Fans sound off on Sox/Cubs rivalry
Letters from Chicago faithful address crosstown competition
In the Nov. 27 installment of the White Sox Mailbag, a reader asked if the White Sox players truly understood how nerve-wracking and ultimately exciting the eight games per season against the Cubs (including Spring Training) really have become. I answered that the rivalry didn't seem the same to me since the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, or even when the Cubs came within five outs of the World Series in 2003.
The vast White Sox fan base didn't exactly agree with my playing down of the rivalry, so I asked for your take on this crosstown battle. Here's a look at some of those responses, with a reminder that the first 2007 game between the Cubs and White Sox takes place on March 4 at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz.
Hi Scott, I read your post about the rivalry not being quite as intense as before, since the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. Here's my take on that matter.
As a Sox fan, winning the World Series and doing it before the Cubs had that success takes a little of the edge off the Sox-Cubs series. However, a disclosure is in order: I was never one of those fans who would have preferred to win the crosstown series over winning the World Series.
The World Series was always my dream. I was always one of those fans who ended each frustrating season with a sigh, and the words "maybe next year," and started each fresh season hoping that would be the "next year" of my dreams. When it finally happened, although I surely wanted a repeat in 2006, some of the start-of-season pressure was off. After all, it wasn't as if we hadn't won in 88 years.
All that said, I still think the Sox-Cubs rivalry is one of the most enduring and most intense in all of sports. I know Cubs fans who couldn't enjoy the Sox World Series even a tiny bit. And I have to admit that it would have been hard for me to enjoy a Cubs World Series win if it had happened before ours.
It really is an either/or thing -- no one is truly a fan of both teams. And even though the City Series is not "our World Series" anymore, it is still a very big deal to us fans. And if the "near-playoff" atmosphere (as Paulie described it) helps our team get ready for the intensity of the postseason, so much the better! Go Sox!!
-- Peggy, Chicago
As a Sox fan, I still enjoy watching the Sox beat the Cubs every year. It's fun sparring with the Cubs fans and gloating when the Sox win. Maybe one day we can meet them in the World Series and deflate the hearts of all those Cubs fans. That would be pure heaven.
-- Brian, Tinley Park
As a long-time Sox fan, I have to say I don't care much about Cubs games. But Interleague Play annoys me anyway. I really don't like the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees and Orioles only come to town once per season, and we play Cleveland 15 times per year!
In the meantime, to fill the rest of the Interleague time, we play meaningless games against the Reds or the Phillies -- who cares? I realize that the Sox/Cubs games are a boon for the front offices -- especially for the Sox before we won it all and attendance picked up. But I'd be very happy with one series only against the Cubs, and more AL games!
-- Susan, Washington, D.C.
The answer to your question, Scott, is simple. The South Side of Chicago is a different town than the North Side.
We all write Chicago on our return address the same, but our way of life differs. We on the South Side are blue collar, down to earth people. The North Side is full of high rises and expensive bars and restaurants. On the South Side of Chicago, $10 will get you a handful of beers and change left for darts. The North Side will give you an import and you won't have much left for the tip.
You can spend $270 million in the offseason, but it doesn't change the fact you have a history of losing. The Sox crossed the finish line first, as we won in 2005 and still won 90-plus games in 2006.
-- Mike, Bridgeport
Following the Sox championship season, virtually all of the air has gone out of the Sox-Cubs rivalry for me. The Sox forever won that whole contest, in my mind, being the first team to bring a championship to Chicago in 88 years.
I'd like to see the number of games reduced in favor of more games against American League and Central Division opponents. They are six games that I want the Sox to win as much as the other 156 games that they play. If they were to someday meet the Cubs in the World Series, that would be different, but until that day ...
-- Mike, Lake Bluff
Before the 2005 season, I was all about the Sox vs. the Cubs during the season. I went to one game at each park and it was the highlight of the year for me. The only reason it was so big is because I thought the "curse" would prevent both the Sox and the Cubs from getting to the World Series.
Since the Sox won in 2005, I really don't care about the Windy City Classic as much as I do about getting another World Series title. Now I don't care if the Cubs win the next 50 in a row, as long as it means I will be able to see another championship. Go Sox.
-- D.J., Antioch
I think it gives fans a chance to come together and watch both of these storied teams battle for bragging rights. There is always plenty of emotion, as we saw last year. I especially can't wait for this year, as, for once, both teams look very good on paper. The Sox might have their work cut out for them this year, when it comes to the Cubs, at least.
-- Scott, Bloomington
Just like playing any other team in baseball, the goal should be to win the series. But is it necessary to win every game? Except for veteran players with multiple years on the Sox or Cubs rosters and who have experienced the atmosphere of these games, winning every game is likely more meaningful to the fan -- crosstown pride.
To make this and other Interleague rivalry series more meaningful, I propose the combined Interleague record be used for determining home-field advantage for the World Series, instead of the fan selected All-Star Game.
-- Craig, South Bend
It was more for bragging rights in a city, up until a couple of years ago, where the Cubs received more media coverage. Growing up a lifelong Sox fan and seeing the park somewhat empty compared to Wrigley, I took a lot of ribbing from my friends who are Cubs fans.
Recently, the tables have turned. This series may be no different than any other Interleague series to the teams themselves, but it means much more than that to the fans -- especially to this fan, who has taken enough grief through the years from the Cubs fans. It is time to turn the tables and give it back to the Cubs fans. The thing that gets lost, at times, is that it's only a game, and I don't like to see any fan or either team take it to a personal level.
-- John, Antioch
What do the Cubs/Sox games mean to me? Unfortunately, everything.
My husband is just as passionate about the Cubs as I am about the Sox, so it gets very heated in our house. It's bragging rights, it's pride, it's his World Series -- ha ha. We even get to some Cubs/Sox games in Spring Training to start the season off right. I thought after we won the World Series, I would not have the same fire as years past, but I was wrong. I want to beat the Cubs every chance we get.
-- Julie, Hammond
As a longtime season ticket holder and longer-time White Sox fan, the Cubs series has taken a back seat to a championship. Beating the Cubs is just as important as beating the Yankees or any other team. It is getting to October baseball and raising the trophy that brings out the pride -- something Cubs fans have not enjoyed. If they beat us and we win the World Series, which leaves us with the best feeling? All true Sox fans know the answer.
-- Harold, Lockport
As a Sox fan, if the Sox are actually in the pennant chase, all I care is that they win the series between the two teams, not caring it's against the Cubs. If, however, the Sox are having a bad year, it becomes imperative that they beat the Cubs. Nothing else matters much if they're otherwise going nowhere.
-- Pete, Crestwood
I honestly feel that the games are of minimal importance, with the huge exception of bragging rights and city stature. However, these games are probably the games that I look forward to the most in the regular season.
But now, with the Cubs doing a lot of offseason spending and beefing up their roster, they're sure to be in playoff contention in 2007. So the City Series in 2007 will have a good possibility of being the World Series in 2007!
-- Matt, Blue Island
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.