Being born and mostly raised in Los Angeles, I was reared as a Dodgers fan. I had a hat, a small kid’s bad with the team logo, even the players’ baseball cards. Friends of the family had season tickets and we went to a bunch of games. There was something magical about the whole experience. Especially when the team was doing well in the era of Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser.
But then I stopped paying attention to baseball, went to college, got into music more. Then I moved to Philly, where after a few years I started watching Phillies games. Their new park Citizens Bank Park was beautiful, the vibe contagious—Philly fans in general are like no others—and slowly I became a fan. This following was of course sweetened when the team started winning. A lot. Then in 2008, they faced the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Dodgers were favored, but the Phillies went on to win, handily. And on Facebook, I couldn’t be happier. Some of my old friends, however, were confused: you’re a Dodgers fan, right? How come you’re all into the Phillies now? Hopping on the bandwagon?
No, I’d been following them for a few years now, when they were pretty bad, I’d wanted to say, but when someone first notices your fandom during a championship run, your loyalty looks suspect.
The Book of Acts contains the story of Saul—name change to Paul (for some reason)—who also underwent a conversion. Few about faces in history appear to be as pronounced as his. He’s no fan of Christianity initially and he takes his disdain seriously: he leads the charge against its practitioners and is responsible for killing and/or jailing an enormous amount of them. So he understands when the power establishment within the church doesn’t receive him with open arms when he gets touched by the lord and embraces Christianity.
He becomes the bible’s first hardcore born again Christian, and he makes sure EVERYONE knows about how he found God and encouraged them to do the same.
What makes this conversion interesting is not that it demonstrates that anyone can change the direction of his life at a later date. Nor is it that he can tell the world that he was wrong and take the time to explain why. It’s really about how distrustful the people he so mistreated are towards him. Their reticence is completely understandable. What’s interesting is that they’re leery, as if they suspect some backhanded way of screwing them further. Given what they’ve been through, I don’t blame them. But their ultimate acceptance signals the ability to be open-minded, forgive, and allow for a person to change.
I may never revert to be a Dodgers fan. I have nothing against the team, I just found a team with which I click better. Besides, going to Citizen’s Bank Park is more fun than visiting Dodger Stadium. As far as what my old friends in LA think of this, I can only shrug. It’s not like I became a Mets fan.