June 18, 2009
Here are perhaps the two most important questions in the known universe:
How do we Sox fans make certain that our young, impressionable and gentle children don't grow up to be evil Cubs fans--Or, how do we Cubs fans make sure that our young, impressionable and gentle children don't grow up to be devilishly attractive Sox fans--
Well, I can help you, but only if you promise to follow my instructions to the letter. It involves the use of certain indoctrination techniques frowned upon by child welfare agencies.
So it will be difficult, yes. And the state bureaucrats might try to send you to jail. But if you do what I say, you'll have a happy family and your kids will visit you when you're a geezer and take you to a ballgame -- to the right ballpark -- with tickets in the sun.
Yet if you weaken, then your children will betray everything you stand for in baseball, and you'll end up impoverished, weeping piteously, on your hands and knees in some damp alleyway, fighting off packs of feral dogs as you scrounge for food.
Families can't be split in their baseball loyalties. Our nation's leading Sox fan, President Barack Obama, probably put it best when he launched his presidential campaign in Springfield, announcing that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Or maybe it was some other president who said that.
Either way, there's nothing more terrifying than watching parents lavish love and attention on their children, only to find out too late that once the little snots get to high school, they've become fans of the other team.
Even worse are the kids who grow up to be cat-dog fans, neither Sox or Cubs fans, but snivelers who cheer for both teams in the hope that people will like them. Such children blow with the wind, and no one likes such children.
They have no core, no integrity. And yes, it's always the parents' fault.
It's the cat-dog fan who grows up to wear earth shoes and whines about carbon footprints while you're cooking ribs over coals, and they make pathetic comments during the Sox-Cubs series, saying stuff like "Can't we love both teams and support Chicago and love each other--"
Such weaklings will be among the first to sell their neighbors to the secret police years from now, once we're finally conquered by China.
"Pick one team or another, love your team, despise the other, what's wrong with that--" says my friend David Kaplan, the WGN radio and Comcast SportsNet broadcaster who also happens to be an unrepentant Cubs fan.
Kaplan takes this quite literally. Sometimes he calls me at home in the middle of the night when I'm asleep, if the Sox lose a late game to Oakland on the West Coast.
"Kass, this is Kap!"
"I know it's past midnight, John, but listen: Are you awake--"
"Well, wake up, because your Sox just lost!"
Naturally, I try to return the favor as often as I can.
But at least he didn't betray his ancestors. So if you don't want your kids to betray your team, here's what you do.
Just dress the kids in your team's gear, hat and jersey and so on, and take them to the other ballpark when the game is on during the Cubs-Sox series. Sox fans, take your kids to Wrigley. Cubs fans, take your kids to Sox Park.
It works best when the kids are about 6 or 7 years old, young enough to trust their parents and be completely impressionable. And you don't even need a ticket to the game.
Just stand outside, holding your child's hand, until a crowd of boisterous drunken fans from the other team approaches, fans shouting "Sox suck!" or "Cubs suck!"
Now here's the tricky part. Just let go of your child's hand and run away.
That's right. Run. Leave them there, alone in the teeming crowd, with the screaming, angry, drunken fans cursing the Cubs or the Sox. Yes, the kid may be terrified. But it works.
After a few minutes, return and hug your child. With some kids, you must repeat the process for several games. But once indoctrinated, they'll remain loyal.
"You did that to us," said one of my sons, with Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone calling the glorious 4-1 Sox gem pitched by John Danks over the Cubs on Wednesday.
"I'll never forget it," said the other boy. "There was a big fat Cubs fan, he was drooling all over his shirt, saying Sox suck, Sox suck! He was drunk and he smelled!"
"That traumatized us," said his brother. "The drool flopping down, the beer breath, more drool. Thanks, Dad, you're the best."
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC