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Family Traditions: Opening Day

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When you’re not religious and you live 1,000 miles away from your family and don’t travel because you’re poor and have 900 animals and are a John-Madden-level claustrophobic who’s afraid of flying, you don’t really have much opportunity for traditions and rituals. Well, we don’t, anyway. For example, we don’t have family gatherings for holidays like when I was a kid, where my parents and I hung out with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now, we tend to do whatever presents itself with friends, or nothing. Either way, it’s cool, because we’re not big holiday people.

The thing is, I’m not sure I want Soren to grow up with absolutely no holiday or holiday-like traditions. I mean, they can be really nice! When I was a kid, my spoiled only-child little heart spent weeks looking forward to Christmas at my grandparents’ house and the mountain of presents with my name on them. And my nana’s homemade noodles. Holy crap you guys the homemade noodles, drizzled with lightly browned butter — they were the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten and I haven’t had them since well before nana died in the 80s.

We don’t have big Christmases and homemade noodles and a nana who writes your name on plastic Easter eggs with goodies inside and hides them around their sprawling ranch house in Park Ridge, IL, but maybe we should have something. Maybe the answer is to create traditions where they’re meaningful for us. And if by “meaningful for us” I mean meaningful for me (and this is my blog so of course that’s what I mean), the answer is sports.baby's first Rockies game

I figure MLB Opening Day (capitalized because it’s a holiday!) is the best place to start. When you’re a sports fan, MLB Opening Day is exciting. It’s the start of so many things! It’s the start of summer, of biking to the game, of drinking beer while waiting for the sun to dip behind the Coors Field scoreboard, of missing Chicago, of laughing out loud at Ed Farmer (he’s funny!) and hearing commercials for Chicago pizza places, of waiting for Hawk Harrelson to yell “You can put it on the board . . . YES!!!” and Instagrammed pictures of baseball players nobody cares about except me and reading The Dugout (which seems to no longer exist) and watching the guys in the bullpen because the bullpen is one of my favorite things ever.

And seriously, if I can get kind of ridiculous and sappy for a minute, it’s the start of hope. Nobody makes me hope as much as the White Sox. This could be the year. Well, I mean, this probably won’t be the year what with the “R” word being thrown around and a manager who has more experience charging the mound than, well, managing, but still. With baseball, I always feel like it’s at least possible.

The question is which MLB Opening Day to celebrate. Opening Day in general? The first White Sox game? The first Rockies game? The first home game at Coors Field?

To tell you the truth I’m not a big fan of going to the first home game at Coors Field. It’s always way too crowded and they charge too much for tickets (for a while, if you wanted to buy tickets for Opening Day, you had to buy tickets for another game in that series, too — I don’t know if they still do this) and they run out of good beer (you almost don’t mind this because the lines for the good beer and the bathrooms are ridiculous). With a toddler, it’s even kind of hard to hang out anywhere around Coors Field that day — last year, I remember trying to go to Falling Rock Tap House and it was so ridiculously crowded even after the game started we gave up on the idea.

So at least for now, I’m thinking our MLB Opening Day will be a low-key event that involves watching the Sox, eating pizza, and hanging out. This year, it’ll have to happen for game 2 because we didn’t take Friday off work. But in the future, I think we should all take the day off of work or school for our Opening Day celebration. I mean, it’s fair to take holidays off, and this is our holiday. At least until Ben (the Cubs fan who, in typical Cubs fan fashion, can’t name 3 players on the active roster — love you, Cubs fans!) objects to the way I’m trying to make our kid a Sox fan.

Written by Tracy

April 4th, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Going to a Game Alone

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Last Wednesday, I went to the White Sox/Rockies game alone.

That’s kind of weird, right? As it turns out, not really. I actually had a pretty awesome time.

I don’t usually go to sporting events by myself, but last week, it just made sense. It was a few days before my spending fast went into effect. It was my favorite team (that doesn’t come to town often) in the world. I knew seeing the White Sox from our mediocre guys-night-out seats on Tuesday wouldn’t be enough. I was ready for a night out without the kid, and I’m more into sports than traditional girls’ night out stuff. I was more interested in seeing my team than socializing. So what the hell?

TJ Hoochmandzadeh

If all else fails, dress up like TJ Hoochmandzadeh.

The good news is that, because I was buying only one ticket, I got an awesome seat at almost the last minute, at face value. (For Rockies games, you can now see available seats when you’re buying online. There were a few great single seats left; two seats together were in less-awesome locations.)

I rolled up to the game during the first inning. I didn’t plan to be late (that’s just, apparently, how I roll) but that ended up being a good thing because I didn’t have to worry about entertaining myself before the game started (honestly, all the pre-game crap bores me). I found my super-awesome seat (Section 135, Row 15, Seat 3) and had a great time with a bunch of strangers. My team even won!

Here are my tips for solo game attendance:

  • If you’re cool, chance are other people will be cool. This applies especially if you’re like me and you come representing the visiting team. I was lucky and had a seat near other White Sox fans. (They came from New Mexico just to see the Sox!) It was like having instant game friends — we were high-fiving each other and carrying on like the big giant dorks we are as if we’d known each other for years. We all laughed when Rockies fans made fun of us and I fist bumped Rockies dude who fist bumped everybody when the Rockies did something good and even a Cubs fan on the way out (he was all, “Hey! There’s a Sox fan!”).
  • Drink beer if you want. Don’t drink beer if you don’t want. Do whatever you’d normally do but probably don’t get shitfaced.
  • Don’t count on listening to the game on headphones. I’d hoped to totally dork out by listening to the White Sox radio broadcast on the MLB app, but the broadcast lagged way behind the live action — the count would be 1 ball and 2 strikes, and the radio broadcast had the guy just coming to the plate. It was too annoying so I gave up. A local radio broadcast might be more timely.
  • If it makes you feel more comfortable, have something to do in addition to watching the game. I was too excited to worry about feeling awkward, but I also kept busy by taking tons of pictures. You could keep score (I don’t even know how to do that), try to Shazam everybody’s walk-up music, or provide witty and insightful Twitter updates.
  • My theory is that the better the seat, the less likely you are to feel weird. It’s much easier to pay close attention to the game if you have a good seat. That means you’ll be able to pay close attention to the game and so will everybody around you. In my experience, you’re less likely to be around a big group of people getting wasted when you’re in the good seats (that said, those can be fun, too — it’s just a different scene).
  • Realize you’re not the only one. I did it and had fun! And I’m not the only White Sox fan to go to the game by myself. (Another tip: If you’re looking for other fans of an out-of-market team, check message boards. I didn’t think to do this ahead of time but if I had, I could’ve met even more White Sox fans who came in just for the games.)
  • Have fun and remember nobody is as worried about how you look as you are!
Sox vs. Rockies

non-zoomed view from my seat

Written by Tracy

July 5th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

White Sox/Rockies Photos

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Written by Tracy

June 29th, 2011 at 11:08 pm

I’m going to see Mark Buehrle!

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One of my last expenditures before the spending fast kicks in was for one ticket to Wednesday’s Rockies/White Sox game at Coors Field. I got the best seat I could find for a price that didn’t make me cry (it’s much easier to find one ticket than two). Soren and Ben are staying home. I’m going to be that asshole who goes to the game by myself and acts a fool because Mark Buehrle is pitching. OMFG you guys, and it pains me to type “OMFG” here and make you read that kind of ridiculousness. Mark Buehrle is one of the last remaining Sox players who was there for the 2005 World Series. Mark Buehrle wishes Michael Vick would get injured (granted, Mark Buehrle also hunts so this is somewhat hypocritical, but still). I’m sitting kind of between home plate and the visitors’ dugout. OMFG you guys. This is one of the most exciting things, ever. I’ll take lots of pictures, because I believe that is the proper course of action when you go to a game by yourself like a big fat dork. (But seriously, I’d rather be a big fat dork at the White Sox game than go with Ben and my kid, no offense, because when you go to the game with a toddler, you don’t get to actually watch the game. And also no offense, but I can’t go with anyone who doesn’t love the White Sox, which is pretty much everybody I know, because then you just sit there and talk and don’t pay attention to the game.) OMFG you guys.

P.S. If you’re a White Sox fan in Denver and you’re going to the game on Wednesday, email me now!!!

Written by Tracy

June 23rd, 2011 at 10:12 pm

My team sucks ass.

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Normally, I don’t wear White Sox apparel around my neighborhood because I worry it’s not safe. It’s unlikely my dorky ass will be mistaken for a member of the gang that uses the Sox logo, but I figure safe > sorry. Now, in addition to not wanting to accidentally represent as a gangster, I don’t want to wear White Sox gear because it’s fucking embarrassing.

What’s the proper course of action when your team sucks ass?

Hey, I joined a gang.

You'd be unhappy too if you were wearing this shirt.

In the early days of this season’s suckitude, I’d tune into each game with an inexplicably renewed sense of hope. I’d feel pretty good about things and the White Sox would end up ahead until their bullpen completely tanked and lost the game. After that, I’d tune into games with a guarded prognosis, feeling like there was some chance of things maybe, possibly turning out okay until the Sox scored zero runs and the other team scored one or more and I realized this was futile because we needed at least a 97-run lead before turning things over to the bullpen. We (I apologize for being one of those assholes who sometimes refers to my team as “we.” I know this drives people nuts and I understand that but I kind of have to do it anyway, at least once in a while. Cut me some slack. We’re 11-21. The fact that I’m willing to associate myself with 11-21 by referring to “we” should count for something.) never had a 97-run lead.

Eventually I tuned in sporadically, which included watching and listening to (I tend to listen to the radio broadcast at the gym, because the video always craps out on me) us win the first two games of a four-game series with the Yankees. Do you know what I love more than beating (I know, as if I have anything to do with that) the Yankees? My kid. Beer. Not much else. Then we lost two to the Yankees and even though we split the series, losing the last two goes a long way toward killing off the buzz we got from winning the first two.

After that, my memory is hazy, but I think we never won another game. (No wait, we won one, against the Orioles.) We were no-hit by a guy with a 9+ ERA who had never even pitched a complete game in his life even in little league when he played against kids half his age. The next day, we were no-hit by Jose Mesa. Okay, that part is a joke, but still. I had to read tweets about how Francisco Liriano isn’t really a keeper in fantasy leagues because, well, he’s not that good and it was the White Sox.

Any time anyone and it wases your team, you know you’re fucked.

So what do you do? You still wear your hat and shirt, maybe, but only to the gym. It’s not like we’re going to break up over this shit. I mean, if we were married, this level of sheer crappy behavior and your complete and utter disregard of my feelings and desires might warrant divorce or at the very least tedious counseling or a formal separation agreement, but we’re not married. You’re just my team. You’ve technically never made any promises to me. I mean, I could stop being your fan right now and you’d never even notice. Fuck, that’s depressing. You’d notice, wouldn’t you?

Then you have shit like this tweet from Brent Lillibridge. Look. I’m not going to hate on Brent Lillibridge. He kind of has more cojones than the rest of the guys put together this year. He made two batshit crazy catches that helped the Sox beat the Yankees. Twitter blew up with Yankees fans talking about how Lillibridge just fucked the tri-state area. It was glorious. Although he’s a dorky, teapot-looking kid, you kind of love Brent Lillibridge.

Then he tweeted this:

That was a test to all #whitesox fans. Most of you passed. Great positivity, love it, we feel the same way. Back at it 15 hours 9:26 PM May 3rd

Wait, what? That shit just pisses me right off. You completely sucking ass is not a test to me or anyone else unfortunate enough to like your sorry-ass team. And if it were a test, I’d gladly fail. What would my punishment be? Liking a shitty team? Oh wait.

Listen. There is no positivity. If you feel the same way your fans do, you’re spending the night gripped in the clutches of insomnia to the point where no matter how many times you move you can’t get comfortable and the sheets and pillow are all hot and stale feeling, staring at your ceiling, wondering what Nietzsche would say about the existential dilemma as reflected in your displaced love of someone incapable of bringing a shred of joy into your life. What would Nietzsche say about the 2011 White Sox? I think he would say this:

The White Sox are dead.

You suck. You don’t get to piss me off right now. So shut up. If you’re feeling positive about anything more sophisticated than your ability to use a toilet more often than not, you need to put down the crack pipe and get with the real world, bucko. The fact that I just used the word “bucko” indicates the dire seriousness of this thankless situation.

There were good and bad aspects of wearing a White Sox shirt to the gym tonight. On the positive side, I think its human-repelling properties protected me from the salesy people roaming the floor talking to people. (It was either that or the fact that I, as always, cut my bangs too short, which makes me look like someone who does roller derby and wants to kill you.) On the negative side, while I was doing lat pulldowns, I looked at the tv, which was on ESPN, and saw something like “Should the White Sox make a change at manager?” while showing Ozzie Guillen. I shit you not, I almost wanted to cry.

Written by Tracy

May 5th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Happy Baseball Eve!

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Baseball!Although my teams don’t play until Friday, I’m super-excited about opening day! I hope this is an awesome season for the White Sox and the Rockies. I’m also happy to report that Soren, who doesn’t really talk yet, said the word “sock” today while holding a sock. Next up, I’ll ask him what his favorite baseball team is and he’ll respond with an enthusiastic “Sox!”

I’ll have my yearly Rockies at-bat music/walk-up music post up ASAP. Remember when Spilly used this song?

Written by Tracy

March 30th, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Rerun: I Love the White Sox

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Music: We were listening to the top 25 songs on Hype Machine earlier and it was pretty sweet. I’m especially digging this Evil Woman remix right now.
I’m feeling exceptionally lazy today, so here is a post from 2009 wherein I admit something terribly embarrassing and discuss my love for the Chicago White Sox. (They’re coming to Denver this year! This means I’ll get to see them live, in person, for the first time ever! If you’re an enthusiastic White Sox fan in Denver and plan to go to one or more of the games, email me, because you’re my people and I’d like to meet you!)
I’m going to admit something right now that I should’ve admitted a long time ago and will make me lose whatever credibility I might have had with sports fans. Are you ready?

I was a bandwagon White Sox fan.

I know! You should stop reading this right now and never visit my site again. Seriously, that’s how lame this is and how bad I feel about it.

The truth is that I never liked baseball. I’ve mentioned this before, but my grandma (we called her Nana) was a Cubs fan. She always had Cubs games on TV at her house, and I thought they were the most boring thing in the world. I remember getting yelled at for changing the channel a few times.

I’ve told the story before about how basketball was my gateway drug and I started with the Boston Celtics (no idea why, and please forgive me) and the DePaul Blue Demons (when Tyrone Corbin was there). I later added football and the occasional tennis or Olympic stuff, but never, ever baseball.

Until 2005. I don’t even remember why I started watching the playoffs that year because at that point, I had probably never watched an entire baseball game in my life. Baseball was boring! But in 2005, I realized that it wasn’t boring at all.

In my defense, I’ll say that I watched and cheered for the White Sox from the beginning of the playoffs that year. I knew nothing about the sport and had no idea if they had a chance. There was just something about them that made me want to watch baseball, something that despite all my exposure to the sport had never happened before.

my boyfriend

I didn’t take this picture.

I picked up on a few things right away. I really, really like pitching. I love the pitcher/catcher dynamic and I love the mental part of the game. Baseball probably seems boring because so much of the good stuff is pretty subtle — stuff like the movement of a pitch is nothing like a good quarterback sack or big interception. It’s quiet and beautiful, really, and I never took the time to notice that before.

Oh and, of course, I really, really like Jon Garland.

So I was hooked. With each game, I got more and more into it. When the White Sox swept the defending champion Boston Red Sox (a team I knew enough to hate even then), I was thrilled. The series against the Los Angeles Angels ["of Anaheim" intentionally omitted] was crazy, with the Angels (a team I like) winning one game and then getting Pierzynskied, and complete games from Mark Buehrle, my boyfriend Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, and Jose Contreras. Then came the Astros, a team I strongly dislike for no identifiable reason, and the Sox swept them. The playoffs were almost perfect for the White Sox. It was absolutely amazing.

The 2005 playoffs probably were the best experience I will ever have as a baseball fan, and I guess it kind of sucks that I had to use that up so early in my relationship with baseball (although I suppose it sucks a lot less than loving a team that never wins for your entire life). I don’t know whether the White Sox will win another World Series in my lifetime. If they do, I don’t know if it will be as magical as 2005. I mean, seriously, not to repeat myself, but it was really freaking amazing.

So yeah, if I were into cheesy metaphors I might say something about how the White Sox “swept me off my feet” (I really, really hate that phrase) and I fell madly in love with them. Because that’s really what happened. My relationship with the White Sox started out hot and steamy. We didn’t grow up together and become friends first, falling in love only after I spent years wearing their oversized sweatshirts and drinking lemonade or pilfered Old Style in the sunshine at Comiskey. Does that make my love for them less valid? I don’t know, but I’m going to stop writing shit that sounds like Sex and the City for sports fans right now.

Even though I really shouldn’t be, I’m a little ashamed of becoming a White Sox fan the year they won the World Series. Because I want to make up for that, I’ve vowed to be the most loyal and dedicated White Sox fan I can be for the rest of my life. Sure, I’ll follow and cheer for the Rockies because I live in Denver, but the White Sox will always be my #1 team. Always. I’ll always wear White Sox gear, shell out $$$ for MLB Extra Innings, get White Sox text updates, and watch every one of their games I can, which is almost all of them. I hope my kid will be a White Sox fan one day, after he’s born, of course (although believe me, I wish I could get him hooked up with in-womb audio of Sox broadcasts — you’re never too young to listen to Hawk Harrelson, after all).

What inspired this sordid confessional? Well, this afternoon, Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It just so happened that I was at home for lunch when the game was in the sixth inning, and I got a text message saying that Mark Buehrle had a perfect game going. I turned on the TV and watched the rest of that game on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV, cheering, clapping, Tweeting (I’m addicted to that shit), and, yes, unfortunately, at some points actually jumping up and down. The amazing (there’s that word again, sorry) pitching and the magic (Holy crap, did you see that catch by Dewayne Wise? I will never talk shit about Dewayne Wise again for the rest of my life. That shit was bananas!) brought me back to 2005 and those electric days I had with my new love, the Chicago White Sox. This is what baseball is all about. This is why I love baseball.

You’ll notice that, way back at the beginning of this post, I didn’t admit that I “am” a bandwagon White Sox fan — I intentionally used past tense. I hope I’m allowed to move past my questionable beginnings and take my place as a legitimate fan. I’m going to be one for a long, long time.

I mean, holy crap.

P.S. Yes, I do make fun of Cubs fans. I can’t help it.

Written by Tracy

March 3rd, 2011 at 8:33 pm