Szwaja's Sports Blog

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Okay, I'm back. I've been busy. For those of you who don't know or haven't heard, my mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, which is scary as hell when it hits you. But the doctors are confident, and she's keeping herself remarkably upbeat. In a weird kind of way, I feel somewhat accomplished. You see, she's become a huge White Sox fan over the last couple years. And I really think the White Sox are helping her get through this whole thing. I'll come home from work, and we usually share a conversation that goes something like this:

"Mikey, they won today! But the Tigers won again! When are they gonna lose again?"

"When they play the White Sox, Mom."

"Yeah, you're right."

My dad has been telling this story to anyone who will listen lately. He and my mother were watching a Sox game I happened to be at, a game which they won. After the game ended, my mom quickly switched over to ESPN2. Drag racing graced the TV screen. In the Szwaja house, motor sports rarely find their way onto our TV screen. So, there were my parents, quietly staring at funny cars ripping down a drag strip ... not exactly the norm, as I mentioned. Not knowing what was going on, my father just sat there, questioning in his head exactly what was going on.

"Why is she watching this?" he thought to himself.

Then it hit him like Justin Verlander fastball. My mom had no interest in the drag racing, she was patiently waiting for the score of the Tigers game to appear on ESPN2's Bottom Line. She wanted to see if the White Sox winner she had just seen would gain them a game in the standings. For me, that's a story with an ironic twist. Back when the ESPN2 Bottom Line came into existence, I fell in love with it. That was before I discovered the wonderful world of the Internet, where I can now find the score of Game 2 of the 1965 World Series within minutes, in addition to in-game scores of the present day. With that Bottom Line, anxiously awaiting the score of a game became commonplace, and my mom hated it. I remember it well...

"Mike, do we really need to be watching Extreme Firefighter Challenge?"

"Don't care who wins the hose race, Mom, just want to see if the Fire beat the Metrostars."

"You're watching that line at the bottom? That's it?"



So to know that my mother has realized the power of the Bottom Line is gratifying. But to know that the White Sox can bring her a little joy in a hard time in her life is even more gratifying. I've said it before and I'll say it again, anyone who says that sports fanatics get too into sports ... anyone who's ever said "It's just a game" ... is sadly mistaken. I can say with some conviction that if it weren't for the White Sox, I'm not sure my mother would be doing as well mentally as she has shown of late. I have no doubt her mind's in a chaotic state these days, but for three hours every day, Paul Konerko's home run swing puts a smile on her face as she jubilantly lets out a "Pauuulieeeeee!", Joe Crede's glue glove awes her: "Woah, nice one, Joe" and Bobby Jenks' freight train, game-closing fastball leaves her with no choice but to belt out a Hawk Harelson "Yes!" at game's end.

Then, the cycle goes back into motion. Next on the list: How did the Tigers do? Operation ESPN2's Bottom Line is set in motion.

It makes for some special mother-son bonding in a time when we both need it most.

Fact is, I love that I played a part in my mother's love affair with the White Sox, because the White Sox give her a reason to smile in a time when smiling can be a hard sell.

I love my mom, and I know she's gonna make it through this, and that's the Bottom Line.