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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Can Of Corn

Break time. Lighthearted fare impending. I'm not trying very hard today, so this might bore you stupid. Fair warning.

I've been a Cubs fan my whole life. I grew up watching players such as Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, and Leon Durham. I heard Harry Carry mumble through foreign names and splash his Budweiser on the microphone. I collected and traded baseball cards. Fast forward.

The statue of Harry outside Wrigley Field. Kinda creepy, if you ask me.

I watched, shocked, as the Marlins stole the National League Championship Series two years ago. I saw the promise of the 2004 season degenerate via injury, apathy, and malaise. I've watched the current season seesaw up and down. Down right now. Through it all I've always treasured the pastoral splendor of the holy triumvirate: baseball, beer, and peanuts.

Over the past five years, I've been to Wrigley Field about twenty times. I've hollered until my throat was dry and raw. I've seen home runs and wild pitches and even a few stolen bases. Wrigley has long been my favorite outing on a summer day.

Midway through the 2005 season, my baseball fandom is changing a bit. I've become a White Sox bandwagon jumper. Before you heckle me with midnight conjured voodoo hexes, let me explain.

I've always jokingly referred to White Sox fans in derogatory terms. I may have uttered cracks about toothless air conditioning repairmen and tattooed white trash on occasion. I've certainly grumbled about their inferiority complex. So many of them are more interested in slamming the Cubs and their fans than actually rooting for their own damn team. I looked down on the Sox.

One of two White Sox fans who, cranked up on speed and whiskey, charged the field and violently assaulted Tom Gamboa, a Kansas City Royals base coach. This was two or three years ago. The two fans were father and son.

My opinion was mixed after attending opening day at U.S. Comiskular Field two years ago. Afterwards I thought better of the fans but not of the stadium or the team. It was a rainy day and the game was delayed for three hours. I drank in a neighborhood southside bar. Despite my Cubs garmentry, the locals were friendly, polite, and even bought me a beer or two.

U.S. Cellular Field from overhead, formerly known as New Comiskey Park.

The park was soggy and the game was boring. I was annoyed by the scoreboard prompting me to cheer. Fans shouldn't need cues. I hated the chants for the players.

"JOSE, jose JOSE jose!" (set to the Ole! soccer song)

Annoying as shit shrapnel. I vowed never to return. My assumptions and judgements were upheld. Fast forward.

The White Sox are great this year. Even better than the hated St. Louis Cardinals. They no longer have annoying strikeout victims saturating their lineup, guys like Jose Valentin and Carlos Lee. General manager Kenny Williams traded for speed and contact, and the results are astounding. The White Sox are a fun team to watch.

I sat in center field last Monday.

I went to the Sox-Rays game on the 4th of July. Another rain delay, this one a mere two hours. Free White Sox towels were awarded to people who filled out credit card applications. I took advantage, and my seat was kept dry. A grand total of 18 runs scored during the game, and three or four home runs were hit. (I nearly caught the Jermaine Dye grand slam in the first) I scarfed curly fires, pizza, and italian beef. Whenever Nick Green from the Devil Rays came to bat, the organist played songs like Green Onions, Green Eyed Lady, and Little Green Bag. Subtle inside jokes for fans of oldies music. I'm not sure why they played Living Dead Girl for Joe Crede. Maybe he has rockabilly groupies.

I was a happy camper. When the game was nearly concluded, I snuck around from center field to first base. I could see Dewan Brazelton's nosehairs. A nearby horde of hecklers shouted "Brazeltov!" whenever he wound up for a throw. When the White Sox won 10-8, Mark Buerhle snapped up a microphone and urged everyone to vote for Scott Podsednik for the All-Star Game. I actually did that. Not as many times as I voted for Derrek Lee last week, but a few times. He won last night, beating out two very popular Yankees.

After Mark finished his speech, the lights went out and the fireworks began. I've never seen fireworks set to music before, and it was pretty damn neat. I could've done without "Proud To Be An American." I hate that patriotic bullshit song about dead soldiers and god. The classical stuff, however, was tremendous.

When I departed, I walked right past the red line train and took a short stroll through the empty ghetto to the green line train, which was empty and comfortable. I got home around two in the morning, tired and happy.

Last night, I decided to watch the White Sox instead of the Cubs. The Cubs have lost six straight and eventually were rained out yesterday, but that doesn't matter. It's the decision. I picked the Sox over the Cubs. And I like The Cell better than Wrigley. And their announcers are better. Shit. I'm kind of embarrassed.
2:41 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm


July 07, 2005 5:16 PM, Blogger EcamirG said...

oh, steven.

you disgust me as a human being.

July 07, 2005 10:08 PM, Blogger Other Brother said...

As a faithful Astros (and fairweather Rangers) fan, I completely understand this post.
Except my .45s have been winning lately (spoke too soon - fuckin' Padres).
I like the Ameripark in Arlington, but Enron Made Park is pretty damn cool as well.

Don't you love baseball season?

July 07, 2005 11:17 PM, Blogger EcamirG said...

holy christ... i'm not the only astros fan in the world?

and incidentally, i understand it, too. during the first months of this season, i watched the astros and thought i don't know this team anymore. they just had no personality anymore. no oomph.

and i began to think... you know, i went to school near cleveland and those indians are pretty exciting right now. i thought you know, since i'm moving to san diego anyway...

and i actually did try to root for other teams, but it just didn't take. and i remembered that the astros sucked at the beginning of last season, too, before they made a big trade and got to game seven of the nlcs.

so i think you'll come around. there's no more exciting division in baseball right now than the nl central (god, who would have even imagined that possible ten years ago?). go forth and have your little midseason crisis. it's perfectly natural. lots of men do it.

July 08, 2005 12:12 AM, Blogger Lostinspace said...

Hey. I don't really follow the Padres, but Petco Park is awesome, and they've been playing a lot better here ever since they got the new stadium. I, shamelessly, just go to the games BECAUSE OF the stadium.

Steve, I'm glad your 4th was good, tired, and happy...

July 08, 2005 6:27 AM, Blogger Wardo said...

Don't be ashamed. Nothing succeeds like success. The Cubs organization should have tried harder to keep you as a fan. winning.

Don'tcha hate though, when a team changes its park name? It's jarring when I'm watching the highlight reel, and the talking head says, "okay, we move now to US Cellular..." and I'm thinking, "WTF? What team is that?" As an example, the Toronto Blue Jays now play out of "Rogers Centre" instead of "The Skydome." Sorry, Rogers - it's always going to be the 'Dome for me, so fuck you.

I'm into baseball more this year because I've been hockey-less for over a year now. Sudden, unrelated digression: the best Jays game I ever saw was in 1998. I arrived in time to my seats on the first base line, and watched Jose Canseco launch a 500-foot, fifth-deck shot to left (I knew he was juicing - who cares! I wanted to see some dingers!), and Roger Clemens struck out 12 for the shutout win over Cleveland. A busload of Indians fans behind us were appalled at our drunken behaviour: "I thought Canadians are supposed to be polite."

I only have one question for you - have you ever cut class to see a game at Wrigley one afternoon? And worn a beret and given $5 tips to bathroom attendants?

"Que bella."


July 08, 2005 9:36 AM, Blogger Dave Morris said...

Steve, now that you are changing sides, can you find it in your heart to stop hating the Cardinals?

Although the Sox are the only team with a better record than STL, which creates another, temporary rivalry. Not really, both teams are exceptionally fun to watch.

July 08, 2005 2:12 PM, Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Your switching of allegiance is annoying as shit shrapnel, to coin a phrase.

How can you do this to us, Steve? Just wait till next year, and the year after that, and the year after.....

July 08, 2005 2:31 PM, Anonymous jamie said...

i'm a fairly recent convert myself. go sox.

July 10, 2005 8:26 AM, Blogger Wardo said...

BTW, the White Sox are going nowhere - not enough power-hitting, their closer is Dustin Hermanson, and their ace pitcher has something like 13 wins without almost no strikeouts. How does that happen?

It reeks of fluke.



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