I'm not a big sports fan, especially baseball, but I am a huge fan of things getting back to "normal", whatever that means. Thursday is our day off, so when I saw that Cleveland was playing the White Sox at 1:10 on 4/15, and tickets were $11, I bought them right away.
We took the train for the first time in over a year. It was uncanny to see the familiar sights and smells and the variety of personalities that make Chicago inherently Chicago-y. Most people, however, thanked the bus driver and were very conscious to leave six feet between travelers. It felt like a whole cultural shift. I think the past year really did re-shape some peoples' world views. Chicago has always felt like a place where I could feel safe and be myself (quirks aside), but the ride yesterday took that to a whole new level.
We got to the stadium a few minutes after the first pitch was thrown, and I got myself a very pricey Oberon before we walked up the stairs to our nosebleed seats. It was chilly, and a hell of a hike, but I didn't care. It was almost magical, seeing people watching a live sports game together. The seating was spread out. In fact, most chairs' seats were zip tied to their backs to ensure no seat swapping or gathering. It felt really safe, actually, and we joked with some neighbors a few rows away, but no one tried to get close to us. I have to congratulate the folks at Guaranteed Rate Field who planned that out.
There was clapping, cheering, one man and his two daughters yelling "LET'S GO WHITE SOX" for the entire game (normally this would irritate me, but given the lack of any shouting for 13 months, it made me smile), and the smells of ballpark food. I celebrated at the "wrong" times, but there were a few other Cleveland fans in the vicinity who joined me. It was an awesome (and inexpensive...except for the ballpark beer prices) way to spend an afternoon.
It helps that my team won 4-2. In the parking lot, a very large man told my friend to "go you-know-what yourself" upon seeing his Indians jersey fare, so I think the Sox fans were a bit sore about it. There is a little bit of that glow, that thrill from watching your hometown team win.
We saw the last NBA game of 2020 on March 10th of last year. The next day I saw my cousin, who was traveling through Chicago for work. He warned me about the shutdowns, and I didn't believe him, but he was right: that was the last ball game. It's funny that we started our emergence back to a post-pandemic world (slowly, cautiously) with a baseball game. That wouldn't have been my guess. I would have thought we'd do a concert or go to a movie or something, but it looks like we bookended this crazy time with professional sports matches. Maybe I'll be a big sports fan, yet. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic for Cleveland.
What are you looking forward to doing once you feel safe?
Until tomorrow, stay well, stay safe, and stay kind.