I was talking on the telephone with my dad on Wednesday afternoon and he shared with me a story about some of his colleagues. I’ll spare you most of the details, but one of the gentlemen was a Pittsburgh Steelers fans. My dad, a Cleveland Browns fan, and a few others offered up some jokes and friendly ribbing. (How can a Browns fan make fun of a Steelers fan? The guy was outnumbered by Browns and Bengals fans and the meeting was in Columbus, Ohio, so it was a road game for the poor guy.) Unfortunately, I’m not sure my dad was joking all that much. The steel city is a touchy subject in my family and that is what makes this baseball season different from seasons in the past. (I grew up in Akron and have always wondered if I grew up 45 miles east in Warren or a little farther east in Youngstown if I would be a Steelers fan. It would have been up to my dad, I was a fan of his teams.) You see for the first time in my life I am actually stepping away from my all-Cleveland allegiances and following a team from Pittsburgh just for the heck of it. Is it possible for me to root for the Cleveland Indians AND the Pittsburgh Pirates? (Save the, that’s a lot of losses jokes, I get it. ok?) On the surface, sure, they are in separate leagues and I have a better chance of landing a 747 in the upcoming months than they do of meeting in the World Series…but it’s Pittsburgh?
I have been an Indians fan ever since I can remember. Over the years my time working in the minor leagues may have softened my passion, but I still check the box and when I have the chance I watch them on television. I’ll always follow the Tribe and pull for them to make it back to the postseason. This is the first year I am following the Pirates as an actual fan and not for business purposes. I may have called games for their Triple-A affiliate, but that never meant I was a fan. I followed the Bucs because it helped with my broadcasts and often their success (or mostly, the lack thereof) determined who would be wearing an Indianapolis Indians uniform late in the season. But, something happened over the past year. TWITTER!
Oh, those sweet faceless friends on twitter. I don’t follow a ton of people, but I do follow several Pirates writers and Pirates fans. Through twitter I was able to get some fans tickets to games and then visit with them during and sometimes after the games. (I could leave the radio booth in the 5th and 6th innings) It’s a great networking tool and otherwise I never would have met some really interesting people. It sounds corny, but their passion for the Pirates and blogs about the Pirates sucked me in a bit. I don’t have to go into great detail about the string of losing seasons the Buccos have suffered, but even with all the losing, they have a passionate and knowledgeable fan base. It amazed me how many people outside of Indy were interested in the Indians. Sometimes I felt like the fans in Pittsburgh cared more about the players than the fans in Indy. (To be fair, the Indians have a solid diehard fan base, but most of the people there are looking for a good time in downtown Indy. Win or lose it’s a nice night.) Maybe I can relate to Pirates fans because they remind me of Browns fans. Even with all the losing and all the moments when it looks like there is no hope…you remember your roots and stick with the club through thick and thin. It also helps that I have worked with nearly 50% of the Pirates roster. Most of the young Bucs wore the Indy Indians uni and you can’t help but develop relationships with them.
So for this season and for a few more to come this Ohio boy is going to root and cheer on the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ll never root for the Steelers and even though I’m cheering on the Bucs I will not buy any Pirates gear. It’s still black and yellow.
A great big thank you goes out to all the people who reached out to me on twitter and via email wishing me all the best with my move from the Indians. It was a tough decision, but it was more of a personal move than a professional move. I did miss opening day, many of my co-workers, and the loyal fans who went to nearly every game. Fans like Vivian Whitaker, Nancy Zinni, and Joe Zaharako. I am pleasantly surprised to see that I am not missing the games as much as I thought I would. It helped to spend Easter Sunday with my family for the first time in 7 years plus last Sunday it was 80 degrees in Indianapolis. So instead of calling a doubleheader I went for a walk with the family to Broad Ripple for some afternoon ice cream. That was a nice afternoon and nice distraction from the great game of baseball.
I’m still busy broadcasting and do hope to return to a baseball booth later down the road. For now, it’s daddy day care and my first real summer since 2005.