By Patrice Nkrumah, Chicago Crusader
By all means the city’s rival baseball teams’ fans are civil to one another except during the annual battle for the BP Cup, which goes to the winner of the regular season series. However things change if one team makes the playoffs and the other does not. That means with the Cubs in the World Series this week, the White Sox fans are ramping up their taunts and insults as Cubs fans continue with the obnoxious behavior they often exhibit regardless of their team’s record. With the Cubs now in the World Series for the first time since World War II, Sox fans are nervous and fear their worst nightmare; the Cubs winning the World Series.
“I already know it will be hard to live in this city anymore because they will never shut up about it,” said Carlton Hales from the Woodlawn community, a lifelong Sox fan. “I’ve been giving all of my family and friends grief about the Cubs their entire lives and if the tables get turned on me, I really might get run out of town.”
Hales represents the feelings of many White Sox fans. When their team won the World Series in 2005 for the first time in 87 years, it gave them bragging rights over the Cubs. But with the turnaround of the North Side club in recent years and the Sox going downward, the only thing Sox fans had on the Cubs was their 2005 championship.
“Oh trust me my son has had no problem reminding me about it whenever the subject comes up,” said James Hampton, 72, who has been a Cubs fan since he was 20 and moved to Chicago from Alabama. “My son grew up here on the South Side, so that was his team from the start as I would take him to Sox games more because it was closer to our house. He loved the fireworks and all the wacky stuff then owner Bill Veck would do as promotions. One day he just told me he was done with the Cubs and that was it. We’ve been going at it ever since. He hasn’t called me or returned my calls in a week,” he said with a laugh. “He can run but he can’t hide. He’s probably going to call on me after the Cubs win it all, anyway out of fear I might have a heart attack.”
Social media is lighting up with the battle between the two passionate fan bases. Cubs fans say Sox fans should be pulling for them to unite Chicago. Sox fans say “you gotta be crazy,” as many have vowed to never support the Cubs. But there are some Sox fans who say they wouldn’t mind if the Cubs won.
“If they win I’ll be happy for them because right now they are the most miserable sports fans around,” said Jen Little from Bronzeville. “It’s like they try to act like it doesn’t hurt them, but I know it does. It’s embarrassing to say your team has not won in over 100 years. It’s a disgrace, so I wouldn’t mind if they won just so they could have some peace in their lives.”
Some Sox fans the Crusader spoke with said they will not be pulling for the Cubs, but they won’t be pulling against them either. In this town that should count for progress. But there are Cubs fans who say if the shoe were on the other foot they would not be supporting the White Sox.
“Man in 2005 I was doing anything I could to stop them from winning,” said Darius Hayes from Hyde Park. “I was praying, using voodoo, hoping for a power failure anything so they couldn’t win. I hate the Sox and to see them suffering right now while we are on the cusp of making history is a beautiful thing. Living on the South Side all my life and being a Cubs fan ain’t been easy. So if the Cubs fail this year, I’m not going to be happy because we have the best team in baseball.”
If you want to know how hardcore many fans are, all you have to do is visit some of the local establishments on the South Side. At McNally’s bar in Mount Greenwood, their sign says it all. “Fun starts now. Go Indians.”
With things already on edge in the city between the two sides, the national media ratcheted up the pressure when they insulted Sox fans after the Cubs won the National League pennant last weekend. Two major media outlets headlined their articles saying Chicago would see its first World Series in 71 years, all but erasing the White Sox championship season and igniting a torrent of insults thrown in their direction by Sox fans.
“I get that we will always be considered the second team in this city, it’s why I like the Sox, they’re the underdogs. But the media needs to get their facts right,” said Lisa Johnson, a nurse from the south suburbs. “When they did that, every Sox fan I know that would have supported the Cubs during this run stopped in their tracks and said I hope they get killed in the World Series.”
But there is some civility taking place in many households. Husbands and wives who have opposite rooting interests have vowed not to get divorced or physically assault each other. But some admit there is tension in the house.
“She don’t want my team to win even though I said I wouldn’t taunt her and would become a better husband as I would be happy,” said “Dax” Jackson from Auburn/Gresham.
“That’s because I know he is lying,” said his wife of five years, Tracie. “He’ll be running around the house naked singing that stupid song ‘Go Cubs Go’ if they win. He ain’t fooling nobody.”