I don't think of myself as a bandwagon fan, but I'm sure at least one of you will disagree. As the Tigers come lazily rowing down the Stream of Mediocrity into the All Star break, I find that I really haven't paid much attention to them in a few weeks. Oh sure, I check the box scores at the end of the day, I read a game recap or two, I peek in on Twitter just long enough to confirm that it's still a wailing House of the Damned, but I'm not investing my free time in the team just lately. I'm not spending weeknights watching the games, and even when I'm working outside, I find I'm just as likely to tune the radio to whatever MLB game most excites me that day. Sonny Gray vs. Corey Kluber, or Shane Greene vs Ky--yeah, no, that's no contest.
It's not that I'll only watch the Tigers when they're winning, though, and I think that's why I really don't qualify to ride the bandwagon. If they were collosally bad right now? If they were on a 50-game losing streak and regularly pitching Home Run Derby to other teams? If they blew up the starting rotation and stocked it strictly with underdeveloped arms from Class A? Hell yeah, I'd watch that. That would be entertaining. But what they've been doing so far this year, for the past several months? It's boring.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that baseball is a kind of sports (I looked that one up to make sure), and sports is entertainment. It also happens to be entertainment that I'm paying for (I looked this up, too). They're not handing out free MLB.TV subscriptions when you buy a Mini Frappuccino at Starbucks, and Fox Sports Detroit only comes as part of the Super Platinum Mega-Stuff Surrender Your Paycheck Package, so I have this crazy, revolutionary idea that -- if you follow my logic here -- I ought to be enjoying what I'm paying for.
It turns out that I enjoy interesting baseball, no matter who's playing it. I like watching the Royals try to keep winning even when they're going up against Chris Archer, and Alex Gordon accidentally blows up his leg in the middle of the game (besides the leg blowing up part). I like watching Max Scherzer make yet another bid at a no-hitter and possibly getting drenched in chocolate sauce at the end, because dammit, that's the sort of thing we fought in wars to protect. I like watching Clayton Kershaw carve out a place beside Sandy Koufax and Bill Singer as the only three Dodgers pitchers to rack up 150 or more strikeouts before the All Star Game.
Baseball is like this super-awesome shopping mall with thirty different stores to choose from, so when you're not willing to pay the extra sales tax at Blue Jays Boutique, and Marlins Market is closed for renovations, you can always head over to Dodgers Depot and let the nice old man behind the counter tell you the back-story on every product in the store. Just be sure to avoid that kiosk in the middle of the mall, they'll nag you endlessly to take their survey, not just once, but thirty-five times!
"So how about those Tigers?" I don't know, honestly, I'm barely paying attention any more. And if devoting my few precious hours of baseball time each week to whatever player or team I happen to be interested in at the time makes me a "fair-weather fan," then so be it. I know some people like to wear their martyrdom like a badge of honor -- "I watch the Tigers all summer, no matter what, and I endured all of the 2003 season so I know all about pain, etc." -- but the fact is, you only get so many hours on this planet, and watching uninspiring, .500-level baseball all summer just because it's the hometown team doesn't mean you get an extra piece of cake in the afterlife.
I say enjoy the second half of the season however you see fit. If that means continuing to watch the Tigers limp their way through a forgettable year, go for it. If that means finding a more interesting team/player/storyline to follow, go for it -- you're not a bad Tigers fan for doing so.