Up until this year, I have always been a one-sport kind of girl, which is basically because I was not indoctrinated to be a fan of any sport besides baseball. Total brainwashing, I tell you. Anyway, recently I moved in with a pair of rabid hockey fans in the bay area, California. It was the perfect rebound relationship: one crying Yankees fan, left deserted by an early, disappointing departure from the playoffs and surrounded by the orange and black success of the home team. Enter: exciting NHL preseason for a hip team with giant expectations, endless possibilities, and a lot of really good players. I was weak! I was sad! I was left with a desolate, depressing offseason (even though I knew the Yankees would obviously – obviously! – get Cliff Lee), and hockey sweet talked me into being a fan like that guy in the leather jacket and the sweet Mustang at the party you were at last night. I woke up the next day and said to myself, “Hannah, you’re a San Jose Sharks fan now. Read a lot of blogs and learn all their names and find out what the heck the blue line means, and don’t forget to uncover the flaws in all the traditional stats.” (Note: +/- is almost as bad as pitcher W/L.)
It was a good choice. I like hockey. But now it’s time for baseball and I’ve reached a terrible point in my life that I have never had to deal with before: which sport do I watch? On one hand, I have the love of my life playing games which are totally meaningless. I already knew (and it was proven to me yesterday) that the games will vary from boring to an absolute comedy of errors with only the occasional bright spot. It’s nice to take in baseball without having to worry about the actual games, but at the same time, getting into the game is just a little harder when they don’t matter. It’s not that I’m not excited about watching the pitchers and catchers and bench guys fight for their spots. It’s not that I’m not excited to see Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos become big leaguers or I don’t want to see Derek Jeter rebound. It’s just that, like I wrote yesterday, the games simply do not matter.
On the other hand, the NHL season is barreling towards the playoffs. The trade deadline is tomorrow, and the Western Conference (where the Sharks play) is especially tight. Every game matters. Maybe we’ll pick up another player. Maybe not. Maybe our exceptionally hot (game-wise, not attractiveness-wise) goalie will break under the stress of playing twenty games in a row – that’s a lot. Will our superstars plagued by down years pick it up when we need them? Can we continue to be the amazing San Jose Sharks, or will we return to our pre-All Star Break inconsistency issues? It’s these kind of pressing questions that watching the games would answer. Like baseball, hockey highlights and stat reels don’t ever tell the whole story. What kind of fan would I be if I didn’t watch every minute of nail-biting, second-half hockey?
Football fans have an advantage over us hockey and basketball people – your season is over before baseball even begins, so there’s no stress to worry about now, though your collective problem comes in September when football starts up again. I guess in the end, it’s all a matter of priorities. I’m certain that my hockey-loving household is going to give me absolute piles of crap when I tell them I’ll be turning off extremely important Sharks games to watch meaningless Yankees games. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll miss some important Sharks moment and catch some unimportant (but amazing) Betances pitches and Montero bombs.
I guess it’s all about priorities. I’m sure there are some Yankees fans who put more value in their Knicks, Giants or Rangers, and are paying very little, if any, attention to these beginning games where all we’re doing is swooning over prospects and rolling our eyes as Ryan Howard pulls a Bill Buckner. Likewise, I’m sure there are people who are clapping their hands in glee over NFL preseason while we’re pulling our hair out over the end of regular season baseball. For me – and this should come as no surprise – I’d much rather watch a meaningless baseball game than a meaningful hockey game. All I can hope for is that the Yankees play in one time zone and the Sharks play in the other. That way I can watch both at the same time. And what’s better to a two-team sports fan than to watch both games on the same day?
Easy question: for a baseball person like me, it’s regular season baseball. Sorry, Sharks.