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Picking favorites: Fan gives up on one, picks another

Editor’s note: This is part of the Mirror’s ongoing series “Picking favorites,” allowing sports fans to explain how they picked their favorite teams.

When, if ever, is it OK to quit rooting for your favorite team and then pick a new team?

Many sports fans will proclaim, “Never!” and that it’s blasphemous to do so. If you pick a team, according to these folks, you should stick with that team no matter what.

Because it’s YOUR team.

Never mind that we give up on many other things in life. Our tastes change when it comes to food, TV shows, movies and music. Furthermore, more than half of the people who get married wind up getting divorced.

So why, then, is it not OK to divorce your favorite sports team if you so choose?

Billy Becker did just that. He grew up as a Boston Red Sox fan, and his favorite memory remains the Sox winning the World Series in 2004, ending their 86-year drought.

But Becker, formerly of Duncansville and now living in Virginia Beach, Va., made the wicked strange decision to give up on the Red Sox and shifted his allegiance to a team in the same division, the Baltimore Orioles.

“I never thought it could happen to me,” Becker said. “As a young sports fan, you’re taught you pick a team and you stick with them, through thick and thin.

“Growing up in New Hampshire, my mother introduced me to the Boston Red Sox, and they got all my attention. I would watch games at night and the same game replay again in the morning. If someone needed to get me a gift, they knew anything with a Red Sox logo would do the trick.”

Becker moved to Pennsylvania when he was 8 and said, “My love for the Red Sox came with me.”

“As an only child in a new town, they were pretty much my only friend,” he said. “But being out of the New England market, I could no longer watch their games. The Pirates were fun in the early ’90s, but I was taught you pick a team and you stick with them. So I would still wear my Red Sox hat and Mo Vaughn T-shirt.”

Things changed for Becker in 2001, when he moved to Virginia. Orioles games were on TV all the time, so he began watching some to “get my baseball fix, which seemed harmless because they were no threat to the Red Sox.”

But over time, something happened. The Orioles began to grow on Becker more and more, to the point where he wasn’t even all that excited when the Red Sox won the World Series again in 2007.

“That seemed kind of joyless to me,” he said.

Another big change occurred when his local minor league team, the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, switched their affiliation from the New York Mets to the Orioles. Becker could see Baltimore’s top prospects play at his local park one night, then possibly see them on TV in the majors the next night.

The transformation from Red Sox fan to Orioles fan had fully begun to take shape.

“Seeing the Orioles’ colors and logos in a new light was exciting and fresh, while the Red Sox fan base had become unrecognizable to me,” Becker said. “It felt like I was lying to myself about who I wanted to put my energy into.

“I had a few conversations with myself about how sports are supposed to be fun and make you happy and not worrying about what others think. I got rid of all my Red Sox stuff and announced to my wife (Shaylynn) I was no longer the man she had fallen in love in with. I was officially now an Orioles fan.”

Favorite team: Baltimore Orioles

Favorite memory: Former team, the Boston Red Sox, winning the World Series in 2004

Least favorite memory: Red Sox losing in the 2003 ALCS

Favorite player: Pedro Martinez (all time); Adley Rutschman (current)

Players you’ve been able to meet: Mike LaValliere

Player you would most like to meet:  None

Favorite ballpark experience: Watching the Triple-A Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park

Your hope for the team’s future: Other than just resuming spring training games … to draft wisely and build a top farm system

If you’d like to take part in our “Picking favorites” series, email Cory Giger at cgiger@altoonamirror.com.

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