Thursday, July 16, 2015

Unkind Houseguests

It seems inevitable, when going to games at Citi Field, and probably at any Major League ballpark, that people show up to the game that are fans of the opposing team. That's just part of Baseball, I suppose, but perhaps it's magnified here in New York, where there are so many tourists and transplants that don't root for the Mets, or the other New York team. Plenty of Mets fans can be found at other team's stadiums as well, when the Mets go on the road. In a perfect world, you'd think that fans of the opposing team would come to a game, be respectful, root for their team and everyone would have a good time. I'd also like to think that Mets fans are, for the most part, gracious hosts, although I know that's not always the case. That being said, Mets fans seem to generally be well-behaved; perhaps this was most evident the night that they found themselves on the wrong side of History. Mets fans were lauded for their support of youngster Chris Heston as he finished out the game, and though I admittedly sat and stewed in muted agony, I certainly didn't root against Heston, or at least not openly. 

But, then again, this isn't a perfect world and there's always a few select jackasses that can get out of line (I am excluding from this group, the people I like to refer to as "Confused Fans," people that come to the game wearing garb for a team that's not even playing in said game). When it happens at Citi Field, I personally am not so salty as to actually take this matter into my own hands, but it leaves a particularly bad impression of a fan base. I am of the mind that if a fan base is particularly detestable, the team probably is as well, and so what ends up happening is there's a group of teams that I dislike for no other reason than I don't like their fans.

This has come up enough this season to get me thinking about which teams have, by my estimation, the least likable fans, particularly after a couple of specific incidents that drew my ire. For me to not like a fan base, they generally have to behave a certain way:

1) Self-aggrandizing.
2) Think they're the reason for their team's success.
3) Act as though their team has already won something before the season's over.
4) Trash the Mets.

So, then, here's how opposing teams' fans break out when it comes to invading Citi Field:

Atlanta Braves: A rare case of where the team's success against the Mets has caused my dislike moreso than the behavior of their fans. Their fans used to be kind of annoying, but that was mostly when Larry was playing. My interactions with them have been fine. Oddly, their years of being on TBS and having their games broadcast so widely once led me to be seated next to a group of Braves fans from Sweden.

Miami Marlins: Only have 4 fans, so be sure to take a picture as proof if you come across one. I saw one of them at a Mets/Marlins game earlier this season but foolishly I didn't get my phone out when I saw him. Spotting one is like playing "Where's Waldo?"

Philadelphia Phillies: Were among the worst when the team was going well, invaded Shea Stadium and then Citi Field, talked all sorts of trash, started fights, stomped on rally towels and generally ruined every Mets fans' impression of them. However, now that the Phillies have returned to mediocrity their fans have now crawled back into their caves. So you can add fair-weather to the list of adjectives describing them.

Washington Nationals: Limited presence at Mets games, partially because I think the people of Washington are still trying to figure out who the Nationals are. For a city in such close proximity to New York, Nationals fans don't seem very inclined to make the trip north, even considering the success they have had in Citi Field. More a reflection of their relevance within their own community than their mass appeal.

Honorable Mention: Since we're on the topic of the Nationals, I should mention that I was at the last game in Montreal Expos history in 2004, and in retrospect it was really heartbreaking to see that a large contingent of Montreal fans had come to New York to see their team one last time, and after the final out had all crowded around the team's dugout to give them one final Au Revoir. A passionate group that just got screwed over continually and deserved better.

Chicago Cubs: Perfect example of a truly obnoxious, unlikeable fan base. I've made many mentions about some particular encounters I've had with Cubs fans that serve to underscore my point. Cubs fans just have no clue. They're so used to mediocrity that in the demented minds of their fans, simply being a .500 team equates to a major victory and they will act as such. Their fans will actually come up and talk trash to you unprovoked. They come out to Citi Field en masse and walk around with their chests puffed out like they own the place and they've deified their players so much that when Kris Bryant came to bat, I'm pretty sure half the Cubs fans in attendance had an orgasm. But, of course, the joke's on them, because they still haven't won a thing in over a century, and everyone knows this, so instead their bravado ends up being more comical than anything else when they inevitably lose.

Cincinnati Reds: Reds fans tend to travel in families, so they don't get out of line all that often. I did have one instance a few years ago in a game where Todd Frazier was bombing Home Runs all over the place and a pair of mustachioed hipsters were bouncing from section to section rooting for the Reds a little too loudly for my liking, but they also probably had too much to drink.

Milwaukee Brewers: Because the Brewers are an obscure, small-market team, they don't have much of a contingent here. I can't recall seeing many, or any of their fans here. Anyone else?

Pittsburgh Pirates: Not a heavily-represented fan base when the Pirates come to town, but a good group that seems to be pretty well-aware of their History and Heritage. But now that they're finding some success after being so bad for so long, I'm curious to see how they change.

St. Louis Cardinals: Absolutely everything you could possibly dislike about a fan base is embodied in Cardinals fans. They travel in large groups, they've clearly let the whole "Best Fans in Baseball" assertion go to their head, the extended run of success the team has had has totally gone to their heads, they think they're God's Gift to Baseball, they walk around sniffing each other's underwear, they carry Selfie Sticks, they only drink Budweiser, they say things like "You need to get a hit NOW, Matt Carpenter! " and it feels like a majority of them have just crawled out of the woodwork since they started winning every year.

Arizona Diamondbacks: I was all set to talk about how I've never seen one, and then I went to a Mets/Diamondbacks game last Friday and there were a whole host of people in Diamondbacks jerseys, etc, so maybe they've finally built themselves up enough that they're starting to show themselves. They keep quiet, mostly, I guess because they're still learning how to Baseball.

Colorado Rockies: Another group of fans that you don't see many of when the Colorados come to town. I'm not entirely sure if it's because they're a Western team or because they're still relatively new in Baseball terms and just haven't built up that kind of a fan base.

Los Angeles Dodgers: An interesting case because there's still some small faction of Brooklyn Dodgers fans that never gave up the ship, as evidenced by the fact that when the Dodgers and Mets squared off in the NLDS in 2006, I saw a group of nuns in Dodgers hats walking around Shea Stadium. Dodgers fans have a reputation of being too cool for the room, particularly when it comes to their own home games, and when they go on the road, yes, they do have fans that show up at Citi Field but they're sort of a nonentity when it comes to making their presence known.

San Diego Padres: I've been to my share of Mets/Padres games but for the life of me I can't recall ever seeing a Padres fan. I know they have fans. Perhaps they just like the weather in San Diego too much to go anywhere else.

San Francisco Giants: You'd think, given that the Giants have won 3 World Series Championships in the last 5 years, and they have a New York fan base that purchases entire sections of tickets to games whenever they come to town, and they've often outnumbered Mets fans on specific occasions that they might be totally overbearing, but oddly every interaction I've had with Giants fans has been nothing but pleasant. They root for their team, but they don't talk trash, they don't go over the top, they celebrate only when appropriate and they only seem interested in having a good time. So I have to give them credit for good sportsmanship.

And then there's the American League teams, whom we don't see much of at Citi Field, so I don't have much to go on. I can say that the Mets/Blue Jays game I attended earlier this season did feature many Toronto fans, but they mostly were very well-mannered and polite, I assume because they were Canadian. I've also seen games against Baltimore, Chicago, Anaheim, Detroit, Tampa and Boston and can't say I've noticed anything noteworthy, although the Boston games came in 1997, 1999 and 2001, back when they were totally defeated and beaten down by life and hadn't yet experienced the trappings of victory. Then, there's the Yankees, and I've made no bones about purposefully not going to any more Mets/Yankees games, simply because I can't take the Yankees fans. The choreographed line dances and Home Run chants are bad enough, but at least they aren't allowed to perform their pre game Chicken Sacrifice at Citi Field. Or at least I think they're not allowed to. We try to preach civility and not barbarism.

So, there you have it. Next up for me are the Dodgers, followed by the Padres, and other games to come against the Colorados and Philly, and even a rare appearance by the Boston Red Sox so we'll see if any of these impressions change. If anyone has any other experiences they'd like to share, please chime in.

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