Unfortunately, the White Sox season ended yesterday. But no one ever gave them a chance to even finish better than third or fourth place in their division. So everyone–except the White Sox and their fans–was surprised that the Sox made it to the post-season. They were in the first place for most of the season before slipping in the standings, but they battled their way back into first place by playing an extra playoff game against the Minnesota Twins. They gave the Tampa Bay Rays a good fight and they lost the series to a team with 97 regular-season wins (not the Cubs!).
The Cubs were given a celebration rally downtown for their first-place finish in the National League Central Division. And the White Sox. Nada! Not even a pat on the back!!! But alas, the White Sox and their fans hail from the much-maligned South Side. Those scrappy White Sox of 2008 are representative of the working-class, no-nonsense fans who support them. Yes, they’re a little rough around the edges, as witnessed by Sox fans who gloated when the Sox beat the Rays in game 3. Yes, they berated the Cubs and their fans for being swept from the playoffs in a mere three games. But the big, bad White Sox lost in four games! The Cubs had their dream team and were supposed to go all the way to the World Series. The Sox, on the other hand, fought to win every single game. And even though they lost, their fans cheered them on until the very end.
Well, the Cubs are out of the playoffs after losing three games to the L.A. Dodgers. Even though I am a lifelong White Sox fan, I was rooting for the Cubs to go all the way to the World Series. But I did imagine them losing them to the White Sox in four games. So I am disappointed in their poor showing in the post-season after how well they played all season.This was supposed to be the year for the Cubs! And they played so well all year. The Cubs had a National League best 97 wins, 636 walks, 855 runs scored, and a Major League best of 1264 pitching strikeouts. How could they lose? This has been the most disappointing Cubs season since 1969.
In Chicago, we have a great rivalry between the south side and the north side. Such a rivalry has not existed since the American Civil War. As a boy, I often heard White Sox fans say things like, “It’s a beautiful day in Chicago. The Sox won and the Cubs lost.” Sox and Cubs fans are naturally inclined to hate each other during baseball season. Nothing causes greater family strife than having a family member who is a fan of the opposing team. It’s the classic case of brother against brother, wife against husband, and so on, all due to being the fan of the opposing Sox or Cubs. I knew of one ardent, fanatical White Sox family who ran DNA tests on their son to see if he wasn’t switched at birth all because he turned out to be a ardent, fanatical Cubs fan, the only one in the family for three generations.
Here is a joke that illustrates the rivalry among Chicago sports fans:
A group of Chicago sports fans are out hiking. One is a Blackhawks fan, one a Bulls fan, one a Bears fan, one a Sox fan, and one a Cubs fan. They get to the top of the cliff and behold a majestic sunset. It is breathtaking. Soon, though, they get to arguing about Chicago sports and who among them is the most dedicated fan.
The Hawks fan cries, “This is for Bobby Hull and the Hawks of the ’60s!” and throws himself off the cliff.”
The remaining fans are impressed by his dedication, but the Bears fan shouts, “Oh, yeah? Well, this is for Ditka and the ’85 Bears!” and throws himself off the cliff.
The Bulls fan is not about to be outdone. He shouts, “This is for Michael Jordan and the Bulls of the ’90s!” and also leaps into the abyss.
This leaves just the Cubs fan and the Sox fan. At which point, the Sox fan says, “This is for the South Side!” and pushes the Cubs fan off the cliff!
When I was a boy growing up in Chicago, I had to decide early on whether I was a Sox or Cubs fan. As Cub Scout, one of our first field trips was to a White Sox game. From then on, I was diehard White Sox fan. However, our next-door neighbors, and I mean the entire family, were hardcore Cubs fans. In the summer of 1969 when the Cubs had a winning record in mid-summer, everyone–even Sox fans–was excited about the prospects of the Cubs going to the World Series. If I think about names of Chicago baseball players from my childhood days, I remember more Cubs players than Sox. For the White Sox I remember Wilbur Wood, Ken Berry, Luis Aparicio, and Carlos May, but that’s about it. As for the Cubs, I rememer Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Ron Santo, Glenn Beckert, Ken Holtzmann, Fergie Jenkins, Don Kessinger, and manager Leo Durocher. Now that I think of it, this is pretty sad that I, as a Sox fan, don’t remember more White Sox players from that era. But we were all excited about having such a good baseball team in Chicago despite our allegiances. Unfortunately, the Cubs soon collapsed and they dropped out of contention for the playoffs.
One year at our Rodriguez family picnic, we played volleyball, as we always do, by picking teams. We try different ways to set up teams, such as north siders versus south siders, American born versus Mexican born, the sober versus the drunk, etc. Then someone suggested, Sox fans versus Cubs fans. I thought it would be lopsided because I always stereotype Mexicans as Sox fans. Wow, was I ever wrong! In fact, both teams were evenly balanced in number and talent. I was amazed. Well, we played two games and the match was tied. We were in the middle of playing the third game, tie score, when a thunderstorm stopped our game. We immediately went home to avoid getting struck by lightning. I’m sure this was some sort of divine intervention. Otherwise, who knows how high the body count might have been.
A couple of years ago I was at my sons’ little league picnic where one of the raffle prized was an autographed baseball by White Sox designated hitter #25 Jim Thome. Well, a young White Sox fan won one of the first raffle prizes, so he was able to choose any prize from the table. He chose the autographed baseball since he was an avid White Sox fan. Unfortunately, his parents were both avid Cubs fans. When the boy proudly showed the baseball to his father, the father began shouting at him. He wanted his son to exchange the baseball for another prize, but the raffle organizers didn’t allow any exchanges. This man was so upset with his son that he ignored him for the rest of picnic. However, the boy proudly showed the baseball to all his friends. I wonder if his parents had DNA tests performed on their son.
I, unfortunately, hail from the much-maligned south side. And, I have been a White Sox fan for as long as I can remember. The 2005 World Series Championship was something that I waited for all my life. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not just a White Sox fan. I’m also a Chicago fan. No matter who’s winning in Chicago, I support the team. Even now as the Chicago Cubs appear to be headed to the playoffs, I support them and cheer them on, but as a Chicago White Sox fan. Hopefully, the Cubs won’t disappoint us again!