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Cheer and Loathing At the Cubs Game

For most adults who go to Wrigley Field, it’s all about the booze, the broads and boorishness.

But for most kids, it really is about baseball. They haven’t figured out that most athletes are on steroid’s and illegal drugs, and too rich to appreciate baseball fans.

That’s why it is so nice between women spitting out peanut shells, burping over their beers that are sold long after the 7th Inning ban, and men cussing up a storm of obscenities, that a young idealistic kid can meet someone who symbolizes what baseball is supposed to really be all about.

I took my son Aaron to the Cubs game against the Pirates Sunday. The overcast clouds keep the park from baking. I know enough that most Cubs ballplayers will not autograph baseballs before or after the game, so I bought him one for Cubs Shortstop Starlin Castro.

But, he also hung around with a dozen other kids his age along the wall before the wealthy could commandeer their expensive box seats in rows A, B and C. None of the Cubs players would come up and say hello or autograph balls during the entire two hours that the kids stood there pleading to the players by name holding up baseballs and pens.

A kind groundskeeper, probably in his teens who understands the lost allure of baseball, grabbed foul practice balls and tossed them to the kids, being fair to make sure each got one.

So Aaron had two baseballs when the Cubs lucked out in the finale of the three-game series against the Pirates. At the end of the game, we hoofed it to a huge line of kids wearing yellow wristbands so he could run the field, after the game.

We waited by the visiting player’s locker room exit in the right field concourse by the bus that drove them back to Pittsburgh. Still depressed about losing, they took the time to sign some baseballs anyway. Aaron got five autographs among the six kids who waited almost an hour after the game ended.

We hightailed it to the Cubs parking lot where valets drove the cars for the Cubs players Ñ Bentleys, Mercedes, BMWs’ sports cars and one cab Ñ begging the Cubs for autographs.

I know these baseball players had a hard day. And most of them were with their families as they exited. But not one of them would even bother to acknowledge the half dozen kids who waited patiently by the fence on the west side of the stadium hoping for at least one autograph.

Most of the time, my son heads to the Baseball Card King in Oak Lawn for autographs, usually White Sox players like Nate Jones, who not only autographed baseballs for the fans, but took time to pose with each and every kid.

The game was exciting for me, as an adult, watching all the Cubs fans slobbering their way through 9 innings. But for a kid, it’s even more exciting to meet the players, and get an autograph for their collections.

Aaron knows all the players by name and data. He watches MLB games on Comcast, and monitors the Baseball Card King for autograph sessions at their three stores.

Though the Cubs players were disappointing to the kids, manager Dale Sveum walked over and scribbled some autographs and the kids were excited. The only one.

No one was surprised. Sveum once played for the White Sox.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. You may reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RayHanania.)

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