Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's have some fun out here! This game is fun, okay? Fun Goddamnit!

Rivalries are one of the best parts of baseball. The whole point on the sport is to win. Everyone wants that championship ring, everyone wants to be in the dog pile, every fan wants to tell their friends and families over and over again for years exactly what they were doing when that last out was made in October.

If you don't want to win, then whats the point of playing?

Division rivalries are the best. Sox/Twins, Sox/Tigers, Sox/Indians.... hell, even Sox/Royals, but what a lot of people don't understand is Sox/Cubs.

And to be honest, the more I've grown up and matured, the more I don't get it either. I mean I understand the stereotypes. I understand the "Sox fans are jealous" and "Cub fans know nothing about baseball," and you know what? There are a lot of fans in both fan bases that feed into those stereotypes.

But why do we really have this Sox/Cubs rivalry? Before we even played in a Cross-Town Rivalry Series, what was the immense hatred and what did it stem from? Sox fans should have no reason to hate the Cubs, they aren't in our division. And Cub fans should have no reason to hate the Sox for the very same reason. However there's this loathing hatred that consumes the fans to the point of things getting plain ludicris.

So for those of you who grew up being told that if you were a Northside you had to hate the Boys in Black and if you were a Southsider then you better never be caught up by Clark and Addison, here's a post I think you might find interesting.

These are completely my opinions. I'm not a fan of Cub fans- but I have nothing against the team. I shouldn't because outside of the 6 games we play a year, it doesn't matter- the team just simply doesn't matter to me. But yet day after day I deal with their fans constantly throwing it in my face that the "Sox suck" and yada yada. Well guess what? I don't think too highly of their fans, or their stadium- and I have historical data to back up my reasoning.

The History

Charlie Comiskey, the owner of the Chicago White Sox helped directly organize and form the American League in 1899. Before this, the National League was the only running organized form of baseball in the US. The Chicago Cubs, who had jumped around town (they didn't even actually play on the Northside of town until 1916 and spent most of their time on the West Side and even some time on the Southside of Chicago) had been the only team in Chicago until Comiskey moved his minor league team to the city.

Ban Johnson, the owner of the Western League and good friend of Charlie Comiskey got wind of the fact that the National League was going to decrease in size and when they cut their teams from 12 to 8, Johnson swooped in and placed teams in Chicago and Cleveland.

At first there was an uproar with the Cubs franchise, as the owners didn't want to share the town with a team that would most likely become a part of Johnson's American League. However after negotiations it was determined by the National League that the newly formed AL would not be a threat to their organization and Comiskey was allowed to let his bring his team to Chicago as long as he didn't use the city in it's name. The White Sox were named The White Stockings and omitted "Chicago."

So as you can see, the original "rivalry" was an economic one between owners. The Cubs didn't want the Sox infringing on their "established" team in Chicago, and Comiskey wanted to take his minor league team and turn it into one of the first teams in the American League. The National League Cubs got salty when people started to pay attention to the White Stockings (Mostly because American League tickets/beer/food was cheaper at White Stocking's games and the Major Leagues hadn't been around long enough for people to be completely married to a team in Chicago yet), and the American League continued to push through with the annoying dominating attitude that was Ban Johnson and Charles Comiskey.

Now that the history is established, I'm going to break down the rivalry and stereotypes based solely on each specific stereotype. Hold onto your hats, this should be fun. Again, I'd like to make sure everyone knows that these are strictly my opinions.

Wrigley Field is a dump and US Cellular is ugly and too modern.

Alright. Wrigley Field is a dump. It just simply is. I wish I could say I'd never been there and I don't really know but unfortunately I have, and I prefer never going back.

This is what I don't get about Wrigley Field. All I ever hear is how "nostalgic" it is and how amazing of a place it is to be. However most Cub fans don't even know what Wheegman stadium started out as- and that was a cheaply built stadium that was intended for the Federal League's Chicago Whales. Today it holds true as a still cheaply built, crumbling, horrible smelling blight for Cub fans who, unless they sit in the bleachers, have a 25% chance of sitting with their view obstructed.

Look, Wrigley, cramped and old, and was never built to be the "Holy Shrine" of the Cubs. The Cubs managed to spin it into one after the Federal League failed in 1916 (for those of you wondering, the Federal league was a briefly lived attempt at major league expansion in the mid 1910's.)

The smell is horrendous. One fan referred to it as "taking a fantastic voyage inside a penis." It literally never ceases to smell like urine, and fortunately for me, I've never had to venture into the mens restrooms. However the one time I had to attempt to find the women's restroom (it took me a good 1/2 inning) by the time I walked in, I waited in line for 10 minutes, then finally managed to get into a stall where toilet paper was strewn around, the toilet didn't flush, and women had obviously assumed the toilet was where pee, poop, and whatever left over beer or Wrigley's poor excuse for a Mai Thai went, and the bathroom attendant smiled at me in my Sox gear like "poor little girl, you don't like the facilities at the Northside? Too bad!" Even when i attempted to find a soap dispenser that HAD soap in it, the attendant sat there smiling, completely aware of the fact that she worked in a dump, and found the hilarity in my attempt to wash my hands.

As far as a place to watch a game, I have my own opinion on good ole Wrigley Field. It's not the place where I'm going to pay $30-$40 to go watch a game. If I'm going to pay that kind of money and go up to Chicago to watch baseball I want the major league experience- otherwise I'll go down to my local minor league stadium, the gorgeous, beautiful, O'Brien Field and watch the Peoria Chiefs take on the Kane County Cougars or the ever exciting Tampa Bay Ray affiliates- The Bowling Green Hot Rods. I want the loud organ music, and the pre-game video on the huge screen, and the exploding scoreboard and the large seats where I can sprawl out. I want the bullpen to be a huge where all the guys can bring out cots and nap if they feel like it or take up residency and get their mail forwarded. Matt Thornton: US Cellular Field Bullpen. 35th and Shields, Chicago, IL.

I don't want to sit in an old stadium where roof might fall on me and crush my skull during the 5th- or where the stadium seating is so far back I feel disconnected from the game. I don't want to go to a small, old stadium. If I wanted to do that I would literally go to Burlington Iowa and watch the Royal's affiliate in the same stadium structure for $2 a ticket. The Mikes Hard Lemonades are also $1.50 there, not to mention the team plays with about the same amount of talent.

Alright... now here's where I have to TRY to be un-biased: My take on US Cellular Field.

I don't remember much about Old Comiskey because I spent most of my time at new (I was 5 when they built the new one) so I can't comment personally on how the stadium was prior to 1992.

The Sox were toying with the idea of moving in the late 80's and in order to stay in Chicago requested a new stadium (because Comiskey was... well.. old.) that mimicked Kaufman. The tax payers of Chicago shelled out for the new stadium in order to keep the franchise happy and in Chicago and what we got was a field that abruptly tore down neighborhoods, and turned Old Comiskey into a parking lot.

The new stadium that was supposed to be "family and neighborhood friendly" took upper deck seats clear up to Mt. Kilimanjaro that would give anyone vertigo in an attempt to find them. Even now if I ever dare venture up to the upper deck area (and there's really no reason to, as there's always plenty of empty seats) I have to keep looking at where I'm walking so I don't get nauseous and pass out from fear of falling to my death. I refuse to ever drink or get half way tipsy up there. In a hot second I'm falling over something and plummeting onto the field right in front of Paul Konerko and, well, I refuse to put my first baseman in a position where he can't make a decent infield pick.

US Cellular is also littered with statues around the outfield concourse. Personally I enjoy them and would rather have them inside my park on a huge outfield concourse instead of out in front of the stadium near traffic but, that's personal preference.

I've also heard so many complaints about the fact that the Sox are on the Southside of Chicago where the crime rate is "horrible." Funny thing is... I'm a 23 year old pretty small Irish country girl from Peoria, IL., and I've never had a problem with the area. I routinely leave my car, a 2007 Ford Focus parked over night in the parking lot of Schallers Pub on Halstead. I drive up there by myself or with my equally attractive and naive roommate, and neither one of us have been shanked, robbed, raped, or had any kind of weapon held to our heads for what little money we have. I've never been propositioned by a guy outside of the field, and I've never felt even slightly scared of the area. In fact, I've only ever been treated with respect and nicely- especially when I can't find where I'm trying to go. Amanda and I got lost once trying to get back on the interstate and drove around 37th street where the houses were gorgeous with big in ground pools in the backyard. I understand a lot of the Southside is not a great part of town but to me, it doesn't look any worse than Sterling Avenue in Peoria... and I've been more afraid out downtown here than I ever have up by US Cellular.

The Attendance record:

I saw probably my favorite anti-sox shirt ever at the Sox/Cubs series in 2007 at Wrigley Field. It was a picture of the scoreboard at Us Cellular and it said "US Never-Sell-Out Field." Clever.

In 2010 the White Sox pulled on average 22,842 fans a game at home. In contrast the Cubs, at home, pulled 38, 511 fans. Now here's an interesting little diddy. The Cubs, who pulled around 15,000 fans more per game at Wrigley than the Sox did at US Cellular, seemed to not have the same affect on the road. The Chicago Cubs only drew 27,620 at their respective counterpart's stadiums on average. Now, it could be said that the any team would have a dip in attendance on the road, but unfortunately, that's not entirely the case. The Cubs play the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, and Brewers the most during the season. Only the St Louis Cardinals pulled more fans at home out of those teams in 2010 and they had a significantly lower dip in fans per game on the road. In fact, every other team that had a larger home attendance record than the Cubs in 2010 had a MUCH lower dip in fan away game attendance.

Which proves my point that Wrigley Field is a well marketed bar and of course they're going to sell out every night. Good for them! If my team played in the largest outdoor bar in the country I'd expect them to sell out every night as well. Unfortunately the Sox play the same as every other mediocre-average ball club in this country- they market according to their talents, not their liquor.

Look... take the minor leagues as an example. The Syracuse Chiefs are up out the ass in attendance right now. You wanna know why? Because Nationals First round pick's Strasburg and Storen are killing it. Just a few nights ago they pitched 8.1 innings all together allowing no runs .... Strasburg with a 0.00ERA and Storen with a 1.35ERA.

Teams sell out when the players are doing well. The Phillies had the number one attendance record in the major leagues last year... and before 2007 they weren't even in the top 10. The attendance has clearly skyrocketed with their ability to put talent on the field.

You know what's best about this whole argument? None of it matters. Because no matter how many fans you pull into a stadium on a nightly basis... if you suck, YOU STILL SUCK.

Cub Fans are college yuppies don't pay attention to the game, and Sox fans are White Trash

Chicago is just like any other city in the United States- there's a poor community, and a rich community. The Southside of Chicago is not the wealthiest and the Northside is surrounded by a higher socioeconomic class of people.

At any given time you can go to Wrigley and sit in the bleachers and be surrounded by a thousand college guys who are attempting to turn the right field bleachers into Sigma Chi. I wish I could say that I have seen all these white trash people littering section 127 at US Cellular Field but the fact is, I haven't. Have I seen white trash people there? Yes. Is there an over abundance? No. The stigma of stereotypes of Cub and Sox fans is unfortunately for Cub fans more true than it is for Sox fans.

Are there people who sit on their phone and get drunk and don't care about the game at US Cellular Field? Of course there are. There are in any stadium- but there's an over abundance of them at Wrigley.

I really believe that the "White Trash" stereotype stems strictly from where the Sox's stadium is located in Chicago. There are a lot of bad neighborhoods around the field and I've even been told that I can take a cab down to the field, but don't expect a cab to come pick me up after dark- which is true... it's a bitch trying to get a cab after a game.

It's just a simple fact that the "Southside" of any city is known to be riddin with poverty, crime, etc., and I truly believe that most people assume that because the field is located on the Southside of Chicago that those are the fan's who come to the games.

Here's my experience: The last three times I've been to US Cellular I have not had one problem with people. I sat in front of a group of lawyers and interns during a Twins/Sox games, behind a family (mother, father, son, daughter) and next to a group of old ladies in Sox hats and fans at an Angels/Sox game, and at a Mariners game I sat in front of two college boys (not a lot of people at that game as it was about 40 degrees and a straight through double header) who bought me a hot dog and a blanket.

No one I was around was White Trash, no one was annoying, no one was getting plastered and high fiving each other for no reason.... when I'm at Sox games I feel like I'm at home with the people who want to be at the stadium to watch the game- not to get drunk.

I'm not saying there aren't people like that at Wrigley... I met a very nice couple who was hanging out, taking score, and paying attention after I switched my seats 4 times at a Cub game. Unfortunately- the people I was around before that only solidified my annoyance for Cub fans in general. One of them wanted to start a poll to see if any one around us knew who the starting pitcher was (to prove to me that Cub fans know what's going on............) and another one turned to his friend and said "whoa! When did we score 7 runs???" (It was in fact, the 7th inning... there were only 3 runs on the board. 2-1 Cubs).

Again, all of this is based on my experiences at both stadiums. I know there are many many Cub fans who go to games to watch the team, are intelligent, and know what's going on. I'm not going to pretend like I think the fact that getting drunk that the game is bad- there's a reason I leave my car at a pub on the Southside and don't drive after games- I enjoy an over-priced Miller lite or margarita during the game or 5. I'm sure there are many many white trash or poor people at US Cellular but I'm not 100% sure where your economic status has any effect on the people around you at games-it shouldn't. The people who go to Wrigley for the sole purpose of getting drunk and hanging out, however, do effect my time at the ballpark as I, as a baseball fan, would prefer being able to watch the game instead of consistently asking the people in front of me to sit down, shut up, drink their beer, and stop... for the love of God.. STOP high-fiving each other every time they down another Old Style.

Sox Fans care more about the Cubs than they do their own team.

The Sox will always, no matter how many championships they win, be the second team in Chicago. They just simply will, and I've come to terms of that. But there's a real historical reason for that and it's not because the Cubs are "cooler" or a "better team" or "have always had more fans." They haven't always had more fans, they haven't always been the number one team in Chicago, but as far as our generation is concerned, we haven't known it any differently.

The Sox actually outdrew the Cubs in the 40s and 50s and even some years in the 60's. The Go-Go White Sox were one of the best teams in the 50's and Chicago packed Comiskey Field every day to see guys like Aparicio, Fox, and Appling play.

So what happened? Marketing, my friends. In the 1980's the Sox attempted to head off a service of Pay-TV called "On-TV." People who subscribed to this were able to watch Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games with use of what today looks like a cable box and "de-scrambled" the television frequencies so more people could watch games. The Sox were by far the more popular team in Chicago running off their previous decades of accomplishment and a pennant in 1959.

The Cubs, however, took a smarter route and signed with WGN. As one of the first completely nationally broad casted teams in the majors they were able to reach more fans around the country.

When the Cubs signed away their broadcasting rights to WGN, and WGN became a super station, People refused to pay the steep $30 a month for On-TV and the Sox had additional trouble selling their rights. Harry Caray who didn't want anything to do with pay-tv went straight over to the Northside and did more to promote that team than any other broadcaster had done in decades.

Even smarter than marketing rights, the Cubs were smart enough to sell their team based on a "love able loser" stigma in the 1970s. They figured if they couldn't pull attendance in the stands based on the product they put on the field (which was poor), then they would sell an experience- and that's exactly what they did. They marketed and promoted the "baseball experience" which today is known as the "bleacher bum" experience. Here in lies the beginning of "The Friendly Confines" and "Historic Wrigley Field." (As opposed to older and MORE historic Comiskey Park- as you remember from previously, Wrigley wasn't built until the mid 1910's)

Still in 2010 the marketing schemes are the same. The Cubs market their team based on the "Wrigleyville experience" and the Sox market their team based on the talent they put on the field. Historically the Cubs were smarter in their marketing ideas and the Sox, who catered to the success of their team, and failed to pull the same attendance as the Cubs.

It's really not a jab at Cub fans when Sox fans say that they would rather be at a stadium full of people who know what's going on then a stadium of people who are just there to get drunk. The Cubs and Sox have had clear and different marketing strategies and the Cubs were more successful in theirs. Don't get pissed when someone says something like that- because it's exactly what the Cubs want are are trying to sell- an experience, not a team.

With all that being said, you'd be suprised at how much I agree with the statement that the Sox care more about the Cubs than their own team. They do. It's sad. They really shouldn't but when you're a 50 year old man who has seen all that the Sox have had to offer over the last decades compared to the Cubs, and have watched the northsiders grow in popularity while even a World Series Championship couldn't bring the Sox up to the same popularity status, it sucks. Yes we're bitter and we have every right to be, damnit. So if you find one of us smiling while Baseball Tonight is on at a bar and we saw that the Cub's lost that day, just get over it. What little we have left is the fact that our team doesn't consistantly put a horrible product on the field, and yours does.

And Finally: Why does any of this matter anyways? We aren't even in the same divisions!

This whole thing is ridiculous. I've explained my reasons for why I don't like Wrigley, or most Cub fans- but I don't dislike the team. The rivalry is fun and of course I'm going to cheer for my team in the Cross-Town Classic. I'm going to be happy when they get the BP Cup- but do I think it's stupid? Absolutley. It brings out the worst in fans from both sides of the city and it simply doesn't matter. We might both be in Central divisions but at the end of the day, unless we're meeting eachother in the World Series, it doesn't matter how either one of the teams does. I've always been the first one to admit when my team isn't doing well- I dont accept mediocrity in any form and I refuse to claim that we're gonna win it all with a .500 record at the end of May (which is looking bleak for the Sox AND the Cubs at this point). There are so many things about the fans and the way people view the Cubs that bothers me and I think anyone from any team would be disengaged from being a Cub fan after seeing the way most fans treat the game. It's like a circus act- and to me, that's wrong.

The whole BP Cup has only fueled the fire for this season and come June when the teams meet, it's going to be embarassing if the winning teams are posing for pictures and in the paper for winning the cup because both teams are horrible this season. I just don't get it. To me, only one trophy matters and that's a World Series Trophy. If fans don't have their eye on that then they aren't true fans- and that is annoyance in any level for true baseball fans.


  1. once again i great job.. i love reading your blogs

  2. A little commentary on this awesome post!

    $1.50 Mike's?! I may have to catch a game there!

    Wrigley (surprisingly) smells better than it did. It used to smell like urine and ass. Maybe it will get worse as the weather warms up, but in April, it wasn't bad. I was laughed at trying to use the sink in the men's room. I'm definitely not used to stepping on a metal bar on the floor to get the sink to work. LOL

    For anyone who complains about the upper deck in the Cell being too steep, they should check out the stairs in Wrigley's upper deck. The only thing saving me from breaking my neck is the old concrete (made with gravel) that the steps are made out of... which reminds me of the steps in old Comiskey.

    Old Comiskey's concourse area remind me a lot of Raceway Park, right down to the school brick and the exposed piping.

    The reputation of the area being crime ridden comes from the eighties, when there needed to be a heavy police presence for night games, due to projects being near the ballpark. The projects are gone and the area has greatly improved.

    The Sox used to be party central. Much of that moved north when Harry went to the Cubs. After Harry left, the Sox heavily molded their image towards a family friendly atmosphere. This included free tickets through school and work programs, free Sunday autographs for kids and a kids fan club. I would have lumped in Ribbie & Roobarb, but they were invented mostly to combat the popularity of Andy the Clown.

    Fans attacking coaches cemented the "White Trash" stereotype in many minds, but you make a very good point about the cultures of each respective neighborhood.

    Deadly accurate about the Sox move to mostly cable in the eighties. Not only did WGN help bring the Cubs to the masses, the Tribune did a wonderful job of promoting the Cubs as a national treasure.

    The novelty of the Cubs/Sox series has worn off for most people in the wake of the 2005 World Series. I think the BP Cup is a desperate attempt to whip fans into the frenzy that the series once accomplished.

    Again, great post!