The Troy Tulowitzki trade -- or, to be more specific -- the far-reaching conversation surrounding the Tulo trade in traditional and social media got me to thinking about all the different and interesting ways people interact with their sports.
I found myself waffling more than a politician in the week after the trade. Engaging with so many smart people who had so many different takes on an extremely complicated issue, I found myself thinking "How can I agree with everybody and think they are all full of shit at the same time?"
It all became clear in a flash: In addition to everything else, the trade was a Rorschach test for Rockies fans and it laid bare where everyone's loyalties truly lie. Are you sticking with the team? Are you following Tulo to Canada? Are you just happy the Rockies did something? Are you excited about prospects and further moves? Do you care about how Tulo was treated or how his old teammates feel?
Where you end up often times depends on where you start. What type of fan are you?
(Note: These are of course broad generalizations and this is meant to be fun. If you have new category suggestions or your own unique take, please share in the comments!)
(Note No. 2: The word "Homer" here is not meant to be disparaging. I've hated that word at times, but I'm taking it back.)
Without the Laundry Homer, none of us -- from the highest paid players and executives to the lowest paid bloggers -- would have a job. They are the lifeblood of American professional sports. They buy the tickets, the jerseys, and the Kool-Aid. They pay the salaries of everyone from the players to the journalists to the concession workers and they've been around since long before any of us got here.
They will root for their team from birth to death (and beyond) no matter what. The other teams in the division are mortal enemies and to speak kindly of them is treasonous.
Losing is a temporary condition: There is always next season.
The extreme Laundry Homer will watch every game of a 90 loss or 0-16 season just to say they stuck through the hard times on that glorious day when the team finally won. Without them, none of the rest of these fan types would get to exist.
Just as loyal as the Laundry Homer, the Player Homer cares deeply about winning but for particular players. Whether it's preferring a style of play, a type of personality, or just admiring pure greatness, the Player Homer will bounce from team to team from season to season to follow their favorite player(s).
Many Player Homers in Denver may find themselves rooting for the Blue Jays right now.
Player Homers will also choose which teams they root against based on this metric, often either crafting narratives -- or honestly sometimes just reading the news -- to paint the other team as bad guys. If a team achieves a high enough ratio of players that the PH doesn't like, they become an evil empire.
There can be a lot of overlap between Player Homers and Laundry Homers, but when blockbuster trades happen they often force people into being more one than the other.
Laundry Homer/Player Homer
There are, however, a decent number of LHPHs who love everyone on their team and everyone who has ever played for their team. Forever. In situations where former players play their favorite team, these people are a nervous wreck.
Game Player - Chaotic (CGP)
Chaotic Game Players don't care about the winning or losing of any particular team or player. They follow sports purely as an intellectual exercise. CGPs can't get enough transactions, rumors, or (sometimes) fantasy, and have a strong predilection toward advanced statistics.
The prototypical gambler is a CGP.
Most analysts who consider themselves purely objective and not a fan of any given team are CGPs -- much more interested in the metagame than the game itself. These fans want all the details from contract statuses to impending free-agency to in-depth minor league updates.
CGPs tend to think years into the future and heavily study the past whereas the "Homer" types tend to live in the now.
CGPs view sports like a real-life video game -- particularly one like OOTP which is essentially a GM simulator.
When evaluating players CGPs couldn't care less about symbolic value like clubhouse presence, or being the "face of the franchise."
Game Player - Homer (HGP)
The Homer Game Player is much like the CGP but with an emphasis on a specific team, or maybe a specific player or group of players.
The HGP wants the team near them (or maybe one they adopted) to win either because they will be more interesting to follow, or sometimes because that could even generate revenue for their blog, newspaper, etc.
The most common iteration of the HGP is exemplified by much of the Denver media Rockies' coverage. They don't care about any of the people who play on the team, or coach the team, or who own the team, or play in the minors, but they do get angry when the team doesn't win.
They don't care what it takes. Trade everybody. Sell the team. Do your job better and win! HGPs may have a few favorite "pet" players but tend to be otherwise cutthroat in pursuit of wins.
The HGP has an even stronger desire to play fantasy GM than the CGP because they want to fix their team.
The Sociologist/Historian has a similarly detached view of sports as the game players but is far more interested in the "human element."
These are the storytellers and record keepers who love the game so much that it often overcomes whatever team attachment they may have. They find the meta-game interesting but only insofar as its potential to tell a good story.
There are homer and non-homer versions of this. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a great example of a fan who has rooted for a team (the Red Sox) most of her life. But separate categories were not required since the Sociologist/Historian always prioritizes the historically significant and the humanly poignant over numbers, including wins and losses, every day.
The Sociologist/Historian can find the tale of a struggling minor leaguer just as fascinating as the one about the greatest of all time. They are far more interested in what the game says about us than what we say about the game.
The Chameleon just can't get enough of any of it. They love the history on some days, and just want to see their team get a flippin' win the next. Trades are exciting, too! Oh, and that one guy (lets say ... Tom Brady) is a jerk! I hope they lose every game!