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Plight Of A South Side Cub Fan
Sums Up The Disdain
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Ahh, it's almost time...
In a few months the snow will be melting and the smell of fresh rain will be in the air. There will soon be a taste of spring baseball lingering to wet our palette. So is the annual, though to call it annual would imply what I am about to speak of comes only once a year. Nevertheless, this can be and in my case is a daily ritual where I come from, being the inclusive hatred of all things Cubs.
Now, I know some will say that "NORTHSIDERS are just as hateful toward Sox fans and their organization as SOUTHSIDERS are to the Cubs and theirs."
That assumption I believe to be wrong!
You are about to read a first hand account of a Cub fan growing up in a tight-knit South Side of Chicago neighborhood. Home of the South Side Irish to be exact, and I'm English. That means I'm 0 for 2 here, for those of you keeping box score. All of this in a part of town where the residents cherish a couple things: A lager or two, and White Sox baseball.
1984 was the year of my first professional baseball game. I anxiously attended a Cubs game featuring one heck of a 2nd basemen in Ryne Sandberg, who went on to become Ryno. 1984 was a good year for all things Cubbies. Harry was a Bud Man, and we all wanted to Jump! Though Goonies was still a year away, 1984 was not too shabby. Well, minus the pesky Padres and that Gwynn fella. It was the year I, as a young impressionable boy became a baseball fan, and more importantly, a Cub fan.
My father, who would sadly pass on 3 years later, walked an eager blue-eyed 5 year old carrying only his fresh smelling Wilson glove into the Friendly Confines of the one and only, Wrigley Field. The ball park where breezy day baseball reigned supreme, and where bums hanging around the bleachers were not looked down upon.
If memory serves, this particular afternoon made great use of a dripping-sun that gave us all a bad case of the "squints," at least until late afternoon and "The Great Wrigley Shadow" fell from above. Similar to how Ernie Banks felt playing a double header, it was nearly perfect.
Now, my dad being a Southsider as well a Sox, though I always thought and still in some strange way imagine him a Cub fan, was simply at heart, a baseball fan... and boy did he hate the Yankees. Bless him for that one.
Little League, coaching, and all of his sons playing ball to some degree were part of dad and his legacy. This too is why, whether he liked it or not, I became a SOUTH SIDE CUB FAN!
Skip ahead to present day, which can also sum up the last two decades. From childhood adolesence, through my crazy and so-called formative teenage years, to my roaring 20's, and onto my settled 30's which is where I am today can pretty much cover that time frame.
February spring training is in full swing, no pun intended. Phone rings, and friend which we shall call Jim says, "Ay J, ya know da Cubs are gonna blow again dis year buddy, an dis polish sasage is ahhsome!"
To which I say, "I know."
As a South Side Cub fan agreeing is sometimes the best medicine. Plus, it is tough to argue with a hardened rival when it's been a century since we had a title run. Hell, well over half a century for even a pennant!
"So, it begins..."
I bet you all ask, what begins?
The start of baseball season well of course. Although the Cub jokes and beatdowns, figuratively speaking, continue all year.
DISCLAIMER: Literally speaking however, avoid South Side taverns if you like to avoid confrontation. I have seen Cub fans and their humility tarnished with cars littered upon, along with shenanigans played just for displaying a Cubbie Bear. I imagine that if excitement were to escalade situations can get much worse, if so desired. Fortunately, I have a free pass having grown up in the neighborhood, but there are times even I have to stand tall for Cub Blue. Even when the odds are 20,000 to one.
Grit my friends, Grit!
You see, my family and pals are all great people. Our group is, and always will have South Side pride down to our bones. The Irish pubs are a blast, while 16" softball will always wake up a Sunday morning hangover like nothing else. The strangeness of everyone being related in the neighborhood not withstanding, of course.
We love our Bears and our Blackhawks, and jump on board with the Bulls even without his Airness, Michael Jordan. We just happen to disagree on one thing. One tiny little thing! You would of thought I killed one of their dogs or stolen a case of- feel free to insert beer of choice or alcohol preference here, as a true Southsider will drink and probably has, gasoline.
Now, what was I saying?
Yes, yes, the difference of opinion in regards to our two Chicago ball clubs.
I say, "I may be a fan of the lovable losers, but at least we have flash and a beautiful park."
They say, "well at least we have won a World Series this century."
Yours truly then shuts up! So, do you all see how things can spiral?
Every single day, or at least when living back in the city I suppose, catching some sort of grief from a Sox fan was par for the course. Even in subtle ways, like simple jabs via text or messenger pigeon. Heck, where I reside now which is 3 hours south of Chicago you would think I would be clear of the bullseye, but I still cannot escape insane baseball fans.
If not the White Sox, then I have to contend with the equally despicable Cardinal fan. Though not as cruel as a Sox fan, far more annoying. At least a White Sox fan does know the game of baseball, making them tough to subdue in a statistical debate. They will even begrudgingly give Carlton Fisk his Boston due. St. Louis fans usually just succumb to Stan The Man percentages. However, the Cardinal bashing can wait.
Anyway, whether back home or down here, listening to the screams of "Cubs Stink" is typical fodder. I also hear, "How's the world's biggest bar doing?"
Snowballs thrown at my vehicle, though I see nothing but a black cap with white letters spelling the word SOX shuffling into the bushes. When going home to visit friends and family I watch Miller beer bought for White Sox bretheren, while I tilt back my $3.00 Bud in memory of Harry. Maybe I just swig on a memory or two with an Old Style Draft. Either one drowns my sorrows.
Harry Caray, with his Coke Bottle glasses and cackling voice was once a Sox man believe it or not. Holy Cow, right? Even he couldn't take them any longer. Unfortunately, even my go-to baseball know-all, Steve Stone, is now with the gruesome Southsiders. He is working the commentary next to crazy loon, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. Stone, a basball guy and former pitcher who can read the game and critique nuances with the best of them, is sorely missed. Cub fans can thank former manager Dusty Baker along with his lack of handling criticism for that debacle.
One thing that is certain, most Chicagoans haven't a clue when the South Side's anger turned to rage. Was it prior to our Billy Goat mishap? We cub fans do genuinely have bad luck.
Was it the fact the White Stockings namesake is the original name of the Cubbies, eventually going to Charles Comiskey's new team in the early 1900's?
Possibly the 1919 Black Sox? Ouch!
Maybe this hate stems from the days of Al Capone going after the Northside gang? Probably after, yet it gets worse year after year.
The Crosstown Classic? It was once an exibition game between the two clubs. Now it's a 6 game series with meaning thanks to inter-league play. This may add to these results. A real Civil War, if you will.
Could of been The Babe calling his shot against us in the 32' Series? Sox fans love when the Cubs are shown up, no matter the team committing the act.
How about the Cubbies universal popularity on this planet, with only a bad record to show for it?
Nah! No way, right?
The rivalry may be seen simply as an American League versus National League debate, or the debacle surrounding the designated hitter.
Who knows anymore, surely not me.
In any case, I guess moving away was my only resort. Truly it was. As stated earlier, I still put up with the lunacy of it all down here, but to a much lesser degree. Still, I would receive phone calls from family and friends back home saying, "Kerry Wood's arm just fell off," or "let's all do the Bartman!"
What gets me however is this; Before the Chicago White Sox World Series Win in 2005, one they deserved by the way, yet even then Cub fans not caring one iota for the Sox did not show the disdain for their fans and/or team as they always do us. I know this first hand. Actually, in some weird dimensional shift I think many of us Bear Cubs were genuinely happy for the White Sox that year. Especially that Crede guy. Apparently, generations of Sox fans seem to pass the hate over to their offspring only fueling this eternal flame. It goes on and on...
I have known numerous Cub fans throughout these tiresome times. Many who happen to be friends, and I have strolled under that famous Wrigley Marquee many more times than that memorable day in 84'. Geez, I can tell you stats from the 89' Boys Of Zimmer era, through Mark Grace hitting clinics, and onto our best chance to win it all in 03'. All while respecting the Summer Of 69', as well. Though, we Cub Fanatics surely love our history along with a little back and forth between Sox Fans. We genuinely love the matchup itself too, however the game of baseball will always be much bigger. It transcends us fans.
Anger displayed by Sox Fans toward the Wrigley faithful is intense. Although, we will allow you White Sox fans to jump on board when the time is right. That is just who we are. When your team's nickname is the lovable losers, you as a fan inherit something important. You gain patience, the ability to act gracefully when expectations are not met (Next Year is a favorite slogan of Cub Fans), and also showing great humility with whatever situation is presenting itself. At least most of the time.
For all of what has been stated, I jokingly apologize for this:
I am sorry we were on WGN all those years playing, as well as promoting. I'm sorry we chose to keep our ball park. I'm really sorry our attendees can enjoy a beverage, and the game. Most of all I'm sorry that our team hasn't won a World Series in more than a hundred years, to which we are still the hottest ticket in town.
I will not however, apologize for being a fan of the most wonderful ball club in the world. One that has given us Banks, Sandberg, and Jenkins!
Do not forget Wood, the Dawson years, and Maddux. I know I am reaching a bit, huh? Hack Wilson? Nevermind...
Plus, the great 3rd basemen Ron Santo, rest his soul! Oh, and let us not forget Brickhouse and Caray as well.
Slammin' Sammy Sosa too my friends and foes. Say what you will, I have, but those 3 or four years back in the 90's and early 00's were exciting and never without drama. Yes, I will admit that he turned into a real untrustworthy, and in my opinion, terrible person. He too most likely played while juicing more product than Jack LaLanne. But Hey-Hey my friends, you had him first White Sox.
Whatever the case may be, keep up the vulgarity Sox fans, along with the cruel nature of your beast. We can take it, and GO CUBS GO! One magical day we will have a feeling like no other and all the abuse will have been worth what I, and few others have taken being Cub fans on the South Side Of Chicago.
I pray that time is near. I actually do pray every single season for this team.
My father, again a Sox fan, would have enjoyed seeing his team win the World Series in 2005 after decades upon decades of waiting. He painfully was never given the chance. I also believe he would have been just as proud to see the Northsiders do the same.
I wish to not have that kind of hope followed by disappointment throughout my lifetime.
With yearly letdowns that usher in the brisk fall season, knowing one day that fans young and old of this great franchise will be greatly rewarded, well, that is enough mojo to keep on trucking. A Cubs World Series will not only be a well earned feat, but a grand celebration. A party for all fans of the Great American Pastime!
Maybe this year, I say. No, not next year fellow Cub fans, but just maybe, maybe this year.
I sweat St. Louis and their Red Birds, not my hometown and their White Sox.
In 2016 the Chicago Cubs with current superstars such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Jake Arrieta, and many more would finally win what has been alluding a city, fan base, and former players for 108 years, a World Series! The victory came against a scrappy Cleveland Indians team. Besides the Cubbies making a wonderful comeback in the final few games to take the series, something magical was also hovering above. Call it faith shunning a curse, or just plain old talent not letting the heebie-jeebies get to them, a spectacle for all time was on display. The Cub masses were rewarded and still currently in celebration as next year is now! What a party, wouldn't you say? Hey hey and Holy Cow!
The Civil War Amongst Friends
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