Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tonight I scored one for the "visiting team." And the "visiting team" was not even the team that was visiting. Allow me to explain.

I am a genius. Yes, an evil genius. But a genius none the less.

I attended my first ball game tonight at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The hometeam, the team I hate second most in life (after the M-M-M-Mets. Sorry. I have trouble even saying their name.) the St. Louis Cardinals, were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates. I could care less about the Pirates. But they were, after all, playing the Cardinals. I had to cheer for them by default. I was obligated. Still, my hate for the Cardinals is a relatively good natured hate. I don't want their plane to crash or their players to contract diseases. I just want them to lose baseball games. I want them to live happy lives. Most of them seem, from a spectator's viewpoint, to be good guys. I wish them no ill will. Most of my very best friends cheer for them. And I generally want my friends to be happy. I just ... well ... I just want their baseball team to lose. And I want it really badly.

On the other hand I want my baseball team to win. My first team is the Chicago Cubs. My other team is the Chicago White Sox. It has always been that way for me. Until recently I could cheer for them both with equal fervor. Nobody challanged my right to do so and nobody cared. But now that we have inter-league play they battle each other every year. And so I had to make a decision. It was an easy one. I am, first and foremost, without apology or exception ... a Chicago Cubs fan. If the Cubs and the Sox play each other I wear blue. At all other times I love them both with passion. I grew up attending baseball games at old Comiskey Park. My dad would not even consider driving to Wrigley Field. It was/is on the "other" side of the city. The north side. And as every south sider knows, the north side streets are virtually unnavigable. So when dad took me to a ballgame it was to see the White Sox. They are the very first team I ever saw in person. But the Cubs were on TV and I absolutely fell in love with them. I can still tell you the entire batting order and uniform numbers from the 1969 Cubs. That was a particularly painful year.

I don't want to talk about it.

And then last year happened. I predicted it in April. My honest friends will tell you that is true. The White Sox won the World Series. They did it in amazing fashion. I was delirious. I still am. Cardinal fans think I cheated because I cheered for the Sox rather than crying for the Cubs. Coming from a cow-town they have no idea what it's like to have two teams to cheer for. So their opinions, well, their opinions don't count. They are uninformed. Still, they are my friends. I love them and I am obligated to torment them.

That brings us to tonight. I was sitting in my seat with one of my best friends next to me. Our wives were present. As we all sat and chatted on this cold April night I noticed something that was new to me. One of the electronic scoreboards in this new stadium was flashing personal messages. And then it flashed the news that if I dialed a particular number on my cell phone I could type in a text message and it would appear on this board for a mere $2.99 at which time about 35,000 Cardinal fans would see it. And I knew that I had many Cardinal fan friends in the stadium. I knew what I must do. It was one of those things that just sings it's way into your head. It was a given. I excused myself to go to the hot dog stand or the rest room ... can't remember which because I did both. But what I really did was brilliant. We geniuses do brillant things that usually go unnoticed. But this time I struck gold. I sent a text message to that electronic board that said, "Go White Sox!" My bank account shrunk by $2.99. It was possibly the best $2.99 I have ever spent. I made my way back to my seat. It took about thirty minutes and then there it was. In all of its glory. I stayed quiet. About the third time it rotated through either my wife or my friends saw it and called my attention to it. I laughed. I cheered. I admitted nothing. And then my phone started ringing. Three sets of friends all called me from other locations in the stadium accusing me of doing this dastardly deed. I stuck with my time tested motto... "deny, deny, deny." They all bought it. Hook line and sinker. It was not until my wife and I were getting into our Explorer to drive home that I confessed. First I admitted my act of baseball terrorism to her and then to my friends by phone. Oh my! I could actually hear them gnash their teeth across the cell towers and through our skinny little antenna's. It was wonderful! My only regret is that the game ended before I could send my next text message. It was simply going to say, "October. White Sox VS. Cardinals. Sox in 4." As a famous St. Louis sportscaster used to say, "Ya gotta love it!"

Oh, if you happen to look at the pictures at the top of this blog you'll see my sign waaaay across the stadium. You can't read it due to the distance but trust me ... it was perfect! You'll also see the pin I wore on my chest tonight. It is my own personal Cardinal's logo for 2006. And can you believe that I actually bought it in the Cardinal's gift shop!? Like I said ... Ya gotta love it!


Anonymous said...

Great story. From a mets fan. Is 1969 why you hate the Mets??

Ron said...

YES! (I'm sorry to shout. I'm just not over it yet...) Thanks for the kind words. I don't dislike M-M-Mets fans. Just M-M-Mets! :)