White Sox pleased by Obama's loyalty
Presidential candidate shows his support of South Siders
BOSTON -- As if Chicago baseball isn't getting enough attention this season with both teams sitting atop their respective divisions as Labor Day approaches, their quest for a Red Line World Series now has crossed over into the world of politics.
During a recent interview with ESPN, Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president and native Chicagoan, was asked what would happen if both teams played for the title in 2008.
"I would be going," Obama responded.
When asked who he would root for, Obama said that answer was easy. He would support the White Sox.
"I'm not one of these fair-weather fans,'' said the history-making politician during the interview, days before accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday night.
But Obama's explanation only brought bigger smiles from the White Sox faithful as he continued.
"You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there," Obama said. "People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox -- that's baseball. Southside."
Chicago baseball has previously seen political sides divided. Mayor Richard M. Daley stands as an ardent White Sox fan and can frequently be found sitting near the White Sox dugout at U.S. Cellular Field. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich throws his full support behind the Cubs.
Having a president who clearly roots for the White Sox, though, could mean some benefits down the line. Maybe Obama will throw a few tax breaks in the South Siders' direction.
"I'm sure that's not going to happen," said White Sox starter Mark Buehrle with a laugh when asked about having a friend in the White House, adding how he has seen Obama at White Sox games.
"I just want to see him throw the ceremonial first pitch when he's the president," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen added. "Hopefully, he is."
This particular interview with Obama returned focus to a topic discussed around baseball for much of the past couple of months -- an all-Chicago World Series. Some White Sox players have joked how they would live outside the city if there were such a competition, avoiding the chaos that would surely follow during such a matchup.
Guillen believes it would be great for baseball and for Chicago. He also thinks a Cubs-White Sox World Series would help Daley in his quest to have Chicago host the 2016 Olympics.
"If that happens, the Chicago mayor would have a really good chance to have the Summer Olympics there [in 2016]," Guillen said. "I guarantee you, because that city's going to go crazy. To the players, it would be awesome, to the fans, but I don't know for me and [Cubs manager] Lou [Piniella]. It should be unbelievable."
As long as the White Sox are in the World Series, Guillen said he doesn't really care about the opponent. If the Cubs made it and the White Sox did not, Guillen added how he would cheer on friends such as Piniella, general manager Jim Hendry, Derek Lee, Henry Blanco, Carlos Zambrano and Mark DeRosa. He would not root for the Cubs.
"You're a South Sider or you're not," Guillen said.
That point was proven by Obama's take on the ongoing Cubs-White Sox debate. Even with the election just over two months away. Even with every vote counting on Nov. 4, whether the voter is North Side or South Side.
"He's a guy from Chicago," said Guillen of Obama. "You're from Chicago, we root for you. But we have Spring Training in Phoenix, so we have to be nice [to John McCain], too. You never know. I like the way Obama talks. I don't pay too much attention, but it'll be interesting.
"A lot of people will say if you go to vote for him, all of the sudden you're a White Sox fan. Some people out there are ignorant and say, 'We're not going to vote for him because he's a White Sox fan.' That will happen. I don't think he needs the White Sox fan's vote. He just told the truth. He likes the White Sox, he's always been a South Sider and I guarantee you a few people here like him, too, like myself."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.