Already some of my friends might have their interest piqued. Kristen and baseball never come in the same thought. It’s so bad that while one of my huge baseball fan friends still patiently answers my questions, the other doesn’t even acknowledge I’ve spoken. Eh. What can I do?
I didn’t grow up in a sports family. At all. Yes, my dad had three daughters, but our lack of sports interest was based on his. I don’t ever remember watching a sports game in my house as a child. Ever. I bet a lot of you reading this can’t even imagine that. I did play basketball my sixth grade year, and I ran track in seventh and eighth. But I didn’t pursue anything in highschool. Instead, I was in all twelve theatrical productions.
On my own, I managed to fall in love with Michael Jordan. He wore my favorite number afterall, being born on the 23rd. So I was my own independent Bulls fan for those few years they dominated. Then, at the end of highschool I started dating a jock. Only God knows how I landed the highschool quarterback, who was also a star baseball and basketball player at our little school. He was even featured once on ESPN’s sports scholastica or whatever it was called. Point being, I had to learn to appreciate sports a little more for all that I watched with him.
Even though the Quad Cities is closer in proximity to Chicago, it’s fairly split between Cardinals and Cubs fans. Ryan (the above boyfriend) was a Cardinals fan and took me to my first game at Busch the summer before college. And then I lived in Missouri for ten years. I’ve managed to go to a dozen games or more over the years, but mostly I have been a fan on behalf of friends who were so invested in the team, I just wanted to see them happy. And the rest of St. Louis.
The year after Albert Pujols was named Rookie of the Year, I saw him and his wife and baby eating at Yen Chings, my fav Chinese place. I didn’t know who he was, only that he was sitting under a picture of himself with the owner. He’d left before we did, so we asked the waiter his identity. For that silly reason alone, I claimed Pujols as my “Cardinals boyfriend”. I haven’t been sorry.
The last few years, I have been paying closer attention to football and hockey. I love to go to the family arena and watch the Quad City Mallards play the St. Charles River Otters. I’ve drug many a friend out there. I’ve been to two Blues games and loved them. But what I am really a sucker for is the Superbowl. You get the two best teams together and there’s so much at stake. And there’s so much strategy in football. I find it very intriguing.
That’s always been my real problem with baseball. It’s so slow! And it seems a little less of a team sport. Each player has to get up there and do their own thing- independently pitching or hitting or catching the balls. My baseball fan friends tell me that the strategy is more subtle. Well, yes I figure there are strategies to the lineup and how you will pitch to a certain player and the best place to hit the ball so the guy on second can get to third etc. But even those baseball fanatics admit you kinda had to grow up with it. And my friend Andy who’s played all his life says there’s something about the smell down on the field after a game – of sweat and beer and plain excitement I guess.
And now I am getting closer to the point, if there is one in this rambling exuse for an entry.
Last night, I was in a small bar called Puffers about five blocks from US Celluar Field where the White Sox were playing. I’ve watched more baseball in the last few weeks than I have in my life. I’ve actually been quite upset about the Cardinals derailing. I was absolutely convinced we were going to win it all this year. We were so good and so ready. What happened?
As I sat watching the second game of the World Series surrounded by insane, life-long White Sox fans, I had some epiphanies. I hung on every pitch with the rest of the bar. It’s not so bad rooting for the White Sox. First and foremost, they are not the Cubs. Period. Almost enough said. They truly have been the ignored Chicago team for almost all but the southsiders. Then we have the fact that Tony Larussa had a stint up here. And Jerry Reinsdorf himself said when he was accepting the pennant that he was still rooting for the Cardinals.
The epiphany was really just how much I enjoyed watching the game. Maybe I am still just a sucker for the playoffs in any sport. But how can a dramatic person like myself deny the drama in games like this? I really do enjoy sports, I just have never taken the time for them. There’s too much else in life. But I can readily admit now that I can see myself being a crazy fan if I ever take the time. And I think someday I will. Afterall, last night was a blast.
In the meantime, I will assure my St. Louis friends that another part of the epiphany is that I realized I have become a Cardinals fan on my own. The White Sox fans jostled me and said I was the newest fan in the bar, and I was being converted etc. And I just told them that while I was happy to take on the Sox as a second team, I would be lying to their faces if I said I wasn’t still a Cardinals fan – albeit, one in mourning. I could only think of our players and how much more I’d rather be watching them. I could only think of how quickly they are probably tearing down Busch in order to complete the new stadium on time.
And I could only think that maybe being up here surrounded by this enthusiasm has been some water to a little baseball seed in my soul. LOL.