Thursday, October 27, 2005
What do we root for? Why do we feel good when the team we love wins? It's not that the players are from Chicago. I don't personally know the players or the front office guys. I don't do anything that directly influences the team, although I guess the money I pay for tickets and merchandise does something. What connection do I have?
I love baseball because my father loves baseball, taught me the game, taught me what to watch. Aside from my family, the Sox have been the one constant since I've moved here. My following of the White Sox has been longer than any friendship I've had.
The funny thing is that I could have moved away from here for college, but I chose to stay near Chicago, because I was tired of moving around so much, and wanted some continuity. As silly as it may be, rooting for my baseball team is part of that. I email and phone my brother, now in Rome, and we've talked about the Sox constantly during this playoff run. I made sure we caught games when he came back to visit. Whatever "home" might be, in all of its connotations of warmth and comfort and ease, the White Sox is part of that for me and for my brother.
Although we strive to be the best in the small ways we can, it's so very rare and difficult to ever be the best. So we share the vicarious joy of our baseball team actually proving themselves to be so, because it shows, in a small way, that it can actually happen, that not everything is destined for endless cycles of failure or ruin.
It's also vindication for not being stupid, in a way. It's the reply to every time I've heard "why are you a *White Sox* fan?" ever since I started following this team when I moved back here as a sophomore in high school. It's for all the endless "who's better: Cubs or Sox?" arguments with friends, which always consisted of more Cubs fans than Sox fans in the north suburbs. It's a little payback for the agony of watching the Twins and the Indians always be just a little bit better (sometimes a whole crapload better) than the Sox every year.
I feel so good for Frank Thomas. He's the best player in the history of a franchise that is over a hundred years old, and has done everything there is to do: MVPs, All-Star Games, been in the playoffs, been the hero, will probably go into the Hall of Fame. But he never had the ring, never could get his proper due because he'd never won a championship. People blamed him because his personal greatness never lifted his teams high enough. And he didn't even play this year, except for 105 ridiculous at-bats (he homered 12 times), couldn't get into the action. But he was here, he stayed because he wanted to win one in Chicago, although he could have opted out of his contract and played somewhere else (although I won't get into the fact that no other team would pay him as much either). And now... vindication, for a guy that never should have needed it in the first place, because he was that damn good.