So the South Siders are in the World Series. Good for them. Really, I mean it. As a Cubs fan, I can wish them well. After all, a few friends and co-workers at the University of Chicago were Sox fans. My favorite priest in Chi-town is a South Sider, born and raised. Like last year, if the Sox win, I’ll be happy to see a long draught finally ended — it means there’s hope for the Cubbies. And I’d rather see the Sox win than a NL Central rival.
This all may sound strange if you really think crosstown rivalries matter. They do. Cubs fans just don’t care about the Sox in the way that Sox fans care about the Cubs. Despite 97 years of proudly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Cubs have more of a following, more pride, and a more celebrated tradition. The town loves the team.
The White Sox had consecutive winning seasons from 1951 through 1967. And yet, walk the streets of fairly neutral territory — the “Loop” area downtown — and look for White Sox hats in February or even May. You’ll find one for every five Cubs hats. The Cubs could be 20 games back and the White Sox first in the AL Central and you’d still be hard pressed to find the fans. And that’s why the few Sox fans are so frustrated at the Cubs. They’re jealous that the Cubs draw such a fervent following. Even in his team’s moment of glory, Mayor Daley’s whining about the Trib‘s coverage (the Tribune Co. owns the Cubs). The stories touting Sox fan “suffering” are a bit of a stretch. Sure, the true fans suffer. But when White Sox fans’ so-called suffering requires a story in the USA Today reporting it, the suffering may not be so bad. And how many truly suffer when the team only draws 2.3 million fans (compared to the Cubs’ 3.1 million this year) when it has the best record in baseball?
Members of the media, when you’re looking for suffering fans in Chicago this month, head north to Wrigleyville. You’ll find them huddled over beers at the Cubbie Bear.