Sunday, November 06, 2005

GREAT Article about us sad Cubs fans

By Andrew Buchanan

I'm a lifelong Cubs fan but I strolled over to the White Sox World Series rally during my lunch hour to catch a glimpse of the celebration, knowing it may not happen again for another century or so. The scene was electric and the turnout incredible. Made me wonder where all these people are on Tuesday nights in April when the Sox are in town, because they certainly aren't at the Cell.

Sorry, but I'm feeling a little like Lewis "Scooter" Libby right now, hobbled and in hiding, the target of attacks and derision. I spent the preceding weeks on the defensive about being a Cubs fan and grew increasingly annoyed at the constant slights from Sox fans and the news media, who merrily joined in (lazily regurgitating myths and cliches about Cubdom).

The irony is that I like the Sox, attend a couple of games a summer (no lines for beer or the bathrooms, and the food's much better) and had great appreciation for the way the 2005 team played. And I wanted to cheer for them, I really did. Insufferable Sox fans, however, made it impossible.

On the night the Sox clinched the pennant I was lying in bed watching the post-game celebration when the phone rang, which was odd because it was 11:30 on a Sunday. I answered, and here's how the conversation went:

Me: "Hello."


It didn't sound like anyone I knew or anything one of my Sox fan friends would do.

Then ...


Sox fans' hatred of the Cubs is well-documented, but I was amazed that even during their moment of greatest glory it always seemed to come back to the Cubs. The day after that phone call I was walking by Wrigley Field when I saw a man in a Jeep driving by holding a giant Sox flag out of the sunroof, a huge grin on his face. Couple minutes later and I saw him again. He's doing laps around Wrigley like he's Karl Rove circling the Democratic National Committee office the day after the election.

Unfortunately, it seems the flag-waver and my late-night caller (it was a wrong number) were representative of many Sox fans: happy their team was making history; happier still the Cubs weren't.

And the media eagerly hopped on the Cubs-bashing bandwagon, reporters from far and near writing and blabbering about the supposed differences between the casual Cubs fans and the loyal-to-a-fault Sox followers.

A New York Times writer said people on the North Side were ignoring the Sox, spending their time "indoors making lattes or banking online or whatever it is Cubs fans do in October." In an op-ed piece for the Times, Studs Terkel, who should know better than to make such generalizations, intimated that Cubs fans don't even follow the game and compared attending a game at Wrigley to "going to an air show or `Cats'--something tourists do."

Say it ain't so, Studs.

Another article noted how Sox fandom was passed down from generation to generation, while following the Cubs was something one just picked up on a whim, when the weather was right, I guess. For the record, the Cubs have been around since 1876, 25 years longer than the Sox, and have a fan base that's probably double the Sox.

By the time the confetti had cleared on the Sox celebration ("shredded Cubs season tickets," one hilarious TV news reporter quipped), I had had enough.The irony in most of the arguments was obvious, considering many Sox fans aren't even motivated enough to actually, you know, attend their team's games on a consistent basis. One contention is that Wrigley Field is a "playground" for the young and drunk where no one pays attention to the game. Of course, there is that element at Wrigley, more so than on the South Side, but if you take a look around Wrigley it's easily apparent they are a distinct minority.

In fact, it's the Cell where the distractions abound: exploding scoreboard, idiotic races on the big screen between innings, blaring rock music that makes it virtually impossible to talk baseball even if you want to, doggie day at the park. If you listen to Sox fans and the media you'd think some of those dogs know how to keep score.

Another argument is that Cubs fans are casual in their loyalty, only following the team when the weather is nice and because the park is only a short stroll from their Wrigleyville apartments. This one is probably the most ludicrous. Are the people who pile off those buses--having traveled from Iowa, Wisconsin and Downstate Illinois--casual fans? Yuppies maybe? How about all of the Cubs fans you see in the stands at games in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami and Milwaukee? Or for that matter, the Cell during cross-town games, when it seems almost half the fans are cheering for the men in blue? Not true fans, I guess.

So, I invite Studs Terkel, dumb New York Times reporters and Sox fans to attend a Cubs game next summer (we'll return the favor when the Cubs play at the Cell and help you get a rare sellout). Have a seat in the beautiful old ballpark and glance around at fathers and daughters taking in the game together; the 95-year-old ushers and hand-operated scoreboard; Ronnie Woo-Woo and the ballhawks; the decidedly unyuppie fans from points all over the Midwest and just up the block.

And most of all, enjoy yourself ... and don't for a second think about the Sox.

No comments: