Chicago versus Chicago???

August 11, 2009 - Leave a Response

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a Cubs fan.  For as long as I can remember I’ve been a Chicago fan.  I’ve never bought into the whole Cubs and Sox rivalry.  In my mind both teams play for the same city.  The Cubs and Sox play in different leagues, and the likelihood of them playing a meaningful series is very low.  I can understand that it’s fun to root against your neighbors, to have a fun rivalry.  That’s what I like about the Cubs-Cards rivalry; it’s friendly.  I hate the Cardinals, but I have to say that for the most part, Cardinals fans and Chicago fans, in my experience, have approached the rivalry with dignity.  I have family in St Louis, and they’ll always send me some texts or phone calls when the Cardinals win, but it’s never anything harsh, it’s never personal.  It remains about baseball.

Being in Wrigleyville last year after the Crosstown games between the Cubs and the Sox, it was heated.  There was a divide so apparent that every bar felt like a junior high school cafeteria.  I heard threats being made, saw fights break out, the whole town, more than any time I’ve ever been there, had an aire of hostility to it.  I’ve been there during a late season Cubs-Cards series, and I’ve been there after a Cubs playoff loss; but this was different.  I remember having beers with Cardinals fans at Trace, shooting the shit for hours, but walking down the street after a Crosstown game I felt like I had to watch my back.  I’m not saying that it has anything to do with the mentality of Sox fans as people, I’m not placing blame on them; both team’s fans are out of line.

I generally try to stay as far away from this argument as possible, because the fact of the matter is that it’s a ridiculous, futile debate.  For most Chicagoans, you’re raised either a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, and nothing is going to change that.  I, for one, am a Cubs fan.  That being said, I don’t hate the Sox – I want them to do well.  I go to a few Sox games every year, and when I do, I root for the guys wearing black.

The thing that I always hear from Sox fans is that the people in attendance at Wrigley are there to party; not to watch baseball.  That Cubs fans don’t know what they’re talking about, and that they’re not real baseball fans.  Firstly, I will go out there and say that anyone who makes this argument about the fans as people, who makes it personal, is more than likely not a knowledgeable fan.  The people who I find making these arguments are the people who repeat what they’ve heard without putting any thought into it; without getting any experience of their own.  I don’t expect everyone to have expansive knowledge of a sport, or to attend every home game for their team, but please, do not insult the millions of people who attend Wrigley Field every year before you at least attempt to address the situation impartially.

Wrigley Field has become a tourist attraction.  The home of the Cubs, the ivy, the bleachers, cold beer, beautiful women and hot sun in the middle of one of Chicago’s most popular bar districts.  Of course there are going to be drunken idiots there, and of course there are going to be tourists who are there to get drunk and experience something that only Chicago has to offer.  Wrigley pulls in over forty thousand attendees every home game, rain or shine.  A large quantity of these people are not baseball fans.  They might not even be Cubs fans.  They might be tourists, they might be locals who don’t care about sports, they might be yuppies trying to show their latest fling a good time.  The fact of the matter is that they are not Cubs fans.

The Cubs at Wrigley Field so far this year average 40,743 in attendance, equating to a 99.1% attendance average. The White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field average 30,877, panning out to a 76.0% capacity crowd. An equivalent 99.1% attendance at U.S. Cellular would be 40,262. Old Comiskey’s capacity was 43,951, and 99.1% of that would be 43,555.

Let’s talk about a hypothetical situation here. Let’s just say that Old Comisky still existed.  Let’s also say that it was as heralded in baseball lore as Wrigley Field is.  Let us also transplant this park to the corner of Addison and Clark, with the entire Wrigleyville area remaining largely the same; but replacing all the Cubs paraphernalia on the entire north side with Sox stuff.  Do you think the Sox will sell out every game?  You bet.  Do you think those extra ten thousand attendees will all be knowledgeable fans, going to the game to keep score and talk statistics with their seat mates?  Doubt it.  Do you think there would be an influx of the same yuppies and drunks that flood Wrigleyville every game day?  You bet.

So what am I trying to say exactly? that it’s true?  That Cubs fans aren’t really baseball fans?  Hell no; in fact, I haven’t even started talking about Cubs fans.  What I’m trying to say is that Wrigley Field is a product of it’s environment, just as the demographic it draws is.  If you want to talk about the type of people at a Cubs game, you need to take a step back and realize that you’re talking about people in Wrigleyville, an area with a larger quantity of bars per city block than most other places in the world.  If you have a problem with drunk people, that’s your prerogative, but please don’t be so ignorant as to be unable to dissociate drunks and yuppies from baseball fans.

I drink at games, but I’m there to watch the games.  I have had some of the best conversations about baseball with fellow Cubs fans.  These fans also attend games.  If you don’t like the Cubs, or Wrigley Field, or you just enjoy keeping the rivalry heated, then by all means, continue to do so.  That being said, please stop acting like just because you live ten miles south of me and root for a team with different colors, representing the same city, that you are automatically a better fan.

Nickel Sluts

August 5, 2009 - Leave a Response

Click for larger view

This Spring, some friends and I had the idea of getting involved in a 16″ softball league.  For those of you not from Chicago, 16″ softball is a ball that is, as logic would imply, a 16″ diameter ball, that is somewhat mushy.  It’s played without gloves, and it’s a different game entirely than 12″ softball.  So I mentioned the idea to Howard; how’d you like to sponsor the team?  Unequivocably, and nearly immediately, Howard was on board.  And so it was; the Nickel Sluts were assembled.  Howard also found a way to get Budweiser to pay for some jerseys for us.

Danny and I got to work on a logo for the team.  What we came up with was something that really, truly, fits the bill.  It looks old-fashioned, it looks sporty, and it looks slutty.  I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t a fan, and everyone wants a jersey.

The Nickel Sluts assembled; we came, we saw, we were conquered.  eleven consecutive losses later, we are out of the playoffs.  The biggest mistake we made was the decision to sign up in the College Prep league.  We missed the signup for both A and B leagues, but figured College Prep is where we belonged anyways, and it had a two-week later signup deadline. It turns out that the College Prep league is actually setup for returning college students to play in.  The average age on our team is probably 23 with the exception of a couple of older guys from the Nickel who joined up halfway through the season.  We’re not all out of shape; but we’re not in great shape either.  We’re smoking cigarettes and drinking beers during the games.  The other teams had coaches.  These guys were all high school baseball teammates; some of them still in high school.  We joined up to have a good time, these guys joined up to show up.  They were serious about this shit.  For the most part the guys we played against were realistic about it, but there was always somebody on every team talkin’ shit.  If only the playoffs began with a drinking competition…  So we’ll see how we do in the fall leagues.

The Wooden Nickel

August 5, 2009 - Leave a Response

JamesonAbout a year ago, I discovered a bar in Highwood, Illinois called the Wooden Nickel.  The Wooden Nickel is situated in an area surrounded by small bistros, a few local bars and some old shops.  20 miles north of Wrigley Field, 25 miles south of the Wisconsin border.  Walking through Highwood knowing this, it seems fitting.  Surrounded by affluent towns and über-expensive homes; you’d have no way of knowing it though, if you were transplanted directly into Highwood.

Howard, the owner and operator of the Nickel, is a Navy vet who lives in Wisconsin with his family.  Over the last year, I have spent countless nights, and a shameful quantity of hours at the Nickel.  Anyone who I’ve ever taken there, as long as they’ve stayed awake long enough, has thoroughly enjoyed the place; it is cozy, warm, and has a great dive bar ambiance.  It’s a 100-year-old building, it’s dark, and a little dingy.  There’s no dance floor, the drinks are always double talls, and having one beer is, well, weird.  They don’t serve food.  They have some bags of chips and if you really want, Howard will throw in a frozen pizza for you.  This is a bar.  The beer selection is surprisingly good, ranging from PBR cans to higher-end draught beer.  The drinks are cheap.

I’ve taken a few girls to the Wooden Nickel on dates.  I soon found out that it takes a certain type of girl to enjoy a date at a bar like this.  My first experience began at happy hour at Ra for some sushi, then on to the Nickel to catch the second half of a Cubs game on TV.  The girl was tiny; I’ll give her that much.  That being said, nobody that’s been to college should be so out-of-touch with their alcohol tolerance.

Bloody mary one: “mmmm that was good, but I probably shouldn’t have any more to drink if I’m driving home later.”

Disapproving look from Howard, a shrug and sip of my Budweiser.

Bloody Mary two: “I’m getting tired, maybe I should go home.”

Are you okay to drive?

“nooooo I think I’ll just rest for a little…”

So she passed out with her head resting on the bar.  I let her sleep for about twenty minutes whilst apologizing to Howard for my lack of foresight. I decided it was too embarrassing for both Howard and myself, and I’d walk her out to her car.  After an hour of music and chillin’ out, we deemed her good enough to get home, and she took off.  Needless to say, there was not a second date.  From that point forward, I decided that I would only take girls there if I knew beforehand that they could handle their shit.

The Nickel is a place that makes you feel comfortable.  (I suppose that was exemplified by the sleepy girl) I’ve never felt threatened there, I’ve never felt unwelcome.  And trust me, I’ve been drunk enough there that no other bar would have me.  Howard’s been through it all though; he knows where everyone’s at.

Albert Pujols

August 5, 2009 - Leave a Response

Okay quick post – I just heard Pujols is 7-for-9 with five grand slams this season with the bases loaded.  Whoa.  Can we trade our starting five for that?

Pujols

Pujols

DVD Fail

August 4, 2009 - Leave a Response
Saw this at CVS on my lunch break

Saw this at CVS on my lunch break

Fuck you, Kevin Gregg.

August 2, 2009 - 6 Responses

You are the reason that I drink on nights that I’m not going to drink.  You are the reason my refrigerator just stopped working.  You are the reason the Cubs aren’t a game and a half ahead of the Cardinals right now.  If it weren’t for your inability to throw anything but BP fastballs – fuck it; I could keep going on for days about my hatred for Kevin Gregg.  At least when Kerry Wood blew a save he was still Kerry Wood (thanks Mike).  Lose the fucking glasses, too.

Kevin Gregg has five blown saves in 26 attempts, giving him the seventh-worst save percentage (80.8%) in the majors. The only closer with more blown saves is, oddly enough, Brad Lidge (6) of the defending world champion Phillies.  That’s not saying much because they have the most potent offense in the NL.  The only other two closers with five blown saves are Tampa Bay’s J.P. Howell, and coincidentally, Kerry Wood.

But then there are the intangeables that will go forgotten.  Kevin Gregg gave up two home runs on two pitches, in the bottom of the ninth, to the Marlins, in one of the biggest parks in the majors. This all is coming after last night’s performance in which Kevin Gregg blew a three-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth; against the same team, in the same park. Where the hell is Carlos Marmol?  Why don’t we put Dempster back there?  Let’s get Gregg out of here.  I’m sure he’ll do some serious damage in Class A Daytona, where he belongs. I’m going to go drink some Jameson.

What isn’t and what never was

July 30, 2009 - 3 Responses

facebook-small-logo-thumb-360x360-75537[2]When I created my facebook account, my freshman year at Arizona State, I thought it was a neat little social networking tool, which would allow me to find attractive members of the opposite sex that I’d met at a party the night before, or look at pictures of the overtly sexy ASU population.  In no time at all, I had hundreds of facebook “friends,” most of them not even added by me! (There goes the lack of arrogance, eh?)

As time went by, I began to be more selective in choosing which friend requests to accept and which to ignore.  I didn’t have a specific criteria; sometimes it would just be an ugly girl, and other times it would be someone that creeped me out.  As a general guideline, if I were to see you on campus, and I would stop to say hi, then I’d accept your friend request.  Contrarily if I were to see you at a party and one of us wasn’t going to remember how we met or how we know each other, you were probably getting an ignore.

Somewhere along the line, either I lost track of those lofty aspirations, or I just drank myself retarded.  Well maybe a bit of both; but my number of facebook “friends” increased to well over 800.  It’s to the point now where the vast majority of the status updates that show up in my feed are from people, and about things, that I really couldn’t give two shits about—not that I wish them any ill-will, but—I mean seriously, we’re never going to hang out again.  If you were in Chicago for a layover, would you be calling me up to grab a drink?  I don’t think so.  Would I even have your number in my iPhone?  Have I ever had your number? Probably not.  It’s only worse now that people my age are beginning to get married and have kids.  I don’t have a problem with the institution of marriage, or with kids for that matter.  I don’t freak out about not having a serious girlfriend, and I definitely am not jealous.  But if we’ve hung out a few times, maybe we hooked up once in college or something, I don’t want to hear about how awesome your fiancé is.  I don’t want to see pictures of your snotty little rugrat.

So what I’m getting at here is not that I think anyone should stop sharing their lives on facebook; after all, that’s what it’s there for in the first place.  I have too many friends.  Well they’re not really my friends, per se.  They’re people that were never my friends, but facebook is now insisting are my friends.  I’m deleting you.  All of you.  You’re out of my life; and off my news feed.  Damnit facebook you’ve turned me into a terrible person.  What if these people need me?  What if they enjoy my witty status updates and drunken photos?  How will I know if I am actually offending someone by unfriending them?  Is this okay, god?  Am I doing the right thing here?

Well either way; that’s what I’m doing.  I’m trimming the fat.

Did you know…

July 30, 2009 - 3 Responses

When you fall into a bottomless pit, you starve to death?

The Shape of Things to Come

July 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

Cartoon AriI’ve been toying with the idea of creating a blog for the past few months.  The only thing that’s been holding me back thus far has been the fear of writing some self-referrential piece of shit that is either uninteresting or simply exudes arrogance.  Afterall, it’s not like my life could be that interesting from an observer’s perspective.

That being said, I have, however, finally decided to create a blog.  I will be writing about a number of things; ranging from baseball, to work, to Jameson, and on to just about any other daily minutae that I feel like putting down in writing… Errr typing?  I’ll try to keep it entertaining; but can’t promise that it will remain topical.

The reasoning behind intially wanting a blog is rooted in my willingness to speak my mind; often to a fault.  Regardless, I think I have, unfortunately, spent my rant for the day, pertaining to Alfonso Soriano and his bloated contract, and my passion for sports fandom, on a facebook profile.  There will surely be more to come.

Stay tuned.

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