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Is it OK to be a fair-weather fan?

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Derek Thompson of the Atlantic wrote an article that is probably going to piss a lot of you off. It’s about how being a fair-weather fan is, actually, the ethically superior position compared to being a loyal fan of your hometown nine. Or five. Or eleven or whatever.

Thompson grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs in the 1990s, but he became a Yankees, Colts and Heat fan, in large part because they were winning teams with likable stars. He’s apologized for being one of those guys — not as bad as being a Yankees-Cowboys-Bulls-Duke fan, but still a pretty good showing! — but now he’s done apologizing and is making the case that it’s an OK thing to do. Maybe even the best thing to do:

What I’m proposing here is a theory of fluid fandom that would encourage, as opposed to stigmatize, promiscuous sports allegiances. By permanently anchoring themselves to teams from their hometown or even an adopted town, sports fans consign themselves to needless misery. They also distort the marketplace by sending a signal to team owners that winning is orthogonal to fans’ long-term interests. Fluid fandom, I submit, is the emotionally, civically, and maybe even morally superior way to consume sports.

Given all of the stuff I’ve written about the ethics of ownership, the business of sports and the idea that we should take the players’ sides over that of management, I’m obviously amenable to this argument on some level. I don’t think I could actually bring myself to do that, of course — I remain a Braves fan and, at most, flirt with alternative and secondary fandom for various reasons — but I get where he’s coming from.

There are obvious problems with setting your sports fandom up this way, not the least of which involves it being pretty exhausting to keep ethical tabs on everyone and everything you take an interest in. Sure, I generally know which ballplayers are in legal trouble or which have said questionable things or have taken questionable ethical positions at any given time, but that’s because I do this for a living. Expecting sports fans to know if the guys they root for are as good, better or worse than the guy who owns the team in your hometown is a bit much. Say what you want about the tenets of rooting for laundry, but at least it’s a more easily assumable ethos.

Still, lots to chew on here. And, even if you don’t agree with Thompson, the chewing is pretty fun.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”