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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, July 20

Gapers Block

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Because I'm me (which I can't help), I asked someone on an elevator on Monday, "How about those White Sox, huh?" I got a smirk, and, "Guh. Sports."

It was a belittling comment. Lots of people don't care about sports: they consider it ridiculous, grown men being paid millions of dollars to play a kids game. How often have you heard, "Nobody should make that much money to play a game."

They don't believe, like I do, that sports — and a lot of things we consider trivial — are the naked truth. I should say, the Naked Truth.

I remember reading a story as a kid about one of the first professional basketball teams, back around the turn of the century. The guy was the son of immigrants who had a club with some of his friends. He borrowed some money from his aging, sick mother so that he and his friends could go on a tour, playing basketball against other local clubs and charging admission. The story went that when he got back, his father was waiting for him at the train station, ready to give him a good wallop for taking his mom's last few pennies. Just as his dad was rearing up to hit him, the kid pulled out a few rumpled bills. "Pa," he said, "I made 13 dollars." He had actually turned a bit of a profit.

That story stuck with me because it is important to remember that, as with anything, there was a time when what is valuable now was considered worthless — the arena of the losers, or fanatics, or cliquish. Back then, opera singers and rodeo riders were the superstars, making heaps of money. Don't blame professional athletes for how much fans are willing to spend to watch them play. And don't dismiss casual "distractions" — sports, sitcoms, trashy novels and action flicks — as mere "fodder" for "cattle," or whatever elitist snobbery may afflict you.

They're important, these things. They have value. They are the Naked Truth, because we're on this Earth a very short time, and most of that life is stuffed with work, and loss, and loneliness, and pain, and the unspeakable despair that can afflict you, that is, I guess, just emptiness. We're for the Earth only a short time, and things that bring us a little joy should be appreciated and valued. In the corners of this world where the suffering is much greater and much more profound, where suffering is real and immediate — even in those places, people gather to watch athletes compete. Accept the reality that high-flown art and esoteric forms of expression just don't appeal to common people, by no fault of their own. They are designed to not appeal to most people. If they were widely consumed, they'd be scorned by people in elevators who say, "Guh. Sports."

It meant something, the White Sox winning. It's not everything, but it's not nothing. Believe it or not, it was the Naked Truth. The things people will carry with them into their old age—the type of thing we will relate to our children and their children. The stories we tell and analogies we use to teach lessons. Where do you think they come from?

As the bottom of the 9th inning started on Sunday, I sat in a room with my friends, booze on the ready. Spontaneously, we started talking about when we became White Sox fans. One friend came from a South Side family and remembered watching the Tony LaRussa teams. Another told a story about being taken to his very first game and watching Ozzie Guillen turn a few great plays at shortstops. Another remembered his parents holding two hats in front of him — one Cubs and one Sox. His older sister told him he should take the Cubs, and so he, naturally as little boys will, did the opposite. He was a Sox fan. For my part, I grew up around Cubs fans and so, as little contrarians will do, chose the White Sox, who nobody seemed to care about. I remembered going to my first White Sox game in the fifth grade, when my friend's dad snuck in his specially made super-spicy Italian sandwiches on foccacia bread, and his grandpa forged Robin Ventura's signature on the label of the giveaway hat, telling us he had gone down to the dugout to get him to sign it.

We didn't worry about the fact that much of this team was new this year. We didn't think about the mansions they'd go home to after the series was over. We didn't think about the Cubs and Cubs fans, we didn't stop to discuss what this meant to us deep down inside where our inner children are. We were, for those few hours, just happy.

So, yeah, lady. Did you catch that White Sox game? What a team.

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MC High Life / October 20, 2005 8:18 AM

Anyone seen Jimbo Dawson lately? I am interested in his views on this topic.

Keith Pipe / October 20, 2005 9:07 AM

I'm all for the White Sox winning the World Series, but as a former rodeo competitor, all other sports pale in comparison when you're strapped to the top of a one-ton animal that's doing its damndest to throw you off. Oh, and this animal has horns. Two broken wrists and a shattered hip later and I'm a bit slower getting up in the morning, but you should see "the other guys"--they finished their careers on the slaughterhouse floor. Truly the bull is one of God's creatures.

But I digress--go White Sox!

Rush Limbaugh / October 20, 2005 12:05 PM

That is typical liberal, East-coast bull.
Also, black people can't play quarterback.

Rick / October 20, 2005 12:57 PM

So awesome is this sport, in fact, that even I had no choice but to sit in awe and watch -not root for, but watch- your beloved sox. Man I love baseball. It's so much better when it's played well. Alas, there is always next year, or the year after that...

Jimbo Dawson's Girl Friend / October 21, 2005 11:31 AM

Jimbo has the flu and probably will not be able to post a reply. I am not sure why he is so ill right now. He just hasn't been his malcontent, angry self since last Sunday night. Right now he's in bed in his northside home (his parent's basement in Gurnee). Like, I just want to say that, I too, am a die hard Cubbies fan who moved to Chicago from Cincinnati two years ago (I used to be a Reds fan). Like, no doubt, the Cubs have better players, smarter fans, better uniforms, and the players and ball park are waaaay cuter! I completely agree with Jimbo: 'Sox fans and their team are all a bunch of cum swallowers'. Jimbo's, like, soooo smart.

Sammy Sosa and the Cubbies in 2006 ...FER SURE!!!!

Maria P. / October 21, 2005 12:35 PM

Yo, B, you check out those fish sticks? $1.
Paulie could afford 216 million ounces of fish sticks. That's alot of fish sticks.


About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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