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The Tally Ho

Friday, September 23, 2005

With fans like these...

...who needs a rivalry?

Tonight I got the opportunity to go to a White Sox game against the Twins. They didn't win, unfortunately, but there were exciting moments and the food, as usual, was great. I even found a couple of players to cheer for: Aaron Rowand made some fantastic catches along the back wall, and Chris Widger, though unremarkable in the role of catcher, has a great name and a friendly face. The fans, however, left something to be desired. We were sandwiched between two groups of men who knew a lot about their Sox, but didn't seem particularly heartened by that knowledge. A sample of quotes:
(2nd inning) It's so quiet, man. It's like the fans have already given up and they know we're going to lose."
(8?th inning, arrival of Marte) "What's up with the new pitcher? What does the manager think he's doing? They tried to fire him last week! We may as well go home now!" After each ball the pitcher throws, our section boos louder. After the pitcher walks his first batter, the crowd erupts in catcalls. New pitcher is pulled. The crowd applauds, and not in a nice way. After another pitcher comes on, and fails to retire his first batter, they scream louder. "Man, they shoulda left Marte in so HE coulda walked that guy."
(10th inning) "They deserve to lose. They had so many chances to win and they didn't take them. They oughta just lose."

During all of these remarks, the game is tied. There was no score until the fifth inning, and when the Sox hit a homer, they all cheered and started praying for rain so that the game would be called as a Sox victory. The heavens complied. Then the Twins got a run and they sat there, in pouring rain, bitching some more. They second-guessed all the calls. They harassed the players for missing catches or not running fast enough. "Idiots," "losers," and "lame" were their exact terms. They actually didn't swear that much, so I suppose they thought they were being polite, but the snide tone made up for it. As Elwood said: If you really hate the team that much, why are you here?

Me? I'm kind of sad, I sat in the rain and didn't get to see the Sox win. However, I got some knitting done (socks, of course!), and there were some folks in the next section over wearing rally caps in the last inning. So perhaps there's some hope for the White Sox fan base. A man outside was selling a faux-Cubs style shirt with the words: "Wrigley Field: The World's Largest Gay Bar". A couple players had Sox jerseys with "Cubs Suck" across the back where the name is supposed to be. So I guess they're united about something. But if they can't stand the Cubs, and can't stand their own team, it follows that they just can't like baseball that much.

Sox marketing doesn't help: there are vague references to "grinder ball" (mmm, sammich!) and the Jumbotron and neon crawl above the skyboxes that the MLB seems to be prescribing for its new stadiums. It's no longer Comiskey Park, but "the Cell" sounds appropriately ominous for a growling, embittered (and generally outstanding) team. However, a team is on precarious ground when they're first in the nation (as they were recently) and their fans can't stop criticising them.

The Cubs live in a fantasy world, it's true. We go watch our boys play in their itty-bitty park, and when the game gets dull we can watch the parties on the rooftops across the street. Sometimes they win, and we celebrate. Mostly they don't, and we have a beer and a hotdog and enjoy the sunshine. We shake our heads at the Sox and wonder why they hate us so much. Maybe it's because we know, even if Patterson gets in trouble for saying it, that it's ony a game.


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