While I suppose I do qualify as a ‘part-time contributor’ to Bacon Sports, I certainly wear the reader hat more frequently than the writer one. A reoccurring thought that hits me at least once a visit is “Why would anyone ever buy ______ _______’s jersey? What the hell were they thinking?”
I try to get into the mind of the owner and transplant myself back to the moment when it seemed okay for a Bulls fan to buy a Bill Cartwright jersey. I get people have favorite players that aren’t necessarily the Superstars, and while I wholeheartedly disagree with it, I even understand the road less traveled argument. It’s fun and ironic to be different. Who needs another sheep wearing a Jordan jersey, right? Grab me another PBR while you’re up?
I’ve always counted myself in the crowd that silently judges the guy in the stands wearing the punter’s jersey at an NFL game. I was one of the many in Cleveland wearing a LBJ jersey, not a Jeff McInnis jersey. I was forced to rethink all that this week, when I found myself the subject of the crowd’s ridicule, and decided to add another category (or acceptable excuse) to the list of reasons why people buy the random jerseys they do: the Early Adopter.
At this point we’ve all heard about the legal troubles of the 31 year old Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and how they coincide with the fictional character that is the 28 year old Fausto Carmona. When the news broke, the usual suspects in my office popped their heads up like prairie dogs and started laughing and making all the jokes you might expect in this situation. [Full disclosure, I borrowed some of their quick wit for the title of this piece] As they carried on, they began to shoot glances in my direction. As the lone, unapologetic Cleveland fan in a Chicago office filled with delusional Cubs fans and inferiority complex ridden Sox fans, they badly wanted me to acknowledge the hilarity of the situation.
Then I heard it, “So what happens if you have a Carmona jersey? Can you get a refund?” followed quickly by, “Who would ever buy a Fausto Carmona jersey?” Shit.
I slowly picked my head up and met the eyes of my tormentors and informed them that I actually do have a Fausto Carmona jersey, which only excited more laughter and drew a few faces of amused sympathy. Crestfallen, I thought back to the Spring of 2008, when I was getting ready to buy a new Indians jersey before the season and began to rationalize and remember my options at the time…
Hafner’s best years seemed to be behind him. Sizemore was a bit too dreamy and his devoted fan base seemed just a bit too feminine (Grady’s Ladies, anyone?). Carsten Charles had one foot out the door already, unless I wanted to buy a Yankees jersey. Fausto was 24 (ish) years old, was 2nd in the AL in W’s and ERA, top 5 in the Cy Young voting the previous year, and under contract till 2014. To be honest it didn’t even seem like a hard choice at the time. In the 4 seasons since, Fausto has been nothing more or less than frustratingly average. It’s clear now that what we were watching in 2007 was a peaking 27 year old, rather than an up and coming 23 year old.
Remember mini disc players? Or HD-DVD? While we remember them now only as relics of failed technology, I can’t help but empathize with the kid that spent his hard earned money on them when they first arrived, and was genuinely excited about the potential of something new. Just like the Bengals fan that bought an Ickey Woods jersey, or the Timberwolves fan that bought the Troy Hudson jersey after they took the Lakers to the brink in 2003, it takes guts to blaze a new trail in search of greatness. And while I know it’s ridiculous to romanticize buying a jersey, I respect ‘early adopter’ guy a whole lot more than ‘just trying to be different’ guy if only for what their choice represents.
So cheers to you ‘early adopter’ guy, if that is your real name.
This article was written by special contributor Kevin Wagner. He is not a fan of Lebron James any longer.