The Awkwardness of Being a Fan


Last Wednesday night I was hanging out in a bar talking to some friends. We were just comparing the careers George Carlin to Steve Martin; you know – everyday conversation, when a random grown man came walking towards me.

“Hey! What’s up man? We did it!” he yelled.

I had no idea what this guy was talking about, but he was definitely talking to me. He reached his arm into the air to start out the first part of what I could only assume would be a hard hi-five. This guy was serious about something and he decided to include me in it. His hand came down quicker than I could get mine up. Mainly because I was scanning his person trying to see if something could tip me off to his excitement rather than worrying about this hi-five scenario. Nonetheless, our hands met somewhere near my waist, which forced the hi-five to become more like a secret handshake that neither of us knew. But, our hands were touching. To make matters worse, I didn’t know if I knew him well enough for a half hug and with our hands where they were we were in prime position to complete said half hug. Within a split second I decided against it, and it was clearly the right decision as it quickly become apparent I did not know this guy.

A second of silence passes, which in these instances seems like a literal minute.

“We won, man!” he yelled again.

I finally realize that this guy is completely covered in Padres gear. Shirt, hat, sweatshirt tied around his waist; he’s a fan and he’s happy. So, why is he talking to me?

“Yea man, we did win!” I reply.

He motions at my shirt fully realizing I needed a prompt and says, “Our first series of the year! We beat the Brewers!”

As I looked down to notice the Padres t-shirt I was wearing things began to make sense. I calmed a little and joined in on the celebration, “Did we win today? I was supposed to go to the game but couldn’t go.” This was a true statement on both accounts. I sadly didn’t know if we had won and I was supposed to go that day.

“Yea dude! We blanked ‘em five to nothin’!” he replied.

“Awesome!” I said, offering a much better hi-five than the previous one I had completed. “That’s great. And it only took us a month!” I finished with a soft laugh and he blankly stared at me as if I had just said his mother and I had briefly dated. He looked me up and down real quick and then retorted with, “Come on, man.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“They won today. They won a series. Can’t we just celebrate that?” He said somberly.

I wanted to get into it. I wanted to explain to this guy about how even though we had a won a series we were losing the season. Explain to him the ridiculous contracts for underperforming players. Tell him all about how our ownership situation is so messed up we might as well just sell the team Mark Grant for $50! I wanted to see how deep this guy’s happiness went. I wanted to break him. I wanted him to feel like I feel. A fan so upset with what his team and team’s management is doing this season that the only thing that could possibly break my depression is a no-hitter or cycle but THE MERE FACT THAT I JUST SAID THOSE THINGS CURSES THEIR CHANCES OF ACTUALLY HAPPENING SO THEY WON’T!

I didn’t say any of that. I just said, “Yea. We totally can.” We clinked beers and talked about Ryan Braun being on steroids.

We shook hands and wished our boys to a better season, then he walked back to his friends as I turned back to mine. He left about ten minutes later and we didn’t find a moment to say goodbye. Just a nod from across the room to signify we were both on the same boat just not on the same page.

It’s hard being somewhat tortured fans in a somewhat tortured sports city and not really being able to talk about it. That’s kind of half the fun. We get consistently screwed, but we get to talk about it and complain about it and blog about it. We deserve that right and when it’s taken away from you even for a second, you get sad. Every fan can be a fan in their own way and that is every fan’s right. We pay a large portion of the salary for the teams we root for. Complete optimism is fine. Total apathy is acceptable and utter despair is also allowed. However, when these different groups of fans come together you can either expect a lot of fireworks or just a lot of awkward laughs and blank stares.

I got the latter. Hi-five Padres fans, we won a series.