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"The fan is the one who suffers. He cheers a guy to a .350 season then watches that player sign with another team. When you destroy fan loyalties, you destroy everything."
-Frank Robinson

On Demand cable has ensured that the void created when baseball ended would be unproductively filled, albeit with significantly less fervor and anxiety. It's like my body is conditioned to know there are 3-5 hours of time that once were brimming with the great American pasttime. And now it's confused.

However, my overt tendencies towards indecision usually mean I end up watching many trailers of movies for about 45 minutes before I ever can decide on one. Sometimes I'll watch them twice, to cull down the list of candidates. And by the time I narrow it down to one lucky film, I'm bored with the whole prospect of being inert for 3 hours and toss the idea altogether.

And you're welcome, by the way, for walking you through that slice of my day.

Last night, the frontrunner of this exhaustive and ultimately pointless selection process was “Big Fan,” a movie I had never even heard of (which should come as no surprise, seeing as the only movies I’ve seen in the last 3 years are Saw IV, Saw VI, Friday the 13th, and The Blind Side.)
But then again, seeing as the only movies that register on my radar are horror movies and sports flicks under 2 hours, I should have known about this one.


A parking garage attendant and lifelong New York Giants fan finds his life spinning out of control following an altercation with his favorite football player in this darkly comic drama starring Patton Oswalt.

For 35-year-old Staten Island native Paul Aufiero (Oswalt), sports are a religion. Paul still lives with his mother, he's the self-proclaimed "world's biggest New York Giants fan," and he spends most of his spare time calling in to the local sports radio station 760 "The Zone," where he can frequently be heard bickering with his contentious on-air nemesis Philadelphia Phil (Michael Rapaport), a fervent Eagles fan.

Berated by his family for his obsessive love of sports, Paul retorts that they simply cannot appreciate the responsibility that goes with being the New York Giants' number one fan. One night, Paul and his best friend, Sal (Kevin Corrigan), spot Giants linebacker Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm) at a local gas station and impulsively follow his SUV to a Manhattan strip club.

Once inside, the two friends bask quietly in the presence of football greatness before cautiously approaching their idol. When things don't go as planned and Paul winds up in the hospital, the resulting media frenzy finds him questioning everything he believes in just as his beloved team begins preparing for a late-season showdown with the Eagles.

The trailer was undoubtedly intriguing, especially since it featured the NY Giants as the object of the obsession. I hate sports movies with fake teams. I’m sure there’s some rationale behind that move, but I have a feeling it probably stems from getting rights, etc. This is an independent feature, so if they can score rights to the NFL franchises, then you’d think a movie like “The Replacements” could, as well.

I’m pretty sure any I-Don’t-Play-By-the-Rules-I-Shake-Things-Up middle aged stock character could have been cast in lieu of Hackman, thereby having the excess funds to purchase rights to legitimate team names. It’s hard enough suspending my disbelief enough to buy into Keanu Reeves the Star QB, without investing my attention in teams that sound like middle school soccer teams.

That said, my interest in the Big Fan was piqued, and the trailer alone raised some serious moral quandaries. (It also made me wonder if “Quantrell Bishop” isn’t a fancy name for Schmaxico Schurress.) In short, this garden variety diehard fan--THAT GUY who calls in WFAN every single time he’s stuck in traffic, etc—obsesses over Bishop, Bishop kicks the shit out of him, gets in trouble for it, and the fan doesn’t want to press charges because it will hurt the Giants season, especially with a big game against the Eagles on the horizon.

I know this is supposed to be preposterous. And of course, if Mariano Rivera laid down the hurt on me, (or even CC Sabathia, since he’s probably more integral to the game), then I’d probbbbbably lose some of my rosy adoration for the Yanks, and would redirect my attentions away from the playoffs and towards keeping my dad from attacking the Yanks’ rotation with a soldering iron.

HOWEVAH, I will admit that the premise of the movie is more than a little thought-provoking. It’s scary to think that if a random guy beat the crap out of me, I would be merciless, and the idea of him walking around unpunished would make me overwhelmingly disgusted and physically ill.

But how far will being a fan take us?

I just watched “The Fan” on Sunday, and wasn’t really a fan, pun intended. Maybe because as a pretty insane fan myself, I don’t buy any of it. Killing someone so your favorite player can have his old jersey number back? That doesn’t stem from fandom, that’s straight up sociopath. The baseball element is just incidental.

In the past few weeks, much has been made of Curt Schilling’s allegedly ambiguous allegiances. (I’m pretty sure there’s no greater indication of a tanking campaign than resorting to publicly waxing antagonistic over Boston-NY sports rivalries. It’s like the intentional fouling at the end of an NBA game.)

So Curt Schilling is in hog heaven right now. Republican State. And a chance to chip in his unsolicited two cents. Even better, a chance to once again establish himself firmly in opposition to the Yankees. (Which makes the fact that his team loyalty is always called into question even more hilarious.)

He’s like a freaking 5-year old. I used to tease my youngest sister in the same manner.

“So, Amanda, I didn’t know you had boooyyfriennddd!”

“I don’t! I don’t have a boyfriend!”

“So then why did you say you loovvvved James?”

“I don’t even like him! I hate him!”


(The irony is, she could probably enact that same breed of torture on me, now 20 years later, and I’d probably react the same way she did when she was 5.)

For some reason Martha Coakley called Schilling a Yankee fan, and not really having any clue as to the context of this political upheaval, I’m not even quite sure how Guiliani’s Yankee fandom was relevant either:

Coakley: If it weren't so close, Rudy Guiliani wouldn’t have come either, besides he's a Yankee fan, I just want people to know.

Rea: But Scott Brown has Curt Schilling.

Coakley: Another Yankee fan.

Rea: Schilling?

Coakley: Yes.

Rea: Curt Schilling a Yankee fan??

Coakley: No.

Rea: Curt Schilling a Yankee fan? The Red Sox great pitcher of the bloody sock?

Coakley: Well, he's not there anymore.

But to me, Schilling’s response eclipses Coakley’s widely publicized synaptic misfire:
"I've been called a lot of things...but never, I mean never, could anyone make the mistake of calling me a Yankee fan. Well, check that, if you didn't know what the hell is going on in your own state maybe you could..."

Never could anyone ever make the mistake of calling you a Yankee fan? I don’t know if that’s really true, Curt. I certainly wouldn’t, but for reasons that stem purely out of an immoveable desire to keep your likeness as far removed from my team.

But do the words, “The woman doth protest too much” mean anything to you, Schill? To review, Schilling was indeed at one point in his career trying to curry favor with his hated rivals, when a trade seemed to be a realistic possibility:


When you go to the bottom of the barrel and get to the basic facts, this is pretty simple," Schilling told Rumblings and Grumblings. "I'm not going to be in Arizona beyond this year, and I know that. So when I'm asked by my owner, 'Would you go to the Yankees?' what are my choices, really?

"I can stay here and pitch the last year of my contract in Arizona, and then walk. Or I can talk about possibly getting a three-year extension to go to New York and have a chance to win a world championship. If those are my choices, why wouldn't I at least agree to listen?"

You think Schilling would have gone to NY only to act above it all? He would have immersed himself in pinstripe culture, and I’d go so far to theorize he’d assume the role of Big Badass Out-Spoken Ex-Patriot.

He also has a child named Gehrig, which I admittedly think is outstanding. As River Ave Blues notes:

But Schilling, many in Massachusetts seem to forget, wasn’t always a Boston supporter. A product of Anchorage, Alaska, Schilling was drafted by the Red Sox and traded to Baltimore before making his Major League debut. Along the way, he picked up an appreciation for baseball history and grew to idolize Lou Gehrig so much that he named his son Gehrig. Love the history, hate the team? I don’t know about that.

Me neither, RAB. Me neither.

But as usual, I digress. From what, I’m not even sure anymore. Mainly, the concept of nailing down the identity of the fan. SomethingsomethingsomethingSPORTSFAN.

Sometimes I’ll play the “What if…” game, which I’m never good at because like I said, no suspension of disbelief here. (It’s like when someone says, “Man, I wish it was Friday.” Why not just wish for a billion dollars if you’re going to wish for ridiculous things that will never happen?)

What if someone offered me a job that paid 750,000 a year. And I wouldn’t have to move, but they’d still buy me a new, ginormous apartment with a hockey foosball table. And all I’d have to do is pull a Peter Abe. And become CrazySoxChick.

Or what about if a minor leaguer who grew up a diehard Yankee fan his whole life gets drafted to the Red Sox? And he’s not like a little Peabody who gets no play. Say he’s the next Papelbon or Schilling. He has to play his favorite sport in the world in the fiery pits of Hell. He has to go to work every day knowing his soul is tainted, his integrity compromised, and his entire psyche a mere shell of its former self.

How do you put a price on that?

I don’t think you can.

"There is nobody as enslaved as the fanatic, the person whom in one impulse, one value, assumes ascendancy over all others."
-Milton R. Sapirstein


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