Sunday, June 15, 2014 is a big day in my household; one I have dreaded since my son was born five and a half years ago. Yes, it is Father’s Day, but considering we fathers are the Rodney Dangerfield of the parental unit, my breakfast in bed will happen if I leave home, stay in a hotel and order room service.
No, the dreaded event just happens to fall on Father’s Day.
June 15th is the day we take my son to his first White Sox game.
We were invited by friends, an invitation to sit in a Skybox that any sane person really can’t refuse.
My son is a little man of the world. He has a passport, he is into the arts (crayons really), he loves music and fine (finger) foods. So, he has seen a good many things in his brief time on Earth. Of all those wonderful things of which he is aware, we’ve made it five years, five months and twenty-nine days where my son has lived in blissful ignorance of the Chicago White Sox.
You see, we’re Cubs fans. Wayyyyy back when, in 1983, I rooted for the south side team. It was fun; they were “Winning Ugly” with a cast of characters that was out of central casting for Chicago, including the likes of the rookie Ron Kittle, Greg Luzinski, Tom Paciorek, the Hall of Famer, Carlton Fisk, LaMarr Hoyt, Britt Burns, and my favorite, Julio Cruz, who if I remember correctly scored the winning run when the Sox clinched the American League West that year. I think half of my being a Sox fan that year was the rivalry I had with my friend David from across the street, who at nine years old, was already a Die-Hard Cubs fan.
Then 1984 happened. Jody Davis, Leon “The Bull” Durham, Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa, Ron Cey, Gary Matthews, Bob Dernier and Keith Moreland, tossed with an assortment of pitchers including Steve Trout, Scott Sanderson, Rick Sutcliffe, Dennis Eckersley and should be Hall of Famer, Lee Smith all exploded into my consciousness. I’ve worn blue hats with the red C on it ever since.
See, if you live in say Miami, who have the luxury of rooting for the Marlins, the Dolphins and leaving early from Heat games. You don’t have much choice. Here, you have to make a choice: Cubs or Sox. And that rooting interest has been passed down from generation to generation.
My best friend, Jeff, is a Sox fan (God help him). Fresh from graduating college, we moved to 3650 N. Fremont, which if you’re familiar with Wrigleyville, is just off the corner of Fremont and Waveland, a block and a half from the entrance to the bleachers. Like a disease, Jeff got his Sox fandom from his father, Vic. I respect Vic because when it comes to the Sox, he’s the real deal. When we moved a mere stone’s throw from Wrigley Field, Jeff told me I couldn’t tell his father where we lived, because he’d be pissed. Then, in the magical year of 1998, Vic found out. Vic didn’t talk to Jeff until some time in 1999 because, by proximity, his son must have gone to Cubs games.
Vic always made sure to let me know what he thought of my team (huge use of understatement). Over the years, I’ve received DVDs, CDs, and clipped newspaper articles, all about how much the Cubs suck. Vic has painstakingly made scrapbook of memories for me. One scrapbook (which I just took off my bookshelf where it sits next to Cubs programs from playoff games I have attended) is from 2003. Already knowing in April it would end badly, he painstakingly cut newspaper articles and put together the scrapbook of tragedy for me. It begins: “Welcome + enter the world of Cubdom BEWARE” and ends: “WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR. YEAH AGAIN + AGAIN.” With many photographs and headlines of Cubs’ failure littered in between.
(In a tip of the hat, in April, Vic and his bride Barb celebrated 45 years of marriage and their three kids sat them in a Skybox at US Cellular Field against the Indians as part of their anniversary gift; Sox lost).
So, as a Cubs fan, I have kept Sammy away from the White Sox. Sadly, that veil will be lifted. And it will take a little finesse to get him to figure out where his loyalties lie. I suppose I can just lay down the hammer and say something like: “If you root for the Sox, you’ll find yourself in a room with bare walls, a cot and bread and water.” But something tells me that won’t sit well with Mrs. Thomas. And more importantly, kids rebel. So I’ll have to take a different tact: finesse. Treat the Sox like I treat the Royals. Like baby skunks, they exist. As long as you don’t make any sudden moves in their presence, they’ll just move on with their day and not get their stink all over you.
And I’m hopeful that because of Theo and Jed, my job will be made much easier when the Cubs field a team competing for the World Series in his formative years.
But June 15, 2014, is the day; will it be a throwaway day, just another event like going to the children’s museum or will it be something more insidious? Will it be something that will infect him, as it did Vic and Jeff? As it has thousands of otherwise relatively normal people in the Chicago area? I’m praying (as we have for too long) that Cubs executives have the White Sox antivirus. Winning.
Filed under: Chicagoist