Hellfire and Damnation!: Theology and Chicago Fandom

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hellfire and Damnation!: Theology and Chicago Fandom

. Friday, August 29, 2008

Entitled "Heaven and Hell," I believe

There's a question I get semi-regularly that bothers the absolute shit out of me. Hyperbole aside, each time I hear some mouth-breathing jackass gibber out this inane trash, it's like two-inch fingernails scraping the chalkboard at the very nexus of my soul:

"Oh, so you're a Cubs fan, huh? The White Sox won the championship a couple of years ago - you must have been happy. At least someone from Chicago won it, right?"

What. The. Fuck. I understand that the time and attention I devote to a game I played as an eight year old often borders on the unhealty, and that the food and booze I consume in association with the game surely tips the scale the Reaper's way, but are you out of your worm-eaten mind? Hey, fucko, let's try these on for size:

"Can I wait to see who is winning first?"

- "Oh, you're from Ireland? You must really like Notre Dame and other Catholic things. Northern what? Protest-huh?"
- To Picasso, post-Guernica: "Oh, you're from Spain? Sucks about the facism, but at least someone from Spain won the Spanish Civil War. That's cool, right?"
- To a bald-headed British hooligan: "Oh, you like Chelsea? Well, I bet you're glad Manchester United won the cup. At least someone from England did, right? Ow! Stop stabbing me."
- To the other survivors: "Oh, you survived the zombie apocalypse too? Sucks that we have to live in caves and eat rats, but at least something vagely humanoid in appearance rules the planet now, eh?"

Honestly, I believe the problem stems from many who would count themselves among our number. Too many Cubs "fans" bought Sox hats and car stickers when the South Side Stepchildren won the title in '05. People who informed you during the 2003 Cubs run that they were "Cubs fans for life" were suddenly sneaking off to Bridgeport to bask in the glory of fairweather fandom. I'm sure these soulless front-runners are part of the reason that I now have to pay for one last-minute ticket what I used to pay for four of the fuckers just two years ago.

Unfortunately, traitors are no longer court martialed as in revolutionary times

Oh, you just want to root for your city? The ugliness of the two Cubs/Sox series a year isn't your speed? As long as Chicago is doing well, then you're happy? Wrong answer - proceeded directly to Gofuckyourself - leave your tickets for the people who used to have to watch Juan Pierre in centerfield. If you grew up with Chicago baseball, then you know there is only one certainty year in and year out - each of us must choose. Every little kid grows up with exposure to both teams - hell, my Boy Scout troop used to go on a field trip to Comiskey (before it was Comiscelluar). But by the time you're of sound and reasoning mind (read: no longer wearing glow in the dark pajamas), you must throw your lot in with either the Blue or the Black side of town. Who you choose will probably be directly influenced by the number of cigarette burns your clothing has.

The only reason people fondly remember the douche that was Michael Barrett

My intention is not to make this another "I hate the White Sox" column. This is for those jelly-spined douchebags who are Sox fans with their blue-collar friends and Cubs fans around their college drinking buddies. When one team or another goes on a hot streak, suddenly these people have been Cubs/Sox fans all their lives. With both teams currently in first place, I'm hearing more and more "I'm a Cubs fan, but I'm also a Sox fan" and vice-versa. Bullshit. You are not fans of both - you are, more likely, an asshole.

For six games a year, they hate her and she hates them - as it should be

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I have a certain amount of respect for true fans who stick by their team through the 90 loss years and the inevitable shit talking. This even applies, grudgingly and only after 24 years on this earth, to fans of the ... ahem ... White Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees. At least these people have the courage to stick by their team through thick and thin and continue buying $7 beer, $5 hot dogs, and $170 jerseys when the team's only All-Star is a league-mandated backup choice. Better to share this city with a thousand Sox fans drinking Steel Reserve cans from paper bags than to have to sit around one guy who suddenly "rediscovered" his "lifelong love" of the Cubs when he saw in the Trib that they were 6 games up in the division and might go to the playoffs. These are the people who react as if the world is ending when they spill beer on their new, overpriced Soto jersey. Forget that, these are the people who have their own names on the jersey. I'd rather share a beer with someone I stridently disagree with than have to listen to the half-informed ramblings of someone whose loyalties come and go like the winds at Wrigley.

And you know who agrees with me? Dante Aligheri.

Doing a Google Images search on The Divine Comedy is actually kind of a bummer

In Canto III of "The Divine Comedy," (in which the poet traverses the different levels of Hell) Dante comes across punishments that grotesquely mirror the crimes these tormented souls committed in life. My $45,000 literature degree tells me the term for this is Contrapasso. One of the classes of Hellbound souls Dante comes across is the Neutrals. Their crime is never having taken sides in life - they sat on the sidelines, invisible, hoping to not make waves or experience adversity. They were really only interested with making the most comfortable lives for themselves, devoid of any substantial ethics. Sure, you say, this is pretty good. But the best is what they're damned to do.

As proven earlier this season, you can't be on the fence at Wrigley. Thank you, I'll be here all week.

The Neutrals, as punishment for having never taken a stand, are forced to endlessly chase a meaningless whirling banner in circles, never getting an inch closer to achieving their goal. While doing so, they are constantly attacked by biting flies and wasps, which I imagine pisses the shit out of them. Their blood, sweat, and tears, according to Dante, provide a ... damn, this is gross ... "harvest" for the maggots. But honestly, how fitting is that for our current situation? These glory-hounding jackasses, never wanting to suffer through losing, end up chasing a banner that, in the end, means nothing to them. Their blood, sweat, and tears go for naught because they have never committed to an ideal during their lives as Cubs/Sox "fans."

Two flags is very, very lame - much lamer than either alone

Is this all melodramatic, harsh, and a bit, shall we say, unbalanced? Yes, yes it is. But my point is clear - choose, you bastards! Lest you end up as the guy in your circle of friends known as the bandwagon hopper. No one likes that person.

Remember the last time you thought bandwagon jumping was a good idea?

I also acknowledge the existence of a third option - not giving a shit. And given that we live in an enormous city with tremendous diversity, that's an option that I respect. The guys selling knockoff Chivas de Guadalajara shirts down Lawrence probably don't care as much about the game. Nor does the U of C anthropology professor who would rather listen to atonal monologues on the perils of upper-middle class existence via NPR than hear Ron Santo or Hawk Harrelson go through more mood swings than Kirstie Alley trying to get into her skinny jeans. Hell, I don't care about Battlestar Galactica/Veganism/Russian Literature, but these things are very important to people, and I respect their right to love and argue over them.

Not a comfortable place to sit

So, dear readers, all I ask you to do is take a good look inside. Think to yourself, "have I ever said 'I'm a Sox/Cubs fan, but also a Cubs/Sox fan'?" Ask whether you were happy at municipal glory, or just a glory-hound. Think of whether you've actually made the fateful choice that defines Our Fair City in the summer months. Don't be a Cusack. Stand up for what you believe.

Oh, and enjoy your weekend.