Phone rings. It's my dad. I answer.
"You could be rooting for an American League Champion if you weren't a traitor."
"Thanks Pop. Love to mom."
And that was the phone conversation I had earlier this week when the Cleveland Indians clinched the American League and advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1997. My first post to White Sox and Stuff described how I became a baseball apostate. I turned my back on the team of my youth, the Cleveland Indians and found myself a White Sox fan.
Becoming a White Sox fan in Chicago is kind of an odd result. Usually a transplant to the city picks up the mantle of the Cubs, especially moving from a strict AL city like Cleveland. You can keep both allegiances and the odds are pretty remote that they will clash over anything particularly meaningful, interleague play having lost its luster a long time ago. But no, as also detailed in the first post, I started out as a new Cubs fan, but gravitated to the White Sox for numerous reasons. The biggest reason being a security guard for the Cubs for three years in the late nineties. The bleacher crowd turned me away from the Cubs far more than anything the team ever did.
So here I sit, getting ready to watch a World Series between two teams that I have a legitimate connection. To say there are quite a few mixed emotions is an understatement. The Indians went from favorite to rival over the course of the last sixteen years (oh, there will be more on this in a future post) so watching their success is annoying enough. There is also the feeling that is akin to seeing an ex. You don't wish them any ill, but you also don't really need to see their updates in your Facebook feed. Finally, there is my dad, my brother and many, many old friends, friends I attended quite a few Indians games with, that have been waiting for this for a long time. If I cheer for anything, it's them.
With the Cubs, it's a little different. Sure, I had my chance to join in, but it just didn't ring true for me. The Cubs and their fans for the longest time seemed to embrace their losing culture, all that lovable loser crap. I gravitated to the White Sox in part because even though they have a pretty thin trophy case as well, I never got the sense that losing was somehow part of the identity. (Of course, not trying seems to be a part of the identity now, but I digress.) Also, my party days were pretty much over by the time I moved to Chicago so the Wrigleyville experience never appealed to me particularly.
But, like the Indians, I know quite a few Cubs fans. It would be nice for them to finally see their team win the big one. My father-in-law and brother-in-law along with a lot of friends I've made since moving to Chicago are die hard Cubs fans. None of which can remember a Cubs championship. At least my dad was 10 years old the last time the Indians won.
While it may seem like a no lose situation for me, it is in fact the exact opposite. One team is a constant reminder that I root for the second baseball team in Chicago. With each success, the White Sox becoming more and more irrelevant. The other team a spectre of the past, from a place I haven't called home in over twenty years. Tom Wolfe may be right, you can never go home again, but that doesn't stop home from calling, reminding you of what might have been.
My podcast working the way I'd like, so if you'd like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 37 is up! Road to Revolution Part 3 Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!