Love, Faith, and Chicago Baseball

There are many things I have sacrificed over the years in the name of marital peace and harmony. I no longer order green olives on our family pizza. The thermostat is always set about four degrees below my liking. I endure watching shows like Storage Wars and Swamp People instead of America’s Next Top Model and Glee.

Yet it was when I converted faiths for my husband Joe that I learned the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

You see, I was actually born and raised a Chicago Cubs fan.

But I now worship at the altar of U.S. Cellular Field.

This shocking admission nearly cost me my relationship with my own die-hard family. The only way I could sooth their injured psyches was to bequeath a host of autographed Cubs gear, pictures, and jerseys that I had collected through the ages.

Joe’s refusal to allow the stuff in our house is besides the point.

My family still views my husband with a certain degree of suspicion and mistrust, secretly believing that he “ruined” me. My parents grimace whenever they spot my sons sporting their little White Sox jerseys while the rest of their grandkids run around in Cubs paraphernalia. And when the talk transitions to favorite Cubs legends of olde, I carefully put the memories of Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace far behind me much as I would the beaus of yesteryear.

It is sometimes better to not look back.

People ask if I regret my decision to convert. I tell them I do not regret being married to the best husband in the world, so I cannot regret the actions that allowed for our union. For my husband, marrying a Cubs fan was out of the question. Such actions would have been an affront to all he held sacred. It just meant so much more to him than me.

I saw the whole thing as simple recreation. Something to be enjoyed with friends. The ivy was pretty. And Wrigleyville was a great place to hang out after a game.

The only major sting in changing my allegiance was when I thought back on all those days sitting at the knee of my maternal grandfather who dearly loved the Cubs. He never missed a single pitch.

So because of Papa, I perhaps did harbor some resentment for a while. I used to complain tirelessly about the Sox stadium. The steep climb. The blue seats which seemed antithetical considering the cross-town rivals. The lack of family atmosphere. Yet miraculously, as if the Sox organization had bugged my own house, they revamped the stadium in 2001 to remove the gravity-defying seating. The blue chairs were yanked. The addition of Fundamentals (where kids can practice running, pitching, and batting) was genius. The stadium looked really cool. Intimidating to opponents. Bad ass even.

And best of all, the organization created a unique experience that is second to none in all of professional baseball. Flying Elvises. Amazing firework nights. Toe tapping good music.

When the White Sox wrapped up their World Series season in 2005, I found myself cheering just as loudly and devoutly as any life-long fan. I attended games while very pregnant with my second son. On one particularly hot July day, the game went into extra innings. I was approached by no less than three staffers who offered me beverages and sought to verify that I wasn’t planning on delivering right then and there.

I asked if I would get season tickets if I did. And if I could name my son A.J. or Paulie.

My Jack only had to wait 2 months for his first Sox World Series win and is now the biggest fan in our house. When he attended a game this past weekend, he became so giddy over the Robin Ventura bobblehead giveaway that he quickly found himself the recipient of a few extra. Perfect strangers, enjoying his obvious delight, started loading Jack up with theirs.

He has been sleeping with all of his Robins since:

This Sunday’s (June 3rd) game is Southpaw night at the Cell. The first 10,000 children aged 13 and under will receive a Southpaw Mini Plush Pal. Once again, the Sox organization hit it out of the ballpark coming up with something the young fans will enjoy.

I will be in attendance, sans kids, celebrating a friend’s 50th birthday and watching Paul Konerko’s impressive march towards .400. With Humber’s perfect game this season and Paulie’s Babe Ruth-like stats, it is shaping up to be a helluva year at the Cell.

No, I do not regret my conversion. Although I know that some will always consider me a traitor.

A traitor with cool bobbleheads, that is.

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