Monday, January 07, 2019

My Wife Just Doesn't Understand

Last night was a horrific night for Chicago Bears fans across the universe as the Chicago Bears's kicker Cody Parkey hit the post and crossbar on a kick that would have given Da Bears a post-season win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Parkey had hit the post on several kicks previously in the season (four in one game!), and the miss, foreseen by many Bears fans, left me and, I'm sure, others stunned and numb.

After having a little time to lick my wounds, I went out with my wife to get some new tennis shoes for myself, then a late dinner. Over dinner, we rehashed the Bears game and talked about being a sports fan and following teams. My wife has never really been  into sports and finds it difficult to understand how something like a lost game can mean so much and affect so many fans to the extent that it does.

To explain it, I reference my background in viewing sports and rooting for teams. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and all my life, I have rooted for all the Chicago professional sports teams -- Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox. There were even some years of rooting for professional soccer teams like the Chicago Sting, but I am not including those teams here. I therefore rooted for five sport teams each year. How was my dedication rewarded with championships?

I grew up in the 1960's and was too young for the 1961 Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory and the Bears 1963 championship. My sports memories began around 1966-1967. I faithfully cheered for all the Chicago teams, but dang -- what about some team winning a championship? I finally got my first one with the Bears Super Bowl victory in 1986. In effect, I had rooted for Chicago teams for about 100 seasons until one finally took home a championship.

The Chicago Bulls totally became the Chicago's team with the first real dynasty in my lifetime, capturing six championships in eight years in the 1990's. My usual poker gear includes a hat from that era that celebrates the double triple crowns.

Throw in more years of waiting, and finally my beloved White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They did not repeat, so there were more years of waiting until the Blackhawks, a team that had always been good while I was growing up and then were terrible in some of my adult years, won three Stanley Cups in  a five year span. Pretty heady stuff. While not quite as great as the Bulls dynasty, the mini-dynasty was quite a ride.

In 2016, the ultimate Chicago sports orgasm occurred when the Cubbies won their first World Series in over 100 years. Although they haven't repeated, they are still a threat for 2019.

So ... in approximately 250 seasons of sports fandom and dedication, I have seen 12 championships. As for Da Bears, they have only been to two Super Bowls and have won one -- not quite so rewarding for my 40+ years of following the team. They have not won a championship for 32 years. Whenever I hear things like "Bears football" -- which really means having a crushing defense, to me the Bears football tradition includes lots of years of suckage. They were not even projected to have a winning record this season, so to see the team play so well was quite a trip. They could have won almost every regular season game and lost some close ones. If only they had inched a little better toward the top and could have had a bye for this year's Wild Card Weekend.

I know my wife cannot possibly understand how much sports means to some people, especially when we pour our heart and soul into our teams -- and how a sudden, bitter defeat can just knock the wind out of our sails. How a championship can sometimes relieve all the hurt spent rooting and rooting and rooting for a team to win.

I distinctly remember when the Bears won that Super Bowl in 1986. I still have packed away the Super Bowl program from that event -- stained with champagne that I happily slurped that wonderful day. My wife was there to hug me when my tears flowed when Patrick Kane scored the winning phantom goal to nab the Stanley Cup in  2010. But there were other not-so-glorious moments: Black Wednesday for the White Sox; the collapse of the 1969 Cubs; the Blackhawks painful Game 7 Stanley Cup loss to the Canadiens; the Bartman game; and last night.  And through it all, my wife just doesn't understand ...


Blogger Susan said...

I'm sorry I don't get it. Just like I don't get girls passing out from seeing the Beatles, or needing to follow every move made by the Kardashians or the Royals. It's just putting too much energy and emotion into something or someone over which I have no control and which has no impact on my daily life. But because I love you, I'm sorry it happened this way.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Pete P. Peters said...

BooooHoooo. Only 12 Championships.... Try being a Jets, Mets, Knicks, Rangers fan born in NY in 1973. Then come back and write another blog post . . .

P.S. Condolences on Sunday.

6:44 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

PPP - I'm not sure how you divide up the New York/New Jersey teams/boundaries. I root for all the Chicago teams and there is little ambiguity at which teams they are since Milwaukee, Indianapolis and St. Louis are sufficiently far away.If we start you off at eight years old and add in the other "New York" teams (Yankees, Islanders, Giants, Devils and Nets), just those teams alone give you 15 championships (Yankees - 5; Giants - 4; Islanders - 3; Devils - 3; Nets - 0).

8:31 AM  
Blogger Pete P. Peters said...

Sir, any self-respecting sports fan does not root for "all [insert city/state] teams." A Jets/Giants or Mets/Yankees fan is simply a loyalty-less front-runner. It's like being a Cubs/White Sox fan. Can you imagine such a person?

8:35 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

The fact that you might not have the cognitive resources to understand my position does not diminish the majesty of it in any way, sir.

I am waiting for thundering36 to chirp in about how I am not a "real" Cub fan. Of course, I was our mother's favorite son - something he has never quite gotten over, u see.

9:21 AM  
Blogger thundering36 said...

Young lightning, best you take the wise words of your learned friend, PPP, to heart. Did you actually attend any Cubs games prior to my return to Chicago in 2000, and if so, please state the proportion of Cubs games to White Sox games that you attended in the 25 years I was away. And, sorry, I can never forget, nor forgive, your actions that one day at Sox park when you gave a standing ovation to the Sox when they beat the Cubs.

And what kind of a son would leave his mother's 80th birthday party to attend a Sox game, even if it was a World Series game?

Considering what your dear wife has to put up with from you in a multitude of situations, perhaps you are the one who just doesn't understand what we all do about tolerating your sporting foibles.

Oh yeah, how are dem Bears going? Maybe next year...

5:58 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

My favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals and my second-favorite is the Boston Red Sox. Ahem, how am I doing?

7:54 PM  
Blogger FlushhDraw said...

See now I don't understand why your wife doesn't understand because women understand things of the heart. Sports fans who have followed and rooted and have been loyally devoted to our sports teams we put our heart and soul into it and I would think a woman would understand that completely even if they don't understand what we're putting our heart and soul into the fact that we're putting it into something should be all the reasoning needed for complete comprehension understanding.

I'm a little curious though I thought that if you rooted for the Cubs you weren't allowed to root for the White Sox and vice versa just like in New York they are either Yankee fans or Mets fans. Is it different in Chicago??

As far as that kicker goes after what he did during the regular season I didn't foresee him having a job next season with the Bears anyway and the toughest part of that whole Bears loss for you fans to swallow would have to be that he nailed that kick but Philadelphia had called timeout before the snap so then all he has to do is repeat what he did 30 seconds ago and the great Paul Harvey would have said........ Now you know the rest of the story.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Yeah, logically, it really is hard to understand why we live and die so much with our sports teams. It makes even less sense these days. Back when you and I were kids and first getting into sports, at least then the teams all stayed relatively the same year after year. But these days, with free agency, almost no one stays on your favorite team very long. A few years after winning a championship (or coming close) you can't even recognize your team. Yet we still get deliriously happy when they win and inexplicably sad when they lose.

Now to some degree, I have to agree with PPP. I am actually surprised that you can root for both the White Sox and the Cubs. It has always been my understanding that Chicago baseball fans had to pick a team, and the one they didn't pick was hated. I mean, I thought you were either a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, no split loyalties. I believe you are the exception to the rule.

For me, being in Los Angeles with lots of teams to choose from, I'm sorta in the middle between you and PPP. In baseball, I don't hate the Angels, I just don't pay attention to them much. Of course I am solidly behind the Dodgers. That said, the time the Halos were in the World Series, I did kinda/sorta root for them, as opposed to rooting against them as a lot of Dodgers fans did. But I took no real joy in their victory, it was more, "OK, that was nice."

Football is kind of new again for us here in L.A. as we were so used to having NO teams for so long. As I recall, back when we had both the Raiders and the Rams, there was NO crossover in the fandoms. Nobody rooted for both teams, you definitely had to pick one.

Now I've joked about wanting to see a Rams-Chargers Super Bowl, and I actually do. But if that unlikely event happened, I would definitely be pulling for the Rams all the way. If the Chargers advanced and the Rams didn't, I would want the Chargers to win it but I wouldn't celebrate it like I would with the Rams.

Which brings us to basketball. The Lakers are my favorite sports team, period. And L.A. is a Lakers town, first, last and always. You'd be hard pressed to find five Angelenos who really like the Clippers. I totally ignored them at first, couldn't root for them or against them. But when Doc Rivers became their coach, they became Celtics West in my mind and I do root against them, almost as much as I root against the Celtics themselves. So the hell with them.

They will never win a championship in my lifetime, and I say YEA! to that. I would actually mourn if they did win it all.

12:35 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@MOJO - Having lived in central Illinois for my entire adult life, I am used to knowing people who root for the Cardinals. The split is around 50-50 for Cubs-Cards. You are still a fine person despite your rooting for the Cards.

@thundering - Not to mention how you and Andrew didn't like my wearing my Sox gear at Wrigley Field. Prior to your return to the USA in 2000, I probably went to more White Sox than Cubs games. Of course, once you came back, that switched.

@Flush & Rob - I am certainly in the minority with liking both the Sox and the Cubs. I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, so there wasn't a regional allegiance. My Dad lived on the north side of Chicago but rooted more for the White Sox. Historically, the Sox have been the much better team until recently. Liking both teams didn't seem to be a big deal until interleague play started.

And as for Cody Parkey - the Bears are trapped. He has a guaranteed contract for several million and it is actually better for them, salary cap-wise, to keep him. Robbie Gould would probably like to come back, but they can't be spending that much on kickers.

12:59 AM  
Blogger thundering36 said...

*sigh* I am sitting here at home on a lovely summer's evening watching two domestic cricket teams play on TV. *yawn*

Imaging supporting two teams on opposite sides of the world which hadn't won a championship in a total of 172 years for the two and both winning championships one month and one day apart. Western Bulldogs 1 Oct. 2016 ; Chicago Cubs 2 Nov. 2016. Not even you could imagine what that felt like.

2:41 AM  
Blogger FlushhDraw said...

So if and when the Cubs play the White Sox and God help you if they played in the World Series against one another the question is who would you be rooting for??

4:17 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

Enjoyed reading the post and the comments. For me: Titans 1997-present, Vols 1997-present, Sacramento Kings 1998-2006, Capitals 2008-present, and Nats 2008-present adds up to 2 championships. Titans 2000 SB loss and Kings losing to Lakers in 2002 hurt the most.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

@FlushhDraw: Fortunately that will NEVER happen!

@Ace: Robert Horry's three pointer in game 4 one of my all time favorite moments in sports! "Horry for the win...." I still remember Marv Albert's call.

Hee hee.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

Rob, I kind of suspected you would like that play. :)

12:10 AM  

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