My sports fandom probably wouldn’t make much sense to some folks.
Depending on the sport, my favorite teams are either regional or local ones to the far-flung outposts of the North American continent.
Baseball is an easy one: the Chicago Cubs. Maybe it’s because they were always on TV growing up. The mid to late 1970s were far from successful years for the North Siders, but they were popular, largely because of their presence on regular and cable TV.
There’s a lot to like about the pinstripes, the traditional red C on a blue hat and the then-distinctive number font compared to other teams sporting block numbers.
In 1984, I finally got to see the Cubs in the playoffs, taking a seemingly commanding 2-0 lead over San Diego, only to suffer a crushing three-game sweep.
Finally, in 2016, the Cubs erased the curse of the Billy Goat and won their first World Series since 1908.
My alternate favorite would be the Detroit Tigers, and Tiger Stadium, where I saw my first baseball game with my parents in the 1970s. We rode to Tiger Stadium in a 1971 Pontiac LeMans — I still miss that car!
My far-flung favorite would be the Oakland A’s — not the Athletics, although I do enjoy seeing them have success this year. My A’s were the “Mustache Gang” A’s owned by the visionary and free-agency resistant Charlie O. Finley. In their bright Fort Knox gold, kelly green and polar bear white uniforms, the A’s were a dominant force in the early 1970s, playing for the American League pennant five straight seasons, and winning World Series titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
None of my favorites in the other major sports fit into the regional category.
While I have long been and continue to be a Fort Wayne Komets fan, as far as the National Hockey League goes, it has been the Montreal Canadiens as long as I can remember.
The “Les Habitants” have been part of my fiber from the first color photo and the first hockey card I saw featuring the famed bleu, blanc and rouge (blue, white and red) and distinctive CH logo.
I regret not taking advantage of someone offering my dad and I tickets to a game in Montreal. Because of the timing of the game, we decided it was too far to drive and turned down the tickets. As consolation, the person offering the tickets instead gave my father and I each bright red Canadiens jerseys.
After Montreal, the teams I follow tend to be the older NHL franchises: Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Boston and the New York Rangers, then Pittsburgh and Washington. Pittsburgh and Washington both had ties to the Komets, supplying players through the 1970s and 1980s. It was neat to see players who once wore the Komet fireball in the NHL.
Turning to the NFL, I have always been a Minnesota Vikings fan. I grew up in the “Purple People Eater” era where the famed Vikings defense was one of the best in the league. I also grew up in a period where Minnesota went to four Super Bowls and lost all four.
I might watch more football if the Vikings were on, but I’m too cheap to buy pay-per-view packages and other teams simply don’t interest me.
My secret favorite would be the New England Patriots. Professional wrestler Ric Flair once said, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” This year, the Philadelphia Eagles did just that, but the Patriots are almost always in the mix.
The Boston Celtics are easily my favorite NBA team. Larry Bird was the man and the Celtics were a team of gritty, hard-working players. The Celtic-Laker rivalry of the 1980s was one of the best ever. Those teams, far and away, have more championships than any two franchises in league history.
Looking back at my picks, it’s easy to say I like a lot of successful franchises. The Canadiens are 24-time Stanley Cup champions and the Celtics have won 17 NBA titles.
I also like the underdogs too. The Cubs had so many years of disappointment and seasons being over by August — or even June. The Vikings haven’t made it to a Super Bowl since January 1977.
I can’t explain my teams, but I like who I like for different reasons.