As a kid, I never really appreciated how awesome it is to catch a game – baseball, basketball or otherwise – in your own town. To experience the splendor and storied history of Wrigley or Soldier Field. To be surrounded by thousands of other fans screaming for the Blackhawks or Bulls. To have your father pay for everything.

Though I’ve long since accepted the smog and gridlock that come with living in LA, I have yet to embrace the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings or that red-headed stepchild called the Clippers. Never gonna happen either. How can I support a city that doesn’t even have its own NFL team? Puh-leeze. I’d sooner become a Cheesehead. But sometimes it does kind of blow to cheer for the away team.

I never considered just how odd it would feel to be odd man out until I attended a Blackhawks-Kings game a few years back. To go from the United Center where usually one walks out with a disconcerting ringing sensation in the ears and sandpaper throat to the Staples Center… It was weird. Be vewy, vewy quiet. That’s all I kept thinking; no one was making a peep. Even when the Kings scored, there was barely a ruckus, and I live for the ruckus. Sometimes back in the day I even had other Blackhawks fans shoot me none-too-friendly sideways glances in our very own stadium. (I have been blessed with the ability to scream quite high and loud for all the wannabe kidnappers and rapists reading this. I also have a sweet left hook so don’t get any ideas.) You can imagine my conundrum. Throughout the stands sat many other Chicago fans, but it just wasn’t the same. From the moment I could actually hear the national anthem being sung, I was bummed. It all went downhill from there. No cheering. No Tommy Hawk. No fun.

Fast-forward to this week. The Cubs were in town for a three-game series against the Dodgers, and I was going to one of them with about eighty other Columbia College alums. Dodger Stadium wasn’t new to me; I’d been to the venue for a few baseball outings already. Definitely better experiences than my bizarro world Staples Center debacle, but a lot had changed since my last time there. In particular, the police presence. Like most everyone else I know, I was deeply saddened and shocked to hear about the Giants fan beaten by those whom I refuse to call baseball fans or even human beings. More like animals. Definitely cowards. Anyway… I’ll admit that I was a wee bit nervous. Eighty plus Cubs fans all together in one section? Were we putting ourselves in a Wild Kingdom situation here? You know, where the sweet, unsuspecting, perhaps slightly dim gazelles are trying to quench their thirst from a peaceful little pond when all of a sudden they’re viciously attacked by a pride of lions? Sure, we’ve bravely weathered a hundred years of verbal abuse from pretty much everyone else on the planet, but I’ll gladly be on the receiving end of a few “Cubs suck!” as opposed to having actual broken bones.

However, I shouldn’t have been so worried. For one, there truly is strength in numbers, and maybe that’s what I needed all along. I just have to make sure that whatever game I go to in Los Angeles, there are at least a couple dozen other Chicago fans with me. Because it really is all about your friends. That’s what makes going to a game so much fun. The camaraderie. The laughter. The way you can make a fool of yourself and it’s not even slightly embarrassing because everyone else is acting like a fool right along with you. Plus it didn’t hurt that we had the most perfect night weather-wise and all-you-can-eat nachos!

For the most part, the Dodger fans were gracious as well. Maybe because they risked arrest if they weren’t, but so be it. I once heard a story about a White Sox fan getting a Budweiser bottle to the forehead at a known Cubs bar, so we’re not perfect either. (Though perhaps not the smartest move on his part to patronize an establishment called The Cubby Bear.) We did hear a few “boos,” some of which were directed at a father and his young son, but there are classless idiots no matter where you go. However, they do seem to love the sporting arenas. Hmm… But best of all, the Cubs won! So as the Dodger fans began to file out before the game was over – can you really be considered a fan then? – we Cubbies cheered and held high a huge ‘W’ flag. Yes, someone actually brought a Cubs Win Flag. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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8 Responses to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”

LOVE this one, Anna! It was such a great night!

May 5th, 2011

Cub fans ARE the BEST fans! Win or lose (mostly lose) there’s always team loyalty. Hope we get to see a big win during our lifetime Anna. Fingers crossed. Until then, keep cheering really, really loudly! (This way God will hear us) 🙂

May 5th, 2011

It was a wonderful night thanks to you!!! 🙂

May 5th, 2011

That’s what I say, too. It’s so easy to give up on something when things aren’t going your way. True fans stick with their teams through thick and thin. I also hope we get that Commissioner’s Trophy one day, Amy… If anyone deserves it, it’s us long-suffering Cubs fans.

May 5th, 2011

Your description of a Blackhawks game brings to mind a favorite of Dave’s childhood stories– his first public swearing! While attending a Hawks game as a small boy with his dad, he innocently joined an angry crowd and rose to his feet to chant, “Bull $#%*!” at a lousy call. He had no idea what he was saying. I think of even sweet little Dave screaming profanities and I just can’t imagine a quiet hockey game!

May 5th, 2011

That’s hilarious! And you’re right, imagining little Dave doing that makes it that much more amusing… Wish I could have seen the look on his dad’s face! 🙂

May 6th, 2011

ughhhh i so wish i was into this kind of stuff! so much fun!

May 8th, 2011

Haha! I’ll make you a fan yet, Cat! You’re coming to the next Cubs game. 🙂

May 11th, 2011