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Baseball Mon Jun 20 2011

Why I Love the White Sox (and Hate the Cubs)

Editor's note: With the crosstown rivalry resuming tonight at U.S. Cellular Field, we asked Cubs fan Brian Livingston and Sox fan Jenny Zelle to account for their passions. Here's what Jenny had to say:

Thumbnail image for white sox.gifI was raised a White Sox fan in hostile territory among Cubs and Cardinals fans, so I'm what you might call "devoted," bordering on "obsessed." Historically, Sox fans have been born into it, but I'm seeing more and more Cubs fans crossing over to "Sox Town."

Why would they do it? Well, there's a lot to love about the Sox.

1. I like to watch baseball games. Yes, at U.S. Cellular Field. I pay attention to what is happening on the field. That is my primary objective when I head to a game and at a Sox game, I am typically surrounded by like-minded people. The game is the reason for being there, not the party.

Some fans say U.S. Cellular Field is "soulless," but the White Sox have spent a lot of money improving the fan experience since it first opened and it's a terrific place to watch a game. This year alone, there's a new restaurant across from the park, an expanded food selection (check out the Flautas stand at Sec. 122) and a hugely improved choice of beers. Personally, I like having clean and plentiful bathrooms to use and the fact that the Sox don't have a rat infestation in their dugouts, but maybe that's just me?

2. I like winning. Sure, the White Sox had a long dry spell, but they typically intend to win and make an earnest effort to do so, with the Sox spending about $126 million this year to try and make it happen.

I realize it's a business and all, but the White Sox care about winning and they care about the fans. Jerry Reinsdorf responds to letters from fans, as I learned this off-season when I sent him a note. I received a very gracious response and it let me know that my thoughts meant something.

The White Sox might have a lot of heartbreak seasons, but damned if they don't keep it interesting. Hey, and Sox fans only had to wait 88 years as opposed to 102 (and counting) to see a World Series win!

3. I like White Sox fans; they are passionate, gritty, diverse and well-schooled in the game of baseball. We live and die by wins and losses, as evidenced by the fact that Sox fans often boo players when they perform badly, but our loyalty is never diminished.

I like that the stadium has large numbers of families attending, and it's a common sight to see a youngster being taught how to keep box score by a parent or grandparent.

I love the diversity of the fans at our park; it's a veritable United Nations with all socioeconomic groups represented.

We have an "Us Against the World" attitude born of many years of being treated as an afterthought in our own city. We stick together, through good times and bad, ever hopeful and always vocal.

Why I hate the Cubs

I really love baseball in general, so I do not hate the Cubs, per se. They are a historic club with a colorful past and a great deal of tradition. That said, there are a few bones I have to pick with them -- and by them, I mean Cubs fans.

1. Their easy acceptance -- nay, worship -- of losing. It really irks me, this hero worship of nostalgia ball, elevating the park and the "experience" above winning. This romanticizing losing, most recently exemplified in Dave Eggers' ESPN essay on Wrigley Field, just confirms to me that a lot of Cubs fans don't really care about what happens on the field (i.e., baseball).

If my ballclub were nicknamed "The Lovable Losers," I'd be furious. I wouldn't buy a T-shirt emblazoned with it and I certainly wouldn't be supporting an organization that treats its fans like a never-ending ATM without giving anything back.

2. Speaking of T-shirts, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the recent history of questionable slogans that Cubs fans like to wear across their chests. "Horry Kow," with a caricature of an Asian Cubby Bear wearing Harry Caray's glasses (to "honor" Kosuke Fukudome). "Pujols/Zambrano/Ozzie Mows my Lawn," often with a man in a sombrero, just in case the message wasn't clear. The aforementioned "Lovable Losers." Why would you celebrate a 102-year losing history? A shirt calling U.S. Cellular Field a ghetto? Really?

I know a lot of Cubs fans are ashamed of these shirts too, but twice as many think they are great and actually wear them out in public. Ouch. It makes all fans in Chicago look bad.

3. Instead of arguing that their team is better by discussing the game, many Cubs fans defend their honor by ripping on Bridgeport and calling Sox fans "Trash."

Cubs fans love to cite the 2002 incident where the father and son jumped onto the field and attacked the Royals' first base coach.

That is one of two incidents of fan violence in the past 20 years at U.S. Cellular Field. The other incident happened in April 2003 when an inebriated Cubs fan, making it a doubleheader after attending a day game at Wrigley, jumped onto the field and tried to tackle an umpire. In the same time period, there have been three incidents of fan violence within the stadium at Wrigley.

Not much of a sample size, but according to Trulia's Interactive Crime Maps, there have been 42 crimes in the area surrounding Wrigley this month and 35 in the area immediately surrounding U.S. Cellular Field. Maybe Cubs fans should be more concerned with their own park?

All that said, I do have a lot of good friends who are passionate Cubs fans. The only thing I have to say to them is: May the best team win!

Rick / June 20, 2011 5:06 PM

Hear, hear! Anyone who has any complaints about U.S. Cellular hasn't been there since it opened.

Go White Sox!

Brian / June 20, 2011 7:22 PM

Good read. As a Cubs fan there is nothing lovable about losing. While we may root for different teams I think what gets lost in the shuffle is that we are all from Chicago and we just want our respective teams to do good.

Brian / June 20, 2011 7:23 PM

Good read. As a Cubs fan there is nothing lovable about losing. While we may root for different teams I think what gets lost in the shuffle is that we are all from Chicago and we just want our respective teams to do good.

Amanda / June 21, 2011 9:18 AM

Yes. A thousand times yes. I can't really explain why I'm a Sox fan - I've only lived on the north side and have no family members that are Sox fans - but this article does all my explaining for me.

My boyfriend is a Cubs fan, so we go to a lot of games at Wrigley. I don't hate going there (they do have beer and hot dogs), but I never really look forward to it. Maybe it's because I always have to worry about some drunken frat boy a-hole spilling his beer on me. Or because after a Sox loss during the Crosstown (three years go?) I was spat on and called fat by a Cubs fan for wearing a Jenks jersey. I've never seen a Sox fan treat a Cubs fan like that.

I've known a lot of friends that moved from the suburbs to Wrigley because they were Cubs fans, only to move back home when they were partied out and broke. So were they really there for the Cubs or just for the bar scene?

One of my favorites summers was spent sharing our friend's Sox season tickets and getting to know the other season ticket holders in our section, and their kids. Come September, we were like one big family.

And to anyone who thinks Bacardi at the park is just some Captain Morgan Club knockoff - go. You'll be impressed. Even my Cubs fan boyfriend was.

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