Now, I am a devoted White Sox fan and have been since I was a little boy. I remember falling asleep listening to Bob Elson on the radio, broadcasting the games for Friendly Bob Adams and Household Finance. And even though I've lived on the Northwest Side for 25 years, I've stayed a Sox fan, raising all of my children in the one true faith.
Allegiance to a baseball team is not something you change with the fashions. It is infused in your bones and your sinews and your synapses. It is part of what you are and who you are.
In Chicago, of course, we have both Cub fans and Sox fans. And for the most part, the rivalry is friendly... if somewhat pointed. You may have heard the song, "South Side Irish" over the recent high holy days. Chris, from The Partnership for an Idiot-Free America put up all the lyrics in a recent entry, but the last part of the last verse illustrates the point:
Our beloved Go Go White Sox -- and whoever plays the Cubs.
On Opening Day, everyone is in first place. Even the Cubs.
This year, Cub fans have particular reason to be optimistic. They have a new manager, Lou Piniella, and their team has spent the gross national product of a small country on free agents.
But some things don't change: Kerry Wood and Mark Prior will probably start the season on the disabled list. And poor Piniella -- who looked so tanned and rested last year on the Fox baseball broadcasts -- will probably melt down before Memorial Day.
Because team allegiance is encoded in your DNA, reasonable Sox fans don't mind serious Cub fans. Because they can be just as serious as any fan of a real baseball team... no, wait, let me rephrase that.
Oldest Son graduated from grammar school in 1999 -- during the Cubs / Sox interleague series. We were invited to a graduation party that day at the home of true blue Cub fans. The grandmother of Oldest Son's classmate, a German immigrant and a sweet lady on almost all other occasions, was (and is) the most fanatical of the bunch.
We arrived late to the party, because we had a delay at the restaurant. So we had a chance to see the game that day... and the Sox won... sweeping the series as I recall.
I walked in and said hello to our hosts and then went in search of the grandmother. I said hello to her.
And she hit me.
"All I said was hello!" I protested.
"Ja," she said, "but I know vat chu vas thinking!"
For her sake, I hope the Cubs do well this year. It would even be wonderful if the Cubs made it to the World Series... as long as they play the White Sox.
And the Sox sweep.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves: It's time to savor the arrival of Opening Day. And the hope that springs eternal... every Spring.
Besides, if you're in the same boat I am, Opening Day is all we have to look forward to: My NCAA bracket is toast.