Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sliding Into Home

Baseball season is starting soon. Just a few days away now. I'm ready. The distraction of hockey and basketball have yet to take hold in my head, and even the bracket that I submitted for the NCAA tournament wasn't clever enough to make me a billion dollars, so now I wait for the next six months of professional sports to come blowing in like a lion, or at least a lamb with a really bad attitude. To this end, shortly after football season ended, my Denver Broncos windshirt went back into storage, and I brought out the Chicago Cubs version.
The fan base for the Oakland Athletics is generally more relaxed about their affiliations than that of the Oakland Raiders. I can expect to get away with little or no reaction from the townsfolk for my Cubbies gear, especially since it doesn't show up as a threat the way anything orange and black with the letters S and F on it does. The National League rival Giants across the bay tend to cause the biggest ruckus in this neighborhood, much in the same way that Raider fans tend to see Forty-Niner supporters as Chardonnay sippers who don't appreciate the blue collar ethic of their more urban counterparts. Chicago Cubs fans? They're just lost.
That's how I felt until last week, riding my bike home from school, when a car coming the opposite direction from me stopped. "Cubs?" shouted the driver, "They're never going to be anything! They never have been!" Or words to that effect, with a few choice expletives that flavored the whole thing. Then, just before he stomped on the gas and sped off, he added, "Go A's!"
I wanted to explain to him my history with the Cubs, and if I had an Oakland A's jacket, I would probably wear it. I've got T-shirts and an official fitted cap in green and gold. It's just that the team from the North Side of Chicago has a lot of history for me. I expect that someday, my son will tell his kids about how his father used to carry him in his little baby bucket to the upper deck of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. How he bought his dad tickets for Father's Day. Stories that will make it hard for him to imagine wearing any other team's colors.
I wanted to explain this to the guy who is obviously more ready than I am for baseball to start. Go A's. Go Cubs.

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