Game 131 // First Inning, Chicago // Behold, La Sape Est Arrivée

BOTTOM OF THE FIRST: CUBS 5 (0) – 0 WHITE SOX

 

You know, we could talk about the ballgame. The Cubs, the Sox, the rivalry, the history.

We could.

But.

Look behind home plate for a moment. And appreciate in all its sartorial splendor the blessed appearance of a saint. A man, a brand, a technicolor dreamcoat bringing meaning out of the void—beauty so deep it almost hurts.

And we remember, as Nietzsche once said:

If you stare into the abyss, the M&M’s jacket stares back at you.

  

 

The Met Gala went on this past week in New York. Rihanna walked the red carpet in Catholic-inspired extravagance—beside Tom Brady, Blake Lively, Cardi B, George Clooney. The pinnacle of modern elegance, flowing down the steps of the Metropolitan Museum.

And in a green plastic seat in Chicago yesterday, one man shines above them all.

Look at him and marvel.

The name alone rings profound. They call him:

M&M’s Guy.

 

 

It may not yet be defined as such, but there’s a movement underway. Not one man alone. He has friends. Colleagues, you could say. Occupying the seats of America’s ballparks, lounging behind home plate, tempting away the focus of the camera as it broadcasts each pitch.

Bright orange, bright pink, bright yellow.

(1) Our man the White Sox homer, at every game.

 

 

(2) The Cubs homer, at every game.

 

 

(3) The traveler, around the league every night.

 

 

And my voice almost chokes up, thinking for a moment of Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

“They’re such beautiful shirts,’ she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. ‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.’”

 

 

And you know, this movement is not without precedent. There exists a sort of cousin phenomenon to this pageant of fabric, of color, of swagger—unclear if a direct line of influence has connected the two, or if some convergent evolution is at play. The echidna and the hedgehog. Newton and Leibniz, inventing calculus separately, coincidentally at the same time.

What we have here, and we’ve had it for several years now, is a culture imported from across the pond. A Congolese Invasion—doing what British rock bands did for American music in the ‘60s.

La Sape, in its great glory, has arrived in our national pastime.

 

 

 

And so, today, Southsiders playing the Northsiders, the histories of two sapeurs have merged. As a fraternity of sape has formed in the front row at Wrigley.

 

 

Lest we think this is a first-time occasion, however, they have indeed met before, les sapeurs américains.

 

 

 

So, as I said before, something is going on. A groundswell of low-brow fashion sense is building into a movement. Don’t sleep on this. Not for one moment. Trends may begin in obscure, undetectable places, but then spread—trickling down from runway shows onto college campuses, into Instagram pictures, into music videos, into the locker of a professional athlete as he dons his outfit and heads out for a TV press conference, viewed by millions.

In this case, we’re present for the day one moment.

We are all of us the coolhunters, as Malcolm Gladwell might say. And what’s cool in this case is quite clearly, undeniably cool.

 

 

 

He’s known as George Jacobs, owns a Chicago limousine company, and wears the M&M’s jacket to every sporting event he attends.

I turn the game on in this first inning, sitting there noticing him, saying aloud: “That looks like the kind of thing he must’ve picked up at Joliet Speedway circa 1990, some sort of NASCAR giveaway…”

And then, you look him up, and you couldn’t be more spot-on:

“The story of the yellow M&Ms jacket began in 2003, when Jacobs’ wife, Stacy, bought him a fantasy package at Joliet’s Chicagoland Speedway. The present came with the NASCAR jacket made famous by champion driver Kyle Busch.”

A true sapeur, in every sense of the word.

There is a slight issue, though.

It could be that the man I’m looking at now, in fact, is not George Jacobs, but a kind of faux sapeur impostor.

 

 

Or, maybe, no impostor at all but a kind of duplicate. A sign that the movement is growing. A bright yellow M&M’s jacket at the Cubs game, another at the Brewers game. A Marlins Man at the Cardinals game, another at the Mets. The Indians. The Twins. The Braves. A pink hat at one game, a pink hat at another. Here a hat, there a hat, EIEIO.

I can see it now. The movement taking off beyond my mind’s eye, shooting mainstream the way blue jeans or sneakers once did. Taking off with numbers multiplying with each telecast—a kid seeing an idol on the TV screen, knowing what he’d want on his birthday wishlist, getting fitted for one, a friend noticing, jealous, then that friend with one, another friend, another, and so on—until entire schools, towns have donned the M&M’s jacket, spreading around the country like the blossoming flowers of springtime.

And the originators will gather, however big this all gets. The forefathers of le sape américain displaying their stylings before the masses—under the lights, a national audience, a new tradition forged from humble beginnings.

The baseball sape festival. 

The first day of All-Star weekend.

Marlins Man strutting down the catwalk, tilting his visor for the judges and sucking in his gut; Pink Hat Man hobbling down behind him, waving sheepishly at the crowd; and our man in the M&M’s jacket, flaunting himself, zipping the jacket up and then down, up and then down, twirling in place, the jacket coming off, twisting around his head, tossed into the air, as he strides back down the runway and off into the annals of fashion iconography.

Just a thought, Commissioner. Just a thought.

They say you’re seeking ways to infuse new energy into the game.

Well, sir, here’s your answer.

Fête du Sape, 2018. Make it happen.

It’ll change everything.

 

 

 

PS: If I forgot that a game of baseball went on during all of this: Willson Contreras hit a grand slam in the first inning, the Cubs took a 5-0 lead, and they went on to win 11-2. Far more important things than that are underway, but, you know, “fyi”.

 

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