Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fandom: Picking a Favorite Player

By Michael Haas


Who's your favorite player?
That question is one of the fundamental pieces of being a Fan. Most kids have favorite players before they know anything about the sport. The bar was set awfully high for those of us who grew up with Kirby Puckett. He was much more than a 'favorite player' to most of us. The kids who had a different fave chose that way just to go against the proverbial grain. It was obvious why we chose Kirby as, at least, our favorite player; but what if the decision isn't so easy? How do people generally choose their Guy? What specifications are there for a favorite player?

The Ability to Play Baseball

It's a fact that ability and popularity are closely linked, especially at the top of the scale. The better a player is, the more fans he has. But there are many subsets of pure ability and statistics. Perceived grit, effort and clutchness are important to fans too. Nobody likes a lazy, flippant fuckface, but makes up for it with talent (J.D Drew, Glen Perkins.) Grit can come in especially handy for those ballplayers who aren't very skilled. It's the old, "hey, they play hard everyday" (Mike Redmond, Nick Punto.) It is certainly admirable to see a guy give it all he's got, even though the only way he can drive in a run is to slap it into right field.

Personality

Players with an affinity for the game, the fans, and life are undeniably likable. A funny, quotable, original personality is great for us older sports fans. A heroic, role model type guy is ideal for the youngsters. Obviously, it's tough to know a professional baseball players true character. This is where the media can either help or hurt a guy. Mickey Mantle was widely regarded as a hero, but it may have been different if the sportswriters hadn't suppressed their knowledge of his foibles. But it doesn't really matter the flaws, as long as we don't get too obsessed with the player and/or don't hear about them. Now reread the first two sentences of this paragraph and you'll understand why I am not a big fan of Mauer and Morneau.

Originality

Most fans will try to pick a less obvious player as their favorite. It's lame to like someone that everyone else likes. That's probably why I was in denial about Torii Hunter being My Guy until it was too late. Tear.

Sexiness

Girls like baseball players, but only the cute ones. Generally, a girls hottest player is also their favorite player.



My New Favorite Player

As noted above, I recently realized that Torii Hunter was my favorite Twin. Cinderella said it best: You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. So I suppose I'll pick a new guy, as I suspect a lot of other Twins fans are doing. I'm not going to pick Justin Morneau or Joe Mauer - - they are frustrating players to follow, give lame interviews and are adored by all women. So who else? Joe Nathan is pretty good. But I can't choose a closer as my favorite player, or any pitcher for that matter. The same argument for why a pitcher can't win an MVP holds true here - they only appear once in five games. When I pay good money to see my team, I damn well better see my player too. So how about one of the new guys? There is something to be said about hitching your wagon to a player early. It's a badge of honor, just like my friends 2003 copyrighted Santana shirt. How about Delmon Young? He talks, he hits baseballs, and not everyone loves him yet. I think we have a winner!



Congratulations Delmon Young, you are now my favorite Twin.




8 comments:

bizmarkie507 said...

Yeah Delmon Young is awesome. I can't wait to watch him hit better than Torii Hunter did throughout his career.

And baseball player evaluation to girls is the equivalent to women's tennis evaluation to guys. Ana Ivanovich is my favorite player ever, and Martina Navatoliva or however you spell it is one of my least favorites, even though she's like the best ever.

tfrezac2002 said...

I totally agree that Delmon is only a year away from being the face of the MN Twins and if he had played one game in a twins uniform he would be my man. But, as it is, I've been a fan of Cuddy-bear for the past few years. He's a solid player, has a decent personality in interveiws, has been with the team for quite a while, and came over adversity (i.e. when he tried to play 3rd everyday) and has done it all with a smile on his face.

tfrezac2002 said...

Oh, and BTW, Cuddy-bear is adorable as well. So he has the sexiness factor going for him.

TwinsWin83 said...

yeah. gonna have to go with Cuddy as well. All the rest of the Twins players that I bought t-shirt jerseys of over the past 6 or 7 years are long gone.

I was reading this article the other day about Cuddy stepping into the lockeroom for the first time this spring training and realizing he is the last Twin remaining from the 02' team that got back to the playoffs and was 3 wins from the world series. Now thats a sad thought.

soup said...

It's a bit frustrating, but I am a kubel fan. it is almost entirely based on the fact that he is a fellow south dakota native.
...and he will have a better year than cuddy

Karleeee said...

Punto, Boof, Neshek.

I can't pick just ONE.
This shit isn't like sofies choice.
(ps: HORRIBLY sad movie)

Holmer said...

I'm going with Chris Gomez. Nothing better than watching speed... I hope he makes the line-up.

Ryan said...

Wow, this was a terrible choice! I think you jinxed him.