I was recently in attendance for the Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers series opener. You know, the one where Ken Griffey Jr. was introduced to the White Sox fans at "The Cell" as they like to call it.
This isn't a rant on how Griffey didn't start on the best foot. That would imply that Griffey was standing, seeing as he was usually on the bench during the offensive sides. When he did get up, he missed that old bench, so he went back as soon as he could without having to run. I guess opening night jitters can get to you.
But for me, I'm a Cubs fan, so what was I supposed to do. Rooting for the Sox is just plain impossible, but that's not the reason I was rooting for the Tigers that night.
I have a lot of family in Detroit, and they have really made the Tigers my second team. Another reason is that if I go to a sporting event, I have to choose a team to root for or it is just plain boring.
Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays, I have got to pick somebody to root for or I am asleep in the stands, so Lets Go Tigers! was yelled a lot throughout the night.
I love the friendly heckling, and I was lucky enough to avoid sitting with anybody who would truly hurt me. I was in the South Side of Chicago and that isn't the safest place in town to sit.
But all night, friendly jabbing back and forth with White Sox fans.
I had a girl in front of me who would tell me to shut up, hard to tell if she really meant it or was playing around, but that was really the worst it got.
I had a Sox fan next to me who was semi-decent. A few jabs, but they were always followed with friendly laughter.
But I wasn't just sitting there taking it, I was sure dishing it out. White Sox score a run or get a hit, so what, the Tigers are winning. Lets Go White Sox was a popular chant, but I wasn't in the mood for yelling all of that. I waited until they got to White Sox and yelled Tigers in reply.
Sure I was alone, but I was happy, I was having fun, and the game was sure as hell great.
When the game began extra innings, my friend leaned over and yelled, "Extra Innings BABY! Free Baseball!!!!!" We were just happy to be there, cheering on out teams. (he is a dedicated White Sox fans and his favorite player has always been Griffey, so he was pumped)
Then came the 14th inning, and Placido Polanco hits one, it's a laser, it's going, going, GONE! I was so exciting, high fiving the Tigers fan who was the only one left in my area. Sure I had to run up three rows to get to him, but we high fived like none other.
Then the Sox come up, they score one, but no biggie, the Tigers are still winning 8-7. Two outs, runners on the corners, and up comes big ol' Nick Swisher.
I looked up, saw .229 under the abbreviation AVG, and I say to my friend, "All you're going to here is swish when he swings the bat, no clunk, just swish as he collects all air."
Clever, original. With a name like Nick Swisher, I knew I was the first one to come up with that joke. Anyhoo, back to the story at hand. He comes up, two outs, game on the line, and he hits a fly ball.
We have seen many balls look just like that and end up being routine fly balls, so I get up and cheer with everybody else because I figured in half a second, I would be the only one standing.
Then the ball was caught, but not by Magglio Ordonez or Curtis Granderson, but by some fan sitting in right center, and I am left to sit there, absorbing every piece of trash I had delt throughout the past five hours of baseball. (No exaggeration, the game went 4 hours 58 minutes)
However, the experience was great. I recomend that if you find yourself going to a game where you have no affiliation to either team, and you are lucky enough to find yourself around a decent batch of fans, don't be afraid to voice your love for the opposing team.
Even if that love is only for one night.
I'm Joe W.