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Blue Jays from a distance

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Being at a distance from the team you support can be a good thing, especially if the team is having a season like the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays.

Maple leaf? What's that?
Maple leaf? What's that?
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

As suggested to me by our good friend Minor Leaguer, today I'll write about following the Blue Jays from a distance. From a different continent, in fact. You see, I live in the Netherlands and I have only been to Canada twice and to Toronto once. I became a Jays fan in 2006 while my family was touring British Columbia, almost always finishing the day with me in front of the TV watching Blue Jays baseball while my parents did other stuff. Like cooking, or something. Anyway, I took great pleasure in watching this weird North American sport that I didn't fully understand back then. It felt relaxing and yet exciting in a way European sports never felt to me. So, without being able to explain why, I became a European baseball fan. It's somewhat impractical of course, as I can not go to games or even watch them live on television. Instead, I make do with watching the "condensed games" that has, highlights of approximately fifteen minutes long that include all the important plays. In a way, this is ideal, because it doesn't take a lot of time, and you still get to experience the most crucial elements of the game.

But it's not the same. Although I'm not that fond of stadiums (I've been to plenty of soccer games), experiencing a game from the stands once in a while is, I feel, a crucial aspect of being a fan. I also don't have any friends who understand the game of baseball, so no-one in my environment roots for the Jays except me. So what does that make me? A wannabe fan who writes on a blog about stuff he doesn't understand, because he's never there? Somewhat surprisingly, I never get that criticism thrown at me ("OMG you don't even watch the games, what do you know about anything!"), but then Bluebird Banter is an especially civil place where rational arguments usually trump crazy emotions. Well, except in game threads and recaps when the Jays are doing badly, which is of course understandable.

It's possible that, especially in a season like this one, being so far away from the action helps me stay a bit more rational than I otherwise would be. Sure, I still get mad at particular players or umpires at times, but possibly less often. And I think that if baseball has a life lesson to offer, it's that emotions are hardly ever the right base for important decisions. Baseball teaches people to be patient - in more than one way - and encourages them to think rationally. There are times when I think the whole sabermetrics versus "eye test"/old school thinking is more interesting to me than the actual game of baseball itself. Is that heresy? Well, even more than a baseball fan, I'm also a philosopher trying to work out how human society works.

That brings me back to my uncertainty on if I'm a proper baseball fan myself. I'd like to hear from you guys what you think constitutes a true sports fan. Is a true fan blindly loyal to his club, or does he question the management from time to time? Does he go to every single game? Is being a baseball fan different from being a soccer fan in that regard (since there are more games in a baseball season, it's harder to go to them all)? Is it important to have been a fan of the team for a long time? Is it even possible to be a fan of your team for rational reasons? Please, share your opinion in the comments!