Former Flames star, now a Met, divides loyalties for UIC Cubs fans

Curtis Granderson at bat vs. the Chicago Cubs

Mets outfielder and UIC grad Curtis Granderson bats against the Cubs Sunday at Citi Field in New York. Granderson was a force in the first two games of the championship series. Photo: Marc Levin/New York Mets

 

As the Chicago Cubs face the New York Mets – and UIC grad Curtis Granderson – in the NLCS this week, who is the UIC community rooting for?

“I think that depends person to person,” said John Flood, assistant coach of the UIC baseball team. “If you’re a Cubs fan like myself, you want to see them win. With that being said, we want Curtis to do extremely well.”

The Mets won the first two games of the championship series over the weekend in New York. The teams played Tuesday night at Wrigley Field; the schedule continues today and Thursday, with two more games in New York next weekend if necessary. The team that wins four games advances to the World Series.

The question of who to root for is especially tough for head baseball coach Mike Dee, who coached Granderson at UIC.

Curtis Granderson leaping to save a home run

Curtis Granderson thwarts Chicago Cub Chris Coghlan’s potential home run Sunday. Photo: Marc Levine/New York Mets

“I certainly am happy that they are playing against each other,” he said. “I’m going to be happy whoever wins and I’m going to be disappointed no matter who loses.”

UIC baseball player Charlie Cerny is rooting for the Mets and Granderson, a 2003 business graduate who donated $5 million to UIC to build Curtis Granderson Stadium. The stadium, which opened in April 2014, is home to Flames baseball, as well as Chicago youth sports organizations.

“I want the Cubs to get swept in four,” said Cerny, a freshman in business and right-handed pitcher for the Flames. “I’ve always been a fan of Granderson and watched him play growing up, and not just because I go to UIC. Playing at his stadium is unreal.”

Cerny, who’s from Bloomington, is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, the team the Cubs beat to advance to the NLCS.

“I was devastated when we lost,” he said. “If the Cubs win the World Series, I would be really upset. If Granderson wins, I will be happy, but not as happy as if the Cardinals won.”

UIC baseball player David Cronin is cheering for the home team. “I’ve been a diehard Cubs fan since I was a child,” said Cronin, a junior in criminal justice and infielder for the Flames. “It’s awesome that Curtis is going to be playing the Cubs and at Wrigley, but my heart is with the Cubs.”

He’s hoping the predictions made “Back to the Future Part II” come true: the Cubs win the 2015 World Series. The Cubs won their last World Series in 1908 at the West Side Grounds, where the UIC College of Medicine stands today.

“I wouldn’t even know how to express myself if they win – it would be incredible, ” said Cronin, who’s from Orland Park. “It’s weird to think that the Cubs are good now and the fact that I actually might be able to witness it would be pretty incredible.”

Granderson told the Chicago Tribune he’s excited to return to his hometown for the series.

“Anytime I get a chance to play against either one of the two Chicago teams, I always enjoy it,” Granderson said after Sunday’s game. “My roots are still there. I still work out there in the offseason. Family and friends, a lot of them are still there.

“It’s not going to be an easy task. Their fans are going to be loud. It’s going to be electric.”

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christyb@uic.edu