My Kind of Town!

My Kind of Town!

Friday, November 6th

Its often tough to figure the art of being a fan. I could talk for days, and have, about its origins and meanings. Since I, and I would assume you, are way past that, well save that conversation for later. But, as always though, my fan issues are never far away. Take this last week, for me it was consumed by 2 things: The World Series and meeting Sandra Bullock on a press junket for the movie The Blind Side. One of these things left me with a smile and the other with heartbreak. Im sure you dont need to read any further to guess which was which, or do you?

For various reasons we all find ourselves being fans of certain celebrities. Accomplishments would hopefully be the main reason, but there are so many other variables on why one would be a fan of another person. As far as Sandra Bullock, I wouldnt say that I was a huge fan per say, but she always had something about her. As a guy, I first noticed that shes pretty easy on the eyes. What a great start! After that, the thing for me is that she appears to be cool, someone who gets it. Meaning shes the kind of girl you would meet at a bar watching a game, and she would be watching the game, not looking around the room to see whos looking at her.

As I read up on her before our meeting, much of her history would suggest this to be true. One thing Ive learned though is, as much as I study up on people, I need to go into our meeting with a clear mind and let nature take its course, so I tried not to be too expectant but I had a feeling that this might be fun. (Another thing that I knew was that I didnt want to discuss was her recent movie history, since after Speed, I didnt know a whole lot afterwards because shes had a propensity for making chick flicks. Of course I was FORCED to watch some of them, but my strategy in those situations is to transfer myself into a vegetative state with a smile on my face so as to show my enjoyment of the experience. The whole time Im hoping not to get caught with the blankness in my eyes that indicates without a doubt that Im not watching the TV, but instead going through the mental rolodex trying to figure out my favorite Three Stooges episode. Sure it was a good movie, honey. Im the evil spirit that guards the Rootin Tootin diamond!)

As I waited to enter the room where her interviews were being conducted, I was struck by the fact that everyone who was leaving the room did so with a smile and a glow. Once it was my turn to enter, it was easy to figure out why. Her openness and warmth was easily apparent, even during an interminable string of interviews which any mortal would find mind-numbing. (Especially mine Im sure!) Our conversation, stemming from a forced situation, was natural and easy. Wow! She is the girl next door. We started talking upon my entering the room and kept going past the work part, during which I never got the sense that she wasnt enjoying herself. Shes one of those people that have a natural ability to connect. She would have been a great bartender! (In fact, shes worked in and currently owns a restaurant. No surprise.) I left thinking shes cooler than I thought. I would recommend anyone to see the movie because of that alone. (Of course to get my official recommendation, and to see some of our conversation, youll have to watch my review on SportsNite on 1119 @ 10:30pm.)

So, as you might guess, Im now a big fan of Sandra Bullock. And thats the easy part of my fandom double-header. The other part wasnt as much fun, but no less enlightening. The World Series presented the interesting, to me anyway, combination of love and hate: My Philadelphia Phillies against the Evil Empire of the New York Yankees. Its hard to explain to someone from the Midwest about the feelings that the fans of other cities in the Northeast have towards ANY team from New York. Theyre the bully, the mean kid on the block, not to mention always tough to beat. From a lifetime going against them, victory, especially on an ultimate stage is elusive, to the point of knowing its probably not going to happen. And that was my mind-set going into this. Having won the title last year definitely took away some of the angst: Cant win every year, or appear to be greedy, but beating the Yanks and going back-to-back would be especially sweet.

As the Series got under way, something very Midwestern occurred. Ive often told folks from back east at the bar, that living here is great, that this is the biggest small-city in the world: Mayberry on steroids, the melting-pot of the Midwest. The constant here is that everyone is so nice. I experience it and hear about it from out-of-towners at the bar every day. There is something about the people here that even if you think differently, or root differently, thats o.k., youre allowed. I know Sox-Cubs can get bad, but after its over, its over. Sometimes a little friction isnt bad, besides theyre all unified in their love for the Bears. And from my experience, everyone here has at least one crazy relative that roots for the wrong side, teaching them tolerance of others that dont think right at an early age! So as Im about to root for the team of my youth, on the biggest stage, against THE team of professional sports, I was given constant encouragement by so many of my friends here. Texts, e-mails, phone calls, visits to the bar, you would have thought that I was actually playing. I know this probably happens to others elsewhere, but for me, it just reinforced my opinion of my adopted hometown. The people here are as sports-crazed as anywhere in the world and are no strangers to pain because of it. But in the end, its a game that youre rooting for, if it doesnt work out today, it will tomorrow. Its not the end of the world. If someone elses team is still playing, wish them well. So as many of my Cub brethren were still suffering with another untimely demise, they still found the time to offer me support on the fate of my team.

Unfortunately, it wasnt the fate that Id hoped. It still was a great ride though and the bitterness that Ive felt in the past after tough losses isnt there. (Well, lets sayas much!) Maybe, its because of increased perspective and maturity as I advance in my years. (I hope you found that last line as funny as I did!) No, its because Im tempered with the knowledge that life is more than what your team accomplishes and the people here teach me that every day. In fact, as I did my errands and went different places on Thursday, no one here seemed to care about the World Series result at all. In fact, it was just another beautiful fall day. Thank you Chicago! I needed that.

Morning Update: Bulls prep for Game 4; Cubs won; Sox lost

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AP

Morning Update: Bulls prep for Game 4; Cubs won; Sox lost

Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 4 today on CSN

Preview: Cubs look to sweep Reds on CSN

White Sox scoreless streak hits 23 innings in loss to Indians

No clear options for Fred Hoiberg at point guard

Two days later, Blackhawks still stunned, 'embarrassed' by quick exit

Cubs offense explodes with three home runs in victory over Reds

Stan Bowman 'completely, completely disappointed' with Blackhawks

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer: 'Our time is coming soon'

Still in mourning, Isaiah Thomas dictates pace, delivers for Celtics

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May earned his first career hit on Saturday night when he singled up in the middle against Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, ending an 0-for-26 start to his major league career. That lengthy stretch without a hit put a weight on May's back heavier than a monkey, as the cliché usually goes.

Instead, that weight felt like America's favorite deceased silverback gorilla. 

"It was kind of like having Harambe on my back," May, a Cincinnati native, said. "I was in a chokehold because I couldn't breathe as well. Now that he's gone, hopefully I can have a lot of success and help this team win.

In all seriousness, May felt an extraordinary relief when he reached first base. He said first base coach Daryl Boston looked at him and said, "Finally," when he reached first base, and when he got back to the dugout, he was mobbed by his teammates and hugged by manager Rick Renteria.

Before anyone could congratulate him in the dugout, though, May let out a cathartic scream into his helmet.

"I was just like oh, man, I let loose a little bit," May said. "This locker room, every'one has kind of helped me out and brought me aside, and told me to just relax. It's a tough situation when you are trying to impress instead of going out there and having fun. Just kind of got to release all that tension built up."

May only had the opportunity to hit because left fielder Melky Cabrera injured his left wrist in the top of the seventh inning (X-Rays came back negative and Cabrera said he should be able to play Sunday). May didn't have much time to think about having to pinch hit for Cabrera, who was due to lead off the bottom of the seventh, which Renteria figured worked in his favor.

"When we hit for Melky, I was talking to (bench coach Joe McEwing), I said, 'He's not going to have anytime to think about it. He's going to get into the box and keep it probably as simple as possible,'" Renteria said. "I don't think he even had enough time to put his guard on his shin. He just got a pitch out over the middle of the plate and stayed within himself and just drove it up the middle, which was nice to see. Obviously very excited for him."

When May reached first base, he received a standing ovation from the crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field, too, even with the White Sox well on their way to a 7-0 loss to the Indians. It's a moment May certainly won't forget anytime soon, especially now that he got Harambe off his back.

"I kind of soaked it all in," May said. "It was probably one of the most surreal, best experiences of my life."