The Highs and Lows of #beingasportsfan

By on Oct 21, 2015 in Chicago, Cubs | 1 comment

The Chicago Cubs. The Fucking Loveable Losers. At the end of last season we were actually a little bit excited. Sure they finished last in the division. Sure they lost 89 games. But. They were fun in the last month. Soler hit the ball far. We had prospects! Bryant would play in 2015! We would do *something*. And we did. We were the third best team in Major League Baseball this year. And still the second wild card because the #NLCentralIsAwesome. And then. We beat the Pirates in the one off. We beat the Cardinals in the 5 game series. And OMG the happiness. The cheering. The toasting. The “Bring It” attitude we had to either the Mets or the Dodgers. Hashtag WeGotThis. Oh the confidence! The Monte Carlo simulations showed the Cubs winning the World Series 35% of the time! How could we lose?! And now. Here we are, down 3 games to none to the goddamn Mets. Currently down 6-0 in the second inning. Jason and I were at the game yesterday and I literally thought he was going to crawl under his chair when Cahill threw that wild pitch. The highs and lows of being a sports fan are ridiculous. We are full of the sadness. Although….I don’t think the sadness is as severe as it could be. Because my god we have a lot to look forward with this team. This team is super young…..they won 97 games this season and made it to the NLCS. After losing 89 games LAST YEAR! But let’s look to next year. We are losing almost no one. Who could we get? The possibility of Heyward? Price? Cute (although with his postseason…maybe not)? Grienke? The rumor mill will be churning starting tomorrow (unless they dig their way out of this game). And we look forward. It was a fun season. Maybe I’m writing this in the hope that I give it up to the Baseball Gods to show me that in baseball you always have to get all the outs and the Mets haven’t yet….it’s not over. Go Cubs!...

Ernie Banks 1931-2015

By on Jan 24, 2015 in Chicago, Cubs | 3 comments

This morning, as usual,  I woke up early with Rocky  and flipped on Sportscenter to watch while I sat next to him and woke up with a little coffee.  Along the sidebar was the name “Ernie Banks”.  I knew that could only mean one thing.  I didn’t have my phone with me to confirm so, like it was 1994, I had to wait patiently for the TV to tell me what I already knew.  Ernie Banks had died. For those who don’t either follow baseball or live in Chicago, Ernie Banks was the greatest Cub of all time and a one of the greatest players of all time.  But he was less famous for his baseball accomplishments than for his personality.  Always happy, always positive, he embraced his role as “Mr. Cub.”  His excitement was infectious and he was baseball’s greatest ambassador.  But his career will be detailed in all the papers today and I’m no baseball historian.  What I wanted to relay was the time Ernie Banks was incredibly kind to a nervous young Cub blogger. Six or seven years ago, back when Cub blogs were a thing, I wrote for the oddly named blog Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.  While supposedly nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, retrieving any of the archives of what I wrote for them is beyond my skills, but it was generally fun stuff.  And one benefit of writing for a moderately popular blog was that occasionally Cubs marketing would reach out to us as “press”.  One morning, I received an email from a representative for Charity Hop asking if I’d like to attend a release of Ernie Banks’s new wine and meet the man himself. Meet Ernie Banks? I’m sorry now, meet who again? Suffice to say, I said yes.  As long, that is, that I could bring along our staff photographer, who just so happened to be my wife.  The details of the night of the interview are over at our old website along with our continued celebration that night and Leah wrote about that and my later paper route here.  But the wine and the interview aren’t what I’ll remember that night.  What I’ll remember is that, for that night, Leah and I became Ernie Banks’s “Physicist Friends”. When Leah and I arrived at the event, we felt pretty out of place.  Press loitered around, waiting for their chance to ask a few questions.  We did a little loitering of our own, trying to not stand in the wrong place.  We grazed on appetizers and drank some very tasty wine and waited.  For what we were waiting, we didn’t exactly know.  I had no idea how to actually conduct an interview or how to interject myself between the various reporters to ask my questions.  But, it turned out, I didn’t have to know what to do. Our awkward hovering was interrupted by The Man himself walking over to us.  Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, noticed us lost in the sea of press, and broke off from a cluster of reporters to engage us.  He walked over – I don’t believe he introduced himself (that would have been a little weird) – and started talking to us, asking us what we did.  We informed him we were physicists (I failed to mention that I had recently left physics for software.  I threaten Leah with death if she mentioned my little career change to him) and, from then on, we were his “physicist friends.”  He spoke to us for a few moments, engaging us with his great smile, and asking us a couple questions about the lab where we worked and what we did.  He put us at ease.  And then, as he moved on to speak to other members of the press, he would point to us and ask if they had met “his physicist friends.” It was awesome. And then it came time for people to sit down and conduct an interview with him.  Once again, I didn’t really know how to go about this.  But Ernie Banks called me over and told me to sit next to him; it was my turn.  I didn’t really expect to conduct a one-on-one with Mr. Cub and I didn’t have anything but a pen and a blank pad of paper.  I initially asked him about the wine – I figured I was supposed to – and his started to crank out a canned response about the notes of grapefruit and how it supports his charity.  I could tell he didn’t really care.  So I quickly turned my questions to the upcoming 2008 Cubs season, one that was looking to be a great one.  His trademark optimism poured out and he was confident that this would be the year.  “The Cubs are going to be great in 2008.”  He spoke with me for over 10 minutes, longer than he gave any of the real reporters.  His wife tried to interject and pull him away on multiple occasions, but he wasn’t having any of it.  He was talking to his physicist friend and a fan, not a real member of the press, and I think he liked that. I will certainly always remember my time meeting Mr. Cub and greatly appreciate the kindness and attention he showed me and my wife.  He was truly the greatest Cubs of all time and one of the greatest, most positive...

That time Jason had a paper route.

By on Nov 4, 2014 in Chicago, Cubs | 0 comments

And I don’t mean when he was a kid. I mean when he was in his mid-20s. I remembered this time in our lives as I was driving down Clybourn Ave today as the place where he picked the papers up was near the intersection of Fullerton, Clybourn and Ashland (goddamn angle streets with your confusing six corners and non-grid nonsense). Anyways, at the time Jason was a writer for a baseball blog (which by the way led us to an Ernie Banks charity wine event (we were sent as reporter and photographer (I didn’t know anything about photography at the time but I faked it) as it was a media only thing) in which Ernie Banks started talking to us, found out that we were physicists and spent the rest of the night calling us his “physicist friends”… it was at this time that Jason had just started his new job and had left the field of physics and said to me, “If you tell Ernie Banks I’m no longer a physicist I will kill you.” He made Ernie Banks laugh. I don’t know if the birth of his kids will trump that moment.)….holy crap that was a lot of nestled parentheses… and somehow also got hooked up with The Heckler . He wrote a couple of articles for them, but his main deal with them was to deliver the hard copy of their publication to bars around the city. For something like $70 a month. That’s how poor we were, like that $70 kinda made a difference in our monthly living.  We were living in the Ukrainian village in a shitty ass apartment and getting really excited if we had $10 left on the last Tuesday of the month because Small Bar would have some beer special for $4 each so we could each have one and leave some money for a tip. At some point he stopped doing it because really the charm of being a 27 year old paper delivery boy wears off pretty fast. That and I think we were just dropping off the papers and having a beer at the bars, thus somewhat negating the $70 per month that we were making. Eventually Jason got a “real” job and made some “real” money. I think back to that time and really if you had told me that in less than 10 years we’d have a house in the city and a pretty nice little lifestyle, I wouldn’t have believed you. I mean I was living in a mouse invested apartment that had a heat problem while trying to write my thesis. I would take a bath in basically boiling water to warm up and then write until I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore and then repeat the process. And even with all that, I look back on those years with extreme fondness. I also don’t think I would have believed had you told me that would be my feelings many years later. Funny how life goes like that.Rose colored glasses and all....

Movin’ on up (to the 400’s)

By on Oct 27, 2014 in Chicago, Cubs, To Do With Kids | 1 comment

Who’s excited about the Cubs around these parts?  Yes, the same Cubs that had to scratch and claw to 89 losses last year (which, sadly, was progress).  Yes, the same Cubs that have finished in 5th place for the past five years.  Those Cubs.  Why are we excited?  Let me count the ways (spoiler alert, I’m going to count to three): Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez will all be stud rookies (or close to it in the case of Baez) next year, joining Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro to form the sort of murder’s row that’s going out of style these days. Free agents will be signed, money will be flowing soon, and a dynasty-level system is on the way.  For the first time in my life and – I don’t know who’s reading this, but I can say confidently – in your life too, the Cubs are doing everything right.  And, on top of all that… Joe Maddon, the best manager in baseball, is on his way to the Cubs. It’s just a matter of time before it happens. So, with all that being said, when we went to pick tickets for season tickets this year, I considered it choosing our seats for the World Series.  Sure, we only have two tickets so watching them win isn’t going to be a family affair, but tough noogies kids.  They’re going to grow up with a lifetime of the Rickets family as owners and will only have read about the stupid goat curse in the history books.  They’re going to grow up rooting for the Yankees of the National League. Yeah, that’s right.  Book it, baby. In the end, after some discussion, we settled on seats in the 400’s (433 to be exact).  The 400’s have a fantastic view of the action and we have a legitimate chance at catching a foul ball.  Great tickets to for watching a bunch of grown men jump up and down after recording the last out to clinch the first World Series title in well over 100 years.  If you’re getting misty eyed, don’t feel ashamed.  That was an emotional win for all of us. For the both of you non-Cubs fans that are still with me and haven’t closed this to emphatically (and perhaps a bit too aggressively) unlike us on Facebook, let me explain a bit about the 400’s.  They are the portion of the upper deck seats in Wrigley Field that aren’t under the overhang and aren’t behind any support posts.  Moving from the 200’s, we’re losing some protection from the rain and gaining some sun, losing the proximity to the family bathroom and gaining and unobstructed view.  We’ll bask in the relative warmth on the cold days and apply sunscreen to the kids every inning on the sunny days.  But, more importantly, we’re moving a few stories up. And we’re in the third row. The third row from the edge, in case that wasn’t clear.  The edge of the bowl that’s a few stories up. And we have a kid named Rocky.  I almost couldn’t pull the trigger.  It was very hard for me.  All I can see is him running full steam down the stairs towards the edge of seats where a far-too-low railing would attempt to stop his tumbling momentum.  It terrifies me.  I’m fairly scared of heights, but in a very rational way.  I fear falling to death, either mine or a loved one’s.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to unclench my sphincter for all 9 innings.  He might just not get to go to a game until I feel confident he won’t take a header over the edge. Maybe 8th grade. Or maybe I’ll get a...