Many of my fondest memories are linked to baseball. I came out of the womb and within minutes was in White Sox gear thanks to my dad. From a very young age I was taught to support the South side, the Bad Guys in Black, the Tough Chicago baseball team, the White Sox. Now before you go getting pissy about how I'm taking shots at the Cubs, or tell me how their young studs are really going to do something this year, save it, and talk to me in October. I'm willing to do a winning percentage beer case with any takers. I'm getting off track, I can still remember going to a Sox game with my dad where they played the Blue Jays. We drove up to the stadium, parked blocks away to dodge the parking lot fee and popped into an Irish dive bar just north of the park for hot dogs, chips and Pepsi to dodge paying a fortune for ball park food. The game was an all offensive show even with Jack McDowell on the mound. We had the lead, we lost the lead, it was a roller coaster for a young fan. It rained off and on, and I remember my dad laughing at the wusses who took shelter with every drop that fell from the sky. Then, late in the game, my hero at the time, Robin Ventura stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. It was my first game watching him play in person and I remember thinking I could "will" these guys into getting hits because I was there to see it happen. That will worked as Ventura crushed a grand slam that gave us the lead and ultimately the win.
I went off to college in the fall of 2005. As my fellow Sox fans know this was an exciting time on the South side. Led by Buehrle, Konerko, Dye, Scotty Pods and many other studs the Sox were going full steam into the playoffs with their eyes set on the World Series. Biotechnology, Psychology 101, my other freshman courses took a backseat for every playoff game. Even academic probation did not stop me from watching these games. Zach, Logas, Kamm and I would post up in my dorm room and watch every inning with sheer excitement for the following game as we inched closer and closer to World Series royalty. The White Sox ended up sweeping the Astros bringing the trophy back to the South side after 88 years. This championship meant the world to me, it meant the world to the Grahnke's, they won one just in time for my dad.
Baseball is a part of me. It's made me laugh, it's made me cry, it's made me jump for joy and lead a pack of wild and drunken fans screaming down dorm hallways. I know statistics of players that haven't played in a decade, names of players that played decades before I was even alive, there's no other sport, hell, interest that compares to the importance of baseball, the White Sox especially, to me. Going to games won't be the same these days. I used to hop on the Green Line with my dudes at a moments notice and head out to games. We would pool our funds and buy killer tickets as close to the field as possible. I'm not going to be able to do that anymore. The L isn't as convenient when you're in a wheelchair. I've talked about being at ass height with people before and the L sure as hell isn't a place you want to be at ass height. Sitting right behind home plate, or in left field by the bullpen won't happen either due to all the stairs and stadium seats.
Having a catch in the driveway won't be the same. I don't have the cannon for an arm that I used to, I can't make a running catch, run the bases or take cracks with the Louisville Slugger. Accommodations can be made, but it's not the same. These struggles suck, I hate them, they bring tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I find Grace in my buddies around me. Kamm, Danny, Kurt, Logas, Adam, the list go on, guys and gals that don't let my disease get in the way, that will get my ass into Sox games and into accessible seats, houses without ramps and bars at all costs. My army of family and friends are strong when I can't be, stealthily helping when I bullishly refuse it, and loving when I need a pick-me-up. The extravagant Grace I receive from the people I love make me full and in control and I am eternally grateful for that.