Editor's note: It's a question many Chicagoans can answer at length: Why did you choose to root for the Cubs or White Sox? While both teams will find it difficult—if not impossible—to reach the postseason in 2014, this summer's a good time to count your baseball blessings. To that end, RedEye asked contributors Andy Frye and Evan F. Moore to explain how their allegiances formed, and to step out of their comfort zone and compliment the "other" team.
Shortly after I moved from the East Coast to Lakeview 20 years ago, I used to gripe every time the Cubs had a night game. As if parking wasn't bad enough north of Diversey Avenue, night games made it more hectic.
I'd grumble about Bleacher Chic (as I called it) and that Cubs fans came to Wrigley mostly for the fun time experience, to drink beer, but not necessarily to watch baseball. "At least the Cubs could win some games for once," I complained, squeaking my Hyundai between parked cars.
But by living near the Friendly Confines, I eventually came to learn something. The Cubs have the ability to tug on your heart strings. Once you move to town you gradually become a local. Then on the North Side, even the most indifferent transient is first welcomed as a casual friend, ultimately becomes a fan, and then an enthusiast. It's really not difficult to become a Cubs disciple by immersion.
Cubs fans—both those from birth and by inclination—get ridiculed for a lot. Not only because our team hasn't won the World Series since 1908, but for following second-rate baseball. Others criticize us as fair-weather fans, or call us Saab-driving, brie-eating yuppie loons. The Curse of the Billy Goat and ghosts of Steve Bartman allegedly haunt us. And those of us originally from outside Chicago get lampooned because, just like Cubs pitchers, we "don't know where home is." Some even say home will eventually be in Rosemont.
But one special thing about this team is probably a throwback to the days of old: The Cubs are more than just nine guys on the field. They are Chicago. The Cubs are Wrigleyville and more, and the experience of being a Cubs fan is about feeling the experience of the game, the ballpark and the neighborhood, whether or not you live in Wrigleyville.
Just the same, the few times a year the Cubs and Sox play is special. To me, being partisan to one team is a noble venture, and baseball-related trash talk is divine. And as a Cubs fan, I love to see Sox devotees come out and enjoy the game in our house, even if they are at times critical and the Sox beat the pinstriped pants off the Cubs. The energy of it all makes it special, and this two-team rivalry is something few U.S. cities get to delight in.
Perhaps the best thing about the fact that both teams currently stink is that the rivalry alone brings out the best in the city. It makes life in Chicago much more rewarding.
I'd rather eat and drink like a Sox fan
Wrigleyville and Bridgeport are vastly different neighborhoods. But once you get inside the ballpark, one major difference is food and drink. As a Cubs fan, I've always maintained that the Sox have better offerings.
Fans from both sides of Chicago baseball have long argued over who started drinking Old Style at the ball park first. What's more important is that the selection for beer lovers is far superior at the Cell, where brands like Leinenkugel, Corona and some regional favorites often supplement the big name macrobrews on tap.
To top it off, the Sox have put equal effort into the menus for food. U.S. Cellular Field is very forward-thinking about its options for fans with special dietary preferences, and the White Sox's website makes no bones about its gluten-free menu choices and commitment "to offer gluten free alternatives at U.S. Cellular Field." Shhh! Just don't tell Sox fans how fancy they are!
No sushi is made at either ballpark (yet).
Andy Frye is a RedEye special contributor.