I’m waiting for it. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know it will. It’s inevitable. It almost happened a couple days ago at work. I’m new there, just getting to know the other guys, and we were talking about the different baseball stadiums we’ve visited. Which led to the obvious question, “What’s your team?” There were a couple Yankees fans present. And a Mets fan. And me.
“Oh,” one of the Yankees fans said when I answered. I was ready for it. I was ready for him to call me a bandwagoner. But he didn’t. He said, “You guys are gonna be good this year.”
I agreed. The Mets fan suggested that we’ve got a pretty good chance at the NL East title in 2013. He talked about how impressive Craig Kimbrel is (pronouncing the second syllable like it rhymes with “bell”).
So it hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. And I can understand why. I’m an out-of-market fan of a team that is making headlines. The uniting of the Upton brothers is big, exciting news. Jason Heyward is making TV commercials. We’ve got the best closer in the game. Our team image is one of cool youth. It’s a fact: there will be bandwagoners.
It’s obvious why bandwagoners are so reviled by true fans. They appear out of nowhere as soon as it is fashionable to be a fan, often outfitted in brand new team apparel—hats with no bends in the brims, jersey t-shirts—and declare their newfound love for their new team as if they have been faithful followers their whole lives. It can be frustrating, especially when the fan in question has no sense of the team’s history, failures, or achievements. Bandwagoners are loud in their support, but they stand with out foot out the door, always ready to jump ship for a more successful, more popular team. They don’t wait out losing seasons and suffer with the team. They don’t wear those unblemished hats after their team loses in the one-game wildcard playoff.
But there’s another way to look at the situation: bandwagoners don’t deserve our scorn, they deserve our sympathy. Sticking with a team through years of struggle and defeat is what makes the taste of victory so sweet, and that’s something a bandwagoner will never understand or experience. Sad, right?
So here’s my message: Bandwagoners welcome. Enjoy your stay, but wipe your feet at the door. We’re happy to have you.
Maybe a few of them will even see the error in their ways, quit wandering from team to team, and give true fandom a try.