Dear St. Louis Blues,
I live in southern Illinois. I don't live in the metro east. I'm 2 hours south of St. Louis and 6 hours south of Chicago. I live in a battleground as far as fandom goes. Are you a Cardinals fan or a Cubs fan? Are you a Rams fan or a Bears fan? Are you a Blues fan or a Blackhawks fan? For the most part I have escaped this conundrum. I'm a fan of far off teams for a wide array of reasons. I root for the Braves, the New York Jets, and most recently, the Blues. In my lifetime I have never seen a championship for any team I root for. The Braves being the only team to win in my lifetime, and that came before I followed them.
I am a sports fan if there ever was one. As a kid I could watch the same sports center replay on repeat all day. I had always wanted to be a hockey fan, but never knew how to become one. It was next to impossible to find on television with any regularity. I kicked around teams that I liked just through sports center. I liked the Sabres and the Coyotes, they were the only teams I had seen play on TV. That all changed 2 years ago when, after a dinner conversation about hockey, my dad said he would buy me tickets for my birthday. The Hawks had just won the cup, and I asked to go to one of their games. I had decided I wanted to finally be a fan of a team that was reasonably close to where I live. Due to the drive time and our working schedules, he got us Blues tickets. I remember walking in thinking their jerseys looked funny. Neither old school nor new age. Neither intimidating nor childish. I saw their 3rds jersey in the team store. I really liked it, out of curiosity I checked the price tag. I was blown back. Even as a fan and collector of jerseys from other sports I found hockey's to be overly expensive. I hadn't planned on buying one. I take sports too seriously to buy a jersey for a team I wasn't a true fan of, let alone one who I couldn't name 5 players on.
We took our seats and the action began. Our seats were reasonably priced and reasonably close to the rink. Being Irish, my dad and I shared a pair of $9 guinness draughts. We sat a few rows behind an old man who was so whiskey drunk he almost howled his chant of Lets Go Blues! A hockey game in real life was just as I had hoped it would be. It was the single best sporting event I've ever been to. I loved every second of it. From the first time I saw David Backes lay someone out I knew I was a Blues fan. The ride back to the car on the Metro was something I had never experienced before. I was always a fan of the away team. I had never seen one of my teams play at home before. As we got on the metro it was willed with Blues fans. I'm not in a stable place financially, as the jobs in southern Illinois are beyond scarce and under paying, but I have made it out to another Blues game. For the record, I was almost thrown out for telling Joey McDonald of the Calgary Flames goalie I hoped they got his salary off the dollar menu because he sucked. When the section I was sitting in saw I got a "stern talking to" for using the word suck, they immediately came to my rescue. Anonymous voices screaming suck echoed around me.
As I sit typing this out a David Backes 3rds jersey hangs in my closet. Nothing can change the fact that I'm a Blues fan now. The problem is, living in a battleground of fandom, the winners always gather the most fans. Everyone here is a Cardinals fan, but they haven't liked the Rams since they were the greatest show on turf. I stepped into hockey fandom a year and a half before it hit mainstream here. Now everyone is a hockey fan. The problem is, they all became fans when Chicago started tearing it up after the lockout. They were passive watchers until Chicago got into the Stanley Cup, then they all became die hard Hawks fans. Their team delivered for them. Had my dad paid a little more and gotten us Hawks tickets, maybe I would have seen a team I was rooting for finally win one for me. I know that I wouldn't trade for it though. I would rather be a Blue with no cup than a fan of a team who I started liking simply because it was trendy after a championship.
When this season started I thought maybe this was the season. In the last couple of months my expectations have been drawn back a little. We aren't playing with the dominance that we once were. No matter if we get bounced from the playoffs again this season, no matter how many times I hear a 90lb manchild tell me the Hawks are the best team in the world, I'm here to stay.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, thank you. Win or lose, I picked the right team.