Contrary to my old broadcasting teacher Jeannette, I love a good cliché. (By the way, congrats on the new job, Jeannette!) I’m not saying they’re the best thing since sliced bread but sometimes they fit like a glove, especially in sports.
This past week, I uncorked a wild pitch, shed my sporting skins and went yard, taking my sporting interests out of the local ballpark to Chicago to see the MLB-leading Cubs take on the Milwaukee Brewers and clinch the NL Central Division in the process. The Chicago trip was rather impromptu – a short pit-stop on my way to visit family in southern Ontario – but it made me realize a couple of important things: One, letting your sports fandom take you places is a very rewarding experience and two, it’s OK to hop on another city’s bandwagon every once in awhile.
Chicago, for instance, is a city full of history, culture and architectural marvels. It was built by a diverse population of immigrants, which is reflected in the music, cuisine and construction of the city. Famous blues clubs pepper the downtown core, the jazz scene is still swinging, good hip-hop and rock shows can be seen on any night and house music actually originated in a Chicago nightclub. Chicago’s hotdogs and deep dish pizza are nationally recognized and can be enjoyed underneath a number of awe-inspiring structures – the skyscraping Willis Tower, the Chicago Tribune tower, with its collection of exotic building fragments (from the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and the Great Wall of China, among others) or maybe the Cloud Gate (the giant, iconic reflective bean sitting in Millennium Park).
And, of course, the city is home to the Chicago Cubs, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, the Bears, the Bulls and the Fire and most have enjoyed great success in recent years. The exception has been the Cubs, which brings me to my next point.
Cubs fans are amped right now. The Cubbies haven’t tasted World Series glory since 1908. That is a cold streak, my friends and this year just might be the year it comes to an end. I was lucky enough to experience the excitement in Wrigleyville following the aforementioned title clinch, and that place was bumping. The “bucket boys” beat their plastic drums with invigorated fury outside of the ivy-clad red-brick walls of Wrigley Field. Choruses of Steve Goodman’s “Go, Cubs, Go” echoed from sports bar to sports bar. I’ve never high-fived so many strangers in my life because in those moments, it was impossible not to be a Cubs fan.
Last Friday afternoon, I forgot all of my established sporting allegiances as Miguel Montero’s walk-off jack hit the Budweiser Bleachers in the 10th, sending his white flag-clutching teammates onto the field and Wrigley Nation into a frenzy. As I left the stadium, I belted out Goodman’s chorus without really knowing the words and drifted along wave after wave of blue and red all spouting the same thought as I was: this could be the year.
A week later, I’m back to worrying about the Toronto Blue Jays and their slumping ways. I could have been that way in Chicago, too, and taken in the Cubs game as a detached observer. You’re missing out on an experience that way, though. Let your love of sports take you places.
– Connor O’Donovan, Sports Editor
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