The world around us is in crisis. Our economy is in the depths and our financial institutions are insecure and in desperate need of assistance. We are at war on a least two fronts (Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan) and the Iran's leader has left no doubt of his continuing intentions to become a nuclear power. Global warming is an increasingly serious and imminent problem which not only can't be ignored, but must be dealt with by the next administration. Gas prices and food prices have forced families to make difficult decisions. Yes, these are some of the problems we all are too keenly aware of.
Nevertheless, for the next month, all of the aforementioned concerns will take a back seat to ... baseball and the Major League playoffs. For the first time in over 100 years, both Chicago baseball teams are in the playoffs. Whether you are a Sox fan or a Cubs fan, Chicagoans will be going nuts over their favorite team and the city will be at a fever pitch.
Cubs fans have dared to believe again and justifiably have faith that their team will end the 100 year championship drought. The team is extremely deep, has the best four-man rotation in baseball and two relievers who can close any game on any given day. The combination of Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano can match any three hitters in baseball. The Cubs have speed, excellent fielding and a manager that is as experienced and knowledgeable as any in the game. I really believe it would be a surprise if the Cubs didn't make it to the World Series.
On the South Side of town, the Sox had to struggle to get to the playoffs. They haven't played well down the stretch and have found both their bullpen and timely hitting lacking. However, they somehow got it together for three crucial games at the end of the season. This gives them some momentum going into the first playoff series against the winningest team in the American League and the biggest surprise in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Unlike the Cubs, no one expected the White Sox to win their division or make the playoffs. Consequently, everything from this point on is gravy and Sox fans should just appreciate what a wonderful season they've had and how they rose to the challenge at the end of the season. It may be too much to expect a team to lose its M.V.P and two All Star players (Carlos Quentin and Joe Crede) and still be able to win a championship. But, stranger things have happened and all baseball fans remember the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.
So, as we begin this playoff season, if Chicagoans look around, they'll see plenty evidence of baseball fever. They'll find it easier to get into restaurants when playoff games are on. They'll find traffic a little lighter when playoff games overlap with rush hour (like Wednesday's Cubs game). They'll find hotel occupancy up when the Cubs are playing at home. They'll find empty seats at gala dinners on playoff nights. These are only a few of the examples of how the Chicago atmosphere will change during the month of October.
Should we find the Cubs playing the Sox in the World Series -- Katie bar the door! Anything is possible and the civil war may look tame compared to what zaniness might occur should we have an all-Chicago World Series. Ah, for a little zaniness. What a beautiful sight to behold!