Laughing last, loudly, at the Rays/Cubs game

Seventh inning, Rays up 1-0. Chicago scored three runs. The Cubs fans jumped and hollered and hugged. Their team was going to avoid being swept by the Rays, dammit. Bobby J and I sat, like a couple of Pat Buchanans at a Farrakhan rally, barely able to see the field for Cubs jerseys.

I admit being a little annoyed. I doubt very much that these folks had flown down from the Midwest to see a game in the climate-controlled sterility of the Trop. These were locals, many of whom looked as if they had dusted off their Cubs fanhood just for this three-game series. Most of their jerseys and T-shirts looked brand new — no fading, no beer stains.

I stopped pulling for my northern teams years ago, and strictly back the local franchises now. So I don’t get it when longtime Tampa Bay residents, whose parents may come from Illinois, and who watched the Cubs on WGN, go to the mall and buy a couple hundred dollars worth of Cubs gear and holler themselves hoarse rooting against the home team.

But I took my medicine … Ah, but the tide soon turned. A Cubs reliever walked a Ray, hit two more batters and in came a run. I stood and made a big circular motion with my hand, yelling, “That’s OK, walk ’em in, we don’t care how we get the runs!”

Then the sublime moment. Carl Crawford came up with the bases loaded, worked the count to 3-2, then got good wood on the ball, sending it high into right field. I thought at first it would be a sacrifice fly and tie the game. But it kept going. Grand slam. Bobby J and I went off, laughing, screaming, punching our fists into the air, reaching across aisles to slap five with the small congregation of fellow Rays fans. (By the way, Bobby J is a transplanted Illinois guy and a former Cubs fan.) It was the Chicago fans’ turn to sit down. Suddenly, they were a very glum group.

Then came even more fun. With the Cubs backers now quiet, I could be easily heard. I’m not usually a demonstrative guy at sports events, but this moment was too pregnant with possibilities to pass up. The Rays got a couple more hits, scored a couple more runs. We stayed standing and cheered. When Tampa Bay’s Willie Aybar finally grounded out, I yelled, ‘C’mon, Willie, what are you doing making an out?!! Against the Cubs?!!! You’re not supposed to make an out against the Cu-ubs!!!”

It was all indirect taunting. No “Cubs suck!” or looking at folks and mocking them. All my mirth and smartassery was focused on the field. The Cubs fans, to their credit, took their medicine, and some even smiled. A few yelled at me to “sit down.” But there was no direct confrontation. All in all, it was the kind of fun one-upmanship that makes being in the stands at good game such a blast.

A blast for me and Bobby J, at least.

Man, was that fun. Sitting along the third bass line in a sea of Cubs fans last night at Tropicana Field, and having the last laugh. And being artfully obnoxious to boot.

I picked up my media credentials at the Trop and grabbed a seat in the last row of the press box. It being a professional environment, there’s no cheering allowed in the press box. I went to a concession stand and bought a 24-oz. Bud Lite and brought it back to my seat. That’s when I found out there’s no drinking in the press box.

I was in the mood to drink. I was in the mood to cheer. I joined my pal Bobby J, who was sitting close to the field in a morass of blue — bright blue emblazoned with “C’s” and “Cubs,” way more so than the dark blue of the Rays.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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