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Thursday
Jul212011

Take me out to the ball game - Chicago, IL

The air is seemingly solid, it is so thick. While the slowly setting sun casts a rosy-golden hue on the summer haze, red and blue foam fingers, baseball caps and shirts become an ocean of people that is neither refreshing nor cool. It is Game Day in Wrigleyville, Chicago, and the Cubs and Phillies are about to go head to head. It is hot, and I am bothered. “What am I doing in Wrigleyville?” I thought to myself.

Easy enough answer: I’m going to my first Cubs game.

I don’t “do” sports. I’m kind of plushy and lazy, and the thought of watching athletes compete makes me short of breath, not to mention feel a little guilty. “I should probably go do something, huh?” So it came as a surprise when I got invited to attend a Chicago Cubs game, courtesy of Vail Resorts. Even more of a surprise: I went.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar, Chicago is a big sports city. There are a number of professional teams, and for the most part, the city supports them 100%. That is, until the two teams in question are the Cubs and the White Sox. For the sake of brevity, all you need to know is that Chicago’s North Side roots for the Cubs, while the South Side cheers on the Sox. Also, the Cubs are baseball’s perennial underdogs; Chicagoans always hope “this is the year” the team takes home the World Series.

I have been a North Sider for six years now but have never been to a game (thanks to the whole “not into sports” thing). Moreover, I’m not a fan of Wrigleyville, home to the famous Wrigley Field and a crush of bars, pubs and watering holes. This rowdy North Side strip is a continuous frat party; I’ve actively avoided it for years. Though attending a Cubs game is a quintessential Chicago experience, I just never felt compelled to attend. It all sounded too much a hassle for a game I’m not even interested in.

A breeze from Lake Michigan cools off Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies fans alike, and though the teams are matched, both sides are united by common cause: love for their respective teams, and the wait for draft beer. Wrigley Field is buzzing with energy; tension, hope and excitement commingle in the heavy air while the teams play the field. Though I have only a modicum of interest in the game, I find myself cheering when the Cubbies cheer, boo when they boo. The game is suddenly a chance to shut off my brain for a little while and join a cause. Have some fun. Become a Cubs fan.

It seems trite, but I’ve converted. While I still don’t really see the point in sports, I realize attending a Cubs game is about more than baseball. As the stadium empties and the teams meet on the field to shake hands, I can’t help but think “this is the Chicago I know”. It’s a city quick with a hello or a nod, easy to excite but mostly warm and personable to its core. Year in, year out, Chicago’s Cubs fans do their utmost to lift the curse, out of staunch fandom and traditon. This year is no different. As far as the stats go, I’m told the Cubs aren’t doing so well, but from what I saw, it doesn’t matter. Win or lose, Chicago has their back.

It is always good to win though; Cubs took it home, 6-1. Go Cubs, go.

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