Ours is a house divided. I am a lifelong devotee of the Swingin’, Bashin’, Penny Pinchin’ Oakland Athletics, and my otherwise wonderful wife is a fervent (read: vocal) SF Giants fan. Caught in the middle are the innocent, impressionable minds of our two children—a three-year-old boy and his soon-to-be-seven sister.
When it comes to choices of conscience, my personal philosophy is that parents lead by example, exposing children to experiences, information, and opportunities, and children are free to make their own decisions.
Sadly, this laissez-faire approach produced a daughter who now owns a Tim Lincecum jersey, a fluffy panda hat, and an orange “<3 SF” shirt, which she proudly sports to 2nd grade each Friday. That she won’t be seen with me wearing a stitch of A’s gear goes without saying.
The battle for our son won’t be so easily won.
When you live in a metropolitan area that is large enough to support multiple professional franchises in a single sport, you naturally develop a passion for two teams per sport: the team you love, and whoever’s playing the team you hate.
I was born in San Francisco, but my parents relocated the family to an east bay suburb when I was still in diapers. As a child of the 1970s who came of age in the ’80s, I was drawn to the success and swagger of an A’s franchise that won three consecutive World Series titles (’72, ’73 & ’74) and featured a ledger of larger-than-life players: Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and, yes, even Mark McGuire and Jose Canseco.
Appropriately, I milked our sweep of the Giants in the 1989 World Series for 20 long years.
My wife grew up on the SF peninsula—Giants country—in the kind of baseball-frenzied family I’d only read about in books. You know the type: yelling at the TV, unable to watch when things turn sour, so invested in the outcome of a game that it dictates the mood of the rest of the day. Today, I find myself living on that same SF peninsula, just a stone’s throw from my wife’s parents and a handful of miles from my brother-in-law’s place.
The influence of the Giants and their fans on my children is insufferable.
When the Giants won the 2010 World Series, our son was 13-months old, but that didn’t stop his mother from dressing him in a Giants onesie, gelling his hair into a mohawk, and face-painting a jet black beard for a series of photos that made their way through BOTH SIDES of our family. Finally, I grew some brass and called a halt to the brainwashing tactics that had claimed one child and were fast consuming number two—and slowly, he started coming around.
This season, for about six glorious weeks, our son consistently voiced his support for the A’s (and why not, given the sensational run by a squad of misfits with the league’s second-lowest payroll). Anytime my father-in-law was within earshot, I’d ask my boy, “What’s your favorite baseball team?” and beam with pride and payback at his reply.
As it turns out, this was simply another phase, and today our son roots for neither the A’s nor the Giants. In the end, it seems without overt influence by either camp, my original philosophy is sound—today, our son’s favorite baseball team is “the blue one” no matter who’s playing (and if you haven’t noticed, there are a hell of a lot of blue teams in Major League Baseball).
The current situation thins our family’s baseball bad-blood and is perfectly fine with me for now. And when the Giants play the Dodgers, “I like the blue team” is absolute music to my ears!
[Author's note: I am not an Oakland Raiders fan. I liked them in the '70s, during their heyday, but when they left the bay area for LA in 1981, the 49ers rose to the occasion and filled the void quite nicely. Football season is perfectly harmonious at my house.]
Image Credit: Mr. T in DC