By Tom Noonan
Let me start by saying that I am a die-hard White Sox fan. Always have been, always will be. Now that we have the full discloser out of the way we can get down to it.
So last weekend was the first of the two series between the White Sox and Cubs this season. I got out of work early last minute on Friday and have great friends who got me hooked up with a bleacher ticket and a seat for only $60. That is a deal anyway you look at it. So I end with a great seat to a ballgame, a beautiful sunny day, a cold beer (or four) and some good friends. Got to say way better than being stuck in a cubicle listening to it on the radio.
Okay on to the series. Friday started off great with the Sox taking the lead in a tight pitchers’ duel with the score 3-1 going into the 7th. At this point the Sox suffered from the Wrigley disease of a bullpen blowing up. End up giving up a combined 5 runs in the 7th and 8th and the Sox suffer a loss at the hands of the evil Cubs. Tragedy. Basically the same thing happens on Saturday with Derrek Lee coming in and grand slamming the Sox hopes of winning game two away. Then in true A.J. fashion he returns the favor and hits a slam into the wind to push the Sox past the Cubs and winning Sunday and salvaging a win so as not to get swept.
This rivalry has always stemmed from the North Side v. South Side, the white collar v. blue collar perception of Chicago. This is very evident from the chants and cheers and colorful comments heard throughout the stadium, the streets and the bars. I have seen everything, Comiskey being filled with Cubs fans, Wrigley filled with Sox fans, fights, Cubs fans making out with Sox fans, dogs and cats living together, totally anarchy, but always something interesting.
Over the last few years I have noticed a dramatic change. Mostly from Sox fans which has in turn caused a change in Cubs fans. Not too long ago there was tremendous animosity between the fans. I have seen so many fights at games before during and after that you would think you were at a UFC fight night. A lot of that did stem from Sox fans feeling constantly slighted. We were just as big of losers as the Cubs but were always treated like the second child. So the frustrations would boil over and be fueled by ice cold Budweisers and things would happen. There was always a sense of tension, not the edge of your seat what happens with the next pitch when the count is 3-2 with 2 outs and bases loaded and down by 3 kind of tension, but the which fan in the stands is going to snap kind of tension. Ever since the Sox won the World Series it is as if that has died down. There are still the occasional idiots on both sides of town (as evidence by the radio report of a Cubs fan who through a cab window punched a Sox fan), but for the most part it is much calmer. Even last year at the Barrett/A.J. punch game I didn’t see a single incident. I think winning the Series and having those bragging rights over the Cubs fans has mellowed things out. There was a much friendly environment this year, even more so than last year. The verbal jousting between the fans in the bleachers was good natured, original, and much like a couple of friends busting on each other.
I don’t think the rivalry ever will go away as when there are two teams that close there is always going to be a choice. And anyone who says they are a fan of both needs to pick a side. If that is you ask yourself this question, if they met in the World Series (or even the games they play regular season) who do you root for? That is the team you are the fan of. Pick a lane.
We are a couple weeks away from the series at Comiskey. It is still Comiskey to me, I don’t care that it is technically U.S Cellular field. Hell we as Sox fans call it Sox Park and it has never been called that. I will be there sitting in my season ticket seats on Saturday. My prediction…Sox sweep, no fights (unless Barrett and A.J. get into it). I’ll give you the rundown and the sense of the feeling after it is over.
What would be amazing would be a real Red Line Series with the Sox winning just like we did in 1906.