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Dealing with casual Orioles fans.

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Last night over dinner my boyfriend relayed a story to me from a recent trip to Quiznos in which a gentleman, upon spying the bf in an Orioles shirt, decided to strike up a conversation. The conversation, which started, "I'm surprised you're not embarrassed to be wearing that shirt," was a case study in why I, despite my obvious love of baseball and regular discussion of it here, usually hate talking about the Orioles.

The two main things this stranger wanted to discuss: 1) It was stupid to sign Derrek Lee and let Ty Wigginton leave because Wigginton is younger, and 2) It makes no sense not to play Matt Wieters every single day of the season because he is a young professional athlete in fine shape and he should be able to handle it.

I try very hard not to act like I know more than other people when it comes to baseball. It's often not true, especially when I'm talking about it here on Camden Chat or with people who I've met through the online Orioles community in some manner. It's hard, though, when confronted by people such as that to not feel a smug sense of superiority. How could I not? Along with that feeling, though, is my internal conflict. Do I tell these people what I really think? Do I smile and nod and move on quickly, leaving them to their life of ignorance?

Before I say anything more, know that I think all Orioles fans are valuable. The casual, often misinformed ones are who will return to the stadium if they like what they see, who will one day help us outnumber Red Sox fans in our own stadium. In this day and age, if a person still considers himself an Orioles fan, he's ok by me. But...

You all know these people. Some are strangers who want to chat in line at the grocery store, some are members of your extended family who know little else about you other than the fact that you're the resident Orioles fan. All have good intentions but don't really know what they're getting themselves into when they decide to bring up something you spend so much time thinking about.

In the case of strangers, I rarely engage them. For one, they're probably just making small talk, in which case they don't actually care. For another, even if they're not simply making small talk, what do I care about changing their mind? I'll never see them again and I'll probably end up looking like a bit of a nutter if I get too into it. So I acknowledge whatever they're saying and make a getaway as soon as politely possible.

With people I actually know it's a different story. I actually have a relationship with them and will see them again in the future. They've known my entire life I'm an Orioles fan and my mother has probably bragged about my work here to them (love you, Mom!), so when they're faced with making conversation with me, that is naturally the first topic that comes to their minds. But I don't want to have a discussion with someone who cites RBI as a good reason to sign a free agent and I don't want to hear about how the entire problem with the Orioles is that they just don't have any pitching (because you can't just say that...that's just not what's happening...y'all know). Ugh, see? I'm such a snob! But it's something I run into over and over, and in most cases I just give a soft version of my opinion, one that won't ruffle feathers and one that gets me out of the conversation relatively quickly.

Additionally, there are some places where it's nice that I don't have to be the person who knows about the Orioles. I spend a great deal of my waking hours talking or writing about the Orioles here at Camden Chat, I answer emails about them and get IMs about them and discuss every move they make with my boyfriend. It reminds me of an episode of Friends where Rachel, who is a waitress, begins dating a gynecologist (played by Jonathan Silverman, star of such hits as Weekend at Bernie's and Weekend at Bernie's II). Silverman's character is explaining to Rachel why dating is kind of tough for a man in his position, and says, "Aren't there times when you come home at the end of the day and you're just like, 'If I see one more cup of coffee...'" That's how I feel sometimes about the Orioles. When I've spent a huge amount of time thinking and talking about the Orioles and I find myself in what should be a neutral environment only to have someone (who doesn't even know what he or she is talking about) try and engage me, I think, "If I see one more cup of coffee..."