It never fails to amuse me the way political people who derive such pleasure from making other people quiver and quake in their presence turn to mush whenever a professional athlete comes into their presence – even indirectly.
That was the case with the Cook County Board on Tuesday, which included among its business for the day a measure praising Philip Humber.
HE, OF COURSE, is the Chicago White Sox pitcher who recently threw a perfect game (as in he got everybody out, which isn’t as easy as it sounds) against the Seattle Mariners.
Which gave the political people who prevail at the County Building a chance to relish in the aura of baseball. Even those who don’t usually think of themselves as fans of the White Sox.
“As a North Sider, I reluctantly support this,” said county board member John Fritchey of the Lincoln Square neighborhood. “But as a Chicagoan, I wholeheartedly support this.”
Which may be the one time that baseball brings Chicago together. It usually is the force that splits the city into two – while we wait for the coming of summer training camp and the Chicago Bears to get us all rooting for the same side.
OF COURSE, THERE also were some gags by the political people, with board member Jeff Tobolski of suburban McCook claiming that board member John Daley “made me” co-sponsor a resolution supporting a White Sox player (a testament to the influence the Daley name will still carry in political circles).
Then, there was board member Peter Silvestri of suburban Elmwood Park, who says that if Daley really wants to get on his good side, he’ll give him the Daley family season tickets at U.S. Cellular Field so he can see a ballgame.
In short, it was a lot of love for a ballclub that is struggling to keep its record somewhere around a .500 winning percentage. Then again, the Chicago Cubs are struggling to avoid embarrassing themselves every time they take the field this season – so anything is an improvement.
What amuses me about this resolution is that it really is evidence that the Cook County Board is lagging behind in throwing its love behind Humber.
ON THE DAY that he pitched the best ballgame of his professional career (and possibly the only thing he’ll be remembered for as a ballplayer), Humber got a congratulatory telephone call from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Which is unique in that Emanuel is one of the few political people who’s willing to admit he personally could care less about the game.
The following day, Humber got “the call” from President Barack Obama, whom the White Sox like to refer to as their “first fan” on account of the fact he adopted the ball club when he moved to Chicago and adopted the Hyde Park neighborhood as his “home.”
State government went another step further in that Gov. Pat Quinn went so far as to declare that last Saturday (April 28, to be exact) was Philip Humber Day across Illinois – even in those parts of the state that are deluded enough to care about the St. Louis Cardinals.
SO IN A sense, where has the county been? Some of us were starting to think they were being “un-American” in not getting behind Humber with a superficial gesture meant to make it look as though they actually care much about the sport – even though a part of me suspects that most of them wouldn’t go to a ballgame unless someone gives them complimentary tickets.
Well, maybe Daley would go, as we’ll have to see whether his desire that Humber, “pitches like that the rest of the year” actually comes true.
And for what it’s worth, the answer is “no.” Humber himself didn’t show up at the Cook County Board meeting on Tuesday to get a copy of the “resolution suitable for framing” that pays tribute to himself.
I suspect that, being he works at a “job” that involves night games and odd hours, Humber was sleeping in late to be ready for what turned out to be the White Sox victory over the Cleveland Indians.