is going to make me cry. We’ll miss you, dude.
There’s an awesome article in The Wall Street Journal about biased baseball announcers. It focuses on my favorite baseball announcer of all time, Hawk Harrelson, finding him to be the biggest homer in baseball. Hawk’s response? “That’s the biggest compliment you could give me, to call me the biggest homer in baseball.”
I don’t usually read the comments, but there was a good one here, from Anne Halverson:
The White Sox is my team, so I honestly didn’t know there was any other way to hear a game! Now that I know, I’m glad I hear a biased game! When I watch the games, I feel what Hawk feels, so what he says is usually exactly what I want to hear. Its like watching the game with your Dad, and why would you want it any other way?
I’ve mentioned my love for Hawk and his homerism before and everything I said then is still true now.
Here’s hoping we (apparently I’m a homer, too) squeak by Detroit and make it to the playoffs.
In my short career as a baseball fan, my team has given me a no-hitter, two perfect games, and a World Series victory.
My experience watching the end of Philip Humber’s perfect game was a lot like the time I saw the end of Mark Buehrle’s perfect game: sitting in my living room, hands over my mouth with my fingers on my nose (not in an intentional I-can-affect-the-game posture — just because that’s what I do with my nervous hands when I’m really freaking out about a sporting event), feeling kind of like I’m going to be sick (not really) or cry (really). I love displays of defensive awesomeness in sports more than just about anything, and a perfect game thrown by a major-league pitcher is just about the most awesome display of defensive awesomeness there can be, if that’s not too awesome to even make sense.
I almost missed both perfect games (catching the end of the Buehrle game was sheer luck when I went home for lunch and got a text alerting me to what was happening). If you’re not a baseball fan (in which case, sorry, tl;drno1curr), you might not know about the annoyance of what Fox Sports does to you on Saturdays. Fox airs a baseball game each Saturday afternoon. All other games are blacked out, even on services like MLB.tv or MLB Extra Innings, which are expensive things you purchase to watch out-of-market games. I guess the theory is that baseball fans will watch whatever shit game is on Fox because they can’t watch any other games.
I never do that. Pro football is the only sport I’ll watch any team play. If we’re talking about baseball or basketball, I’m only watching my teams. So usually on Saturday afternoon, I listen to the radio broadcast of the White Sox game (you can do this on your MLB At Bat app, but of course if you’re a baseball fan, you already know that).
I listened to the beginning of the Sox game on Saturday afternoon until I had something else to do. Later, I checked the score and saw that it was the 8th inning, the Sox were still winning, and — wait, holy shit — the Mariners had no hits. So this is at least a no-hitter if Humber is still pitching. I fired up the audio broadcast and hit up Twitter, which as always is the best place for breaking news. I saw all the OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT tweets from @nothawk (fake Twitter account of one of the White Sox tv guys, who is the greatest sports commentator of all time this side of John Madden, and one of the most brilliant contributions to Twitter) and I knew what was going on.
Fox finally, in the bottom of the 9th inning, switched from the stupid-ass game it was broadcasting to the Sox/Mariners game (at first on a terrible split screen). So I got to see the last three outs of Phil Humber’s perfect game. It was glorious and I almost cried. And I’m really bummed that Soren was napping when it happened. Soon, though, little guy. There will be lots of White Sox moments like this for us to share.
When you’re not religious and you live 1,000 miles away from your family and don’t travel because you’re poor and have 900 animals and are a John-Madden-level claustrophobic who’s afraid of flying, you don’t really have much opportunity for traditions and rituals. Well, we don’t, anyway. For example, we don’t have family gatherings for holidays like when I was a kid, where my parents and I hung out with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now, we tend to do whatever presents itself with friends, or nothing. Either way, it’s cool, because we’re not big holiday people.
The thing is, I’m not sure I want Soren to grow up with absolutely no holiday or holiday-like traditions. I mean, they can be really nice! When I was a kid, my spoiled only-child little heart spent weeks looking forward to Christmas at my grandparents’ house and the mountain of presents with my name on them. And my nana’s homemade noodles. Holy crap you guys the homemade noodles, drizzled with lightly browned butter — they were the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten and I haven’t had them since well before nana died in the 80s.
We don’t have big Christmases and homemade noodles and a nana who writes your name on plastic Easter eggs with goodies inside and hides them around their sprawling ranch house in Park Ridge, IL, but maybe we should have something. Maybe the answer is to create traditions where they’re meaningful for us. And if by “meaningful for us” I mean meaningful for me (and this is my blog so of course that’s what I mean), the answer is sports.
I figure MLB Opening Day (capitalized because it’s a holiday!) is the best place to start. When you’re a sports fan, MLB Opening Day is exciting. It’s the start of so many things! It’s the start of summer, of biking to the game, of drinking beer while waiting for the sun to dip behind the Coors Field scoreboard, of missing Chicago, of laughing out loud at Ed Farmer (he’s funny!) and hearing commercials for Chicago pizza places, of waiting for Hawk Harrelson to yell “You can put it on the board . . . YES!!!” and Instagrammed pictures of baseball players nobody cares about except me and reading The Dugout (which seems to no longer exist) and watching the guys in the bullpen because the bullpen is one of my favorite things ever.
And seriously, if I can get kind of ridiculous and sappy for a minute, it’s the start of hope. Nobody makes me hope as much as the White Sox. This could be the year. Well, I mean, this probably won’t be the year what with the “R” word being thrown around and a manager who has more experience charging the mound than, well, managing, but still. With baseball, I always feel like it’s at least possible.
The question is which MLB Opening Day to celebrate. Opening Day in general? The first White Sox game? The first Rockies game? The first home game at Coors Field?
To tell you the truth I’m not a big fan of going to the first home game at Coors Field. It’s always way too crowded and they charge too much for tickets (for a while, if you wanted to buy tickets for Opening Day, you had to buy tickets for another game in that series, too — I don’t know if they still do this) and they run out of good beer (you almost don’t mind this because the lines for the good beer and the bathrooms are ridiculous). With a toddler, it’s even kind of hard to hang out anywhere around Coors Field that day — last year, I remember trying to go to Falling Rock Tap House and it was so ridiculously crowded even after the game started we gave up on the idea.
So at least for now, I’m thinking our MLB Opening Day will be a low-key event that involves watching the Sox, eating pizza, and hanging out. This year, it’ll have to happen for game 2 because we didn’t take Friday off work. But in the future, I think we should all take the day off of work or school for our Opening Day celebration. I mean, it’s fair to take holidays off, and this is our holiday. At least until Ben (the Cubs fan who, in typical Cubs fan fashion, can’t name 3 players on the active roster — love you, Cubs fans!) objects to the way I’m trying to make our kid a Sox fan.
I’ve always liked a man who knows how to charge the mound.
After tonight’s win over the Toronto Blue Jays at US Cellular Field, the Chicago White Sox announced that, per his request, Ozzie Guillen was being released from his contract. He’ll be going to the Marlins.1
As I’ve mentioned before, I was a bandwagon White Sox fan in 2005. I’m not proud of this at all, but it’s important today for one reason. My entire (albeit short) baseball-loving life has had Ozzie Guillen as its skipper. Ozzie Guillen is the only manager I’ve ever known with the only team I’ve ever loved. I know this is lame as hell, but I feel like I’m losing a buddy.
I love Ozzie Guillen. I love the way he says what he wants to say. I love the way his sons, especially Oney, say what they want to say. (Sorry for all the links to my own shit — I’m feeling very sad and very nostalgic tonight.) He was an awesome manager for my team and he’s the kind of guy with whom I’d like to have a beer (well, several beers — could you imagine throwing back a few with this dude, holy crap).
The only certainty with professional sports teams and professional athletes these days is uncertainty. Change is everywhere. Players get traded or dropped. Teams move. Managers and coaches get fired. Strikes are threatened or happen. Lawsuits are filed. Guys leave their teams for Lithuania or China. Entire seasons are called into question.
I’m well aware of these things but I get attached anyway. I totally take sports too seriously and too personally. It’s just how I am. I’m not a fan who wants my team to win at all costs. I’m a fan who wants my team to win with the guys I love.
It’s been sad watching the 2005 World Series White Sox team be dismantled over the years. I try to keep up on everybody but it’s hard and some of them have gone to teams I hate — it’s just insult on top of injury when my boyfriend Jon Garland (who had season-ending surgery a while back) goes to the freaking Dodgers and Freddy Garcia goes to the freaking Yankees and I can’t even. But there have always been four constants — Mark Buehrle, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, and Ozzie Guillen. Ozzie Guillen was always the most important of all. He was the face of the White Sox for me, the shit-talking dude who you either loved (me) or hated (haters), who managed the hell out of the perennially underappreciated team from a city that generally, in its own drunken annoying way, prefers the northsiders (ugh).
One thing Cubs fans have on White Sox fans is that their best days as fans have to be ahead of them (possibly so far ahead they won’t be alive to witness them, but still). As a White Sox fan, I worry sometimes that my best days as a fan are behind me. Don’t get me wrong — I’ll be loyal to the Sox forever (sometimes I even think about getting a tattoo of the exploding scoreboard, as ill-advised as that would be). But shit like this? It makes me worry about the future. And it kind of puts crying in baseball.
1. I have a marlin joke! A million years ago, my ex worked for a small law firm that focused primarily on bankruptcy law. One of the partners was really into April Fool’s Day. One year on April 1, he left a message for the other partner. The message was from Mr. Marlin, who said he was “underwater in debt.” The phone number was for the Shedd Aquarium. Dude called the number, asked for Mr. Marlin, and was told that “the animals aren’t allowed to use the telephone.”
Guess which old friend plays for the Florida Marlins and is in Denver right now? DeWayne Wise. If you don’t know who DeWayne Wise is, he’s the guy who made a spectacular catch during the ninth inning of Mark Buehrle’s perfect game on July 23, 2009.
Here’s an MLB video (click to watch it on mlb.com if it’s not working here) and a boisterous fan video of the catch. Good times!
Last Wednesday, I went to the White Sox/Rockies game alone.
That’s kind of weird, right? As it turns out, not really. I actually had a pretty awesome time.
I don’t usually go to sporting events by myself, but last week, it just made sense. It was a few days before my spending fast went into effect. It was my favorite team (that doesn’t come to town often) in the world. I knew seeing the White Sox from our mediocre guys-night-out seats on Tuesday wouldn’t be enough. I was ready for a night out without the kid, and I’m more into sports than traditional girls’ night out stuff. I was more interested in seeing my team than socializing. So what the hell?
The good news is that, because I was buying only one ticket, I got an awesome seat at almost the last minute, at face value. (For Rockies games, you can now see available seats when you’re buying online. There were a few great single seats left; two seats together were in less-awesome locations.)
I rolled up to the game during the first inning. I didn’t plan to be late (that’s just, apparently, how I roll) but that ended up being a good thing because I didn’t have to worry about entertaining myself before the game started (honestly, all the pre-game crap bores me). I found my super-awesome seat (Section 135, Row 15, Seat 3) and had a great time with a bunch of strangers. My team even won!
Here are my tips for solo game attendance:
- If you’re cool, chance are other people will be cool. This applies especially if you’re like me and you come representing the visiting team. I was lucky and had a seat near other White Sox fans. (They came from New Mexico just to see the Sox!) It was like having instant game friends — we were high-fiving each other and carrying on like the big giant dorks we are as if we’d known each other for years. We all laughed when Rockies fans made fun of us and I fist bumped Rockies dude who fist bumped everybody when the Rockies did something good and even a Cubs fan on the way out (he was all, “Hey! There’s a Sox fan!”).
- Drink beer if you want. Don’t drink beer if you don’t want. Do whatever you’d normally do but probably don’t get shitfaced.
- Don’t count on listening to the game on headphones. I’d hoped to totally dork out by listening to the White Sox radio broadcast on the MLB app, but the broadcast lagged way behind the live action — the count would be 1 ball and 2 strikes, and the radio broadcast had the guy just coming to the plate. It was too annoying so I gave up. A local radio broadcast might be more timely.
- If it makes you feel more comfortable, have something to do in addition to watching the game. I was too excited to worry about feeling awkward, but I also kept busy by taking tons of pictures. You could keep score (I don’t even know how to do that), try to Shazam everybody’s walk-up music, or provide witty and insightful Twitter updates.
- My theory is that the better the seat, the less likely you are to feel weird. It’s much easier to pay close attention to the game if you have a good seat. That means you’ll be able to pay close attention to the game and so will everybody around you. In my experience, you’re less likely to be around a big group of people getting wasted when you’re in the good seats (that said, those can be fun, too — it’s just a different scene).
- Realize you’re not the only one. I did it and had fun! And I’m not the only White Sox fan to go to the game by myself. (Another tip: If you’re looking for other fans of an out-of-market team, check message boards. I didn’t think to do this ahead of time but if I had, I could’ve met even more White Sox fans who came in just for the games.)
- Have fun and remember nobody is as worried about how you look as you are!
One of my last expenditures before the spending fast kicks in was for one ticket to Wednesday’s Rockies/White Sox game at Coors Field. I got the best seat I could find for a price that didn’t make me cry (it’s much easier to find one ticket than two). Soren and Ben are staying home. I’m going to be that asshole who goes to the game by myself and acts a fool because Mark Buehrle is pitching. OMFG you guys, and it pains me to type “OMFG” here and make you read that kind of ridiculousness. Mark Buehrle is one of the last remaining Sox players who was there for the 2005 World Series. Mark Buehrle wishes Michael Vick would get injured (granted, Mark Buehrle also hunts so this is somewhat hypocritical, but still). I’m sitting kind of between home plate and the visitors’ dugout. OMFG you guys. This is one of the most exciting things, ever. I’ll take lots of pictures, because I believe that is the proper course of action when you go to a game by yourself like a big fat dork. (But seriously, I’d rather be a big fat dork at the White Sox game than go with Ben and my kid, no offense, because when you go to the game with a toddler, you don’t get to actually watch the game. And also no offense, but I can’t go with anyone who doesn’t love the White Sox, which is pretty much everybody I know, because then you just sit there and talk and don’t pay attention to the game.) OMFG you guys.
P.S. If you’re a White Sox fan in Denver and you’re going to the game on Wednesday, email me now!!!