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8 to 8, a dunk, and I'm trying to care - Daniel Silliman

There's not a lot to do, while waiting for your friends in a bar.

I watch the Keno numbers come up, for a while, but get bored when I can't find any pattern and realize I would lose. Then I'm wondering if it's normal for a bar to play Christmas music. These really twisted versions, like with dancing chorus girls in Santa hats, the kind that made some producer say, "You've heard them before, but not like this!"

I'm pretty sure it's been proven that listening to this stuff will sap out your soul. I think that's what happened to Nick, my bartender. Clearly, he's lost something. He has a voice like a clinically depressed Eyore.

I just ask him for beer.

There's not a lot to do while waiting for your friends in a bar, so I sat there, sipping and watching the door and the basketball game on the TV above the door. I have no idea who's playing.

One team wears blue. The other, white. Score: Eight to eight.

I think I'm going to root for the blue team, but it's a totally arbitrary decision and I consider changing it as soon as I think it?

This was always my problem with sports. I have no reason to prefer one team over another. I played organized and disorganized sports, as a kid, and I know how to play the games, and even enjoy playing the games. Sometimes, I even enjoy watching a game, but I can't figure out why any team deserves any more of my attention than a dead fly.

The last time I followed a team, it was the Oakland As, which I liked since my dad did. Then they got into the playoffs with the San Francisco Giants, and suddenly every knot of kids at the park was violently trashing my team. I wore an As' hat, which seemed to act like a homing beacon for obnoxious kids. I kept asking why the Giants were better, but no one seemed to know.

Mostly, from what I've found, Americans pick their favorite team because of the town. If you're from Oakland, you love Oakland teams. If you're from Detroit, you fanatically follow the latest statistics from teams named after big cats. If you're from Atlanta, like the people in this news room, you think you own Atlanta teams.

I always moved around. I've never lived anywhere for more than five years, obviously not enough to feel like I have a stake in a place's professional sports. I lived in Texas, and didn't care about the Cowboys. I lived near Seattle, and will have to look up the spelling of Ichiro to write that I don't care about him.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that it's very American to move around a lot. Especially on the West Coast, Americans are a very mobile, rootless people. We, maybe more than most any other country, believe that if things aren't good in one place, then you should pick up and move out and give yourself a second try somewhere else. We've migrated here, we've migrated north for industrial jobs, we've migrated south for better weather, we've migrated west for expanding economies, so how is it that I'm the only one so rootless I don't care about sports teams?

I have no idea who's playing, but the top of the hoop says "spurs.com." So they're playing. One of the announces says something like "Jazz," which was the name of my rec league team in 3rd grade. We all wanted to be the Lakers, and didn't know where the Jazz was even from. The coach said Utah. So does that mean that there are two Utah teams, playing on the bar TV? Does Utah have enough cities for two teams? The white team goes for a dunk, and I check my cell phone to see if it's still on.

I wonder if I should root for the Jazz, since it was our name, or against them, because we had it forced on us. I can't tell if the team is the Jazz, though, because the TV keeps showing the other side. I'm trying to confirm the Utah-Utah thing, but I don't know how it affects my decision to root for the blue team, which I'm not doing anyway.

"Hey Nick," I said, "I need another beer."

Daniel Silliman covers crime and courts for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 254, or via e-mail at dsilliman@news-daily.com.