Baseball fandom a tale of 2 cities

first_imgI’ll admit it — I am a Chicago Cubs fan.But I’m also a Milwaukee Brewers fan.What… what? How is that possible? You’re probably thinking to yourself “Is this bitch crazy?”Let me assure you — I’m not (that) crazy. It is very possible. It’s just that not everyone is willing to admit it. I’m probably not the first person you’ve met who likes both, and I can all but assure youI’m not the last.I can’t help it. Growing up, I was allowed to like both teams. The year I was born (1985 to clarify — and yes, I’m still in college at age 24) Milwaukee finished in 6th place in the American League Central, while Chicago finished 4th in the NL Central.What a way to start my life-long curse.My father grew up in Illinois, and while I managed to fend off his love for the Bears — minus Walter Payton of course — there was something about the Cubs. Perhaps it was their pretty colors (I am a girl of course, so pretty colors draw me in), or maybe it was because of a few guys named Greg Maddux, Andre Dawson, Mark Grace and Ryne Sandberg.Ah Ryne Sandberg. That name alone makes me smile. Even if you are a die-hard Cubs hater, you can’t help but give respect to a guy who was a 10-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove winner and carries a career fielding percentage of .989.And then there is their home ballpark. Wrigley Field. Ah Wrigley. Some consider it a dump. It is old. It is falling apart. There is no high-tech video board, no fireworks. But that’s just fine for the Cubs faithful. If you haven’t been to Wrigley and consider yourself a true baseball fan — go. There is a sort of aura and mystique that takes over your body the minute you walk in and see the field. The history, the curse, the good games and the bad (I don’t blame you Steve Bartman, I blame Alex Gonzalez) — the past hits you the minute you walk in.But being born and bred a Wisconsin girl, I also loved rooting for the likes of Rollie Fingers, Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount.Although I was never lucky enough to see a game at County Stadium — the one time I was supposed to go I got the chicken pox three days prior —I do get to Miller Park usually four or five times a year. And I love it. I love the tailgating. You can’t do that at Wrigley. I love firing up the grill hours before first pitch, busting out the bags board and just having a good time with good friends. Tailgating is probably one of my favorite activities, and I don’t get that on the north side of Chicago.If I had to curse myself by liking two teams, why couldn’t I pick at least one successful team? Since 1998, when they became division rivals, Milwaukee is 889-1053 while Chicago is 964-979. Yet I still put myself through the pain of loving both teams.I was able to love them both freely and without persecution for the first 12 years of my life. Those were a great 12 years. And though I didn’t get my first glimpse of live baseball until I was in high school — Miller Park when I was 16 and Wrigley Field at age 17 — I was hooked nonetheless to both teams.Those early years of your life are the most impressionable. You follow your older siblings around, trying to do everything like them and be as much like them as you can. My eldest brother, one of the biggest Brewer fans I know, was enlisted in the Army, so I didn’t have his Milwaukee influence in my life. My father turned my older sister toward his version of the Good Side right away, so between the two of them I had no other influence growing up. The Cubs soon became my favorite team.When the two play each other, I do choose my Derrek Lee jersey over my Rickie Weeks shirt every time. If the two teams ever face off in the NLCS, however unlikely it may be in my lifetime, it would be hell on earth for me — I caught a break in 2008 when they both lost. I would ultimately choose Chicago, as I do every day. But there is that small part of me hoping for a bomb to right from Prince (Fielder) and an ugly strikeout from (Alfonso) Soriano (which currently occurs on a daily basis).So as I did last week Wednesday from my rooftop seat on Sheffield and as I will do Sunday at Miller Park, I will sport the big “C.” Just don’t look too close, or you might see bright blue and yellow underneath.I can’t help it — I’m just as cursed as the Cubs.Cassie is a former Wrestling and Track & Field beat writer for The Badger Herald. She is (finally) graduating in May with her degree in journalism. Feel the need to send her hate mail and tell her she has to choose a side? E-mail her at cpaulsen@wisc.edu.last_img read more

Softball: Badgers sweep double-header with two mercies

first_imgWisconsin softball hosted the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix for a double-header during a chilly afternoon Tuesday, but the weather did not seem to affect the Badgers.Wisconsin’s (26-19-1) bats came alive as the team dominated both games 8-0, thanks to a strong performance at the mound from pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart and situational hitting.The Badgers were held in check for the majority of the first game, only leading 2-0 going into the bottom half of the fifth inning. But the team would go on to score six in the final two innings, invoking the mercy rule for an early end to the game.Wisconsin expanded on their two-run lead thanks to an RBI single by Ashley Van Zeeland in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by Melanie Cross increased their lead to 4-0.Sara Novak sunk the dagger in the sixth when an RBI single and an error allowed another score, putting the Badgers up by six. Wisconsin would add two more in the frame to get the final score of 8-0.Stewart, who received the win in both contests and improved to 15-10 on the year, was on cruise control for both games. The senior allowed only one hit in each game while striking out nine in the first of the twin bill, tying her season high. Stewart added another five punch-outs in game two and again allowed only one unearned run in her three innings pitched.With an ample amount of run support in both games, Stewart said games like these ease the pressure when pitching.“The atmosphere of our dugout changes and the stress on the mound definitely decreases when you know your offense is lighting it up,” Stewart said.The Badgers picked up right where they left off in game two by getting to Phoenix pitcher Katie Rossman early in the bottom of the first. Both Kelsey Jenkins and Van Zeeland reached base, and were followed by Chloe Miller’s three-run blast to right — all before Green Bay recorded an out.“[Hitting a home run] always feels good,” Miller said. “It happens in practice, but until you get it in the game, there’s nothing like seeing your team when you cross home plate.”Wisconsin continued to pile on hits and runs in the following two innings.In the second, Jenkins ripped an RBI-double down the left field line and followed with a third inning that saw Katie Christner hit a line-drive home run down the left field line, which got out in a hurry to give the Badgers a 5-0 lead. Wisconsin chased Rossman in the same inning while tacking on three more runs and would hold their eight-run lead to the end of the fifth to again force the mercy rule.Coming into the day’s double-header, Wisconsin owned a 4-6-1 record at home, but head coach Yvette Healy said wins like these are what her team needed as they try to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament in two weeks.“Just to play well on our field is a big deal,” Healy said. “This weekend is another huge weekend and I think these mid-week games give us a little momentum going into it.”The Badgers will welcome the Northwestern Wildcats this weekend for a three-game set and the team’s final home series of the season. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m Friday.last_img read more