If you haven’t read Sunday’s column, I posted it below. If it’s too long for you, well, here’s the gist of things:
I’m going to see my Cubs play my buddy’s Cards in Busch Stadium over the Fourth of July weekend. I love the Cubs, but I’ll be in the vast minority. Plus, the Cubs are in first place and the Cards are chasing them. It’s a big rivalry anyway, but it’s bigger when the teams are good.
A) Wear my Cubs hat in rival territory.
B) Wear my Cubs hat and Ron Santo jersey in rival territory.
C) Wear shorts and T-shirt with no indication that I’m a Cubs fan.
d) Get over it; it’s no big deal being The Guy Who Wears The Rival Team’s Jersey In The Home Team’s Ballpark.
Let me know.
Here’s the column:
Am I about to become That Guy?
I’m about to be That Guy.
I usually look down on That Guy. Well, the That Guys who annoy me, anyway. I guess this time they’re Those Guys.
You know Those Guys. Sure you do.
The, I Know A Lot About This Sport, So I’m Going To Talk A Little Too Loud And Too Often To Make Sure Everybody Knows I Know A Lot About This Sport Guy.
I hate That Guy.
Or how about the, I Yell At The Ref/Ump All The Time Guy?
Hate That Guy, too.
There are others.
The, I Drink Too Much And Then Curse Too Much Even Though Kids Are Sitting All Around Me Guy.
The, I Won’t Stop Talking Trash Even Though My Team Is Getting Drilled By Four Touchdowns Guy.
The, I Bring My Glove To The Game Even Though I’m 42 Years Old Guy.
The, I Get Mad When People Are Standing Up In Front Of Me Even Though It’s A Big Moment In The Game Guy.
The, I Am Wearing The Rival Team’s Jersey In The Home Team’s Ballpark Guy.
Uh-oh, wait a minute.
I can proudly say I’ve never been any of Those Guys.
And there’s still a chance I can keep my dignity and refrain from any of the above.
Just not a good one.
Next week, over the Fourth, I will get my first look at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where the hated Cardinals will be hosting my beloved and all-of-a-sudden slumping Chicago Cubs. It’s the Yankees/Red Sox of the Midwest, only the Cubs rarely have anything to hang their hats on when compared to the Birds. It’s that whole “haven’t won a world series in a century” thing.
But this year — if die-hards like me can ignore the recent Cubs’ malaise for a moment — it’s Chicago with the early upper hand in the NL Central Division. The Cubs have at times held the major leagues’ best record in baseball, and entering Sunday’s games, hold a 3 1/2-game edge on the Cardinals.
First-place Cubs against second-place Cards at their place. Last year a buddy of mine and I drove 15 hours for 2 1/2 innings in Wrigley last August before a rainstorm killed our one shot at the true taste of the rivalry we’ve always heard about, but never truly felt.
This time I’m going to get it. And maybe all of it. Directed right at me.
I have two shots this time at seeing Cubs/Cards. Tickets for the Fourth and July 5. In St. Louis. In Busch. But with another friend. Who loves the Cardinals.
And all of that is fine. My buddy and I may boast the most civil Cubs/Cardinals friendship in the world. Seriously. We get along great, no matter how tight the race is. Considering that I have a close Duke friend who I won’t talk to for a week if the Tar Heels lose to the Blue Devils, I find this downright remarkable.
But I may be putting all of that on the line.
Not because I’m a Cubs fan. Because I may look like a Cubs fan.
To reiterate: In St. Louis. In Busch.
I can’t see not wearing the hat. I just can’t. I’ve never been to a college, minor or major league game without wearing a hat. And the Cubs hat I’ll likely wear is kind of tame. It’s got the Cubs’ Bearface logo from 1968 on the front. It’s my favorite. I have to wear it.
The jersey, though, I’m a little worried about.
A sea of red, I’m presuming, with Cubs fans dotted here and there throughout the stadium. That’s the scene I figure I’ll find. The same thing happened with Cards fans in Wrigley last summer, and it’s fine. But, on the bus back to the train, my buddy and I were ready to let the Cardinals fan with a blinking Cards hat have it.
He was That Guy for our trip. And he always will be. And, even though we both know better, he’ll be the face — and hat — we’ll see forever when we’re in one of our hating-the-Cardinals moments. (I mean, c’mon. The hat had blinking lights over the “StL” logo on the cap. You just can’t let that go, not when he’s sitting across from you on the bus. You just can’t.)
It’s still too soon for me to wear the Mark Grace jersey. He needs to be retired a few more years for me to break that one out at a game again.
The Ron Santo one, on the other hand, is another story.
Santo, like my mother did, has battled the dregs of diabetes for most of his life, and is a hero of mine. The should-be Hall of Famer played his incredible career by controlling his blood sugar with candy bars and Cokes. He had to. It was the only way for a while. And he did it without telling anybody.
But Santo The Diabetic is also Santo The Cub, and Santo The Cubs Radio Broadcaster, who can really get on Cardinals’ fans nerves. And it’s a beautiful blue pinstriped jersey. And it’ll stand out amongst all that hideous red.
As I sit here now, less than a week and a 12-hour drive to my buddy’s house in Illinois, I’m leaning toward wearing both hat and Santo jersey. Even though I figure I’m setting myself up for ridicule should the Cubs play poorly, or searing looks of death should they play well, I feel like I’d be letting all Cubs fans down if I didn’t stride into that stadium in my Chicago best.
I think I’ll be OK, considering I’m not any of Those Guys mentioned above.
It’s sitting next to one of them in my full Cubs’ regalia that has me worried.