Once again we find ourselves confronted with the annual ritual of a Christian holiday that has been wrapped in Pagan trappings to make it more palatable to the huddled masses. All things considered, it is the most harmless one going.
It is now the time of year when young hearts flutter and men screw up the most basic idea of a holiday. All they have to do is get cleaned up, stay out of the bar for a night and buy some flowers and candy and they are pretty much good to go. Dinner and a movie aren’t bad ideas either. Yet, every year divorce courts fill up after February 15th because that simple precept somehow eludes men.
Oh well, hope springs eternal. Maybe this year will be the year men finally figure it out. After all, according to Baseball Prospectus, this is the Cubs’ year. So anything is possible.
Speaking of the Cubs, let’s start our Valentines with them. Led by their skipper, Lou Pinella, the Cubs have won the NL Central Division two years in a row and look poised to do so again. While some Cubs fans have finally come in off the ledge after the last two post seasons, expectations are running high for this team There are many who think that anything short of a World Series win will be a disappointing year. All joking aside, I feel sorry for those people. For the first time in over a century the Cubs are a serious threat to any team that faces them. The knocks on them about having Soriano lead off and Lou getting up there in years sound more the childish whining they are and not like valid reasons. Let’s face it, no matter how the Cubs do in the post season, assuming they make it, they are going to be a fun team to watch. As a baseball fan you can’t ask for much more than that.
Moving to the South Side, let’s talk about the team that has my heart on my sleeve. The Sox, lead by Ozzie Guillen, seem to be lampooned as often as they are lauded. Interestingly, the knocks on them tend to veer toward personal attacks. After all, since getting Guillen they have won two division championships and the World Series. Way to suck there guys! So, it is kind of hard to rip the team itself. Yet, we keep reading about how Reinsdorf (who is Jewish) is cheap, how Williams (who is black) is mentally incompetent (thanks Beane Ball) and how Guillen (who is Latin) is a screaming hot head. I guess he should be thankful they don’t have him singing Ba Ba Loo in the shower. Nevertheless, it is not a long look back into history to see where those types of comments come from. I am not sure which is worse; the fact that there are pinheads who buy into these stereotypes - facts be dammed - or the major publications that give them voice. No matter what, the Guillen led Sox play baseball the old fashioned way and are a pleasure to root for. Again, as a baseball fan you can’t ask for much more than that.
Moving toward the lake we stop by Soldier Field and the Bears. Since this is a Valentine’s blog, we’ll just move on.
Over on Madison street, the Bulls continue to exasperate fans and enthrall them. Usually in the same game. There is hope for this team and there are players, like Rose, who inspire awe at levels not seen in over a decade. There are other who, to be kind, could probably use a couple more years in college before playing again in the NBA. Even so, the heart and core of a franchise seems to be almost set. It isn’t there yet, even hard core fans can see that, but all the signs finally seem pointed up. So, with that in mind we wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day and sit back to try and enjoy the rest of the season.
Also in the Madhouse on Madison, The Chicago Blackhawks are simply, and dramatically, placing hockey once again at the forefront of Chicago sports. They are a young team with a seasoned coach that has decided “history be damned, we are going to beat you.” And, then they do. There is not a lot to say here since this is a team that is still writing its destiny. But, as a fan who stopped paying attention years ago, I must admit that it feels good to care about hockey again. Go Hawks!
Last, but certainly not least, we have The Chicago Fire. Coming off an exciting season under a new coach that saw them just miss playing for the championship, their fans are jazzed for this year. As well they should be. After the uncertainties of last year, with players coming and going as the season wore on, this year they are set to field the same winning team from game 1. If you can’t get stimulated watching this team play, then your veins are filled with embalming fluid.
As to the rest of you who may wonder why people care about sports in the first place, I can find no better story than the one posted by our very own Niteowl. It clearly shows how sports can be the generational glue that holds families together.
Grandson Has Youth Tryouts Today
During the 2007 youth baseball season I took my grandson Matthew to every practice and every game. After the season we followed him and his parents to Knoxville, Tennessee since his dad had a job with Dominos waiting for him.
Three weeks later they moved back to Louisiana leaving us in Knoxville with no money to move back so we missed his entire 2008 season. This kid loves baseball the way his Paw Paw Baseball (what he calls me) does and it hurt not being there for any of his games. He made the All Star team and his team lost in the state championship game.
Now his parents and younger brother have moved to Groves, Texas and today he will be trying out for the youth league there. Nobody will know what kind of player he is since they have never seen him before. He won’t have any coaches fighting over him like he has in the past since he is just another player until he can prove himself all over again.
For those who haven’t seen this video of Matthew pitching:
This is a very short video of him making a great play at third base:
I got nothing better than that, so CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE FUN!
Happy Valentines’ Day to each of you from each of us.