For years, the conventional wisdom in Chicago has been that the true White Sox fan hates the Cubs. The myth has been conjured up and reinforced by media writers whose historic experience with the two teams falls somewhat short of reality. Here's the reality:
The true Chicago White Sox fan hates the New York Yankees more than the Cubs. The true White Sox fan doesn't care about the Cubs more than he or she hates the Yankees. Here's why, for me, anyway:
In 1950, when I was 8 and my brother Bill was 10, we lived on the North Side and were, as convention required, Cubs fans. Until we discovered that there was another Major League Baseball team in Chicago--the South Side Chicago White Sox. We switched loyalties.
Because the Cubs stunk. Pathetic losers. Boring. The White Sox were winners, beginning a long streak contending for the American League championship. The White Sox were exciting. Bill and I began feeling a new sensation--what it was like to win. The only thing anyone could say about the Cubs, as WGN sportscaster Jack Brickhouse (who broadcast home games for both teams) often did, was that they played in America's most beautiful ball park. Come out an enjoy a picnic at Beautiful Wrigley Field. And don't worry about finding a seat--almost all of them were empty. Even though the neighborhood at the time was a bit, well, junky.
To we Sox fans, the Cubs were a non-entity. A mere afterthought.
There was only one problem: The New York Yankees.
They dominated the American League. They played in more World Series in the 1950s than the Cubs and Sox did in their entire history, combined. I hated the Yankees with a passion. Especially when later when I ran into a New York Yankees fan in Milwaukee. Why aren't you a Braves fan; your hometown team is the Braves, I asked. "Because I only cheer for the best," he said.
From 1948 to 1959, the Yankees were in the World Series 10 times, winning all but two of them. The White Sox typically finished second. I was crushed when the Cleveland Indians interrupted the streak in 1954 and not the White Sox (only to lose to another New York team, the Brooklyn Dodgers). In 1956, the Yankees picked up where they left off, beating yet another New York team in the World Series, the New York Giants. Jeez, I hated New York and its superior teams.
I was overjoyed when the White Sox won the American League championship in 1959, but was greatly disappointed that we weren't the only team to have a better record than the Yankees. The Cleveland Indians came in second that year. I wanted to have the exclusive rights to have the only team to post a better record than the Yankees. The White Sox went on to lose to the former New York team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Argh, again.
So, it is more important to me that the White Sox whip the Yankees, in the regular season, in the post-season. The White Sox and Cubs home and home regular season series will be exciting, especially if their two aces, Chris Sale and Jake Arrieta face each other. And especially if they face each other in the World Series.
By then, the thing that will make me truly happy, is if the Yankees are a mere afterthought.
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