I’m a passionate baseball fan – that’s the nice way of saying obsessive. My best buddy and webmaster Theo Syslack jokes (actually, he’s probably serious) that I only see the world through one lens, and that is baseball. His assumption is probably based on my love for comparisons between “real life” and the game. You can read my latest right here.
A bit background about my fandom. I’m a Chicago Cubs fan. My roots come from my grandfather, who was a Cubs fan, and my brother, who was driven to this lifestyle by my grandfather. For a vast majority of my life, I lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin. About an hour north is where the Milwaukee Brewers play at Miller Park; drive an hour and a half south and you can see the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. As baseball fans we were fortunate to have Interstate-94 as a fairly direct route to whichever ballpark we wanted to attend.
Most of the time, because of ticket price and availability, parking and tolls, my family elected to see the Cubbies at “Wrigley Field North” – aka Miller Park. In recent years, trips to actual Wrigley have been more common.
My obsession did not stem from my childhood. I did play CYC Baseball (like little league, except you didn’t have to be good to play, you just had to pay the fees) on the Giants. I most remember playing catcher. As I recall, I once caught for this deaf kid who threw hard as hell. My logical explanation at the time for his pitch speed? You know how they say when one sense goes out, the others heighten? Well, for him, pitching was one of those senses.
I learned baseball early on through a videogame. Somehow, I acquired THE BIGS – a super-slugging baseball arcade game with Albert Pujols on the cover. The 2007 Wii game was all about big bombs, big strikeouts, and plowing down the catcher at home plate. It was nonsense in comparison to the types of games I enjoy today, but it taught me about some finer details, and most importantly, who was on the Cubs: Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Derrek Lee, Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, Alfonso Soriano, Daryle Ward, Cesar Izturis, Sam Fuld, the lot.
Thus, if my baseball fandom only turned five this year, that means I do not hold the heartbreak of Steve Bartman. I never actually saw Mark Prior pitch, I have no real recollection of Sammy Sosa. But that also means that during my early days as a baseball fan, the Brewers were the #1 rival – not the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the Brewers that I loved to watch the Cubs beat, the Brewers that I studied more closely, the Brewers that I hated seeing celebrate with Angel Guzman on the mound at they clinched a playoff birth, and went on to actually win a playoff game in 2008. It is Ryan Braun that I hate more than Albert Pujols. I am a true child of what Matt Vasgersian calls the “I-94 rivalry.”
To this day, I follow the Brewers-Cubs bouts closer than the Cardinals-Cubs ones. For college, I transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, right in the heart of Braun’s Brew City. And although Theo Epstein is the only person ever to compliment my Cubby jacket while in the 414 area code boundaries, I have enjoyed every moment of living in a city with a Major League Baseball team, even if it’s the Brewers. I’ll attend non-Cubs games at Miller Park, I’ll attend the rather inexpensive Brewers’ fan fest downtown, I’ll tour the visitor’s clubhouse and resist the urge to buy something, not because I’m a Brewers fan, but because I love baseball, love the rivalry, and can’t get enough of it.
This blog has gone through quite a few reorganizations, hibernations, and “rebranding” attempts over the years. What began as a rather broad personal commentary on baseball turned into an attempt at comprehensively following the National League Central Division. But now, after another camp- and school-induced hibernation, I think I’ve figured out what I really want Baseblog to be about…
The I-94 rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers.
And that’s what I intend to do. As a Cubs fan living in Milwaukee, it’s one of the only things I can actually write about with true passion and expertise. Rather than try to act like I really know what’s going on with the Cardinals, or to act like I give a shit (pardon my French) about the Astros, I’m going to talk about what I know and what I care about. My intention is simply to convey how I’m following this rivalry through what I’m doing, reading, and thinking.
So that’s the new Baseblog, as you can see by the updated logo. I’ve made a few cosmetic changes to the blog as well. I’ve got some big plans for 2013 as far as going to games and fan events and I’d like to share those experiences with you. It’s looking like I will not be working at summer camp next year, which means that Baseblog coverage won’t drop off right in midseason. And I’m going to enjoy it. I hope you will too.