Not much joy comes from the bandwagon

The temperature is in the mid-’80s outside and it’s the middle of November, but just because “”fair weather”” describes Southern California in the fall doesn’t mean it should describe its fans.

Honestly, what is the deal? Nearly one month ago, I suffered the bitter and horrible agony of watching my Giants lose to the Angels in the World Series. The next week, I saw heads all over campus adorned in red halo caps, every one of them new. Last year the Angels had 17 fans worldwide, and yet after one run through the playoffs, they magically became everyone’s favorite team.

Angels’ fans did not deserve a World Series. I take that back –those 17 deserved to have their team win as much as anyone else. The rest of you need to take those hats off.

And speaking of fair-weather fans, where are all the Lakers flags on the cars now? Around playoff time last year, everyone and their mother flew one of those and loudly proclaimed to be the team’s biggest fan. Now, with the Shaq-less, hapless wonderboys 3-8 and getting blown out routinely, I see no flags.

Lakers flags aren’t the only ones that bother me though. After Sept. 11, when patriotism became fashionable, it was nauseating to watch the flags spring up in swift compliance with a fad. What’s sad is not that people recognized the need to bond as a nation, but that these symbols of freedom lasted only as long as they were seen as chic.

I’ll love my country — popular or unpopular, at peace or at war. I’ll love my teams –winning or losing, whether my friends do or not.

Bandwagon jumping is like playing a game you know you’ll win every time. There should be no joy in that.

Last time I checked, the American Dream was to work hard and to earn nicer things and a better life, but that’s not the Southern California dream. That dream is to win the lottery and to waste life away wearing red hats when fashionable and attaching the Lakers flag to the car during the playoffs.

There’s something to be said for sticking with a team through the good and the bad, and the feeling at the top is far more fulfilling when you know what it feels like to be at the bottom.

I have the utmost respect for Boston Red Sox fans, Cincinnati Bengals fans and Golden State Warriors fans. Anyone who will stick by perennial losers in hopes of one glorious season understands exactly what I’m talking about.

Southern California needs to show me something. I need to know that not all your loyalties are as shallow as Hollywood and that you’re willing to make an investment into something less certain than Shaq. I want you to make yourselves vulnerable to feeling what it really is to be a sports fan. I want you to support a loser and understand.

And by the way, if you need somewhere to start, the Padres start spring training in three months.