The stereotypes are caricatures.
You know -- the Cubs fan is an upscale North Shore investment banker who would never travel south of Madison Street.
And the Sox fan is a beer-swilling, overweight blue-collar type who says, "Cubs suck!" whenever you poke him.
Please. I personally know people for whom you could swap the words "Cubs" and "Sox" and the North Side and South Side locations in those sentences and they'd still be true.
While I grew up a Cubs fan, in the 1960s when the White Sox were a contender every year and had outstanding pitchers in Gary Peters, Joel Horlen and others, I watched Sox games on television and enjoyed them. I thought then, and still do, that it was cool that Chicago was one of four cities (metro areas, if you're being picky, with the Bay Area included) with two major league baseball teams. In the pre-interleague play era, it meant you could see any major league team and any major league player play in person in Chicago. I went to many games at the old Comiskey Park in the 1970s and 1980s, usually sitting in the old left-field unreserved grandstand or in the center-field bleachers. I was in that park when the Sox clinched the 1983 AL West title, and in the new Comiskey when they won the AL Central on Bo Jackson's high, arching home run that seemed to take forever to come down in 1993.
So let me say a few good things about the White Sox.
While I've had my disagreements with what I see as a "chip on the shoulder" that many in the Sox organization seem to have in their relationship with the Cubs and Cubs fans, there is absolutely no question that everyone in that organization wants to win, from Jerry Reinsdorf on down, and that, within the money constraints they have because they don't have the fan base and financial base the Cubs do, they have done everything they can to reach that goal. That's an admirable trait for any sports franchise.
After flirting with -- and nearly moving to -- Tampa in 1987, they got a new stadium built using public funds. They were presented with and rejected an architectural design that could have made their new park the first of the retro parks, instead of the last of the concrete ashtrays. When the new Comiskey opened in 1991, sightlines in the lower deck were excellent, but the upper deck induced vertigo. To their credit, over the years the Sox have made modifications to their park to make it better, more fan-friendly, and more "ballpark" than "stadium". Unlike many of my friends who are Cubs fans, I won't refuse to go there. I have gone there many times, particularly on weekday afternoons, to see games not involving the Cubs, just because I love baseball and, as I said, I think it's great that Chicago has two major league baseball teams.
When the Sox made the World Series in 2005, I thought, "The World Series is being played in my town -- I want to be there." I was lucky enough to find tickets for Games 1 and 2. They were two of the best ballgames I have ever witnessed in person; for game two I was seated in the fifth row of the upper deck behind third base. The upper deck literally shook when Scott Podsednik hit the walkoff homer. It was an amazing scene. Someday I hope a similar scene occurs at Wrigley Field. When the White Sox won the Series, I was happy for my hometown and for my friends who are Sox fans.
I shake my head sometimes at Ozzie's antics and at Kenny's occasional mystifying player moves -- but then again, I do the same at Lou's and Jim's. That's all part of being a fan. If the Sox do well it's good for Chicago, and that's a good thing, since I love this town.
Rivalries like this, I think, should be friendly, not hostile. Becoming a fan of any team comes by many different means: family ties, whose stadium you visited first, who your friends like -- and you can't tell someone they're wrong for having a certain opinion. I have friends who are cousins who grew up on opposite sides of town -- one a Cubs fan, the other a Sox fan. Nevertheless, they both have a passion for baseball and a passion for their chosen team -- and what's wrong with that? It makes for great discussions, passionate, to be sure, but without mindless bashing; that's the way sports rivalries should be, not the Yankees/Red Sox divisions we sometimes see that appear, to a Midwestern observer, to border on hatred.
But I don't hate the White Sox. Apart from the six games they play each season against the Cubs -- where I hope the Cubs win every single one of those in convincing fashion, beginning this weekend at Wrigley Field -- I wish them well. And when some of you who are Sox fans yell "Cubs suck!" at me, consider this: Depending on how the Cubs play that day, I might just agree with you.