Cheer and loathing at the Chicago Cubs Game

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Cheer and Loathing at the Chicago Cubs Game
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday June 14, 2013
By Ray Hanania

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 grounds-keeper, 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 final 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 – Bentleys, Mercedes, BMWs’ sports cars and one cab – begging the Cubs begging 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. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania