Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Embracing the Fugly

A small point that I made in a recent list was that a baseball tradition that should be revived was the breathtakingly ugly uniform. I wanted to elaborate on why that was important, and hey, it's a blog... electrons are more or less free, and y'all indulge me, so.

I love that we can think about sports now without feeling like we're wearing slide rules and thick glasses. It's nice to be able to enjoy sports on more than one level.

But just because we can use our minds to discuss this stuff, call shenanigans on ex-jock analysts when they want to talk about the character differences that separate professional athletes from clearly inferior people like you and me, and want to choke the life out of faux fun catch-phrasey painful would-be hipsters... well that doesn't mean we have to take things seriously.

When LeBron James Rose Up and sent three Celtics to the Poster Ward in Game 4, that wasn't a moment for intellect. It was raw, extraordinary power and athleticism with a side of drama and meaning. But mostly, it was a large man dunking a basketball over other large men. It can mean more than that, and I'd argue that it even does, but it doesn't have to.

Similarly, people who get all bent out of shape about the look and feel of the logo laundry, or who feel the need to disparage the colors of another team... hoo boy.

If you love your team, and your team makes an unfortunate clothing decision, I think you should embrace it. Own it, even. Because in so doing, you show yourself as more of a fan, in my opinion. And if you are a fan of their opponent, you need to treat the person who does that a little better, because they are doing it right. (Or they've got no taste. Either way, be kind.)

It's one thing to wear A's green and gold when they are good, and you're wearing the relatively subdued kelly green with yellow lettering. It's quite another when you pull on one of those day-glo horrors from the Moustache Gang glory days, and provoke bystanders into thinking they need sunglasses.

Simply, it makes a statement. That this is your team, and that it's not a casual thing. The purchase was made with care and commitment, and you own it. You're That Guy -- the Tuesday night lame inter-league game fan, the 6,000 people in the Coliseum fan, the guy who still hurts a little every time he hears A's play by play and it's not the late great Bill King.

Similarly, if you are a Philly Fan, you're rocking the powder blues from the '70s, despite the fact that the modern era's greater reliance on red looks a little more macho. You miss the Vet's 700 level -- bad. Maybe you even go the extra mile and avoid the Schmidt / Carlton / Rose cliches, and sport a Bowa, Trillo, or McBride. (And if you're wearing a McGraw and you aren't an easy guy to get along with, just stay the hell home.) You've got the same thing going on as the A's fan, only it's the late great Whitey Ashburn.

You are, in short, a real fan... and yet, not a big serious too-tense jerk about it. Be proud of that. (There's more of us than you think, but we stay quiet in the wake of idiots in the hope that they'll get bored and go home. They will, in time.)

If the sports world consisted only of Us, the world would be a better place. Because that Real Fan Guy (or Girl)? We like them no matter what team they root for. The Yankee fan with the Mattingly gamer, the Red Sox fan wearing Dewey Evans' number, the Mets fan who still loved, loved, loved Lenny Dykstra or Rusty Staub or maybe even Tom Seaver... we're all OK with them. We're even a little happy for them when their team wins, even if we hate their team.

And yes, this even goes into the Ironic Jersey move. Who doesn't smile when they see a Yinka Dare Nets jersey? No one. Give it up for the wearer; they just made everybody's day brighter. (Or they are named Dare, which is a pretty cool name, really. Porn-star ready.)

Especially if he's wearing some goofy variation of the colors that the team did when they were high. Because, well, it's more fun. And if you aren't having fun watching and thinking about this stuff, why watch sports?

3 comments:

The Prophet said...

Excellent post...but what came to *my* mind is that sports would be a lot better with more players named "Catfish" and "Bake"

Starwood said...

I think a bigger point is that grown men shouldn't wear jerseys. It's just silly. It's time to play grown up and let the kids where the jersey of their favorite player/team.

Chamomiles Davis said...

An All-Retro World Series featuring the A's and the Astros would destroy most television screens permanently.