Thursday, October 19, 2017

Root, Root, Root For The Home Team

TigerBlog can't believe what he's been doing.

He's been, egads, rooting for the ... Yankees? What? No way. How was this possible?

What could possibly get him to root for the Yankees? They've long been one of his three least favorite teams in professional sports.

The other two? One of them is coached by a Princeton alum who is among the nicest people TB has ever met, and the other is the Patriots (whose coach, by the way, had a nice five-minute chat with TB about lacrosse when they met on the field at Gillette Stadium prior to the NCAA championships last May).

What is allegiance in sports all about anyway? TigerBlog couldn't stand an entire generation of Yankees players. They were arrogant and overrated and each time they won the World Series there was some sort of fluke involved. TB hated them.

This group of Yankees? They seem sort of likeable and easy to root for, as does the manager, Joe Girardi, a CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame member from Northwestern.

It seems like Aaron Judge especially is impossible to root against. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but he hits the ball a long, long way. And he plays hard.

He also seems like a good teammate and someone who is respectful of the game. He seems humble. He doesn't come across as a total phony " 'I always wanted to wear the pinstripes' " when all he really wanted was the big dollars the team threw at him" type who dominated the team for years.

TigerBlog's favorite pro sports teams has always been the Giants, the football ones. He barely paid attention the other night when they won their first game of the year, beating the Broncos in prime time.

Weird, huh?

It all asks the question of why do you root for teams? Do you root for your team no matter what, forever, blindly, because it's always been "your team?" Or do you say "hey, those guys are a bunch of jerks" as your subconscious drifts to a different team, whose players seem to be nicer?

As much as TB hated the Yankees, he always loved the Knicks. For the last 20 years, that's been tougher and tougher to do, especially with the makeup of the team in recent years. Now that Carmelo Anthony has been traded and Princeton's Steve Mills has a bigger role, maybe it'll be easier.

For colleges, allegiance seems a little deeper. For one thing, people usually root for the school they attended, unless they went to one school (you can call it "Penn") and then spent their entire professional life at that school's arch-rival (you can call it "Princeton).

For another, the rosters turn over every four years, so even if there is someone that you're not a fan of, he or she is gone relatively quickly.

One of the best things about Princeton has always been how easy it is to root for the athletes here. They're a lot like how Aaron Judge appears to be - they play hard, they're humble, they're approachable. They make great role models.

Did you see this video on The one where the freshmen women's basketball players interview themselves? Don't they seem like the kinds of players you want on your team?

TB has spent the week talking about videos and how they give insight into what Princeton Athletics is all about. The women's basketball one, featuring the team's freshmen, is another one of those. It's very simple. They're just asking each other basic questions about themselves, you know, whether you prefer cake or pie, or morning or night, or what your favorite movie is.

They are getting to know each other. The viewer is getting to know them. The best part is that they just seem so friendly.

Princeton has incredible loyalty from its alums, and there are all kinds of reasons for that.

First, let TB say that the level of that loyalty has always impressed him. He can't imagine someone who went to Princeton could ever do what he did, which is completely flip sides of the rivalry with Penn, or Harvard or Yale.

That loyalty is ingrained on Princetonians from the time they get here, it ways that isn't done (or at least wasn't done) at Penn. Beyond that, though, the loyalty among athletic alums is reinforced by the quality of the people who make up the current generation of Princeton athletes.

It's really a remarkable dynamic.

As for the Yankees? Well, they're certainly making it easy to root for them. 

Did you see Judge after he scored to make it 4-0 yesterday? He was smiling like a little kid.

Damn Yankees. Making TB root for them like this. 

No comments: