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The Turncoat Wed Jul 21 2010
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a filthy traitor (the kind of filthy traitor that abandons the hopeful, feel-good zealousness that encompasses being a Cubs fan for the more grown-up preference of being an actual baseball fan and rooting for the White Sox -- like I did), is that I get to go to real baseball games now. This was especially enjoyable during the final month of the first half of the 2010 baseball season when the White Sox were nigh-invulnerable. In case you forgot in light of the exceptionally disappointing trip to Minnesota last weekend, the Southsiders finished their first 81 games with a 25 and 5 tear that included an 11 game winning streak and an eight game winning streak. It was awesome and you are welcome for the reminder.
One notable evening was during one of their last home games during this stretch, Friday, July 9th to be exact. Everything that could have gone right did. Aside from Mark Buehrle getting smacked on the hand by a line drive from former Sox lead-off man, the turbo charged Scott Podsednek, it was a perfect evening. Buehrle soon recovered from the incident and refused to allow anyone to cross the plate for six strong innings. A.J. Pierzynski went out of his way to prove why he is still a fan favorite and clobbered two home runs. The Friday night post game fireworks show supplemented A.J.'s dingers as Sox fans throughout The Cell relaxed and reflected on what a great ride our team was taking us on. It was a perfect evening and an exceptional game. Nobody there could have possibly asked for more.
And yet, some people did...
As I meandered to the bathroom for one last post game piss, I was greeted to a raucous collection of Sox fans cheering ...about how the Cubs were going to lose tonight and how that was going to be the best way to top off the evening. I didn't hear anyone recollecting A.J.'s show-stopping RBIs nor did anyone recount Buehrle's excellence. Try as I might, I can't remember anyone celebrating how close the Sox were to first place (they had not yet overtaken the Central). Nobody mentioned the great run of the summer of 2010 and how the Sox were now nine games over .500 when just a month ago they were nine below. No, everyone in that overstuffed bathroom was jeering the losers on the other side of town.
The stereotype of the Cubs-obsessed Sox fan has been around awhile. My brother told me, when I came clean about my converting, that it was fine that I was relocating my fandom south of Madison, but I wasn't allowed to make fun of the Cubs, or I would "be just another a**hole Sox fan." (Hopefully he never reads these articles.) I always assumed, back when I was a Cubs fan, that I bore the brunt of the jokes among my Sox fan friends when I was around, but when I wasn't they talked about other things. Apparently this is not the case. Apparently, seeing your team crush its opposition on a picture perfect night in the greatest city in the world only counts when the team you hate also loses.
I am by no means asking Sox fans to stop making fun of the Cubs. Their comical brand of baseball is obviously only there to give Chicago something to laugh at or get drunk near. Making jokes at their expense ranks among one of my personal favorite hobbies. I am also not suggesting there is anything wrong with hating the Cubs. Odds are, given my wasted life of rooting for them, my scorn for that organization burns more intensely than anyone's. The Cubs are clearly a fair target for ridicule and mudslinging.
I also understand how fun it is to project the success of one's preferred team onto the failure of one of their rivals. I was lucky enough to have been at Soldier Field in 2002 when the Bears accidentally won their division with a hilarious win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The entire time, as everyone filed out of the stadium, there were echos of "Green Bay Sucks!" chants in every direction. It seemed odd that they were more common than anything toasting the Bears unexpected good fortunes, but hey, we were in the playoffs with the division title and the they were only in the playoffs with a measly wild card draw. So let 'em have it! We'll show them which city is better at losing in the second round!
But even if the Bears instance was more acceptable on the basis of their sharing a division with the Packers and both teams were now headed to the post-season, should people on the Southside really be that focused on the Cubs anyway? It doesn't seem like anyone at Comiskey has ever heard the old adage about the best revenge is simply going to the playoffs and winning a game. The Cubs did in fact go on to lose to the Dodgers later that night. It does stand to reason though, that even if the Cubs had found a way to bamboozle the Dodgers into losing, presumably with some Chris Angel-style trickery and not with any actual baseball, that the Sox would have still gained a game in the standings, the weather would have still been picturesque and the fireworks show afterward would have still charmed us all.
So let's drop the obsessive fretting over what the Cubs are doing. There is currently a 55% chance that they are losing anyway. The Northsiders are not in the in the A.L. Central. The real threats to how much joy our collective fan base gets to experience this fall are at their new stadium in Minnesota and they have a seemingly endless amount of talent in their farm system. Let's worry about them.