That time again

Of all things that smack of a real Chicagoland summer, nothing is more characteristic than the rampant crap talking, show of colors, and general hype that surrounds the Crosstown Classic games. For those of you who aren't from Chicago, or don't care about baseball, this city is home to one of the longest-standing rivalries in professional sports - that of the White Sox and the Cubs. My father pretty much had the Chicagoin attitude pegged when he was asked during a team building exercise in his office to pick three words that described himself and answered: Sox fan, Democrat, and Catholic (yes, in that order).

Team allegiance, in this town, is something that you're born into if you were born within about a 50 mile radius of the city. If you were born elsewhere, chances are that the Cubs have won you over through their viral marketing via WGN's massive broadcasting range, and the propaganda of them being the 'lovable losers.' Only Cubs fans can find losing to be an endearing characteristic. The unwanted stepchild status, or as Sox manager Ozzie Guillen calls it, being "Chicago's bitch," is awarded to the White Sox and their fans.

Though we have managed to win not one, but two World Series titles since the last time the Cubs managed to pull one off, we're still perpetually seen as the worst team in Chicago - loved only by those deemed ghetto or white trash. Northside vs Southside, I think, speaks about as much about elitism as it does baseball in this city, but that's another story. The Cubs have the 'nicer' neighborhood with better post-game entertainment; the historic ballpark; a quirky history full of lore and scapegoats; and generally a much more endearing media package to send out to potential converts. Chances are, if you're not from here, you' become a Cubs fan when you move in. Who can blame you really? Sox fans, on the other hand, are a much smaller group but no less dedicated to their team.

And that's generally how my own package of arguments usually is spread out when cornered by an overly-aggressive Cubs fan.

Fiercely loyal in the hard times and the good, Sox fans always seem to be on the defensive. When we won in 2005, we had to debate Cubs fans to disprove the argument that we somehow cheated to take the title. Yes, apparently we cheated through an entire season with a phenomenal record, and a post season that was nearly spotless. Beyond that, arguments with Cubs fans always seem to decline into classist assumptions on both sides. For our part (yes, it's impossible for me to not write this in an 'us vs. them' manner), we argue that Cubs fans are drunken frat boys and trixies who get wasted in the bleachers and then use Wrigleyville as their massive toilet after going to games on mom and dad's tickets. We think they're sore losers because they throw back home run balls hit by the opposing team. All other fans are merely clients being taken to the game because scenic Wrigley Field is a wonderful place to take someone to impress. Basically, they're all rich baseball tourists. For the less PC Sox fans, there are also jibes about Wrigley Field being the world's largest gaybar due to it being located near the heart of Chicago's boystown.

Cubs fans counter with accusations of all Sox fans being mullet-headed trash with fat girlfriends that brawl and curse throughout the game instead of actually paying attention. The only time we pay attention to the field is when we're trying to plan our route to get on to it in order to beat up members of the visiting team's management and other officials. US Cellular Field (sell out field, etc) is ripped on for having a corporate name, though Wrigley is as well, and for being far on the South Side of Chicago where there isn't much more to be done other than get mugged on your way to the Red Line.

The truth behind all the mud slinging lies, as always, smack dab in the middle and free from exaggeration, but it's much more fun to fight with stereotypes and generalizations. In the end, I think we all just enjoy royally pissing each other off and then seeing our boys prove it (or not) on the field.

Well, this is the weekend when that magic happens. In previous years when both teams have royally sucked, all that really mattered in Chicago was who won the bulk of the crosstown games; winner got bragging rights for the next year from that contest of mediocrity. This year will be a bit different: both teams now hold #1 spots, so the stakes are a little bit higher. Murmurs of a cross town post season are heard here and there, though as your typical Sox fan - who doesn't even like to stand for the final out because it might not happen - I prefer not to count any chickens before they're hatched. So, let the sun come out and the rain delay be ended so we can get out there and prove our point to the world (well, to the city, as nobody else seems to care). The bleachers are packed, the beers are poured, and the clients are ready to be less than thrilled out in Wrigleyville - let's not keep them waiting!

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