Barely a week has passed since Valentine’s Day and it appears many Chicagoans are ready to forsake their long-time love and take up with a new suitor. I am not talking about the aftermath from a bad dinner or a thoughtless gift, but the fallout from the winter of discontent for Cub fans. From the Addison Russell case, the rantings of Papa Joe Ricketts and the announcement of the Markup, oops, Marquee Network, (where is spellcheck when you need it), it has been a tough go for Cub fandom this off season. If my assessment of local reaction to these events is close to being accurate, there is some segment of Cub faithful willing to forswear their Cub allegiance and give the White Sox a chance.
To help make this shift in allegiance smoother, I offer my guide to White Sox fandom for the uninitiated. First and foremost, be aware that the Sox won the 2005 World Series. When your former baseball boo was on its way to the 2016 World Series, several media outlets, ESPN being a repeat offender, failed to acknowledge the 2005 championship when tabulating post-WWII championships for the city. You only get one chance to make a first impression with your fellow White Sox fans, so make it count.
Be aware that Sox Park has large areas surrounding it with parked cars on game days. Do not mistake them for the world’s biggest auto pound. These areas are designated for parking for fans that choose to drive to the game. They are also used for game day parties called tail gates. They are a lot of fun and a great way to make new friends. There are mass transit options if you would like a greener mode of transportation.
When you rise for the seventh inning stretch, don’t look to the broadcast booth for a B-list celebrity to lead you in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. No Kathy Griffin or, thank God, Jim Belushi will appear. Fun fact: Harry Caray started the tradition of leading the crowd in singing at the stretch while doing Sox games. ESPN are you taking notes?
Come hungry for more than a win. The rumors you have heard about the food at Sox Park are all true. It is fabulous. Anyone that claims the food at Wrigley is better probably still believes that Sammy Sosa’s amazing physical transformation was a result of better dental care and diet.
So welcome to White Sox baseball. Truthfully, your decision to give the Sox a chance could not have been timed better. Even without Machado the Sox are a team on the rise, not unlike the 2014 Cubs. The Sox have a farm system widely rated among the best in baseball. If it makes you feel any more at home their top two prospects, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, were originally drafted by the Cubs. So for once Sox and Cub fans can agree, in Theo we trust.
But you must be resolute if this conversion is going to work. There could be relapses. Mike Royko famously switched allegiances in 1980 only to return to the Cubs when Bill Veeck sold the Sox to Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn before the start of the 1981 season. Stay strong.
Finally, if you follow the advice of recently retired Sox broadcaster, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and simply sit back, relax and strap it down, you too will be giving a full-throated rendition of “Na-Na Hey Hey” as another Cub pitcher is sent to the showers.
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