, but it’s not like I want the Reds to be terrible, nor am I rooting against them. Nor will I completely ignore them. I simply will have another, better, team that I will choose to root for in addition to the Reds this year.
When I mentioned this idea to my kids, my daughter and son created a very cool flowchart to help me decide:
That was helpful, but I want to help everyone pick a temporary team in times of emergency (like when your team reminds you of the Bad News Bears). So let’s go through the process of becoming a temporary fan.
Becoming a Temporary Fan
So your team stinks, and you’re onboard with the idea of becoming a temporary fan of another team. How do you go about picking your temporary team? Here are a few guidelines:
It must be a winning team
Yes, I realize this is the definition of a bandwagon fan, but who cares? Why would you choose to be a temporary fan of a bad team? You already are a fan of a bad team, such as the Reds or the Braves or the Twins. If you’re going to root for another team, you might as well enjoy it.
Certain Teams are off-limits
No Yankees, no Cardinals. You might be jumping on a bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost all your pride.
If you’re going to root for a team, you need to be able to watch that team’s games. So if you live in the Eastern time zone like I do, no choosing a team on the West Coast…unless you usually stay up until 1am each night.
Studies have shown that managers don’t have a great impact on the record of a team (no more than a few wins or losses), but they can have a great impact on your ability to root for a team. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a team that consistently bats a player leadoff who has an under .300 OBP just because they play center field. So pick a team with a manager who at least doesn’t completely annoy you.
You will end up watching your temporary team a lot, so you need to feel comfortable with the broadcasting team. Do you really want to listen to Hawk Harrelson dozens of times a season? I didn’t think so. If you are not familiar with other teams’ broadcasting booths, check out this helpful Fangraphs ranking.
This is probably the most important criteria, as it doesn’t eliminate teams for consideration as much as choose them. When you root for a team, you ultimately root for the players. Usually you simply root for the players who wear your favorite laundry, but in this case you choose the laundry based on which players are wearing it. So find the teams that have a large number of your favorite players on it.
Okay, let’s put this to practice. What team will I honor by becoming its temporary fan?
I’ll eliminate every team that isn’t at least .500 by now (as of 6/14/16):
Braves Twins Padres Diamondbacks Rockies Phillies Brewers Angels Athletics Astros Rays Yankees
Yankees are already gone, so only one team to eliminate:
Need to get rid of any remaining West Coast teams:
Mariners Giants Dodgers
Only one manager annoys me enough to make me abandon the team:
I’m ambivalent about most managers, but I do like Joe Maddon. So an extra point for the Cubs.
Of the teams remaining, only one broadcast booth is awful:
If the Nationals were not already eliminated, they would be now. Their broadcast booth has the talent of making baseball unwatchable. Personally, my favorite broadcasting booths are the Dodgers, Giants, Rays, Cubs, and Red Sox. Extra points for the Cubs and Red Sox, who both aren’t eliminated yet.
A few I will eliminate for personal preferences:
Mets(no way I’m rooting for a team from New York)
Orioles(I lived in Baltimore for a while and didn’t like the town or the team)
Blue Jays(I like some of their players, but artificial turf eliminates them. Plus, Canada)
Okay, now we are down to eight teams:
- Red Sox
Now let’s pick a team from this by determining which players I enjoy watching the most. Who are some of my favorite players from the teams remaining? They include Jose Fernandez, Giancarlo Stanton, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and David Price. So let’s just narrow down my list to their three teams:
- Red Sox
I’m tempted to go with the Marlins since I currently live in Florida. But two words: Jeffrey Loria. That eliminates them from the running. So now I’m down to two:
- Red Sox
Which, coincidentally, I picked as the two teams to reach the World Series this year. The problem with the Cubs is that they are in the same division as the Reds, which makes rooting for them hard. But the Red Sox have more issues: (1) their fans are obnoxious; (2) they have a bit of a “evil empire” stink to them in recent years; and (3) David Ortiz (I can’t stand him).
So I’m going to hop on the biggest bandwagon of the year…
(Until next year, when I hope they go down in flames as the Reds are resurrected!)