For as long as I can remember I’ve been a Cubs fan. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a Chicago fan. I’ve never bought into the whole Cubs and Sox rivalry. In my mind both teams play for the same city. The Cubs and Sox play in different leagues, and the likelihood of them playing a meaningful series is very low. I can understand that it’s fun to root against your neighbors, to have a fun rivalry. That’s what I like about the Cubs-Cards rivalry; it’s friendly. I hate the Cardinals, but I have to say that for the most part, Cardinals fans and Chicago fans, in my experience, have approached the rivalry with dignity. I have family in St Louis, and they’ll always send me some texts or phone calls when the Cardinals win, but it’s never anything harsh, it’s never personal. It remains about baseball.
Being in Wrigleyville last year after the Crosstown games between the Cubs and the Sox, it was heated. There was a divide so apparent that every bar felt like a junior high school cafeteria. I heard threats being made, saw fights break out, the whole town, more than any time I’ve ever been there, had an aire of hostility to it. I’ve been there during a late season Cubs-Cards series, and I’ve been there after a Cubs playoff loss; but this was different. I remember having beers with Cardinals fans at Trace, shooting the shit for hours, but walking down the street after a Crosstown game I felt like I had to watch my back. I’m not saying that it has anything to do with the mentality of Sox fans as people, I’m not placing blame on them; both team’s fans are out of line.
I generally try to stay as far away from this argument as possible, because the fact of the matter is that it’s a ridiculous, futile debate. For most Chicagoans, you’re raised either a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, and nothing is going to change that. I, for one, am a Cubs fan. That being said, I don’t hate the Sox – I want them to do well. I go to a few Sox games every year, and when I do, I root for the guys wearing black.
The thing that I always hear from Sox fans is that the people in attendance at Wrigley are there to party; not to watch baseball. That Cubs fans don’t know what they’re talking about, and that they’re not real baseball fans. Firstly, I will go out there and say that anyone who makes this argument about the fans as people, who makes it personal, is more than likely not a knowledgeable fan. The people who I find making these arguments are the people who repeat what they’ve heard without putting any thought into it; without getting any experience of their own. I don’t expect everyone to have expansive knowledge of a sport, or to attend every home game for their team, but please, do not insult the millions of people who attend Wrigley Field every year before you at least attempt to address the situation impartially.
Wrigley Field has become a tourist attraction. The home of the Cubs, the ivy, the bleachers, cold beer, beautiful women and hot sun in the middle of one of Chicago’s most popular bar districts. Of course there are going to be drunken idiots there, and of course there are going to be tourists who are there to get drunk and experience something that only Chicago has to offer. Wrigley pulls in over forty thousand attendees every home game, rain or shine. A large quantity of these people are not baseball fans. They might not even be Cubs fans. They might be tourists, they might be locals who don’t care about sports, they might be yuppies trying to show their latest fling a good time. The fact of the matter is that they are not Cubs fans.
The Cubs at Wrigley Field so far this year average 40,743 in attendance, equating to a 99.1% attendance average. The White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field average 30,877, panning out to a 76.0% capacity crowd. An equivalent 99.1% attendance at U.S. Cellular would be 40,262. Old Comiskey’s capacity was 43,951, and 99.1% of that would be 43,555.
Let’s talk about a hypothetical situation here. Let’s just say that Old Comisky still existed. Let’s also say that it was as heralded in baseball lore as Wrigley Field is. Let us also transplant this park to the corner of Addison and Clark, with the entire Wrigleyville area remaining largely the same; but replacing all the Cubs paraphernalia on the entire north side with Sox stuff. Do you think the Sox will sell out every game? You bet. Do you think those extra ten thousand attendees will all be knowledgeable fans, going to the game to keep score and talk statistics with their seat mates? Doubt it. Do you think there would be an influx of the same yuppies and drunks that flood Wrigleyville every game day? You bet.
So what am I trying to say exactly? that it’s true? That Cubs fans aren’t really baseball fans? Hell no; in fact, I haven’t even started talking about Cubs fans. What I’m trying to say is that Wrigley Field is a product of it’s environment, just as the demographic it draws is. If you want to talk about the type of people at a Cubs game, you need to take a step back and realize that you’re talking about people in Wrigleyville, an area with a larger quantity of bars per city block than most other places in the world. If you have a problem with drunk people, that’s your prerogative, but please don’t be so ignorant as to be unable to dissociate drunks and yuppies from baseball fans.
I drink at games, but I’m there to watch the games. I have had some of the best conversations about baseball with fellow Cubs fans. These fans also attend games. If you don’t like the Cubs, or Wrigley Field, or you just enjoy keeping the rivalry heated, then by all means, continue to do so. That being said, please stop acting like just because you live ten miles south of me and root for a team with different colors, representing the same city, that you are automatically a better fan.