I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter how you play the game; it’s whether you win or lose.
In the case of the ChiSox, what that means is that it’s not important that they barely squeezed into the postseason with a narrow 1-0 victory over the Twins on a solo home run during a playoff game for their division. What’s important is that they made it. Because once you’re in there, no one cares how you got there. Your team has just as good of a shot as anyone else’s. Except maybe the Angels. Their team definitely has a better chance than yours. I don’t care who you are; they’re better than you.
As I stated a couple of months back, I have a soft spot in my heart for the ChiSox. Maybe it’s that Guillen is so compellingly crazy. Maybe it’s that I have an undying affection for Nick Swisher. Maybe it’s that I’d like for Griffey Jr. to finally get his ring. Maybe it’s just that they have a powerhouse lineup, and, boy, are they ever fun to watch? In any case, it seems to me that there are plenty of reasons why a person might love the southies. And, yet, it’s the losers up north that everyone seems so hell-bent on loving. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a sow—the Cubbies.
This brings us to the real issue.
For the first time in over a century, both the Southies and the Northies are playing in the postseason. Which means what? Well, war. Obviously. The rivalry in Chicago is no joke. Especially when compared with the rivalry that exists between, say, the Mets and the Yankees. Let’s face it. Yankees fans are more fixated on hating the Red Sox than any other team. And, sure, when we’re playing in the Subway Series, we care a little more than usual. But, ultimately, we just aren’t that invested in hating the Mets. Some people, like me, will even go so far as to actually cheer for them when they’re playing anyone but the Yankees. I think that, at the end of the day, you really only have enough room in your heart to hate one team as much as we hate Boston.
Now, I know that, generally speaking, Mets fans tend to feel more rage towards the Bombers than we feel towards them. And I get it. They’re upset because they’re always in our shadow. We win more often. We don’t have an embarrassing mascot. We aren’t in Flushing. All that stuff. But both sides need to be fully on board for a cutthroat rivalry to exist. A rivalry such as the one between the Yanks and Chowdas. A rivalry such as the one in Chicago.
Unlike the feud between the Yanks and the Sox—the battle between a superior city and one that shouldn’t exist—the Cubs-Sox rivalry constitutes a division within the city of Chicago itself. Historically, a division that has been drawn along racial and socioeconomic lines. The stereotype is that Cubs fans are rich and white. And, it’s true that if you take a stroll around Wrigleyville—yes, Wrigley Field gets its own Ville—yuppies and frat boys abound. U.S. Cellular Field, on the other hand, is located in the somewhat less illustrious South Side of Chicago. The White Sox do not have their own Ville, and the stereotype is that the White Sox are the working man’s team. Blue collar. True grit.
There is no denying that Chicago lauds its Cubbies while it ignores its…wait, there’s another baseball team in Chicago besides the Cubs? It’s true. Just looks around. Everywhere you turn, there is someone lettin’ you know that it’s gonna happen. The bumper stickers, the flags, the t-shirts, the buttons, the hats, the posters, the themed bars the restaurants. I mean, they have a Ville for crying out loud. But ask any White Sox fan, and they’ll tell you that it’s all style, no substance. Look beyond the Ville, the slogans, the bumper stickers, and what you will see is a fan base more invested in getting drunk and having fun than in the fundamentals of baseball. That if you want people who care, who know the sport and are there to watch it, take a visit to the Cell.
To this, Cubs fans respond, “White Sox fans are trashy.” Good comeback.
In addition to their other grievances, White Sox fans complain that they don’t get the same amount of press coverage as the Cubs. That, in fact, Chicago’s biggest newspaper, The Trib, is biased against the Sox. That would be correct. The Trib, of course, owns the Cubs so it is in their best interest to promote them. To focus on their lovability rather than their loser-ness. And the good people at the Trib do little to veil the inequity in their reporting. In 2005, the Trib ran 2,047 articles in which they mentioned the Sox—that was the year they won the championship. In how many articles do you think the Cubs were given a mention? 2,824. What about 2006, when the Sox were reigning champs and postseason contenders until the last week of the season? 1,975. The last place Cubs? 2,556. All of this is documented on a website called www.cubune.com along with countless other specific examples of blatant Tribune Cubophilia.
“But what does it all mean Basil?” you will ask. Good question. For those of us not actually involved in the rivalry—those of us on “Main Street,” if you will—does any of this even matter? If so, how much? The answers to those questions are, yes and a little. Like I said, we all only have room enough in our hearts to truly despise one team. Chances are, if you’re not from Chicago, it will not be the ChiSox or the Cubbies. And, frankly, even though I favor the White Sox, I can’t ignore the reality of my affection for Soriano and Piniella.
So, this is how I’m going to break it down.
The ChiSox are the only team left in the AL race that I could give a crapelbon about. Yeah, I guess that whole Tampa Bay Cinderella story is nice and all. But I can’t ignore the fact that the Devil Rays went and changed their name to the Rays. Truly idiotic. Not to mention the fact that, ultimately, I watch them and find myself thinking, “Meh. Who cares?” As for the rest? I am obviously hoping for a swift, humiliating Bosox elimination. And, since they’re starting against the Angels, I’m apt to get my wish.
As far as the NL is concerned, I have to give my love to the Dodgers. Mostly because of Torre. If the Cubs should eliminate them in the first round, and it’s likely, I’ll back the LL’s through the LCS and dream about the possibility of a Windy City Showdown. It’s a long shot, of course. If the ChiSox get past the Devils, it will likely mean that they will see the Angels in the LCS. And this season they would be more appropriately dubbed the Angels of death.
But anything’s possible in a short series. And, while I’m not saying it’s gonna happen, it definitely could. So, if by some miracle both Chi-town teams battle their way to the big dance, you better believe that I’ll be rooting for the boys down south. Hoping they send the Northies a crushing blow by putting the loser back into lovable loser.