"Ernest, you're from Chicago. You know what it's like. Those three days in June and July just seem to have a special feel to them. The air smells different, the people act different, and your day becomes centered around that final score. The only problem is trying to explain this sort of inner-city rivalry to anyone else, because they just don't get it. On those six days in Chicago, we play for the bragging rights for the rest of the year."
This is the fourth time I've tried to write this column. It's been hard because every time I start, I end up forgetting something huge and have to start from scratch.
I sent a group of my oldest friends and acquaintances messages about trying to tell the Cubs/White Sox story. Originally, it was just supposed to be a friendly look at the Cubs/Sox series, a look at the upcoming pitching matchups, and some playful ribbing at the Cubs' expense, all in good fun.
What I got back from them let me know that I can't tell this story alone. So, I won't.
"To me, the Cubs versus White Sox is a battle of good and evil. It's a battle of culture, a battle of lifestyle. It's a battle of politics, a battle of social class, and a battle of environment."
"This is not just two teams in close proximity. We're not in the same leagues and these six games are pretty meaningless in terms of the season. Cubs and Cards and Sox and Twinkies should be far more serious rivalries, but this is an all out civil war. It is quite literally what happens when you take a city full of stereotypical Chicago Bears fans, split them down the middle, and pit them against each other. The Sox/Cubs Series shuts down the city, literally in the case of Mayor Daley closing City Hall to go to the three at the Cell, and has some of the most passionate sports fans in the country at the throat of their neighbor (the same person who he would fight to the death with against a Red Wings or Packers fan)."
Where it comes from:
Loyalty is a funny thing. For a lot of people I came up with and their folks, they haven't seen much of it recently. Some of them have been let go from jobs they were loyal to for years. Maybe it's more than that. I wanted to know what makes them fans of their respective sides.
Up first? A Northsider:
"Cubs fans love their team, the lovable losers, no matter what and it is just a bonus if the Cubs are any good. Part of this is because Cubs fans were brought up with no expectations of the Cubs ever being any good. So, Cubs fans simply enjoyed the summer, because God knows Chicago is miserable in the winter—enjoyed having a few beers outside, listening to the cubs on the radio and bs'ing with friends. Because of this, there is a misconception that Cubs fans "just party instead of watch the game."
A good point. Southside?
"Yeah its definitely about my dad, uncles, and grandfather having the best seats in the house at an affordable price and sharing the games with my friends and family. Some of the best time of my life were spent in Old and New Comiskey. Its that tingle you get all over when you would see big Frank or Konerko just lay into a ball, knowing that it's now on the Dan Ryan."
I think you see what I'm getting at. This series is about family and tradition. It's about bragging rights, snow on the ground on Opening Day, 1906, and Mike Royko talking all that jazz.
I mean, we're talking about the mullets versus the Chads. William Ligue Jr. vs. Steve Bartman. "We don't get the attention we deserve!" against "Cubs fans do not care about the White Sox nearly as much as White Sox fans care about the Cubs."
Dare I mention the events that took place on May 20th, 2006?
This is deep stuff, kids.
As far as the actual games go, the series is tied up at 33-33. Both teams are kind of in purgatory right now, so there's an added emphasis to try and get out of the basement of both Central divisions.
Rather than try and beat you over the head with this anymore, I offer this:
If the following quote doesn't get you interested in this series, then I have some lovely fashion blogs and a sweet Ed Hardy shirt for you to look into.
"To me, the White Sox and Cubs rivalry is more than just about baseball within a city's limits. It's more than just a 12-stop difference on the Red Line.
It's about Hyde Park versus Rogers Park. Its about the South Side Irish, Morgan Park, Mt. Greenwood, and Beverly. It's about the vines and hearing Ernie Banks say "let's play two."
It's about Old Comiskey and Wrigley and how Sammy Sosa and Frank Thomas used to make fireworks every time they'd step up to the plate.
It's about the Union Stockyards and Union Station. It's about Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and Earl Weiss. It's about the Polish, the Irish, the Italian, the Hispanics, and the African-Americans who each contribute their own pieces to the city's rivalry. It's about the politics of Chicago, and while it seems legitimate to the untrained eye, the true people from the Chicago-area know why the wind blows so fierce.
It's about living in the spotlight of New York, and trying to make a name for ourselves and a city. It's about constant exposure of one team versus minimal exposure of the other.
Honestly, it's about two different forms of the game altogether: AL versus NL. It's about tattoo-covered fans who love their team even though they live in the spotlight, and its about fans who have waited 100 years and have never seen a parade for their team down Michigan Avenue.
It's about the disgust that each team has for each other come June and July of each year. Those six times we play each other, the true feelings of animosity and spite come out.
It's about 35th and Shields versus Addison and Sheffield.
It's about drunken fights at barbeques amongst friends who defend their teams. It's about Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Charles Comiskey and the White Stockings, and Ed Walsh. It's about Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Santo and Maddux.
Its about how you were raised, and how you stick to those core values that you were brought up upon concerning your baseball team. Its about defending your team, even while others spit in your face because of it. It's about having hope when your team is losing, and celebrating uncontrollably when your team is winning. It's about sticking to your core values as a Sox or a Cubs fan, and defending that against one another.
Its about come football season, we drop our animosity towards each other and let the Bears become our team. But, until then, it's a battle for your side of the city."
Sounds good to me.
(Note: All the quotes in italics come directly from my loving friends, whom I don't deserve the honor of being associated with. I wish I could sit here and name everyone, but if you contributed in any way, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Oh, and Go SOX!)