Howdy, y'all! You might know me from random late-night posts on D-Backs stories. My name is Andrew, and I have a baseball problem. It all started when I was in Little League. During practice, I could hit line drives in the gaps like nobody's business. When game time rolled around, however, I watched strike three more often than not. My stage fright paralyzed me as soon as other people started watching. I soon came to realize that my baseball future lied not in my performance, but in my analysis and understanding of the game.
My Major-League fanship pedigree began at an early age. Growing up in Yuma, Arizona, I didn't really have a local rooting interest. I knew that I had been born in Atlanta, and that my father had worked for the company whose president also owned the Braves. My family moved across the country to the Spring Training home of the Padres when I was six months old. Even though I got to see Tony Gwynn and Ken Caminiti first-hand every spring, I became enamored with John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Andruw Jones. Curiously enough, my Little League glove was a left-hand (not left-handed) model signed by Glavine. Maybe he was confused as well.
When 1998 happened, everything changed for me. Suddenly, I could follow my local-ish team on television every day. I still rooted for the Braves (because they were awesome), but the allure of geography had certainly divided my interests. I was as attuned to the exploits of Greg Swindell as I had been to those of Greg Maddux, as enraptured by Andy Benes as I ever had been by Andy Jones. By the time 2001 rolled around, I had been on the fence so long that I could no longer wear my jeans in public.
During that greatest of seasons, my parents took me to watch a few Diamondbacks games, but nothing will ever make a greater impression on me than witnessing Game 2 of the NLCS. My parents surprised my 8-year-old self with playoff tickets featuring my two favorite teams. I wore an Arizona shirt and an Atlanta hat. When a drunken fan accosted me regarding my attire, I politely informed him that I was older than the Diamondbacks, and had been born in Atlanta. He recoiled, crossed himself, apologized, and told me he hoped I'd make the right choice. The only other thing I remember about him was his Luis Gonzalez jersey. I guess things have a way of working themselves out.
The Atlanta Braves would go on to win exactly one game during that NCLS, and it happened to be the one that I attended. But even as my family left Bank One Ballpark on that October night, I sensed that my loyalty had shifted. Despite the fact that the Braves had emerged with an 8-1 victory, I was dissatisfied. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the moment I became a Diamondbacks fan for life. A month and a half later, I wept bitter tears when Mariano Rivera came out to put a stamp on yet another Yankee title. Next thing I remember, I was sprinting through my neighborhood in my underwear, screaming, "THE DIAMONDBACKS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS!" I felt no shame, because I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was a fan, reveling in the ultimate moment of fandom, that moment when you honestly aren't sure whether the well-compensated guys wearing goggles and champagne have it any better than you.
I rooted for the Suns when they lost to the Bulls in 1993. I rooted for the Cardinals when they reached the conference finals in 2016. But baseball has always been my game. Even though I could never play it with much proficiency, I always felt as though I understood it. And even though I rooted for the Braves in the 1990s, I never loved them the same way that I've loved the Diamondbacks. From the highs of 2001 to the lows of 2004, and every year since then, this has been my team. Since growing up in Yuma, I've lived in: Austin, Texas; Daytona Beach, Florida; and Williston, North Dakota. Even if I eventually settle in a place with its own Major League team, I still believe I'll always have a place in my heart for the Diamondbacks. This team is my ride or die, and I wouldn't have it any other way.