One of the more interesting aspects of sports in Arizona is demographic of the fans who attend the game, especially baseball fans. It doesn’t matter which team the Arizona Diamondbacks are playing I always run into someone dressed in the opposing team’s colors.
Typically the conversation goes something like they are now residents of Arizona and think of themselves as Diamondbacks fans except for when the team play’s their old hometown team then they have to root against the D-Backs.
This is a consistent message no matter who the opposing team is. There are certain teams that are worse than others. The San Francisco Giants have a fairly strong local contingent of fans. This is somewhat expected since the Giants Triple-A affiliate was based in Scottsdale for years before the Diamondbacks had a franchise.
Likewise there are a large number of Los Angeles Dodgers fans. For many years Phoenix was part of the Los Angeles Dodgers territory meaning their games were featured on any regional television broadcasts. Add to that the number of people who have emigrated from southern California to Arizona and you have a built in loyal fan base.
Perhaps the largest contingent of opposing fans arrives whenever the Diamondbacks play the Chicago Cubs. There are several reasons for this. First the Cubs train in Mesa and have for half a century. This means there are several generations of baseball fans who grew up rooting for the Cubs.
There are also quite a few fans who have moved from the snowy Midwest to Arizona to escape the cold winters for the warm summer season. The Cubs fans are among the most loyal group I have ever met in my life.
I have a confession to make, for years I was a Cubs fan until the Diamondbacks arrived. Giving up the Cubs is not easy despite their perpetual “lovable loser” moniker. Denouncing your allegiance to the Cubs is similar to admitting you are an alcoholic. For all I know there’s a 12 step program to overcome being a Cubs fan.
Even as dedicated as I am to the Diamondbacks I still find myself struggling just a little bit to root against the Cubs. I guess maybe I am afraid the ghost of Harry Carey will visit me in the middle of the night and slur curses at me and throw Budweiser cans at me.
So twice a year when the Cubs play the Diamondbacks during the regular season I fight the urge to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame in a drunken stupor and to utter the phrase “Wait until next year!”