My family belongs to the church of Chicago sports. In this analogy, I wouldn’t necessarily consider my dad to be a high level priest, but he certainly could be considered a deacon. He knows sports inside and out. He understands the strategy of baseball coaching. He even coached my little league team to two championships, both of which I made the last out to lose the game. He just couldn't coach himself out of my Bill Buckner moments.
My mom also comes from a family that follows the Cubs and Bears mostly, but also the Hawks and Bulls to a lesser extent. It’s a matter of pride, probably something to do with their 2nd generation Polish neighborhoods. Everyone talks about sports when you go to the deli or go to real Church (the one with the nuns and the capital “C”). It served as an easy bonding topic. Everyone hoped for the Cubs to win, no matter how many times they proved themselves as prolific losers, or “bums” in my dad’s words.
Throw in the prevalence of taverns as the main hangout, where the TVs always tuned to some sort of game, and you find sports talk pushing its way into every conversation and taking over as the main source of small talk. My grandparents even owned a tavern on Addison. So, my family imbedded itself deep, deep into the cult of Chicago sports.
As a result, many of my fond memories throughout childhood came from gatherings around the television on fall Sundays or weekends during the summer. A special occasion meant going with my family to Wrigley Field, or Soldier Field, or even that Madhouse on Madison before it was called the United Center. Our primary destination was Wrigley, as my dad could get tickets a couple times each year. My mom would pack sandwiches (always with lettuce! because she enjoyed torturing me), and we would get the program and score the game. As I grew older, I started to admit that I didn’t find sports that interesting. On a certain level, the idea of sports bothered me. I didn’t like competition (see this blog entry from 2012: Curiosity Beats Olympics). So, I eventually stopped paying attention in favor of watching movies and telling jokes. To this day, sports to a certain extent remain the currency of conversation in my family.
When I started writing Co-Habits, I would assemble many of the #CrainStreet tweets together to help build an episode. In Episode 8, it looks like I didn’t add much to these tweets. They kind of worked their own narrative.
These tweets show an interesting series of moments for June 22, 2012. Apparently, my mom wanted to watch the baseball game, and my dad was a bit hesitant. However, a little later, my mom seemed very displeased that they would bunt. I’m not sure why. Then when my dad gave a perfectly reasonable explanation, she gives a frustrated, dismissive wave. Why? Why did she do that? What possibly upset her enough to dismiss such logic? Did she disagree with the strategy? Did she dislike that my dad had the answer? Did she think it was a rhetorical? It strikes me as funny, but it was a bit of a mystery. And all these explanations seem highly unlikely and ridiculous.
My mom enjoys sharing her opinions. One of her favorite complaints in recent years pertains to the beards and long hair on baseball players, or as she calls it, the “shepherd look.” I suppose her perception of a shepherd involves lots of hair. Since she considers herself a devout Catholic, I imagine she considers Jesus to be the ultimate shepherd, which would explain her connection of the long hair and beards. However, it seems that the idea of Jesus returning as a left-handed pitcher with all no-hitters would excite her. And, she wouldn’t be critical in that case, would she?
Like I said, she enjoys sharing her opinion. Now that I think about it, if Jesus returned to earth, I have a feeling she would tell him to get a haircut.
Apparently, many Chicago Bears fans did not like Lovie Smith? I seem to remember lots of chatter around this time about his coaching? Assuming he was a coach? Regardless, he was eventually fired, but I’m not sure. I asked my mom about football recently, and she admitted that she doesn’t really understand what they are doing. “I know they go from one end to the other end, and then if they get a touchdown, they dance in the end zone. Such a big deal for a little nothing.” I can’t criticize, though, because I’m only a casual fan of the sports, in that I enjoy attending games with friends so I can drink beer and tell stories. The game itself is more of just background for me. However, I do know that Lovie Smith is now coaching my alma mater, the fighting Illini. So, I look forward to some more Lovie-hate this coming fall. Hopefully it will prove to be worthy of more entertaining #CrainStreet tweets.
Once I finished writing this blog, the question of my mother’s motivations on June 22, 2012 weighed on me. What was going on there? Is it even possible to know? It was so long ago. Regardless, I had to ask. So, I called my mother this weekend to see if she could remember. Here’s the conversation:
Me: When I started doing #CrainStreet tweets, do you remember some tweets about baseball?
Mom: You were doing Crain Street baseball?
Me: (thinking - how is she going to remember this? I should give up now) No, the tweets were about baseball. You were watching the game. And you got upset about bunting, and –
Mom: Oh, I don’t like bunting. I think it’s stupid. Your father and I talk about it all the time.
Me: (what’s happening right now?) What? You remember this? Why don’t you like bunting?
Mom: I don’t like when they tell the batter what to do. I think bunting is stupid. It’s a waste of time. They should be able to hit the ball the way they want. Your father gives me some stupid reason. He always says, “playing the percentages” or something like that. I don’t know what it means. Every time they do it, it drives me crazy.
Me: I’m so excited that you actually have an opinion on bunting. Now the mystery is solved. I’m going to put it into my blog.
Mom: I’m sure the whole world is waiting for my thoughts on bunting.