This weekend, regular-season baseball is in full swing – after Thursday’s home opener, the Cubs will wrap up their three-game stand against the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox hit the road to face those longhorns, the Texas Rangers (though apparently not the long arm of their new ace pitcher Yu Darvish).
Spring’s always a good time for a little self-reflection and without a doubt that can be a deep and twisted experience for lovers of the national pastime. It’s a tricky thing, to tie your identity in whole or in part to the fate of a team. But I’m never been truly bitten by the bug of baseball, never felt the angst of masochistic Cubs followers nor the feisty attitude of Sox fans.
There is plenty I like about baseball. The players with fantastic names (Angelo Dominic ‘Archi’ Cianfrocco is a classic example, a former Montréal Expo and a man who had not one but two fan clubs during his stint with the San Diego Padres), the sounds of the sport (the low-level pleasing buzz of a baseball field that can erupt at any moment into a chorus of cheers or boos). I even like what turns most people off the game: that for very long stretches, it can feel like absolutely nothing is going on. So relaxing!
The closest I’ve come to baseball fever was through that time-honored tradition: dating a guy smitten with the show. I was living in Montréal in the early to mid-90s, when being an Expos fan was actually a rewarding experience. My beau and I would bike all the way out to the Stade olympique and suffer its sleep-inducing bad air quality through a full seven innings. Seats were easy to come by, though eventually the crowds started showing up to watch star players like outfielder Marquis Grissom, base stealer Delino DeShields and the talented but temperamental pitcher Pedro Martinez.
Then came August 1994 and the players' strike that broke it all apart. The Expos had the best record in baseball (74-40) and many thought they’d not only go on to win 100 games but the World Series as well. Not to be. The strike cut the season short and, it turned out, dealt a death blow to the franchise. They traded some top talent away the next year, the fans left in droves, and by 2004, it was announced the team would move to Washington, D.C.
My relationship with the baseball bro and Montréal ended even earlier, when I moved on to the U.S. But I did keep up with some former Expo players, including outfielder Moises Alou, who wound up with the Chicago Cubs. Bad idea - remember the infamous game six of the 2003 National League Championship Series (check out this rap exhorting fans not to “blame Bartman”)? I came to my senses, realized how dangerously heartbreaking a sport baseball could be, and hung up my now well-faded Expos cap.
But don’t let my tale of despair deter you. As with lovers in love, hope springs eternal for baseball fans. So grab a seat at Wrigley Field, where irony of ironies, they'll face the Washington Nationals, and cross your fingers! Hey - tickets are apparently real cheap and plentiful this year! The rest of Weekender’s picks are below – enjoy!
Heady talk and a screening of Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray's adaptation of a RabindranathTagore work, Home and the World.
Who improvises better - poets or jazz musicians? Find out as they play together.
400 S State
Friday 8pm, Saturday 8pm
Ska revival, revived!
1245 Chicago Ave
Eggs and more to delight children 10 and under!
1801 S Indiana Ave