© D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s enter our Philosophy of Human Behavior 101 class and take out our blue books. The essay question is:
“A Giants fan is happy that the A’s have been eliminated from the playoffs. Discuss, with heavy emphasis on what it says about people, sports and the human condition.”
Oh! Good one!
It’s no secret I said on the air that I would be rooting for the Yankees in the American League Wild Card game. I came to this conclusion after assessing the situation, factoring in that I have family members, whom I love, and dear friends who are A’s fans.
Surely, a large-hearted person in my situation would want my family members and dear friends to be happy. Therefore, I would root for the A’s. Right?
Being a fan in sports means engaging in tribalism.
It means rooting for your laundry (Giants uniforms), and having fun rooting against another team’s laundry (usually Dodgers uniforms, but in this case, A’s uniforms).
It means relishing the shared and common bonds you have with your fellow tribe members; cherishing the customs and habits that define your tribe — and by extension, preferring your tribe’s habits and customs over your neighbor’s tribe.
It’s fun, is what it is.
It’s also a quid pro quo.
A’s fans have spent precious little energy hiding their disdain for the Giants. They have derided the Giants for, among other things, the 1989 World Series (with each passing year, it gets more and more distant, like the Franco-Prussian War); and the beauty of AT&T Park (“Zero Splash Hits; Four World Series Trophies” went the ad campaign in the early 2000s). Their team president Dave (Pow Emoji) Kaval has flat-out used hatred of the Giants as a marketing tool, from talking smack about four World Series trophies to the Giants’ three in the presence of Bruce Bochy, to encouraging fans to toss Giants hats in a garbage can, to raising parking prices on Giants fans coming to the Coliseum.
An A’s fan and Pow Emoji Guy supporter might argue: we’re just having fun!
So, I would argue, are we!
Nobody is getting hurt here. Nobody is taking this too seriously. But what we are doing is following the time-honored tradition of sports rivalry, following a template surely followed between Mets and Yankees fans in New York, and Cubs and White Sox fans in Chicago. You think New York has split “Mets/Yankees” caps? Then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
(I can’t speak for Dodgers and Angels fans in Southern California. I’ve lived down there, and not sure either fan base has its act together enough to actually forge a rivalry.)
Otherwise, what are we doing here? Is this kindergarten? Do we have to “fill each other’s buckets,” as they teach my kids to do in elementary school?
No. Bucket-filling is for kindergarten. Schadenfreude is what we’re talking here; taking delight in another person’s failure. And if you don’t think most A’s fans were passionate supporters of the Texas Rangers in 2010, the Detroit Tigers in 2012 and the Kansas City Royals in 2014, then I have two bridges to sell you — one connecting San Francisco and Oakland, perhaps.
So let your hair down. Don’t worry about someone lecturing you about how you’re being small or petty or how it’s beneath you, as a Giants fan, to root against the A’s. I’d argue that the A’s fans out there enjoy the give-and-take. And they can’t wait to tap dance on the Giants’ grave again — just as soon as the Giants get good enough to even sniff October again.
Which could be a while. And that’s a whole ‘nother topic for a whole ‘nother blue book.