|"Moonshots can be heard and seen over the Chicago night sky..."|
(photo courtesy of Ed Mancia)
As a kid, it's much easier to get into the lumber power of Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson and Co., fireworks at a brand new ball field and, gulp, winning, than it is to get behind the on-base percentage of the aging, early 90's Chicago Cubs’ teams. Growing up in Chicago proper, your fandom is usually handed down from your DNA donor and incubators: my parents, however, liked both teams though my mom leaned towards the Cubs. I'm not a parent but if I lived in the city with two “same-sport” team choices and had two young boys, I'd take them to as many Chicago White Sox games as my parents took me, because sports’ integrity is an impossible concept to teach your kids. I strongly believe that my parents did the right thing nudging me to the winning side. Why would you even subject your kids to the heartbreak that is the Cubs anyway? As day baseball was being labored close to my Rogers Park home, the moonshots could be heard and seen over the Chicago night sky in the Summer of the early '90's, but that did not change my allegiance. A couple of Big-Hurt chocolate bars, Robin Ventura t-shirts, and trips up and down the concourse ramps at the new Comiskey Park, I was obsessed with the White Sox.
The strike ends the Sox World Series hopes and ultimately ends my love affair for the team. I started playing organized sports at this time. I, like most Hispanic boys (excluding Pathological Hate’s editor, Felipe), was really fast (For the record, I was my 8th grade football team's fastest runner and one of the few players that never complained during sprints—Ed). I thought I was Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez from the film The Sandlot (No relation?—Ed). And I was probably as fast as the character who shared the same last name as me, except, unlike Benny, I had no coordination whatsoever. During the pee-wee player assessment try-outs, I didn't field one pop-up or grounder. I swung and missed on every batting attempt. So I was put in right field, a safe haven for kids with fielding deficiencies. You know who else played right field around that time? Sammy Sosa. Right around 1995, with Michael Jordan attempting a comeback and my loyalty to the Sox just inexplicably wearing off just like things do for most eleven year-olds, I decided I was a Sosa/Cubs’ fan. Chicks (baby chickens) dig the long ball. Ok that joke was cheap, cheap. Crap that was worse; my gags have flown over the coo--
You know where this story goes: 1998 was the most exciting year of my sports-loving life! The Chicago Bulls had just three-peated, again, WWF (now the WWE-Ed) was embarking in its Attitude era, and Sosa could hit a football with one swing (perhaps even throw it) farther than Erik Kramer and Steve Stenstrom could do all that year, combined. Jordan was now gone, leaving the face of the city in the hands of Toni Kukoc, Curtis Conway, Tony Amonte, Albert Belle, and Sosa.
As a teen, just as a pre-teen, I was a front-runner. Not proud of it, but as an adult now, I'm a fan of honesty. In High School, tucked away in the suburb of Elk Grove Village, I always looked forward to the Cubs’ games back in the city I lived in the first 12 years of my life. That's when you cement your allegiance. Taking that Metra to the Blue Line is where some of my favorite memories are bedrocked.
The rest is a sad an unfortunate history, with a blip of nice times spaced out on my Cubs’ sonar map:
- 2003 NLCS, I could have done without (The year my soul gave up on life and committed suicide—Ed). I was in college at Columbia in Chicago, and remember taking the Red Line after class to Wrigley Field to stand outside on Sheffield Ave, for Games 6 and 7, and experienced the realest kind of dejection a sports' fan can ever experience.
- Sosa "accidentally" grabbing a corked bat that same year (Among many stupid things he has done throughout his life. Not even talking about the PEDs—Ed).
- In 2005, from the bleachers, I saw Greg Maddux’s 3,000th strikeout on my brother's 21st birthday. The Maddux game, aside from the random 2000 Sox game I attended where Mike Cameron hit four home runs, is the best time I've ever had at a game.
- Throw in a couple two-three Cubs vs Sox games, which now happen to be my least favorite sporting event because of everyone in the stands insisting on being drunk dicks to each other.
- The recent playoff runs were also memorable.
And now, here we are.
I'm too old to jump ship to the South Side. I'm a Cubs' fan from now until death does me part. Or at least until I have a kid, I'll take "it" to both ball parks around age 7 and let "the child" decide who he roots for. Hopefully, I can nudge the tyke to bleed “Cubbie Blue,” because after all, misery loves company. Like father, like son. Go, Cubs, Go.