Monday, May 28, 2012

Wrigley Time

#REALTALK.  I believe in absolutes when it comes to sports.  If you cheer for Trinity, you cannot cheer for St. X.  If you cheer for UK, you cannot cheer for UofL.  If you cheer for Xavier, there is no pulling for the Bearcats.  Yankees vs BoSox, etc.  However, since moving to Chicago, I have been trying to figure out this whole White Sox vs. Cubs thingy.  You Chicagoans are so cute, but I don't get it.  You didnt go to either school, and to me that is where all fanatical allegiance starts and stops.  I understand that I come from an area where there is no professional sports. So, I am behind the 8 ball when it comes to die hard pro sports allegiance.  Being in Chicago you almost have to pick a sides.  There is no Switzerland...or Kentucky, depending on your war preference.   Growing up in Kentucky you are pretty much equidistance from Atlanta and Chicago.  With WGN and TBS, all I watched were Braves and Cubs game.  Dale Murphy and Andre Dawson.  Therefore, I guess I had a softer spot for the Cubs.  I wanted to come at this with an open mind and try to honestly figure out why someone cheers for a particular team here.

I have concluded that if you are born and raised in Chicago, or old school Irish, or a minority of any type, or hovering around the poverty line,  chances are you are a Sox fan.  If you are a transplant to the city, college student, or of an alternative lifestyle, you are probably a Cubs fan. All of them are very strange to me because for the most part, it is pathetic baseball.  I mean seriously.  Both teams, historically, have been beyond bad.  Yet the people of Chicago LOVE their baseball, and for that, I respect them both.

My experience with the Sox game has been documented and I won't elaborate too much more.  Just picture this....when you get off of the L, its like that long tunnel going from prison to freedom that you see in the movies.  You are surrounded by both criminals and guards on both sides.  You have only one way to walk, otherwise you face certain death.  Its all very sterile and very unfriendly.  Once you walk a couple of blocks, you get to a relatively new stadium.  It has all the amenities you would want at a park, including a big portrait of Obama "throwing" out the first pitch.  Does it get any better?  You have plenty of room to stretch your legs, great food selections, a jumbotron, and partisan gang wars in the crowd that would make A West Side Story jealous.  It is an experience that you should attempt to live through once.  Making it home in one piece is exhilarating enough.  I would suggest doing it when a team like the Yankees are in town. To the Sox credit, they are actually playing some good ball now too.

Then you have Wrigley and Wrigleyville.  Its interesting because when you take the blue line to the transfer station, you go one way for the Sox, the other for the Cubs.  Its a totally different vibe when heading towards the Cubs.  It is a much lighter atmosphere and the people are much friendlier.  It is a younger crowd as well.  Perhaps one too many "dudes" wearing skinny jeans, but quite a few ladies as well.  People are talking to strangers and I suspect have been pre-gaming for a while.  Before you know it, you see the stadium off in the distance.  It looks old but it looks like tradition.  Reagan's eyes lit up when she saw it.  The L takes you right next to the stadium. When you get off, it couldn't be more opposite of U.S. Cellular Field.  It is like a giant party.  People are all over the streets, drinking, celebrating, selling stuff, and eating.  It is a full experience and the game hasn't even started.  The field is sort of wedged in a corner but it is right there.  No need to worry about getting mugged, no walking very far.  We had great seats that were a gift (free) to me, so this was a much better experience.  Reagan and I sat down and it looks like an old stadium, both good and bad.  I kept instinctively looking for a jumbotron, I still haven't found it.  Thankfully we didn't have any obstructed views either, it would suck to pay all that money to stare at a beam.  For the record, the Cubs have the most expensive non premium seats in the ML.  I guess its for the experience, because the baseball generally sucks.  Regardless, it is always packed.  So much so, that people sit on the roof tops of near by buildings as if they were actually in the stadium.  I know right, crazy?  It was neat to see the fans celebrate every foul ball caught by someone.  It was neat to see the fans throw back a home run hit by the opposing team.  Don't worry if you miss it because you will probably have a few chances to see that tradition.  It was neat to sing "take me out to the ball game" for the first time with Reagan.  It was neat to see the W flag (raised after every Cubs like a total of 12 times a year) after the game.  It was neat to sing the "Go Cubs Go" song after the game too.  The L was substantially more packed after the game with a much drunker crowd.  You are worried about getting mugged on the way back from a Sox game, you are worried about getting thrown up on after a Cubs game.  Either way, it was a great time, great win for the Cubs.  All in all, it was a day with Reagan that I will always remember, I hope she does as well.  We ate, and ate, and ate, this time without a tummy ache.  She spent the latter part of the game in my lap, or playing stupid little games with me.  She kept asking if "we" won, even after the 6th inning. 

I realized that there is a celebratory feel at Wrigley because there really isn't much to celebrate.  Just the small things.  There is a reason why they are called "Lovable Losers." You can't get around it, The North Siders are losers.  But there is a great lesson to be learned in all isn't always if you win or lose, but how much fun you have at/with the games. They live that, year in and year out.  They are fans the way you should be.  Wrigley really is the friendly confines.  

On the way home I asked Reagan if she had fun, which thankfully she did.  I asked if she liked the Cubs, she said she did. She has a cute Cubs shirt courtesy of her mother too.  So here it comes, the million dollar question...I asked Reagan is she liked the Sox or the Cubs better??? Reagan said "both."  Not only did the Cubs teach me a sports lesson today, Reagan sort of taught me a life lesson.  Back to being Switzerland again...or Kentucky.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Day, Mother

I know today isn't Mother's Day, some may even think I missed it.  You of course know this isn't true.  However, just as I don't think you should need an Anniversary to tell your spouse that you are grateful for your journey together, and you shouldn't need Valentines Day to tell your SO that you love them, I don't think I should need 1 specific day to tell you how much you mean to Patrick and I.  You have always been the glue to hold the family together and the reason that Dad gets out of bed every morning.  You are a great role model as a parent for me, and as a mother for Brooke.  You are worshiped by your grand babies, they love being around you.  Your legacy lives on, differently, in each one of them.

I don't need to send a card, or make some proclamation on Facebook, to give everyone the appearance that I am dedicating a day to you.  Truth be told, most days are dedicated to you.  In the end, all I want to do is take care of my girls (yes that includes Brooke) and make you and Dad proud.  So, while I didn't have any redundant, cheesy, status update on Facebook yesterday about you, you know where I stand.  Not a call goes by where I don't end it with "I love you Mom."  This is my simple way of saying to you , everyday, "Happy Mother's Day!"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Very Hungry (Caterpillar) Reagan

Today was Daddy (me) and Reagan's big adventure.  I got it into my head I was finally going to take Reagan to her first big league ballgame.  Earlier this week I checked the weather, then checked the schedules.  I'd preferred to take her to a North Siders game but it turns out that the South Siders were in town instead.  That meant a longer, more "interesting" path to get there.  The weather looked great, so I committed a ridiculous amount of money (considering I don't really care about the teams...sorry PJS) for her and I have to have great seats for the game.  I think the minute I bought the tickets the weather forecast tanked and just for Saturday.  I tried very hard not to get to worked up about the weather, but all I wanted to do was have a nice time at the park with my daughter.  This being her first MLB game, everything needed to be prefect (in my mind).  I want her to like going to the park and being with her daddy.  This was something very important to my dad and my PawPaw.  Its hard enough with girls in general, going to the park with cold and rainy weather would make it even more difficult.

So putting the weather aside, I began to map out our trek down there.  The easiest and cheapest way to get down there would be to take the L.  If you don't know what the L is....well its sort of like a mobile prison. It looks and smells very much like a prison.  The rules are the same too.  Stay to the right, don't make eye contact, if someone asks for your seat you give them your wallet, etc.  I tried to prepare Reagan but in reality I was trying to reassure myself.  I didn't want the crazies to be in the same car as my Reagan.  Turns out that part of the trip was no big deal.  It took about an hour to get to the park but it went off without a hitch.  Reagan didn't really understand why I wanted to get to the park so early, so I got to spend a lot of time telling her about how my dad and I used to do that.  You get there early to watch them warm up, to hear the sounds of the game, smell the grass, be in the moment.  So we got to the park before just about anyone and got to our seats.  Reagan in her bright pink jacket (see above), me in my bright blue UK jacket.  That's when it hit me, the Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals whose colors are blue and white.  The South Siders don't take to kindly to those who aren't wearing black and white.  I only hoped Reagan's cuteness would keep me out of trouble.  We weren't sitting down long, when a Sox crew member called me down to the front row.  We were about 4 rows back from the visiting bullpen, excellent seats.  I thought I was already in trouble, but instead he flipped me a ball and told me it was for my daughter. That is the second ball in a row she has gotten in as many games. It is difficult to convince a girl that you don't get a ball every game, when in fact she seemingly does.  After the excitement of getting the ball wore off, she said she was hungry.  We then proceeded to eat:
1) Three hot dogs between us
2) A jumbo pretzel
3) A giant licorice rope
4) Popcorn
5) Cotton Candy
6) Peanuts
7) And sunflower seeds.  Teaching Reagan how to eat and spit sunflower seeds is about the coolest thing I have done as a father.

Somewhere MaMaw was very proud.

About the time we get done with the orgy of eating, the heavens opened up and it began to rain.  I should have known something was wrong when it was 15 minutes till first pitch and the tarp was still on the field with no real players.  So we were cold, wet and in a food coma.  Its a good thing we were half asleep because at that point I felt just like this:
I was thankful the White Sox mascot was nowhere to be found or his fate might have been worse than Marty Moose.  However, it is what it is, there wasn't much I could do about the weather.  I tried to reassure Reagan that most of the time when you go to a MLB game there is nice weather.  Although it would have to be a park in a different city.  It is impossible for Chicago to have nice weather more than 2 days in a row.  Its not allowed.  Anyway, after about 35 minutes we were back in our wet seats ready for the ball game.  We hadn't even gotten to the game and Reagan starts to complain about a tummy ache.  Seriously?  What did you expect?  At this point I had enough.  I was hoping the game would be called and we could take a rain check, literally.  Just then the tarp comes off the field and the players are ready to go.  The rain had stopped.  And after we quasi dried off, I think it got a bit warmer because the wind stopped blowing.  

The game took place in front of us but we didn't care.  At that point we had been at the park close to three hours with no actual game.  The Royals score three runs in the first inning, and we were cold and wet.  The main reason we didn't really care is because in those moments the game really is ancillary.  She was so busy talking about everything she could think of, I was so busy just listening, that the game was just background noise.  At one point I look up at the jumbo tron and I see three different dads, with girls in pink coats, all playing a game on a phone.  Which was interesting because that was exactly what Reagan was doing at that moment.  By the time we got to the middle of the 5th, it started raining again.  I figured it was time to go.  Reagan didn't want to leave.  After waiting forever to see a game, getting a tummy ache, getting rained on, wanting to go home, she had come full circle and didn't want to leave.  The rain was coming down hard now, it was late.  The fireworks and funnel cake would have to wait for the next time.  We had a long journey home on the L and I wanted to beat the freak show home.

We pulled into the driveway sometime around 10:00 PM.  Our date night was over, time for bed.  I was a little sad that it was over, I was real sad the weather sucked.  The only thing missing from our night was PawPaw being with us.  Even with all the imperfections of the night, it was still  in many ways a perfect night.  One that I will cherish forever.  The hug she gave me in the kitchen was priceless.  She had even made me a thank you card.  I am already planning our next adventure to the North Siders park.  I know tomorrow is Mother's Day and I could never thank Mom or Brooke enough for what they do, tonight was Daddy's Day.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Baylor Grace

3 years ago today, Baylor Grace was born.  I cannot begin to write about all the joy she has brought to my life.  I was half yanking her chain one time and I said  "Baylor Grace, do you think you're going to make it through life on your good looks alone?"  She looked at me and said "Yes."  The other day Brooke was really yanking her chain something fierce and she said "Baylor Grace, who do you think you are!?"  She replies (through the tears) "Baylor Grace"

We are thankful for all the gifts in our life, Brooke and I have four beautiful and healthy girls.  Baylor Grace has been nothing short of a blessing and I love the way her mother and her go at it.  

We love you BGA, thank the good Lord for giving you to us.  I am lucky to be your father.