After the Tanaka signing, my twitter feed was awash in upset, snark and disappointment, mostly from Cubs fans, with a smattering of "the Yankees are ruining baseball." Later on in the day I saw a couple of White Sox beat guys chime in with stories of that team's pursuit of the latest Japanese import, but like most stories from the White Sox beat, they felt like mandatory assignments. A bit of an, "I suppose we should write something about this" kind of vibe.
And that is the difference in the two sides of town. Forget all of that blue collar/white collar business and real versus casual fan nonsense. If you bore down to the core of the two fanbases, I think that one is much more optimistic and the other much more pessimistic. Or to put it another way, one group of fans always seems to be looking for the bright side while the other always seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The Tanaka signing brings this into sharp relief. Everything I saw from fans, fellow bloggers even some media outlets was an expectation that the Cubs were going to get the pitcher. All throughout the days leading up to the announcement there were reports and rumors being circulated that "the Cubs are close." Pretty much feeding into the optimism that this big move was going to happen.
When the announcement came down and Tanaka had decided to join the Yankees the disappointment wasn't only palpable, but it led to a series of discussions about "What does this mean for the Cubs?" I saw various headlines (or better said Tweetlines) asking if the Cubs are doing enough, how does this effect "the plan?*" and frustration that after finding out the Cubs didn't get Tanaka, they made a pitch for ticket sales.
*I don't doubt Theo and Jed have a plan, but I'm amazed at how invested Cubs fans are. I imagine two different things: One, Theo and Jed come clean one day and say, "We have no plan." Or two, Theo and Jed have a secret "plan" room that has pictures of various players and coaches and such all tacked on the wall, connected by string in intricate designs like something out of a bad detective story.
The White Sox also made a pitch for Tanaka and from one report, they were among the final five teams in the decision process. I don't recall seeing anyone predicting or expecting the White Sox to land the pitcher. After the news got out that the White Sox talked to Tanaka the reaction to the news was a collective, "oh, that's nice," kind of like seeing your child's 53rd drawing of horse. When the Yankees signing was announced, the White Sox reaction was kind of the same, a collective, "oh well, at least Rick tried. Good try Rick! (imagine tousling his hair)" No gnashing of teeth, no doubt in the process and no worries about the direction of the team.* I don't think there was ever an expectation that the White Sox would get the guy. That isn't to say that their offer wasn't real, that they were serious about trying to get him, but the fans just didn't see it happening, because, well those things don't happen all that much for the White Sox. (Which makes the Abreu signing even more interesting.)
*There were a few Sox fans voicing the weird notion of, "I'm glad we didn't get him." I've never understood that. In hindsight, sure we can be glad the team didn't get this player or that player, but in the moment, when all evidence points to Tanaka being good, why on Earth would one be happy the team didn't get him? The White Sox do seem to have more fans of "fiscal responsibility" than the Cubs. I would love to see the trophy for that, right along with the attendance trophy.
Honestly, I'm not sure which is the better approach, but I know where I fall, personally in the equation. It's just my nature not to get too excited by rumors, chances and plans. All of these have a way of not panning out. It doesn't mean I don't want things to happen or that I don't get excited about the possibilities, but I tend not to get too far ahead of myself (perhaps 2006 was the exception. Man, that season still bugs me.)
I get the excitement that the other half has, sometimes even envy it, especially when it feels like the entire city and the media are caught up in the story. However, creeping below that excitement and expectation there is also a sense of entitlement that sometimes comes through and I don't want any part of that. I'll let the Yankees fans corner that market.
I'm doing some good stuff over at kaufmak's lazy blog. check it out.
Also, next time, Why the Yankees are good for baseball and evil.