Outsiders Insider: Best Baseball Fans in Chicago

Joe HuberCorrespondent IMay 2, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 28:  Jermaine Dye #23 of the Chicago White Sox steals second base ahead of a tag attempt by Ronny Cedeno #5 of the Chicago Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field on June 28, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Alright.  I'm sick of the talk back and forth from south siders living on the north side to north siders riding from Addison to 35th.

Let me state here that regardless of which Chicagoan you encounter, if they're a sports fan, it's not really fair to give advantage to either side.  We're talking about a fan BASE here.

Both teams have great fans sprinkled throughout their ranks, and I've seen grown men cry because a dude wearing earphones did what anyone else would do when a foul ball was coming our way.

But it's not about one person, it's about the groups collectively.

I'm going to settle this once and for all, and since my bias resides out east, it means just a little bit more...  Or not.



Alright, first subject up, and it's much closer than you think.

The Cubbies have one of the longest season ticket waiting lists among all professional sports teams, and it's not because they win titles.

So you might think this point goes to the north siders right off because they average 10,000 more people per game than the go go boys do.

Even in 2006, when the White Sox were reigning champs, the Sox averaged 3,000 less people per game than the Cubs.  Let that sink in for a second.

Most other major franchises wouldn't be able to keep tickets in stock, but the White Sox couldn't fill their stadium.

So where does that leave us?

Well we have a crew on the north that buys tickets more for the experience than the play of the field and about 30 minutes away via the Red Line you have a group that doesn't sell out a world champion.

How is a Cubs fan going to say they have "the best fans in the world" either when, and I'm ball parking this, about 85 percent of the people in the stands hear E2 and only think of Caesar.  Too close to Dennis Miller?

At least 80 percent of the 30,000 or so fans at "The Cell", or Comiskey from here on, have a passion and lust for the game that can't be satisfied.  But Wrigley still draws more fans to their doors, so that means that they HAVE to take the attendance down.

ADVANTAGE: Cubs (Barely)



The Cubs fan base as a whole is flawed in their passion.  A solid 70 percent couldn't name eight players on the club.  I think more people own Cubs hats than there are fans.

The passion is misguided, and almost juvenile in the way a 13-year-old girl (or boy, who am I to judge) loves Zac Effron.

It's not just root root root for the Cubbies, it's "hey, we're in the bleachers, now let's get hammered!"  The passion north of the Maison-Wacker line is watered down at best.

Now on the south side?  It's disgusting.  There are literally babies that come out cursing Justin Morneau.  Is their passion just as misguided though because it's steeped in hatred?

Absolutely not.

A lot Red Sox and Yankees fans will tell you that it's a-ok.

The swelling pride from 2005 is still worn on the faces of someone riding the el in their Sox hat that's been faded since 1996.  It's that pride that the fan base as a whole carries with them that allows them to squeak through this round.

ADVANTAGE: White Sox (You can putitontheboarrrrrrrd... YES!)


Press coverage

This one isn't even close.

The Cubs win big because of WGN.  Hello dollar sign, dollar sign.

Even in Chicago newspapers, and Sox fans will tell you if you listen, that the coverage at Wrigley makes the Sox fans feel like the runt of the litter.  "Even the Chicago Fire get more coverage," lament some White Sox fans.

The radio is no different with the Cubs on 720, and the White Sox moving from ESPN 1000 to WSCR 670, this makes the gap widen even more.

And while listening to those games on the radio, which is far more important than watching on TV, the play-by-play of Pat Hughes is top notch.  Ron Santo really doesn't add a whole lot, unless it's about Brer Rabbit or wooly bully.  Or to say "Oh No."

They make a good enough team to take down the arrogant Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson.  If you listen to Farmio, you'd think he was the only person to win the Cy Young award every season he played.  And Darrin Jackson pretty much thinks every batter should get chin music.

While you might think that this has nothing to do with the fans, think again.

The fan needs to be able to get the news on their team, and a fan with these tools to know about the goings on will be better off.  It's not the fans' fault necessarily, but it's the baggage they must deal with.



Reaction to wins

Whenever I hear about a Chicago win, no matter the team, it's usually met with the same fervor that would take place after many teams win their respective championship. However, when the White Sox win, it's just another day at the office.

There's excitement, sure, but it's not over the top.  It's not in your face, and it's like it's happened before.

When the Cubs win it's like the curse has been broken, they not only let you know they won, they let you know it was a smearing.  4-3 sounds like 12-0.

It's okay to get excited, but when it's game 32, it's just really not that exciting.  Great games are excluded from this however, such as winning 8-6 after being down 5-1 and going ahead on a slam.  Alright, you got me.

I'll go ahead and pro rate playoff wins too, and the edge again goes to the White Sox, in large part because they've had more.

They've got the ring now, and on top of that, the one-game playoff last year against Minnesota had all the makings of mayhem on 35th.  But they reacted in a completely level headed way.  The fans were great.

When a win is celebrated to the perfect extent, it's that much better to deal with.

ADVANTAGE: White Sox (Chicago's proud of you)


Reaction to losses

Crying in the stadium after a loss is a perfectly acceptable form of anguish when your team loses in game 7 in the NLCS.

I won't use that as a measuring stick, but I will use Ron Santo as an example.  Ronnie is the quintessential Cub fan.  He loves his team no matter what.  Thick and thin.

But he also lets a loss affect him a little more than he probably should.

"Oh no.  Awwwww geez..."  Those words are pretty much this man's catch phrase.

Now I'm not saying that a loss shouldn't hurt, but again it's the regular season losses that concern me.  

Unless it's the string of losses that ends your season, it's not that bad.  Or the loss that sends you from first to second or third...

Sox fans again just view the bigger picture and roll with the punches.  To me, it's their non reaction that gives them a slight edge.

ADVANTAGE: White Sox (I really mean slight)


Knowledge of the game

How important is knowing your team?

It's the most important.  Whoever wins this category should just be handed "Better Fan Base" status.

On one hand, you have the White Sox fans who can still name their 1959 line up and rattle off stats from the Black Sox scandal of 1919.

On the other hand, you have Cubs fans that can lay it down when it comes to a rowdy 1908 squad that took the MLB by storm.

Both crews know their stuff.  Then again, Chicago fans arguably are the most knowledgeable fans there are.

Don't believe me?  Run over to Casey Morans or the Bullpen and start spouting off statistics.  Someone will sit you down and spell it out for you.

Now, the base as a whole for the Cubs would probably be bogged down because so many fans are 24-year-old women who can't watch baseball because it's too boring, but they bought that "cute pink hat with a 'C' on it, because I was in Chicago!"

Or the football player who got his 1914 Cubs hat because the Bear on it was sweet.

While Cubs fans clearly have more dead weight, I believe they make up for it with the rest of the population from Kansas that have nothing better to do than watch baseball, and WGN just so happens to come in everywhere.

White Sox fans don't have the dead weight, just fewer people.

Which brings us to...

ADVANTAGE:  Draw (I know, I'm mad too...If only I could change it...)



Well, this isn't going to be a surprise ending.

You can see it in the attendance records for the White Sox, and that's not the only estimation, but it's a really good indicator.

White Sox fans back off easier and more often than Cub fans.  In large part because Cub fans don't back off.

At all.  Ever.

It's been 100 years.  It's been 100 years.  It's been 100 years since the Cubs have won a World Series, and yes that was on purpose.

Yet every season there are the real fans that sit next to the Ivy spilling their beer because the bleachers are packed tighter than the Olde Style cans they send to the recycling plant.  The faith they have rivals pre-2005 Red Sox fans.

It's awe-inspiring sometimes...




In the end it's really a draw.  Honestly it is.

When it comes to a better fan base, there is no loser.  Both fans love their teams, and it's easy to see on their faces.

Jump on the red line at Howard and ride it to 95th or vice versa and watch the jersey colors change like leaves in Autumn.  

Look at the face of the 75-year-old woman who got to watch her Sox bring home the trophy or the little boy who's clearly on his way to his first trip to Wrigley.

You'll see pride.  You'll see love for the game.  You'll see a fan.


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