I work close to the ballpark in San Francisco, and even closer to the Fan Fest, which means I am at Ground Zero of the All-Star festivities. The neighborhood is swarmed by people wearing baseball stuff. Giants gear predominates, but jerseys range from Milwaukee ("The good land") to Tampa Bay ("Not actually the name of a city"). I have seen five Florida Marlins jerseys this week (four Cabreras, one Willis), which is more Marlins jerseys than I have seen in my entire life, even though I attended Game One of the Marlins-Giants Division Series in 2003.
My sister also works in the area, and is slightly perturbed by so much baseball enthusiasm. She put it thusly:
"Kid in full baseball uniform = Cute
Full grown adult fan in baseball uniform = Not so cute"
I've seen a few people wearing baseball pants along with the jersey, which changes the look from "fan" to "potential impostor". For the casual baseball fan, white polyester pants are not a forgiving item of clothing. When I see a person like this, it's hard not to wonder, "Is he wearing a cup, too?"
The official All Star batting practice jersey is also quite popular, which is somewhat understandable this year, due to the swanky, SF-specific design:
It's odd to see the jerseys from previous All-Star games represented. The man wearing the 2001 National League batting practice jersey is saying, "I'm willing to spend over $100 on a jersey to prove I attended a baseball game." (Jerseys are also available at mlb.com) It's a jersey that is appropriate two, possibly three days a year, depending on how you feel about the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.
Of course, it's possible that the guy really is just a huge fan of the National League. He doesn't have affection for any particular team that matches the passionate hatred he has for the designated hitter. He
sometimes can't bring himself to pay that much attention to the World Series, because it's always such a letdown after the NLCS. There's a framed photo of Chub Feeney above his desk at work. The Home Run Derby is dead to him, now that they've abandoned the league-vs-league format. More than once, he's composed a sonnet about the double-switch. He still hasn't accepted the Brewers because of their previous association with the upstart "Junior Circuit".
When the All-Star Break ends, they'll go back to their usual routine. Making roster moves in their NL-only fantasy league, writing angry letters denouncing Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame candidacy, and watching exactly half of Baseball Tonight every evening. The jerseys go back in the closet for another year, and the league fans sigh, hoping against hope that the 2008 jersey, from Yankee Stadium, just might feature pinstripes.
(Baseball posts will now be simulcast over at Humm Bloggy.)