Tommy has made his case for the White Sox being Chicago’s true baseball team. It’s a well-written, thoughtful argument that classifies the obsession with the Cubs as flashy and misguided. Tommy is right on one point: The Cubs’ management, for many years, was far more concerned with earning an extra buck than it was trotting out a good team.
But that’s not the whole story. There’s a reason there are more Cubs fans in the city than there are White Sox fans. People don’t keep coming back to watch a team play simply for the experience. No one wants to pay $60 for a seat in the bleachers, $10 for 12-ounce Old Style, and $8 for a pretzel just to watch the Cubs lose. Cubs fans want to see a winner just as much as White Sox fans.
Sure, we love Wrigley Field, but it’s because it’s where the Cubs play. Wrigleyville is awesome. It’s one of the best places to go out in the city. But that’s not why we love the Cubs, either. We love the Cubs because our parents grew up watching Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Ernie Banks play. We love the Cubs because we feel a deep pain every time our grandparents tell us they hope they’re alive when the Cubbies finally break that disgustingly long title drought.
We’ve wanted the Cubs to win badly since we heard our first 7th inning stretch as children. We root, root for the home team because they’re our guys. We want to hear “Go Cubs Go” as we file out of the Friendly Confines not because it’s a particularly good song – it’s corny branding at its worst, or finest depending on your point of view – but because it means the Cubs won.
Winning matters to us, too.
In terms of being Chicago’s true team, what’s more Chicago than fighting against the odds? Chicagoans rebuilt an entire city after a cow kicked a lantern to start a fire that burned down every wooden building in sight. That really sucked. But Chicagoans – both on the North and South sides – came together to rebuild this city from the ground up.
Over the years, Cubs management has started fire after fire, but fans keep coming back because they want to win. We don’t come back for the overpriced beer. Hell, I’d buy overpriced beer if it meant I could use it to put out all the fires that guys like Jim Hendry started. We go back because we feel that our positivity – not blind hope – will rub off on the ball club. Is there some blind hope involved? Maybe. But isn’t that inherent in all sports fandom?
Cubs fans are just as tough as White Sox fans. We don’t like the title “Lovable Losers.” We do like being lovable, but who doesn’t? Might as well enjoy other’s sympathy as we continue to get our hearts broken. We hate being losers. There’s nothing fun about rooting a shitty team. But I believe there is something noble in showcasing unwavering support during tough times. Showing up to the park when your team is having a losing season is very difficult. Why do we continually get chastised for packing Wrigley when our team isn’t doing too well? Aren’t you supposed to root for your guys no matter what?
The future is bright on the Northside of Chicago. Theo and company finally have things moving in the right direction. Has it taken embarrassingly long to rebuild the organization? Yes. Have we spent far too much money on shitty beer in the meantime? Yes.
But all of it will be worth it when the Cubs finally win a World Series and become a perennial contender in the way the Boston Red Sox have. The Red Sox prove that there is precedent for these types of situations. I’m excited to begin to gather concrete evidence to present to our Southside brethren to prove that the “W” flag is a Cubs fan’s favorite sight, not a crushed beer cup.
Good luck to the White Sox and their fans this season, too. Let’s not forget that we’ll all have plenty of opportunities to come together soon when Joakim and the Bulls fight for their playoff lives against the Heat or Pacers, Kaner and Toews defend the Cup, and when Jared Allen reenergizes the anything but scary Monsters of the Midway defense.
In the meantime, Go Cubs Go. All Cubs fans are hoping that we see the W flag on a regular basis in the coming years. It’d be nice to see it at the end of October, too.