The Controversial “Chicago Sports Fan”…and How I Met My Wife
by Joe Kalis
I am a giant Blackhawks fan. I am a Bears fan (God, help me). I am a Bulls fan. And…I am a White Sox fan. Always have been, and always will be. I could tell stories about how I’m not a bandwagon fan…that I’ve watched these teams with my dad as a kid, and fell in love with Frank Thomas in 1990 (even bought his shoes!) along with the classic Hawks team including Roenick, Chelios, Belfour, etc. Nobody has to mention why I fell in love with the Bulls in the 90s. But I’ll save that, I don’t need to prove to anyone that I’m a “true” fan of the Blackhawks dynasty of whatever else.
With all of this being true, I’m in a tough spot, living in the Chicago suburbs as a sports fan. And why, you may ask?
Because I’m genuinely excited for these damn Cubbies.
:: GASP ::
My grandpa loved the Cubs, my mom, my brother. But never me. Growing up, the White Sox were better, so my dad liked them because he’s a self-admitted fair-weather fan. 🙂 Further in life, I married a Cubs fan, and it was literally the Cubs/White Sox rivalry that led to us even MEETING. Here’s the abbreviated story.
In October 2003, the last time anyone saw Steve Bartman, I watched as the Cubs World Series hopes were dashed in the blink of an eye. Being the cynical, sarcastic, ass-wipe that I was back then, I posted an away message on my AOL Instant Messenger…something to the tune of “Cubs Suck! Better luck next year! GO WHITE SOX!”. I went away smiling, knowing I satisfactorily pissed off a bunch of people (that was my thing, back then) and didn’t think anything of it.
I woke up the next morning to a message from someone with the screenname “TickleMeEmo101”.
“Who the hell is this?…and why the heck are they swearing at me telling me I’m an asshole?”, I thought.
Well, that was my (now) wife of 8 years, drunk on sadness (and alcohol) that her beloved Cubbies (or Steve Bartman) had blown their golden opportunity to go the distance. I literally didn’t know who she was, but she was very sure of who I was. As a music promoter (and kind of a jerk), I was pretty well known in town. She knew me through mutual friends/bands, the concerts I booked, and other random things…but I didn’t know her. Apparently, she “hated me”. Her email password was “nojoe1”.
Did I mention that I didn’t even know who she was? Yeh. I had that kind of impact on her, I guess!
We proceeded to chat online, until I told her it wasn’t fair that she “hated me” and thought I was an asshole, and that I deserved a chance to explain myself. The next day, we met at The Coffeehouse (Normal, IL), chatted (very long story short) through my explanation of why I was how I was, and the next day went to a movie together, which was, as it turns out, our first date. Three years later, engaged. Four years later, married. Ten years later, a kid.
What a love story, eh?
In our three years of dating, I met all of her family…who are all die-hard Cubs fans. Imagine this…a sarcastic, cynical boy (who was a White Sox fan) with 2-gauge plugs (about the circumference of a pencil) in his ears and a lip ring…going around trying to chum it up with the fam. I’m surprised they let me in!
All that comes full circle to today, where after so many years, and so many argument over Cubs vs. Sox, and I find myself truly excited about these Cubbies.
What the hell.
There’s a pretty general concept if you live in Chicago, that you cannot be both a White Sox fan AND a Cubs fan. I accept that, and I am still keeping my allegiance with the Sox. However, I love sports, and I love talent, and I love “programs”. You know…like what the Blackhawks have. It’s not a one-time thing with them…they’ve paved the road for success for many years.
And that’s what’s happening for the Cubs right now. And I think it’s exciting!
To the Cubs fans…I am excited for you. I get excited about the Cubs for myself…although I don’t claim to be a fan. I get my push alerts about all the homeruns being hit by Kris Bryant & Anthony Rizzo. I listen to sports talk radio about the catching battle between two talented players, Miguel Montero & the youngster Kyle Schwarber. Starlin Castro at short, or Addison Russell?? How is the top five rotation going to fill itself out?
Such terrible problems, trying to find spots for all of these ridiculously talented young players on one starting lineup.
I come to you in peace, Cubs fans. I am a White Sox fan, watching a failing team this year, and can’t help but be excited to see your organization forming up a young talented squad very similarly to how the Blackhawks have since 2007. They won’t win it this year, but as of this writing, they’ve won seven in a row, and 13 of 14.
That’s really exciting.
I really hope this reign continues to grow, and in the next few years, you guys get the pennant you’ve been crying over for so many years. Then, we Sox fans can carry our 2005 Championship flag right next to you, and be excited for each other.
December 30, 2016
November 30, 2016