Sunday, April 27, 2008

On Being a Fan

As a kid I was way into the Big Three: football, basketball, and baseball. Not that I was any good as a player--I wasn't--but... I .. WAS .. A .. FAN!! A fanatic. Collecting cards, studying stats and records, watching games on TV. I was into it. My mood for a day could be established by the outcome of a pro sports game. I felt a connection to the players and my teams (Oakland A's, Oakland Warriors, Pittsburgh Steelers). Note the odd team out... Steelers instead of the Raiders. I hated the bad-boy Raiders.

To this day, I remember sitting in our blue vinyl beanbag chair (hey, it was the 70's) watching my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers about to lose a playoff game to the Raiders. 4th down and time running out. Bleak, but I couldn't give up hope. I knew if I wished just a little bit harder, crossed all my fingers, begged out loud for a miracle, then maybe just maybe they could pull it out.

If you are a fan of football, young or old, then you know what happened... The Immaculate Reception. Steelers win; Raiders lose. Let's enjoy it for a moment...

Ahhhhh. I jumped up from that blue vinyl beanbag chair and ran around the house screaming like a lunatic. Your basic NFL fan in other words. I'm quite sure I had something to do with that miracle play: I wanted it so bad that the intensity of my feelings flowed through the karmic universe right into that stadium, affected the physics of that bounce, and coaxed the ball right into Franco Harris' outstretched arms.

I was high for a week.

Unfortunately, it seems I exhausted my karmic budget on that one play. Pittsburgh lost the following weekend--to the Dolphins I think--and the next 99 times I wished for last-second miracles, well, you know.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I'm not such a fan of the big three anymore. Maybe it's today's players, or the obscene commercialization, or just a realization that there really is no connection between me and my favorite players. Never was as it turns out. For all intents and purposes, these guys could be robots or computer animated characters.

Oh, the lost innocence of youth...

But I'm still a fan, only now the sport is bike racing. I never did play catch with Terry Bradshaw (Steelers), or throw grounders to Sal Bando (A's), or shoot free-throws with Rick Barry (Warriors)... but now I can ride with Pro cyclists! A real connection.

And so it was that I found myself today, fully engaged by a professional sports event, and trying once again to influence the outcome via the karmic universe. Not through the TV this time, but through the computer, where I was glued to WCSN video coverage of the Tour de Georgia, along with Laura Weislo's live text updates from cyclingnews.

...and lookie lookie who's in the break. SB's Aaron Olson and former SB'ers Jake Erker and Hilton Clarke. They weren't given much leash from the High Road controlled field, with the gap fluctuating around 60 seconds. Maybe they're cool with a break taking the win today? Why not, they've got gc and points locked up along with two stage wins ...isn't that good enough? I was begging for them to let the gap grow. Out loud, the computer screen. Working out scenarios in my head, doing gap math, distance divided by speed. Maybe Cam Evans could attack to set up Jake. Aaron's been sitting on; maybe he's got a wicked ten-minute effort left to unleash. Hey, don't bring Hilton to the line ...I'm still mad about when he put me into the bushes on Bates... Come on... PULL!!

Bell lap... six miles to go... gap at 40 seconds... 6 miles divided by 30 mph... cross fingers and toes... Come on... PULL HARDER!!!

Oh no!!! The Oakland Raiders are on the front, err.., I mean Rock Racing is on the front of the field. Aaarrgghh!! Puh-lease... give it up you criminal bad-fashion boys, Freddie's not gonna do it. Come on!!!

4 km to go... break splintering... Guys jumping across. GET ON THAT!!! DIG!!!!


As per normal, it all came back together in the final kms. Damn pro sports... four-corner stall, intentional walks, running the clock out. And now the big heartless peloton catches our heroes right before the finish. Seems that Immaculate Reception really did exhaust my supply of karmic influence. But that won't stop me from being a fan of bike racing and trying to wish the break along anyway.


Solo said...

Jake rules.
If they gave honours for the nicest, most down to earth racers... Jake would win, hands down.
Props to Symmetrics and the guys for doing what they do. With class.

Greg Knowles said...

A trip down memory lane. My teams were the Dodgers, Lakers, & Rams. I haven't gradutated to the cycling on the computer yet. I need to check it out.

Marco Fanelli said...

solo- Yes, those Symmetrics boys seem like a good bunch. Let's hope the team sponsorship situation works out. BTW, nice blog you've got there--great pics and stuff. And congrats to your wife on her great racing!

Greg- You must have been a SoCal kid. I was NorCal, thus the Bay Area teams (minus the Raiders). I just realized that I said "Oakland" Warriors when actually they were the SF Warriors back then, before becoming Golden State. I guess I said Oakland because they actually played in the Oakland Colliseum! Be careful if you start watching bike racing on the computer... it can be addicting!

Anonymous said...


Not this is a hallway pass to start running all the stop signs again, but Officer King is retiring at the end of June - just thought I would share the good news.