As I look forward to the upcoming Phillies season, one of the things that I'm excited about is having a less complicated relationship with the team and its fans this year. As with a lot of things in this site's history, it's all about Bobby Abreu.
Over his eight and a half seasons with the team, Bobby Abreu became my second-favorite Phillie ever (behind Mike Schmidt, of course). But, being a fan of Abreu's was difficult at times.
No, it wasn't difficult to be a fan of what he did on the field - cheering for a guy who made an out less than 60% of the time he came to the plate and usually slugged with some of the best in the league was not hard at all. Nor was it hard to be a fan of how he conducted himself - always smiling, never saying anything bad about the franchise or his teammates, and almost never missing a game.
Rather, it was hard to be a fan of Abreu's because, as we all know, most of Phillie fandom ridiculed him and blamed him for the team's problems. Going to games and rooting for Bobby was tough. Listening to the radio or reading the papers about Bobby was infuriating. Having to defend his patience and natural ability, something that everyone should have appreciated, was annoying.
Of course I'd rather he were still with the team, but without him, this year, my Phillie fandom will be much less complicated. And, in its own way, that's going to be really nice.
After all, so far, the Phillies vying to take Bobby's place in my fan appreciation -- Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels -- are liked by everyone. This being Philadelphia, that could change at any moment, but if I root for these three at a game, I won't have to sit through others in the stadium looking at me like I'm demented.
A less complicated fandom isn't something that I need or necessarily even want, but it's a nice thing to have when it comes around.