Observations on a Tiff

It’s like an aggressive Where’s Waldo picture.

When the Cubs and Nationals “brawled” last week many fans immediately got on their high horses to give their opinions on the whole thing. And that’s fine. I, on the other hand, tried to get down as close as I could to the action so I could see what was going on.

Baseball fights fascinate me. Most of the time it looks like a typical “guy fight” (some pushing, some shoving, a few crappy punches maybe, and a whole lot of yow-yowin’). The cause doesn’t interest me as much as who does what during the confrontation. Who’s first out of the dugout? Who leads the charge from the bullpen? Who’s playing peacekeeper? Who’s looking for a piece of the action.

I must have watched this tiff forty times (and paused 140 times) to get an idea of what was going on. And since this bruhaha had two bench clearings and three separate altercations, there was a lot to see.

Round One:

-The Cubs in the dugout really weren’t paying much attention to Jamie Quirk yelling at Bo Porter.

-When Bo Porter stopped at the top of the dugout stairs, the first guys to Dale Sveum’s side were Tony Campana, Luis Valbuena, Wellington Castillo, and Jeff Samardzija.

-James Russell led the charge from the bullpen.

-Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro strolled over to the confrontation. Alfonso Soriano and Brett Jackson hustled.

-Jeff Beliveau peeking over the bullpen fence at the fuss cracks me up every time I see it.

Round Two:

-Joe Mather, Campana, Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, Samardzija, and Anthony Recker were first out of the dugout after Lendy Castillo went inside on Bryce Harper.

-Russell again led the charge from the bullpen. Carlos Marmol and Manny Corpas were laughing and nudging each other as they ran in. Franklin Font runs pretty damn fast while wearing shin guards.

-Even Lester Strode ran in! (PS. I love Lester.)

Round Three:

-Corpas was part of the reason round three started. Anthony Rizzo tried to play peacemaker.

-Russell, Samardzija, Recker, and Blake Parker were right on the front line.

-Barney kind of got sucked into the crowd at one point, but they spit him out unharmed. Same thing happened to Rizzo.

-Some guys moved to the back of the crowd, some guys couldn’t get close enough. Chris Volstad, Campana, and Wood were three looking to get in on it. Travis Wood looked like this wasn’t his first rodeo. (I’m sure he and his mullet have seen many bar brawls.) (That was a joke.)

-Bryan LaHair was one of the peacekeepers.

-A Nats player had a hold of the front of Samardzija’s jersey and was swinging from it like a monkey when everyone was doing their share of shoving and I’m not sure Shark noticed.

-Some how Kurt Suzuki managed to keep a towel around his neck the whole time despite being in the thick of things at one point. (I wasn’t going to keep this strictly Cubs, but that really impressed me.)

-Dale Sveum and Dave McKay looked pretty calm throughout the whole thing. Pat Listach must have rowdy kids. He looked like a dad breaking things up. James Rowson was right in the thick of things, pulling guys apart and separating them.

-Many of the guys had a look of “WTF?” on their faces. Those guys were more to the back of the most pit. Several players (David DeJesus was one) didn’t seem to get too excited.

I was kind of impressed with the way the Cubs came together. Everyone answered the fight bell (okay, the second time Soriano jogged in, but he really needs to preserve his wheels) and while tempers flared, there were enough cooler heads to keep things from getting too out of hand. Everybody seemed to feel the need to protect his teammates. Nobody was left to hang. I appreciate that.

Yes, I realize this is unpopular opinion. But then, isn’t every opinion I have about baseball/the Cubs unpopular?

Yeah. Put away your surprise face.

Casino Night 2012 Pictures

Between Harry and me, we only got a handful of pictures to share. I’ll be honest, I didn’t whip out my phone until the end of the night and the three pictures I managed to capture reflect that.

Honestly, I need a professional photographer to accompany me to these sorts of things because I am terrible.

Also, it’s easy to tell the difference between Harry’s pictures and mine. Harry’s are the good ones. I also thanked him in every caption.

Harry and I at Casino Night taken by a professional photographer who may or may not have been riding the biggest sugar high ever.
Bryan LaHair dealing (thanks Harry!).
Ian Stewart dealing (thanks, Harry!).
Carlos Marmol. I’m resisting the urge to make a joke about a line forming for the Marmol Coaster. (I didn’t resist hard.) (Thanks, Harry!)
Theo Epstein talking to Dale Sveum. (Thanks, Harry!)
Crystal Bowersox performing.
Somewhere in there is Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, and James Russell.
That tall guy on the right is Chris Volstad.
That bald guy on the left is Paul Maholm.
David DeJesus and his lovely wife Kim (with cameos by Sarah Spain and Theo Epstein). (Thanks, Harry!)

Kiki’s Guide To Being a Bad Fan

Photo of a Bad Fan.

During Opening Day, I tweeted that my new Cubs fan followers made a poor choice because I would piss them off, to which one of my old Cubs fan followers added, “Kiki enjoys losing baseball. Beware.”

There’s a point in this statement that I have to argue. I don’t enjoy watching my team lose. I enjoy watching them win. I’d like them to win. I root for them to win. I do, however, enjoy my team despite a loss. It drives people mad (which I enjoy).

And it makes me a bad fan.

There are a lot of perks to being a bad fan. First of all, my day isn’t wrecked by a Cubs loss. I get bummed out, sure, but the boys losing 2-1 isn’t a disaster of epic proportions that results in me needing to drink. Hell, the guys losing 13-1 isn’t enough to make me require alcohol. They lost. Bummer. I guess I’d better get dinner started. Put on The Monkees.

Man, that pisses people off.

It drives them insane that I can enjoy a team that’s not very good. I’m from the school of “dance with the one what you brought”. This isn’t fantasy baseball. I have no input in who ends up on the Cubs this year, last year, or next year. These are the players I’ve got. I’m going to get to know them, cheer for them, praise them when they do well, and enjoy whatever they can bring to the table, even if it’s just a cute face.

Lunacy!

Now, sports fans, don’t think that this sort of attitude means I can’t have an intelligent discussion about baseball and about the Cubs, that I don’t like such things. I do. I’m as realistic as the next fan when it comes to assessing my teams talent in the form of statistics. I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know just how well I interpret the implication of David DeJesus’s OBP and James Russell’s flyball/grounder ratio. I can dig discussions about what the Cubs need, what trades they should make, the best use of a player, etc.

What I can’t stand is the gloom and doom whining about a team YOU predicted to be a 100-game loser back in January. What is the sense in that? Why bother punishing yourself by watching the games of a team that you don’t even like? It’s akin to watching a TV show you despise and then complaining about how terrible it is. There’s just no logic in it. No one will think any less of you for checking out fewer games in a crappy season. Consider it. It might improve your health.

Or you could be a bad fan like me.

The trick is to not attach so much of your ego to your team and to change your point of view. If all that matters is winning, that your team isn’t worth shit unless they win it all, then I’m afraid you’re going to have make due with a lot of disappointment. However, if you enjoy the game, and the winning that comes with and is hopefully the end result of it, then your season dramatically improves even when the team is garbage. Call me a Pollyana, but even in a blow-out loss, I can find something to be glad about (and usually in blow-out losses, that’s Len and Bob and their ramblings).

In addition to detaching the ego, it also serves you to get over yourself. I don’t think this team owes me anything. They don’t owe me a World Series championship. I would love for them to win one. But they’re not winning it for me, I don’t care what they say. They’re winning it for themselves and they should. When I pay my money to see a game, they don’t owe me a win. They owe me a good game. And so far, at least for me, they’ve come through on that.

Of course, if they happen to shirk on their end of the deal, I can still find a way to have a good time in spite.

Pisses you off doesn’t?

It pays to be a bad fan.

Cubs Convention 2012

As a birthday present from my friend Becca (spending money a Christmas/birthday present from my mom), the two of us went to Cubs Con this past weekend. Now, I’ve been to conventions before (I did Wizard World in 2005 and 2006 and DragonCon in 2007 and 2008), but I’ve never been to a Cubs Con.

We ended up doing just autographs and pictures. No panels (not that there weren’t some that I didn’t think about going to).  And we missed the opening ceremony (but did hear the huge ovation for Kerry Wood) because Becca’s plane was late and by the time we got on the Kennedy, everyone else was on it, too. On one hand, I feel like we managed to do quite a bit. On the other hand, I feel like we missed out on a lot.

But here’s a quick rundown of things we did do.

-Friday night, after checking in, registering, eating, and wandering around the vendors, we hit up Kitty O’Sheas for the Tweetup. There we found our Cubs Con sherpa, Harry, almost immediately. Birthday wishes were exchanged (his birthday was Friday) and he presented me with a gift that only a true Cubs fan could appreciate: a Carlos Silva autographed ball. I feel bad that I didn’t get him anything. I’ll be sure to get him something next year. Oh yes. I will.

-Also great meeting Daniel, Jen, and Vince, and giving a quick hello to a couple of others. Sorry we didn’t get to hang out longer and meet more people.

-On the way back to our hotel room we were brushed aside by security so David DeJesus and his wife could hurry by.

-Saturday morning we got in the cluster known as Reed Johnson’s line. It was a bit of a mess and there was possibly a mutiny being staged behind us, but we made it out alive with Reed’s autograph. Nice guy. I felt his shirt matched his goatee.

-Next, Becca got her picture taken with Geovany Soto. He was late to the photo op. I said it was because he was doing his hair; gel can be a difficult medium to work with. Considering how perfect it looked in Becca’s picture, I’d say I was right.

-We deviated from the Saturday plan by creating a line for the James Russell photo op (I also defended his honor at one point). His signing was on our Sunday agenda, but we saw an opportunity and we took it and I’ve got the K-Mart Photo Studio picture to prove it. We also got bonus time with him since the flash wasn’t working. He was very sweet, even if his plaid did clash with my shirt (he made up for it with really kickin’ cowboy boots).

-We hooked up with Harry and lined up for the Blake DeWitt signing. Sticking to the less popular players was actually a decent strategy as the lines were short. Harry left and came back and didn’t miss much. DeWitt needs to stop letting his mom cut his hair, but other than that, he was quite nice. I’m bummed that they made him change his number (so DeJesus could have #9). Doesn’t seem fair. Also, he had cold hands.

-On the roll that we were, we jumped in the line for Tony Campana and it was a good thing we did because a lot of people showed up for that signing. When I got up there, I asked how his hand was holding up. He said it was okay, then looked behind me and said that he thought it might be sore by the end. So cute and wee. He really is quite pocket-sized.

-While waiting on Campana, we saw both Starlin Castro and Brett Jackson walk by. Castro had an entourage and Brett Jackson apparently just came down from Appalachia where he was hanging out with Grizzly Adams.

-It was then that we parted ways with Harry for a bit as he wanted to get Soto’s autograph and Becca wanted Jeff Samardzija’s. He was nice enough, though I question his hair choices. It wasn’t quite as scary up close, but still I think he should look into a new style.

-Sunday morning, we lined up for James Russell’s signing as was originally planned. Everyone else signed my calendar, but I’d gone to the trouble of bringing Russell’s baseball card and I wanted it signed. So after watching an ADORABLE little boy (he must have been about two) with a Toy Story backpack get HIS baseball card signed and put away in his backpack (OMGSOCUTE), I got my card signed.

-Our last event of the con was a photo op with Blake DeWitt. Again, he was very nice and Becca has the Awkward Family Photo for posterity. I told her that she needs to frame it and put it on her desk at work to see how long it takes for anyone to ask her about it. And if they do, tell them that we’re family from Missouri. Trust me. That would be hilarious.

And so ended our Cubs-filled, fun-filled weekend.

Con pictures on Friday! Stay tuned!