Friday, June 20, 2008

Chicago's Real Baseball Season Begins

Today was the first game of six crosstown faceoffs between the Cubs and the Sox this season. It's the first time the two teams have met when they were both in first place. I think the Cubs have the best record in baseball. They were on an 11 - 0 streak at home coming into today.

Of course, if you live here you already know this, as well as who won this afternoon. In case your Zenith is on the fritz, the Cubs took it 4-3, thanks to a walk off homer by third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Yo! You want drama, we dish it out wid mustard and onions.

Not a bad outing for the Cubbies, considering that the White Sox just swept Pittsburgh, slamming in thirty runs in three games. And the Cubs not only just got swept by Tampa Bay, but they've lost two of their best players for a good chunk of time: Alfonso Soriano with a broken hand and Carlos Zambrano with a bad shoulder.

These games get the whole city riled up. In a good way. Compared to Cubs' fans, Sox fans tend to be edgier, less preppy. And notoriously bad mannered. Probably the most generous thing they do is sing "na na na na na na na na hey hey good bye" when the game is out of reach.

Ozzie Guillen made fun of Wrigley Field today during his rival coach interview -- tongue firmly in cheek, of course. He complained that the rats out by the Wrigley Field batting cage are so big they must be lifting weights.

At heart, I'm always a White Sox fan, despite years of efforts by Jerry Reinsdorf to make it impossible to find their games on television. Meanwhile, I've come to love the Cubs' radio guys, Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. Do you know any other city where they run the fans' favorite Ron and Pat moments from the past week?  At 10:00 PM every Sunday during the season, you can hear replays of their most amusing play by plays, accidental or on purpose. Only in Chicago.

This morning before the game there was a contest to see what fan could pitch a ball the fastest for a chance to get four tickets to the game and throw out the first pitch.

The three finalists were all Sox fans. The winner threw a 76 mph pitch. At the game he threw out the first pitch wearing a Cubs shirt. Then he took it off, revealing his true allegiance. Yo! Drama wid a slice of ham.

Just before and just after the game there's always a frenzy of sorts because, as one sportscaster put it, the current Cub/Sox rivalry is bigger and more intense than the Dodgers - Giants of the fifties. Although I would have thought the Yankees and Dodgers were bigger rivals, since they were always the ones playing each other in the World Series. The current Mets - Yankees rivalry is weak tea by comparison.

You probably won't believe this, but I was going to write about the Rick Telander - Jay Mariotti sportswriter smackdown here. Mariotti called his colleagues "soft," implying that they suck up to the teams like homies. Compared tp Mariotti, Telander, who used to write for Sports Illustrated, is a class act. He actually played football on a Division I team. Mariotti is like a resentful, bitter kid who never got picked for dodgeball. And he writes like it. People are taking sides with one or the other like two dogs in a fight. Only I couldn't think of a dog that looks as ugly as Mariotti, except for a bulldog and I didn't want to insult any bulldogs. So I did the Cubs/Sox thing.


buckoclown said...

How cool that Ron is an anouncer.  I remember watching play when I was a kid and lived in Geneva :o)

ber144 said...

Mariotti has to have pictures of someone with animals or something.  That is the only possible reason why he has a job.  I once e-mailed Telander about something he wrote and joked that he needed to keep Mariotti in line, and he responded with a few of the ways he would if he could.  He's great.

Speaking of great, I'm obviously very pleased with the results of the first two games of the series, but only because the Cubs won, not because the Sox lost.  The Sox can go 156-6 for the year as far as I'm concerned.  

I am amused by all the "experts" talking about how these teams could meet in the World Series.  There's plenty of time for both to muck that up.  Besides, the city would implode.