Talking to your child about Chicago baseball

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year old daughter, Viva, who will vote Abreu and Missile on her All-Star ballot.

At the time of writing, Chicago baseball is squarely in its status quo. The White Sox have played roughly .500 ball this season but just slipped into a tie for last place in a traditionally weak division in which they can make no headway, and the Cubs have spent the entire season thanking the Rays for giving them a rival for worst team in baseball.

And to add insult to injury, everyone is talking about soccer. You know, Eurotrash “football.” Yecchh.

Being a baseball fan in Chicago is an exercise in masochism. Do you follow the White Sox and become a bitter second-class citizen, forever doomed to go second in sports reports and to derive most of your pleasure in life from heckling stooped-shouldered Cubs fans for blessedly having a consistently more-terrible ball club? Or do you join Cubs Nation and slip in amongst the D-Bags, Carpetbaggers, and Posers who moved to Chicago to go to Northwestern, bought a Zambrano jersey, and then stuck around  pretending to like the team so they can hang out at the Cubby Bear with butterfaced Trixies drinking Budweiser and singing along with Eddie Vedder?*

* To be fair, there seem to be several actual Chicagoans who actually like baseball and seem to like the Cubs. I understand them even less than I understand the John Mayer crowd who wear Cubby Blue and high five on rooftops. Seriously, why do you do this to yourselves, people?

Well, if you’ve been around Chicago long, you know that free will shouldn’t enter into it. You like the team your old man liked, and you’re willing to die on that hill. (And when I do die I hope the coroner says, “He gone!”)

So, my daughter is already being indoctrinated into “White Sox Nation” (all several thousand of us), even if right now she asks for “my hat from the baseball team that is my favorite.” (Forgetting what it’s called.) And she’ll be bitter over celebrities singing the seventh inning stretch, bitter over Harry Caray impressions on SNL, and she’ll cackle with glee every time someone gets clonked on the head by falling concrete and Wrigley or the news shows “Clark the Bear” with his junk photoshopped.

I don’t really espouse any other dogma in the house—no politics, no religion—just one arbitrary rule that must be followed – Sox fandom. And, so, if I’m a good Dad, she’ll continue to follow Sox out of love for me, even if getting first place in the AL Central is always a dicey proposition, and even if we CAN’T BEAT THE #$%ing ROYALS. The ROYALS people! I could beat the Royals myself!!! (breathe)

So there you have it—baseball in Chicago is barely about baseball—it’s about hate. For Sox fans, it’s about hating collar-popping frat boys in Wrigleyville and that bloated thing that used to be the guy from “Swingers.”

For Cubs fans it’s about deep, deep self-loathing, and a feeling that you don’t deserve to succeed because of sins from a past life.

It’s probably the only acceptable dogmatic hatred one can pass on to your children without feeling guilty.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my daughter and I are going to go snap some “W” flags off of the neighbors’ porches.

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Matt fathers 5-year-old Viva, Chicago’s favorite pint-sized diva, and is the author of “Viva Daddy!” – a monthly column in Chicago Parent Magazine.

See more of Matt’s stories here.

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