Ask NotGraphs (#14)

Dear NotGraphs,

My fiancee is a Dodgers fan, I am an Angels fan. You immediately see the problems that lie ahead. Baseball is my life, it is not hers, but her whole side of the family bleeds Dodger blue and she genuinely enjoys going to and watching games. A discussion regarding kids came up and I said I’m really looking forward to raising our kids as Angels fans. She scoffed.

After arguing back and forth, she asserted that if I got to raise our future children as Angels fans, then she should get to influence our future children in some way or get to make some sort of decision or get something in return. My question to you, NotGraphs, is what should that influence/decision/item be.

Sincerely,
Die Hard Angels Fan With Future Kids That MUST ALSO BE DIE HARD ANGELS FANS

Dear Only Remaining Angels Fan,

Hard to have predicted a couple of weeks ago, but this is certainly shaping up to be a terrible season in which to tell your fiancee that you want to raise your kids as Angels fans instead of Dodgers fans. Of course it’s still early, but, gosh, it is not looking good, and being saddled with Albert Pujols until quite possibly well into your future children’s childhood, when he’s forgotten how to hit… hmmm… if the price of inflicting Angels fandom on your children was $x two weeks ago, it’s probably at least 120% of $x right now, and quickly rising the more home runs Matt Kemp hits.

Before I answer your question, I want to quibble with the premise. You seem to think you have control over what team your kids will root for. I don’t know that you do. I don’t have kids yet, so I am not speaking from direct personal experience, but surely there are things you like that your parents don’t, and things your parents may have even expressly tried to steer you toward that you have no interest in at all. My parents, for instance, enjoy a cluttered basement filled with things that I might call garbage. As much as they might like to share their broken toasters and extra cake stands with me, I don’t want them. This is not a perfect analogy, but if you think of the Angels as a broken toaster, perhaps it makes sense. Why some of us gravitate toward one team and not another is surely in part based on the influence of our parents, and what they expose us to, but there may be other factors. Friends, classmates, news coverage, whether we like the color of the hat, what randomly-assigned Little League we end up on, which player throws us a baseball during batting practice the first time we go to a game in person, whether we can tolerate the voice of Rex Hudler on Angels telecasts. All I’m saying is that their fandom may not be yours to own, and the more you try to make your future children Angels fans, the more you may risk turning them into Dodgers fans, or even non-fans.

But that wasn’t your question. Your question was what to trade for the right to raise them as Angels fans. If you’re lucky, the answer may be easy: religion. Baseball and religion seem to me to be about equivalent, although baseball probably occupies more time per week for the average fan, and eternal damnation is probably a worse outcome than missing the playoffs… but, it may be close. If you and your wife don’t share the same religion, and would potentially disagree over what faith in which to raise your children, well, you get the Angels, and she gets, uh, Baha’i, perhaps. But I’m guessing if it were that simple, you wouldn’t have asked the question.

So I’ll assume religion isn’t a sticking point. Perhaps college, then? Like with baseball, it’s certainly no guarantee you can steer your children in the direction you’d like, but maybe she prefers her alma mater and you prefer yours, and at some point down the road, one of you would have to relent and be okay with your children being Beavers instead of Armadillos, or whatever your school mascots are.

But college decisions are only up to parents to some extent. And this may not be a point of contention between you and your fiancee anyway. So I need to come up with more options. Some ideas:

— She gets to choose all the furniture / paint colors in your home. Of course, as soon as I typed that, I realized the potential for trouble– I’m seeing blue and white walls and a Dodgers ottoman. Try raising Angels fans in a room with a Jackie Robinson statue. So maybe this one is too risky.

— She gets to pick their names. Again, may have the potential to burn you, as you try and convince young Duke, Sandy, and Pee Wee to root for Albert and Howie.

— You get baseball, she gets music. And barring a great love of Terry Cashman’s Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey and The Duke), this may well be a reasonably fair trade, assuming there’s some gap between your musical tastes for her to exploit.

— A kidney, if she needs one. Unless you’d give it to her anyway. On second thought, maybe it would be safer to steer clear of anything medical… I don’t know if making your kids into Angels fans would be worth, say, letting her enthusiastic views on euthanasia dictate your perhaps-too-early demise.

— Lifetime control of the DVR in cases of multiple-program conflict?

— $$ and lots of it.

— A very favorable pre-nuptial agreement.

I think that about takes care of everything I can think of. Readers?

Good luck,
Jeremy

Have a question for Ask NotGraphs!? I’m running low again, so please send! About baseball, not about baseball, doesn’t matter, I’ll answer just about anything. E-mail me, or leave your question in the comments!




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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.


13 Responses to “Ask NotGraphs (#14)”

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  1. deadhead says:

    I was thinking that the mother could steer the children’s sexual orientation to something less vanilla and more fruity, but I imagine raising them Angels fans may take care of that on it’s own.

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  2. Chike says:

    Let the wifey have say over your kid’s football/basketball/hockey/other irrelevant sport preferences. You give her more sports so she’ll think she’s coming out ahead, but the key here would be to make sure the kid grows up with baseball as his/her favorite sport.

    If that doesn’t work, you could always just put your foot down and man the eff up.

    BTW – Ask Notgraphs is the best column going on the Interwebs!

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    • NatsFan73 says:

      I concur. You get baseball, she gets … I dunno … Basketball and Nascar. Hell go ahead and throw in Soccer if she chafes a bit.

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  3. Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets says:

    Let her pick your facial hair style (this assumes that “no facial hair” isn’t a style).

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  4. Surine says:

    All the Baha’is are like “Whaaaaat.”

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  5. Yeager says:

    The trick is to “concede” something you don’t have any intention of fighting over anyway.

    Hate to cook? Say you will do the dishes after every meal, since this is something you would have probably had to do anyway if your wife did the cooking. Like to cook? Say you will cook x number of times a week since you were going to do it anyway.

    Don’t care what type of furniture is in your living room? Let her pick it out “in exchange”. Yes it may be Dodger blue, but if the Angels are on TV you’ll have a dramatic upper hand.

    The key here is to identify something you are probably going to have to do anyway or an argument that you are likely to lose and concede it in advance so that you’ll have lost nothing.

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    • Yeager says:

      Incidentally, this is one of the fundamental rules of a healthy marriage. Do not ever, EVER, say you “don’t care” about anything, even if you really don’t. There are two sound reasons for this.

      1) It may be possible to get a concession over something you would have caved on anyway.

      2) If you really don’t care and don’t need a concession on something your wife is asking you about, anytime you think to say “I don’t care,” say “I don’t know, what do you think” instead. Just trust me on this.

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      • David says:

        3) Always “care” about what your wife cares about, even when you don’t. It shows her you’re interested/supportive/engaged, etc … and will build you goodwill for when you want her to “care” about something you want.

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  6. MikeS says:

    I think you should give in for three reasons.

    1) You said your wife is not a big fan. She won’t be that dilligent indoctrinating them and should be easy to undermine.
    2) You may not have as much control over this as you think, so why fight about it.
    3) Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it’s also a constant battle for moral superiority. Give in on this and you can use it for decades.

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    • Steve Blaboni says:

      To paraphrase Ty Cobb, marriage “is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.”

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  7. scout1222 says:

    Ha ha ha, you guys are so cute thinking that we can’t see through some of this stuff (or even engage in it ourselves).

    Jeremy – I really like your take on children’s fandom. Not too many people are willing to concede the point that in the end, the kids will root (or not) for whoever they darn well please.

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  8. Ryan says:

    “– She gets to choose all the furniture / paint colors in your home.”

    Doesn’t she already ‘get’ to pick all of these?

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  9. debater12 says:

    This raises an interesting question- would it be better for your wife to not be a fan, or be a fan of a team you don’t care for

    With the obvious caveat Yankee fans are non-starters

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