Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK, let's switch now from micro soccer balls to baseball. Four baseball playoff series continue today.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Two involve teams from the San Francisco Bay Area, the Giants and the Oakland A's. Many people have fantasized of a Bay Bridge World Series as they had in 1989. But over the weekend, both teams found themselves down two games to none, one game shy of elimination.

INSKEEP: And then, last night, both teams stayed alive. The A's took one from Detroit and the Giants downed Cincinnati, upholding Bay Area pride for the moment.

MONTAGNE: All right, that brings us to commentator Frank Deford, who says no matter where you're from you need to stay true to your hometown team.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: My first protocol on rooting in sports is that you should stick with the teams that you grew up with. I know we're a transient society, but that's just it. Continuing to cheer for your original hometown teams is one way of displaying the old-fashioned value of allegiance. If you grew up in Cleveland, say, and moved somewhere Sunbeltish, I know how hard it is, but the measure of whether you are a good person is that you must remain loyal to the Browns and Indians, and that team that LeBron James left behind.

That's what left of roots in America. You must root where your roots were laid down. Now don't worry, sports love is a two-way street. There is a proviso in this lifetime contract that allows you the right to get mad at your team. The problem with you Cubs' fans, for example, is that you are too tolerant. But no, you must never leave your precious Cubbies for a more seductive team. No, be steadfast for another century or so.

But us, us hard-bitten sports journalists have a problem. We're supposed to look down at you sappy fans, getting all worked up about your silly teams, while we, we must be neutered, remain above the fray. No cheering in the press box is our equivalent of don't mention bombs when you're in the airport security line.

But, on the QT here, entre nous, just between us chickens, pretending to make emotional sports eunuchs of sports journalists is a charade, reminiscent of Tallulah Bankhead's saying: I'm as pure as the driven slush. You see, despite what most athletes think, we sportswriters really are human beings - well, at least on the side.

At the Ryder Cup a couple weeks ago, the terrific story was the spectacular European comeback from virtual defeat. But surely, every American golf journalist was rooting for our team instead of the story.

OK, everybody is coming out these days. So yes, now I am too. I have known since I was a child that I loved the Baltimore Orioles. I loved them before they were the O's, as they are, regrettably, known today. They were called the Birds then, or even better, the Flock. So, no, I don't care what it does for my reputation as a hard-hearted sports scribe, who has always kept his true feelings to himself in the press box.

I've suffered with my beloved Flock, losing for 14 years in a row. And now that they are actually in the playoffs, I must go public and reveal that, yes, I am an actual fan. And truth to tell, I'm not real crazy about the New York Yankees either.

But never fear. Next week, I will once again refrain from being a giddy Bird lover and return to my ugly, bloodless, objective self.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Commentator Frank Deford joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford