I realize that I'm stepping into a potential minefield here—not only a topic on which so many people already made up their minds, but one that can sever friendships, divide families, cause flame wars on Facebook. But it's an important topic, one that--
What? No. I'm not talking about politics. Good heavens, no.
I'm talking baseball.
(Had you worried there for a moment, I guess. Sorry about that. But let's get our priorities straight! Election time may be coming up, but right now it's World series time.)
I was just going to remark that the World Series is a whole lot more fun this year because one of my teams is playing. And by one of my teams, I don't mean my baseball team as opposed to my football team, my basketball team, my hockey team, and my soccer team. I mean one of the four professional baseball teams I follow.
There's the Orioles--when I first came to town, they were the closest thing we had to a local team, so I've been following them since the seventies. And the Nationals, now our local team; though of course I only began rooting for them in 2005. The Red Sox, whom I adopted in the nineties because first my brother and then the nephews (who were born in Boston) followed them. Though I always did have a soft spot for them because of the whole “Curse of the Bambino” thing; I'm a sucker for a romantic baseball legend. And finally the Cubs. My longtime friend Bill, who grew up around Chicago, has always been a big Cubs fan, and I rooted for the Cubs out of fellowship. Plus I love an underdog, and Chicago's series drought was even longer than Boston's. So I've been following them almost as long as the Orioles.
As I write this, I'm watching Chicago vs. Cleveland, game five, and it's pretty intense.
Of course, a lot more intense for all those fans for whom the Cubs are their one and only baseball team. And for the die-hard Clevelanders, too. That's one of the features of rooting for multiple teams. Your highs are less intense, but so are your lows. I figure my chances of rooting for a pennant or World Series winner are four times greater. Heck, if none of my teams make it to the series, I look around to see which of my friends is passionate about a team. I've cheered for Eileen Dreyer's Cardinals a time or two. Agonzed last year with several Mets fans.
I should add my multiple team approach only applies to professional baseball. When it comes to college ball, I'm a die-hard fan of UVa, my alma mater. When one of the nephews is playing—do I even have to say it? And while I enjoy watching the occasional game of basketball, hockey, or soccer, I maintain only a mild, genial preference for the local teams—I wish them well, but no true Wizards, Caps, or DC United die-hard would ever mistake me for one of their own. And football? Sorry, but I just don't get it. I picked up a secondhand copy of Football for Dummies a while back, and I still don't get it.
But baseball I like.
Top of the ninth inning, and Aroldis Chapman is on the mound. The whole crowd in Wrigley Field are on their feet. Maybe they have been for the last couple of innings--I can't remember. The Cubs are three outs away from winning game 5.
One out . . . strike three!
Congratulations, Cubs fan friends. Sorry, Clevelanders.
Me, I'm happy. Not as happy as that stadium full of hardcore Chicagoans, maybe. But still—very happy that we get to do this all over again Tuesday night.