Baseball’s Starry Night by Josh Gralton on 03/31/2012 Four Games. One Night. Twenty Fans. Reliving Major League Baseball’s 2011 Wild Card Night of Shock and Awe… “Baseball’s Starry Night gives you a fan’s-eye view of a night that many have called the most exciting night in the history of Major League Baseball. Going beyond a standard retelling of the balls and strikes and homers and webgems, the book hears from 20 fans in their own words. Loyal fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays provide exciting and deeply personal eyewitness accounts — either from the stadiums or their living rooms. Get the “you-are-there” feeling.” Author Paul Kocak, (@kocakwords) authored Baseball’s Starry Night to archive the legend- and capture the memories & emotions of the last night of the 2011 MLB season. Two teams completed historic collapses (Braves & Red Sox) and two capped off miraculous comebacks (Cardinals & Rays); one of which (St. Louis) continued to ride the magic all the way to a World Series Title. The book provides an intimate, personal perspective from twenty fans of four teams- giving readers a chance to see that night “through their eyes.” As I wrote in a previous post, I was very honoured to be one of the five Atlanta Braves fans interviewed for the book; I included my input from the book below: Acclaim… “Sept. 28, 2011. It was a night that will forever be frozen in baseball time. A night of miracles. A night of magic. A night of heartbreak. A night for the history books. Somebody needed to write a book about that night. Thankfully, Paul Kocak volunteered for the job. And in this beautifully written book, he takes us not merely inside the astonishing ups and downs of this unforgettable evening, but inside the hearts and minds of ‘ordinary’ people — the fans whose pulse rates haven’t come down yet.” Jayson Stark, ESPN.com Senior Baseball Writer “This is a magical book about a magical night. This beautifully told story captures baseball at its very best.” Doris Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author “Paul Kocak hits an ‘inside the park homer.’ What a night!” Len Berman, Sportscaster/Author More About Paul Kocak… A professional writer with more than 20 years’ experience; A poet, blogger, humorist, and consummate baseball fan, his humor writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, New York Magazine, and the New Statesman (U.K.). He is a frequent contributor to the baseball blog OneFlapDown77.com. A Le Moyne College graduate, Kocak lives with his family in Syracuse, New York. At last count, he has attended games at 19 Major League ballparks. The first game featured Billy Pierce against Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium. Buy The Book… The book is available for purchase here – Amazon offers both a paperback version ($12.95) and Kindle version for your enjoyment. It truly is a great read for any MLB or Braves fan; a night that will forever be seen as a memorable moment in baseball history, like it or not! — BASEBALL’S STARRY NIGHT: RELIVING MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S 2011… Josh Gralton (@gralton) is a 24-year-old college student and soccer coach/aspiring teacher from Dahlonega, Georgia. He’s been hooked on the Braves since he was io years old, taking in spring training and attending as many as so games a year. He says the team consumes his daily life, whether they are doing well or poorly. His follows the Braves by keeping up on team news and chatter equally during the season and the offseason. He considers himself a Braves source, one who has scooped more staid and traditional national sources of Atlanta Braves gossip or information. Gralton’s Atlantainsight.com blog covers the entire local sports scene and boasts a loyal following. Josh describes himself as an autograph hound. He was featured in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on “how to get an autograph from a Brave” (http://jgwb.us/bravesauto). Gralton also calls himself a “huge pessimist” with respect to the Braves, citing the team’s record of one World Series championship during a string of n straight Eastern Division titles from 1995 through 2005. “As the season got closer to the end, I would analyze the schedule and try to figure out what exactly we needed to do to get in the playoffs. You could feel the team wearing down. You could see they were in one of the typical season valleys, and it wasn’t looking good. Nothing was clicking on offense, and the pitching was starting to struggle. I remember thinking on September 8, when the Braves had a series against the Cardinals in St. Louis, ‘All right, we have a 7.5 game lead with 18 to play. If we go 7-11 (91-71) and St. Louis goes 14-5 (90-72) we win. There’s no way we don’t win 7-8 more games with 12 more against the Marlins, the Mets, and the Nationals. The team is in a funk but not bad enough to have the train fall off the tracks, so to speak.’ Then we go and lose 7 out of our next 9 ballgames, so I start to look at everything again. We have 14 to play with a 4.5 game lead. We have this.” Gralton remembers his dad taking him to his first ballgame at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium when he was about 8 years old. “He told me we were going out to eat and surprised me. I fell in love that day with the game — the sounds, the players, the stadium, the food, the total atmosphere. One day when my dad was taking me to school, he didn’t go the right way. He handed me a newspaper that had the spring training schedule on it (I was about ii). He said, ‘We are going to Florida. Pick the games you want to go to, it’s up to you.’ I have been a huge baseball fan ever since. I used to lie and say I was going to the movies, and actually head to the ballpark when I first got my license, sometimes by myself.” Asked to describe his take on The Night of the Collapse, Gralton said in an email, “I had tickets to the game. I chose not to go. I didn’t want to be there, in all that emotion. “Then the unthinkable happens. It’s over. Atlanta is owned by Philly. And it’s not one of those situations where you start to hate them because of a rivalry — because it wasn’t. They just beat us. They aren’t obnoxious, they don’t talk a lot of trash, they just play hard-nosed, good baseball. You could feel we weren’t going to win the game. You could see it on their faces.” He continued, “The wheels fell off. I really felt numb, a strange feeling, not really rage. We were just feeling, ‘We don’t deserve this. It’s not meant to be, it’s just not meant to happen.’ I did root for Boston to lose. I didn’t want the media to rock the Braves alone.” As for any enduring legacy from this game and this night, Gralton offers a sunny optimism that bravely tries to hide a wound. “I wouldn’t bring it up again. The past is past. Focus on the good times. Even that day wasn’t really so bad in the big picture. Chances are we were probably only going to play three or four more games anyway.”
Four Games. One Night. Twenty Fans.Reliving Major League Baseball’s 2011 Wild Card Night of Shock and Awe… “Baseball’s Starry Night gives you a fan’s-eye view of a night that many have called the most exciting night in the history of Major League Baseball. Going beyond a standard retelling of the balls and strikes and homers and webgems, the book hears from 20 fans in their own words. Loyal fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays provide exciting and deeply personal eyewitness accounts — either from the stadiums or their living rooms. Get the “you-are-there” feeling.” Author Paul Kocak, (@kocakwords) authored Baseball’s Starry Night to archive the legend- and capture the memories & emotions of the last night of the 2011 MLB season. Two teams completed historic collapses (Braves & Red Sox) and two capped off miraculous comebacks (Cardinals & Rays); one of which (St. Louis) continued to ride the magic all the way to a World Series Title. The book provides an intimate, personal perspective from twenty fans of four teams- giving readers a chance to see that night “through their eyes.” As I wrote in a previous post, I was very honoured to be one of the five Atlanta Braves fans interviewed for the book; I included my input from the book below: Acclaim…“Sept. 28, 2011. It was a night that will forever be frozen in baseball time. A night of miracles. A night of magic. A night of heartbreak. A night for the history books. Somebody needed to write a book about that night. Thankfully, Paul Kocak volunteered for the job. And in this beautifully written book, he takes us not merely inside the astonishing ups and downs of this unforgettable evening, but inside the hearts and minds of ‘ordinary’ people — the fans whose pulse rates haven’t come down yet.” Jayson Stark, ESPN.com Senior Baseball Writer “This is a magical book about a magical night. This beautifully told story captures baseball at its very best.” Doris Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author “Paul Kocak hits an ‘inside the park homer.’ What a night!” Len Berman, Sportscaster/AuthorMore About Paul Kocak…A professional writer with more than 20 years’ experience; A poet, blogger, humorist, and consummate baseball fan, his humor writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, New York Magazine, and the New Statesman (U.K.). He is a frequent contributor to the baseball blog OneFlapDown77.com. A Le Moyne College graduate, Kocak lives with his family in Syracuse, New York. At last count, he has attended games at 19 Major League ballparks. The first game featured Billy Pierce against Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium. Buy The Book…The book is available for purchase here – Amazon offers both a paperback version ($12.95) and Kindle version ($4.99) for your enjoyment. It truly is a great read for any MLB or Braves fan; a night that will forever be seen as a memorable moment in baseball history, like it or not!
Tough loss tonight, it’s very difficult to match the intensity of a team you have beaten twice before by a slim margin…they came out a little sharper than us and luck wasn’t on our side this time. Practice tomorrow: 3:30-5:00p That said, I am very proud of our players and our parents- win with grace, lose with dignity… We have nothing to hang our heads about. I will say all of these boys are extremely classy, well mannered and a pleasure to coach. They fight harder than any group I have ever coached before, and their passion for the game is second to none. I am very proud of each and every one of them, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team than this one… It has been a blast from day 1 and I am sad things are coming to an end this week week, It has gone by too fast. We have a lot to be proud of; we clinched our side of the subregion, we have clinched an undefeated record at home, we beat South Hab for the first time in LCMS history history, we took 2 of 3 from our biggest rival White County and have 4 come-from-behind victories. No 6th grader has ever made the LCMS boys team, we had four 6th grade starters…But we still have work to do. Leave it all on the field at Union County boys, 9 wins is the goal…We need to go out with a win, the 8th graders have left a tough legacy to live up for the future LCMS boys teams…build on that Wednesday! We want to go out on top, where we belong… win or lose it has been a privilege to work with each of you, I’ll miss you 8th graders A TON…you made my first year here very special. I hope to watch you all play and win championships at the HS (and Justin if you play elsewhere or comeback a few years from now), I expect to! It’s in you…I truly believe that. You have all made Indian Nation proud, let’s not let up…we have one more to get Wednesday… -Josh
Blogging today on Georgia Tech’s new 2012 schedule outlook, win probability and starters (if season started today, I realize postition battles are still going on and certain positions are still very much up for grabs). These are just a few thoughts and projections on the new Yellow Jackets football season: 9/3 @ Virginia Tech Hokies [Win 39%] [Loss 61%] Opening with a win against VA Tech in Lane Stadium, on National TV will be a tough task and immediate test for the Jackets. It can be done however, as the Hokies lost their first game in 3 consecutive years from 2008-2010 before bouncing back with an opening victory in 2011.9/8 vs. Presbyterian Blue Hose [Win 99%] [Loss 1%] This won’t be an upset threat or trap game for Tech, expect a massacre if the Jackets lose in Blacksburg week 1.9/15 vs. Virginia Cavaliers [Win 62%] [Loss 38%] Virginia has had GT’s number lately, handing Tech their first lost in 2011 after a 6-0 start, expect the odds to be in the home teams favor as they attempt to avenge last seasons loss to the Cavs.9/22 vs. Miami Hurricanes [Win 52%] [Loss 48%] Miami at home is a coin flip, both teams win in streaks vs each other- Miami won 3 straight 2009-2001, GT won 4 straight 2005-2008; should be a wire to wire, grind it out game for both teams- depending on whats on the line.9/29 vs. MTSU Blue Raiders [Win 94%] [Loss 6%] MTSU wasn’t a challenge away in 2011, don’t expect different results this go round.10/6 @ Clemson Tigers [Win 48%] [Loss 52%] Clemson is at home and due, but CPJ seems to have Dabo & Co’s number- going 4-1 against the Tigers since becoming the Jackets HC in 2008. Don’t think it would surprise anyone if Tech found a way to win again this year.10/20 vs. Boston College Eagles [Win 61%] [Loss 39%] The BC program is down, Tech should find a way to pick up a W vs. another conference opponent this week.10/27 vs. BYU Cougars [Win 72%] [Loss 28%] BYU could surprise Tech, but make no mistake the Jackets should be heavily favored entering this match-up.11/03 @ Maryland Terrapins [Win 69%] [Loss 31%] Maryland looks to rebuild after a disastrous 2011 season; the Terps will be a likely underdog, but don’t expect an easy victory for Tech here.11/10 @ North Carolina Tar Heels [Win 58%] [Loss 42%]Going on the road against the dangerous & talented Tar Heels (pending the # of suspensions they have at this point) will be a battle, this match-up could go either way, expect GT to hold a slight edge.11/17 vs. Duke Blue Devils [Win 79%] [Loss 21%] It’s Duke, one day they will probably win…not this year.11/24 @ Georgia Bulldogs [Win 37%] [Loss 63%] It’s a rivalry game, but make no mistake the boys from Athens have dominated this series physically & mentally. CPJ will be under fire to get a repeat victory in Athens as he did in 08. Tech will have to execute on offense, force a turnover or two and play almost flawless to end the streak in 2012 vs a physical & talented Dawgs team.Projected Record: 9-3Best Case: 11-1, Worst Case: 6-6Here are the projected starters on offense and defense, a very Junior/Senior heavy class with a lot of experience (most of group has red-shirted at one point or another). Twitter handles on the far right… QB Tevin Washington RS-Senior BB David Sims RS-Junior @D_Sims7 AB Orwin Smith Senior @BIG_O_17 AB B.J. Bostic Sophomore @Bosticboy_4 WR Chris Jackson RS-Senior @chris_jackson33 WR DJ McKayhan RS-Senior OT Morgan Bailey RS-Sophomore @MOBAY72 OT Ray Beno RS-Junior @SweetBabyRay64 OG Omoregie Uzzi RS-Senior @Uzzi_LaFlare OG Will Jackson RS-Junior @WillJackson52 C Jay Finch RS-Junior @inyoface50 DE Emmanuel Dieke RS-Junior DE Izaan Cross Senior @Boss_Cross94 DT T.J. Barnes RS-Senior @ILLUMANINTY LB Jeremiah Attaochu Junior @JAttaochu45 LB Brandon Watts RS-Junior @1on1wattsisland LB Quayshawn Nealy Sophomore @Q_nealy54 LB Julian Burnett Senior @W4oDaNeighbors CB Louis Young Junior @LYoungSwagg8 CB Rod Sweeting Senior @Rsweeting_6 S Isaiah Johnson Junior S Jemea Thomas RS-Junior @GT_mea14
It’s that time again, the NCAA tournament, where everyone from everywhere will take the time to fill out a bracket, whether they follow College Basketball or not. It’s been said that Americans fill out 40 million March Madness brackets every year. Chances are the lady in your office pool that fills out her bracket randomly, by selecting the coolest mascot round by round will most likely win. Making those NCAA Tourney picks is an inexact science, because its pretty difficult to predict the unpredictable- The talent these days in spread out everywhere, amongst almost every college in the country. My picks in the past have been pretty bad, up until last year. Where my bracket finally had some legitimacy, as I finished in the 93% percentile. The biggest reason? I correctly picked Richmond to the Sweet 16, VCU to the Elite 8 and Butler to the Final 4. Based on the recent trend my picks this year should be a total flop, but I’ll give them to you anyway. EastBiggest Upset: #12 Harvard over #5 VanderbiltSuprise: #12 Harvard to the Sweet 16 MidwestBiggest Upset: #14 Belmont over #3 GeorgetownSuprise: #6 San Siego St. to Sweet 16 WestBiggest Upset: #12 Long Beach St. over #1 Michigan St. (Sweet 16)Suprise: #6 Murray St. to Win Region (Go to Final 4) SouthBiggest Upset: #14 South Dakota St. over #3 BaylorSuprise: #4 Indiana over #2 Duke/#1 Kentucky to Win Region (Go to Final 4) Final 4#4 Indiana over #6 Murray St.#1 North Carolina over #1 SyracuseNational Championship: #1 North Carolina (66) over #4 Indiana (56)
Today was the breaking point for me about NGCSU public safety, a department whose rationale of own policy is completely void of common sense. The schools negligence to provide any sensible logic for the decision making process they currently operate under is mind-numbing. North Georgia has reported 3 assault charges (0 violent crimes) since 2007- in today’s economy, is an entire fleet of campus police really that necessary? What do they do? Why not hire a few meter maids (who hand out parking tickets) and pay them minimum wage? It would be no different than what is happening now. Basically I got there this morning at 7:45, it’s a Friday- so the lower lot is basically about 25% full. Class got out about 45 minutes later, and I come back to find a $50 parking ticket. Now my beef is not with the parking ticket itself, but a few other ridiculous factors that were associated with it: first of all, the ticket is for FIFTY dollars, to put things in perspective- I have often parked illegally at Braves games; on the side street of a housing development on Hank Aaron Drive, a street that is about 100 yards & directly adjacent from Turner Field. If you get a ticket there, it is for $25, and that is in the middle of DOWNTOWN METRO ATLANTA. My ticket was double that at 8:00 in the morning in the quiet small town of Dahlonega. Secondly, they throw a $25 charge on there for “FAILURE TO REGISTER” – I have already paid my fees for a parking permit in my tuition, so what do they care? Why must a student register a vehicle? What if they don’t have one? Share with a family member or just don’t want to? That should be our choice, if we fail to register- either we expose ourselves to fines when parking on campus or there is one less car they have to worry about providing space for. If that’s the case then the rest of things should also be a two-way street; I should get a refund for the $166 in athletic fees for games I never attend, the $70 in health services fees for the infirmary I’ve never visited and the $30 in printing paper I’ve never used. Neither of those really heated me to the final issue, the last thing that really pushed me over the edge. As I’m scanning the ticket, I read across the bottom comments and find this statement, “IF YOU ARE A VISITOR, PLEASE DISREGARD THIS TICKET. VISITORS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME ON THE NGCSU CAMPUS.” So now, let me get this straight- if I am someone who is visiting the campus and apart of the public, who has nothing financially investing in the University, I can park here whenever I feel like it? But the student who has tens of thousands of dollars spent in tuition, the student that is the primary fuel source for the growth of the school, is subjected to a $50 fine and possible holds for graduation? Make a good case for that one for me. So if I was not a student there, I could basically get 15 friends and have a tailgating event in the parking lot and not be subject to any sort of fine, based on the statement “VISITORS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME ON THE NGCSU CAMPUS”. It may be stretching the boundaries a bit, but not in the case of law based on the wording they have chosen to use. If we required parking permits at the soccer field at the Y, that would be like me telling someone that had children in the soccer program that they could not park at the field without a permit, but someone that was unaffiliated there just hanging out playing pick-up games that they could park there anytime no problem, it just doesn’t hold any logic or sense reason whatsoever; what ever happened to the customer is ALWAYS RIGHT? I’m not sure if I will appeal the ticket or not, but I surely will push the issue about the grounds for justification that the campus police currently operate under, things here have gotten way out of hand.
Here are 10 different laws I wrote in becoming identifiable as a TRUE fan. Are you a real-deal fanatic? or just a fake? #1 – STAY TRUE TO YOUR ROOTS You must support a team in the general vicinity of where you grew up. If there is a pro sports team close to where you live, you either have to root for them or root for no one. None of this, “The Chiefs weren’t good when I grew up, so I just started rooting for the Pats.” No, sorry that one won’t cut it. Exceptions: If you move, you’re then allowed to choose your team either in your new or former location; if there is no team in and around your area, than you can root for a team that is closest or has ties to your past, story, family, etc. #2 – IF YOU CLAIM THEM, KNOW THE ESSENTIALSI can’t tell you how many times I see on Facebook someone post “Roll Tide” but after you ask about their starting QB they reply, “I don’t know all that, I just like them.” Well then, as Vince Vaughn would say- Your fandom is now “erroneous on all accounts,” there is no excuse in not being able to regurgitate basic information. Some of this information would include: historical or championship years, team retired jerseys, current team stars (at least in football) & starters, stadium and coaches names, etc. It is unacceptable to ride a team’s glory train if you have nothing invested in them. Knowing this type of stuff will help you refute inaccurate criticism about your team when the time comes. #3 – PICK A SIDEYou must pick a side in all rivalries and in areas/states with 2 teams, without being a flip-flopper. For example, you can’t be a fan of both the Yankees & Mets; you can’t jump college teams by sport, none of this “I am a Georgia football fan but I root for Georgia Tech in Basketball because they are better” You have to draw a line and stay on your side, through the good times and the bad times. If you are in a relationship where the house is divided, it is acceptable to wear a generic color to a game of your spouse/partner’s team, but it is totally unacceptable to represent any logo apparel of the rival team; it’s probably time to reevaluate your manhood if you were to purchase or own anything like that in the first place. #4 – COMMIT TO A RELATIONSHIPSports bigamy has become a serious problem in today’s world. You are only permitted to be a fan of one team in each sport or choose not to pick a team at all (hockey). A true fan doesn’t claim to root for two teams; a lot of folks will say, “I like both of these teams, I always have” No- you probably just choose the better of the two, it doesn’t work like that. If you’re in a REAL relationship- you can’t be with two people at the same time (unless you’re from Utah), once you get married you’re stuck with them; in sports there are no divorces or remarriages, you have to deal with those team selection decisions you made forever. True fans cannot unconditionally love two teams if there’s even a small chance they may play against one another someday. #5 – REP THE GEARA real fan wears their colors with pride, for better or for worse. When you purchase apparel you must buy the real deal, none of this Wal-Mart knockoff crap. It is acceptable to wear a jersey, but only under certain circumstances- which happen to never include an NBA game (unless you are on the court). Real fans aren’t stupid enough to wear a jersey to a game in which that team is not actually playing, don’t do that. If one of your teams players gets traded, you should retire from wearing any jersey/t-shirt with their name to events, (exception: unless they are a franchise legend-Ripken Jr., Biggio, Jeter, etc) it makes me want to throw up when I see nothing but “FRANCOEUR” shirts & jerseys at The Ted, it is time to let go. With signage- You can’t be a real fan if you’re the type of guy that has LSU car magnets in January but UGA car flags in September, that’s probably a red flag (no pun intended). Finally, if your team wins a championship, you are required to buy vast amounts of apparel and souvenirs from that event; obnoxious amounts. It would probably be a good idea to go ahead and order that SI commemorative (insert tacky marketing item here) and sign up for a new subscription ASAP. #6 – PRACTICE GOOD ATTENDANCE & MINDFULLNESSIf you can’t make it to the stadium- true fans ALWAYS find a way to keep updated: watch it on TV, listen to the radio, get out your SportsCenter app or something, your awareness of the team must be at a high level (i.e. transactions, scores, standings). If you go to a game, go to WATCH THE GAME. One of the biggest things that I hate about Atlanta is that most of our teams feel obligated to give people a reason to go other than to watch the game. Why people pay good money to attend a Braves game to visit “Tooner Field,” play interactive video games and hit in the pretend batting cages while a game is going on is beyond me. Why not just head to Chuckie Cheese instead? If your team is losing or it is a key situation in the game, a true fan will avoid breaking-down or siding with the drunken college student who tries to get the wave started for 30 minutes; WATCH the freaking game idiot! Take care of your food/souvenir/drink/etc. needs beforehand. You shouldn’t leave every inning and a half during a baseball game; constantly have people getting up to make room for your Dippin’ Dots needs while the home team is batting. Explore the stadium when you leave, it will still look the same. #7 – GIVE THE BALL TO THE KIDUnless you are under the age of 16, it is your civil duty as a keeper of the game to give all foul balls, pucks, etc. to the KIDS. What the heck are you going to do with it anyway? Most kids will cherish that memory forever- and in turn you’ll have the gratification that you did right by possibly recruiting a new fan of the team for life. #8 – TAKE PART IN THE GAMEDAY EXPERIENCEA real fan tailgates hours before the event; mentally and physically preparing themselves for the event climax. They usually arrive before the gates open, and never show up in the third inning or leave in the 7th to “beat traffic”. True fans take care of the business beforehand and don’t spend 45 minutes on Opening Day standing in line at the box office to buy tickets; they take care of their needs and have their tickets, t-shirts, playlist, radio presets, itinerary, etc. set well in advance. Under no circumstances does a die-hard fan leave during a 2 hour rain-delay, they have their hideous poncho ready to go and stay put. #9 – NEVER SELL (or worse-GIVE) YOUR TICKETS TO OPPOSING FANS This should be a given; I don’t care if they are a good friend of yours AND a NOTRE DAME Alum, real fans sell tickets to the home fans during big games if they become available. This is especially true in college football, where lynching could be a justifiable penalty for being the guy that paved the way for that one obnoxious, drunk fan to come and sit in the home seats and act like a moron. #10 – REMAIN LOYALThe good book says that others should see the light within you from your actions, not words. The same is true in sports; real fans don’t have to tell you who they support because you’ll already know it. Becoming a legit fan requires one to take in both the highs and the lows, and being able to withstand the justified smack-talk when your team is in the gutter. It is OK to criticize your team or be angry with them under certain circumstances. If a situation is validated for the greater good, a real fan should be able to- for example, you hope your team loses so you can get a top draft pick or your sorry coach will get fired, you see the big picture. Some see it as being a hater, but all good things come with time & building a solid foundation. One of the best things about rooting for a team that sucks it the appreciation you have for success when it does come; the glory of achievement after years of disappointment is that much more special, and the climb to the top means a lot more when you’ve seen the bottom. It is easy being a fan of a team that is a perennial contender, not so much one of a team that often struggles. This alone is what separates the real from the fake, the faithful from the bandwagoners. As in life, sports allegiances are not a one way street- they require an honest devotion, making the taste of victory when it does arrive that much sweeter.