Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Priorities of Chicagoans

It's the type of story tailor made to provide levity at the end of a local newscast. But this is Chicago, where we turn a blind eye to our mayor when he tears up airport runways in the middle of the night and wiggles his way free of a hired truck scandal custom fit to reward political patronage and influence.

The big news here is we're gonna blow up a baseball, people. We gonna blow it up reeealll goooooodd!!!

It's called the "Bartman Ball" and it is the most recent symbol in a near-century of futility by the Chicago Cubs. For those of us who care about baseball- and the Cubs- enough to pay attention, the Cubs were only five outs away from making the winning their first National League pennant since 1945 when Bartman interfered with a possible play by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou on the foul ball. Alou couldn't make the play and the Cubs, who were leading 3-0, went on to lose the game 8-3 and eventually the series. Since then the Cubs have emerged as pre-season favorites to win the National League pennant and boast arguably the best starting rotation in the major leagues. Meanwhile Bartman has pulled an Osama, becoming a recluse and refusing to give interviews on the subject.

The foul ball has taken on a life of its own. Recovered by a lawyer after Bartman's deflection and removal from Wrigley Field amid death threats from fellow Cubs fans, it was sold at auction for over $113,000 to Grant DePorter, the general manager of Harry Caray's restaurants. Since then, the ball has become a media circus that can only have happened in Chicago. Under constant security, the ball has been treated to a lobster dinner, a "nap" in a baseball glove, and a deep tissue massage. I kid you not. Reports of Costa Rican hookers being flown in to send the Bartman ball off "like a real man" by the State Legislature have not been confirmed. All this leads up to the destruction of the ball later this evening. While officials are being tight-lipped about how the ball will be destroyed, they have asked the city for permission to use explosives.

Meanwhile, busloads of people who should be doing more productive things with their lives- like go to school, work, or post an entry in a weblog- are converging upon Channel 5's new window studios to get a look at a bona fide woman from New York. NBC has brought Katie Couric in to officially christen the new studios and hopefully cut into the sheeplike housewife cult of Oprah Winfrey. The past two mornings Tribune plaza has been littered with the predictable array of crudely drawn homemade signs with Couric's name misspelled. "Kattie, Elmwood Park loves U!!"

Yup. We have our priorities.

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