Thursday, May 25, 2006

White Sox

We rolled on down towards Joliet IL, all on the interstate which is more like time travel than seeing much of anything. You enter the tube at one place and then it’s lots of dotted lines and trucks with maybe a bridge thrown in for excitement. It is a luxury to just drive and follow knowing that Don has his GPS and has figured out the route and where we will stay. So I can just zone out, and immerse myself in the flow of the traffic, like going down a river.

Ohio rolls a bit, a familiar farmscape, with industry here and there, mostly warehouses that cover a lot of square footage but employing few people. South of Chicago, we go around the bottom edge where the vast suburban sprawl of a major city rolls on like lava. Our goal for this leg is to spend 2 nights and go to a real live major league baseball game. For me, the very first time!!

The campground is a little hard to find as it is a membership only park and doesn’t put signs all over the place. In addition, the mapping CD thinks a road goes through, but in fact it ends at a 4 track RR, so we have some careful navigating to do. The campground is very nice, caters to events like company picnics and family reunions, swimming pond and pool, volleyball, shuffleboard, tennis and a pretty big pond in the middle to fish and boat in. I find a canoe, but no paddles, alas. Our campsite is right on the lake and angled so that the long side of the trailer with all the windows looks out over the lake. Picture perfect.

Next day we venture into Chicago, big muscular city, I hear Sandburg’s words and Walt Whitman’s. We are guided to the parking lot and parked and head for the stadium. It is windy and partly cloudy and the water in the lake must be still nearly frozen because the damp chill goes right through our clothes. Windy city indeed, and a lungful of gelid air that makes me think of Frost’s poem Fire and Ice, thinking that Hell must be freezing cold, not hot. . We can see the impressive sky line of Chicago up to the NE, both the Sears tower, and the Hancock tower have two enormous silver antennas each on them that are shining in the sun light and looking like huge robots with ears.

The ballpark is huge, relatively new, was Comisky now US Cellular, not the ancient Wrigley field. That is the home of the Cubs, we are at the White Sox. I know some folks who set as a travel goal to see a ball game in all major league parks. We are way up high between home and third base, it gives me a little tingle of the willies at the height, but soon I am people watching like mad. There is a lot of AV stuff going on in here, a big screen that shows videos of the plays, the players and the advertisers. Long narrow screens along the front of the stands have linked visuals dancing along, and there are various other screens sending out a blitz of information. Baseball is madly all about numbers, so two screens are just telling us every possible statistic on this game, another tells us all about all the other games in both leagues. There is a sign that tells us how fast the pitches were(usually 90mph +++) and another that tells us where in this mini city to get which foods and which souvenirs. There is the usual organ music that goes with the game, inciting us to clap or shout and then there is rock music played really load and even a Karioke moment so we can all sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game, lots of noise except during the pitch when we wait for the satisfying crack of the bat slamming into the ball and hoping for a Home Run. We are in the cheap seats, and are segregated from the season ticket holders and box holders and expensive seats down below, we go up 4 escalators and there is no way to get down with the rich folks.

The game is good, close and then the White Sox win it over the Twins, so there is much happy shouting and jumping up and down, booing at the opposing pitcher and also booing people who have Twins clothing on. Every time a home run is hit, they set off fireworks which are nice and noisy but not much to look at in the daylight. We are among the very few that don’t have on a White Sox shirt and hat, most of them black with white letters. Beer is $6.00 a can, and the food goes on up from there. We make do with bars from my pocket book having spent a lot on the tickets and parking.

I like the game, and Don is using an official score card so we pay close attention to it. But I also like the people watching. Right next to me is Dad and 8 year old son. The have autographed balls, the usual hats and jerseys’ and Dad spends a fortune on junk food. It is clear that Dad wants this to be a special day and son is having a ball, but they seem to get up to go spend money more than actually watching the game. I imagine that it is Dad’s visitation day and he is trying to make up for things.

Down in front is a row of college age kids in Twins jerseys and to my right a row of older HS kids in Sox outfits who are sort of daring each other to be badder and rowdier than they are OK with. They harass the Twins fan with the name of the pitcher on his shirt and get most of the section in on the noise. Nothing comes of it, but I can feel the beer and anger level ratcheting up.

Further in front an oriental family with three very little children seems to be forever moving because they can’t or won’t figure out which seats are theirs. There is a Japanese second baseman named Iguchi and I imagine that the family is from Japan and came to see him play. The children are way too well behaved to be American children.

Periodically a ball is hit foul and people scrabble to catch it, sometimes it looks as though there will be a scuffle.

Then it is over, and we all stream out of the ballpark like a break in a dam and somehow all get in our cars and ooze out of the city. The highway is nearly at a standstill and we hear truckers on the CB wondering how come traffic is so horrible on a Sunday.

I like the tribal feeling, the affiliation with a group that is as temporary or as deep as you wish it to be, and requires nothing but good lungs, enthusiasm and perhaps an outfit. I have long thought that sports is war ritualized into a safe tribal conflict, testosterone and assertiveness released more or less harmlessly. I also see that discussing and even arguing over sports gives people a common and safe ground to talk on, kind of like the weather but more fun. I will confess, having grown up in a family where organized sports were non-existent and tennis was encouraged only for its social value, that I feel a little outside of this world most of the time. It is still hard for me to get very stirred up over what a ball is doing. We see the World Series trophy there at the park, a ring of silver flag poles with flags, a line of people are getting their pictures taken with it. “Look at me, part of the tribe that conquered the world !”


Post a Comment

<< Home