Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why All The Hate?

Interleague play began this weekend with American League and National League teams that don’t normally play each other during the regular season are doing battle. Typically, geographical matchups like the Yankees vs. the Mets, the Dodgers vs. the Angels and the Cubs vs. the White Sox are featured. 

Because of proximity, these are natural rivalries and the competition can be intense at times as illustrated in the photo to the left. That is A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox and Michael Barrett of the Cubs squaring off back in 2006.

As heated as the competition has been between the players on the two Chicago teams over the years, it might be even more passionate among the fans of their teams. Plainly put, these people don’t like each other. At all.

Listening to the folks calling in on the WSCR last night and today made this point abundantly clear to me. The vitriol and venom reminded me of what a Packer fan hears when venturing into a Bear bar. It ain’t pretty.

On facebook, I asked longtime WSCR producer Herb Lawrence for his take on the animosity between the two factions. He replied:

“In my experience I believe that Sox fans concern themselves with the Cubs and Cubs fans. Inferiority complex is why I believe they do it. I haven't had many conversations with Cubs fans about this, but they seem to be concerned only with their team when they are not playing the Sox.”

This is coming from a Sox fan that is levelheaded and it makes sense. However, his sensibility is the exception rather than the rule. Most Cub fans intensely despise Sox fans and visa versa.

While this is a meatball mentality, I can understand it with people who live, or have lived, in Chicago or one of it’s many suburbs. What I don’t understand is why Cub fans from Kenosha, Racine or Milwaukee would automatically hate the White Sox.

That doesn’t make sense. That mindset is even more meatball.

Based on that way of thinking, is it mandatory for a person from Akron, Ohio, who happens to be a Yankees fan, to hate the Mets? It makes as much sense.

Because this truly perplexes me, I posted this question on facebook:

“A question for my friends that are Cub fans AND those that are White Sox fans. With the two teams squaring off in interleague playoff this weekend, I am reminded that many of you, that not don't live in Chicago, HATE the opposing team. Why? I can understand it if you are from Chicago, that I get? But those of you who don't, what gives? It has befuddled me for a long time. Discuss…”

The response was meager and did little to solve my conundrum.

Jimmy “Mr. Clean” Wilson, a life long Sox fan, echoed Herb’s inferiority complex theory.  He said,

“Paulie, back in the day the Sox, like now, didn’t have the cash flow the Cubs had. We would pick up a lot of leftover players and be happy with beat-up Comiskey. The Cubs always with a big pick, spending like drunken sailors.”

Randy Lain, one of the most impassioned Cub fans that I know, had this to say:

“I don't hate the Sox but I do have a good-natured "ribbing" fest with my son-in-law. He’s a Sox fan and he gives me "the business" pretty well. I tell him he's gonna get a call from world renowned divorce attorneys… Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe. LOL”

He continued with:

“I think a lotta people sort of take their cue from what they see on TV. If someone says they gotta hate the Sox, they hate the Sox. When I was growing up the Sox were really like a minor league team, as far as fan interest. Even now, with the Cubs in rebuild mode, there are far more Cub fans in the Midwest than Sox fans, and in K-Town it's not even close. So to me they're not much of a factor…”

Randy’s comment reinforces the thought that Cub fans feel their team is superior to the Sox. But it still doesn’t tell me why people from Wisconsin should care so much about the OTHER team from Chicago.

Maybe, like so many things with sports, there is no good reason for this phenomenon. Like the “unwritten rules of baseball”, it’s just another meatball institution. It is what it is.

That being said, unless someone can give me a better explanation, I’m going to go with Patty 4-Names’ hypothesis. In her own unique style she commented:

“I deduced from years at the Board of Trade that it all goes back to the old North Side/South Side Irish feud. As for those who don't and never did live in Chicago, I have no idea. They oughtta get their OWN team!”

Makes sense to me!

Before you leave the site, please jump on my poll and vote for your favorite football movies. There are two polls so you can vote twice! Sort of like being in Chicago. Until next time…from the booth.

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