Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Worst Case Scenario
2005-10-17 08:37
by Derek Smart

The post-season started with eight teams, and at the beginning of this journey I looked at the field and, frankly, saw no team I could get behind. This is rare, as there's usually at least one club I can find some affinity for in my heart, but the 2005 crop of contenders mostly left me cold, and more in a profound state of indifference than anything else.

So while I couldn't find a rooting interest, being something of a jackass at heart, I was able to clearly identify the team from each league whom I would least like to see advance to the final round. And as luck and karma would have it, barring a three-game win streak from the Cardinals, my most garish post-season nightmares are about to come true.

What makes me a little sad, more sad than a White Sox/Astros World Series, is that it didn't have to be this way.

I'm not a native Chicagoan. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and came to my fandom like so many others, via a combination of cable television, adolescent summer boredom, and the beginning of the Ryne Sandberg Era.

I came to town for graduate school in 1993 which was, oddly enough, a year when the White Sox made the playoffs, and I actually enjoyed the fact that they were in it, rooting for them all the way.

Being from out of town I wasn't privy to the nature of the Sox/Cubs rivalry and as far as I was concerned it was a Chicago team that was doing well, and since I was living here now, why shouldn't I enjoy their run at a title?

That was twelve seasons ago, and since that time I've changed a lot (going from one's early twenties to one's mid-thirties will do that to a fella), and one of the evolutions that has taken place has been a transition in my feelings towards the South Siders. I have grown to despise them.

As I said, it didn't have to be this way. True, the White Sox would never have usurped the Cubs' primary place in my affections, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have been a close second.

For a while the A's have been my adopted American League team, partly because of the way their organization runs, partly because I've enjoyed watching some of the recent teams they've put together, and partly because I have some good friends who are fans. There's no reason that, under the right circumstances, the Sox couldn't have been that team.

The fact is, I have some very good friends who are White Sox fans, guys who are season ticket holders, who occasionally ask me along when they have an extra stub. When I first met them and began to reap this benefit I was still open to the idea of being friendly toward the Pale Hose. A little cajoling, a little respect, and I'm at least indifferent to their current success, and at best, quite happy.

That's not what I've received. While my friends are, for the most part, decent when it comes to my Cubfandom (with some notable exceptions in the aftermath of the 2003 playoffs), the treatment I've received at the hands of White Sox fans in general has been abysmal. Rude. Disrespectful. Cruel.

Let me be clear, I don't mean to whine (although in re-reading this, just because I don't mean to doesn't mean I'm not). Perhaps I simply don't understand the existing ethos, but I'm not asking that White Sox fans love the Cubs, nor am I asking that there be no intra-city rivalry – that would not only be silly, but unspeakably dull. A hint of civility. That's all it would take.

It's particularly ironic since the great complaint heard from Sox fans is how the city doesn't love them, how Chicago is a Cub town and they don't get the respect they deserve.

They're right, of course, but there's something to be said for treating others the way you'd like to be treated, and from my experience - as someone who, free from the shackles of hereditary fandom and its concomitant biases, was willing and able to give the Sox some of that love and respect their fan base purports to crave - they would prefer to be openly loathed and reviled.

I also understand that what I was offering – a sort of secondary fandom – is kind of like telling a woman that you'd be happy to date her on the nights you aren't busy with your best girlfriend.

It could be construed as an insult of sorts, and I can understand why such advances might be rejected. However, I had developed a deep affinity for the Cubs before I even arrived here, and it's not like I could drop it like lint from my pocket. Surely such fickleness isn't worthy of respect either.

Honestly, I'm not sure if any of this makes sense. All I know is, the White Sox are in the World Series, and while I'd like to be happy for them and their fans, I simply can't be. Not because my fandom doesn't allow me to, but because my fandom won't allow White Sox fans to let me.

2005-10-17 12:26:35
1.   Tom
I remember the short-lived halcyon days of 2003. At that time, Cubs fans were happy. But, one thing I don't remember is Cubs fans trying to stick it to Sox fans.

Now, every morning on the news I hear Sox fans saying something awful about the Cubs rather than celebrating their team. I saw a sign that said "Sox Fans Parking. Cubs keep out," or something to that effect.

If they do win the series, maybe, at least, they will finally be able to cheer for their team, without adding "screw the Cubs." at the end of it.]

Or, if we ignore them, maybe they will finally move to Florida, like they promised.

2005-10-17 12:27:50
2.   Hamstring
This echoes with me so much its scary. Bitter and jealous? Yes.

I can be happy for a couple of my diehard fans that I know. They also respect my knowledge and love for the Cubs.

I think the biggest problem I have is the venom a South Sider/Sox fan has for the Cubs and its fans or "faggot sheep" or whatever the hell it is today.

They've played well and I can acknowledge this, but thats as far as it goes. You can't root for both teams nor do I wish to.

Good luck Sox, I hope you come home 1st place losers.

2005-10-17 16:35:59
3.   Bob Timmermann
I've learned that of all the two team areas in MLB: NY, Chicago, LA/OC, and SF Bay Area that Chicago is the one city where choosing sides is a zero sum game.

While I prefer the Dodgers, I don't really mind the Angels. And I think the dislike between the Mets and Yankees is not nearly as bad as the Cubs/White Sox split.

I wonder how Cardinals and Browns fans decided their allegiances?

2005-10-17 18:06:23
4.   aqc
Well said, Derek. I'm thankful I'm not living in Chicago right now--the city would be unlivable.
2005-10-17 19:01:11
5.   Trendinista
This Chicago-area native stayed up a little too late last night trying to come up with as eloquent a summation of the same sentiments.

I went to the Cell this year for a crosstown game and saw many, many Sox fans wearing T-shirts with messages so vile they made "Sox Sux" sound like Keats. I know the fellow who invited us to the game wouldn't endorse those sentiments, nor would a few other well-intentioned Sox fan friends, just as I didn't get behind the drunken, belligerent Cub fan who caused a stir in a section near us. But even the cordial ones seem to rank getting their zingers in awfully high on their list of priorities, while I'm content if I can just go one day without hearing them talk their ignorant mess. I swear, in October 2003 you didn't hear me say the words "white" and "socks" in the same sentence unless I was talking about what I might wear on my feet, and it'll be the same if the Cubs ever have a playoff appearance again.

The constant comment really is a way of capturing what they perceive as lost stature, a desperate cry to be at the center of attention they feel has been stolen from them by years of underachieving Cub teams. The Sox were underachieving (and undertelevised) during those years, too, which matters laughably little to those who complain so loudly.

I try to picture myself in the coming days making smart remarks to smug Sox fans along the lines of: "How sad, that you can't enjoy your team's success without teasing me. How odd that I am really the center of your attention, and not your professed favorite team. Someday maybe you'll actually learn to like baseball" -- but I think I'll really be more given to sullen stares and secret wishes to be somewhere else.

2005-10-17 19:57:51
6.   gangway
Mr Smart says in his blog that he "didn't mean to whine" about the White Sox. Of course he didn't mean to whine: it's not intentional -- it's genetic with youse guys. And for the other poor fellow (Trendinista-- a great North side name) offended by some crude tee-shirt at the Cell. Well, la-dee-da. I bet you drink your tea with your pinky sticking out, too. Where did you think you were -- the Saddle and Cycle Club? I logged on expecting to find some good baseball talk --instead I get snivels from Cubs fans about Sox fans obsessing about Cubs fans. Projecting, a little, aren't we kids? Don't worry -- there's always next year. And next year. And next year. And. . . you get the picture.
2005-10-18 07:28:16
7.   Sandus
We should all thank gangway for proving Derek's point. His team is in the world series, but he cares more about the Cubs than the Astros or Cardinals. Our team is done. Pay attention to yours.
2005-10-18 09:03:40
8.   Beth
Either you can be gracious about it, or you can't. It's still your decision.

All of this, for a Red Sox fan, has a comfortingly familiar ring: "I am a decent person, but YOU are not, therefore, we can't get along..."

"You care more about [our team] losing than [your team] winning..."

"You're obsessed with us!"
"No, YOU'RE obsessed with US!"

Sounds VERY familiar to me. Believe me, folks, it CAN get much uglier.

2005-10-18 10:03:56
9.   rynox
I think it's neat to see the Sox make it to the WS. They took a bunch of "nobodies" and made a playoff team out of them. That says a lot, it says you don't need a Vladimir or ARod, just good leadership and a lot of comradarie.

I'd be interested to see total salary of past WS teams to see where this year's Sox rank. I
bet they're relatively cheap.

We could all take a lesson from this.

2005-10-18 10:04:39
10.   rynox
... or Ordonez
2005-10-18 15:33:10
11.   Todd
Don't know what the point of this post was. Yes, Chicago baseball fans are a bitter lot? Newsflash? If you wanna be a Palehose fan, be a Palehose fan. Geez, either that or get behind the Jailblazers or whatever AAA team is in Portland.

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