Looking North

By Keith Glab 6/23/05

Inattentive. Unknowledgeable. Naïve. Trendy. These are all adjectives used by White Sox fans to describe their Northside counterparts. Is this general opinion of Cubs fans justified?

Partially. Bleacher Bums constitute the main representation of Cubs fans. When people think Cubs fan, they think of rowdy fat men in the bleachers without shirts on. Some of them barely pay attention to the game. In the bleachers, drinking and socializing can often overshadow the play on the field.

Sox fans should beware of these overgeneralizations, however. I have seen several fans scoring the game from the bleachers. During a close Cubs game, just about every fan follows each pitch with a fierce intensity.

It is also important to note that the 30,000 or so fans at Wrigley who aren’t in the bleachers care about winning and follow the game as well as any other team’s fans do. Don’t give me the "Boston fans are the most knowledgeable" line, either. I can recall an instance in 2003 when Fenway’s entire right field fan section begged Trot Nixon to flip the ball into the stands with only two outs. Nixon actually obliged, and cost the Red Sox the game.

As for White Sox fans, they have much more in common with the Cubs than they would like to admit. There is just as high of a percentage of obnoxious fans not paying attention to the game in US Cellular’s general admission seating as in Wrigley’s bleachers. It’s just more noticeable in Wrigley since there are so many more fans there on a regular basis.

In fact, I have been to six Major League ballparks besides Wrigley, and in each of them the general admission section pays less attention to the game than the rest of the park. One large difference in the newer parks, however, is that the bars, shops, restaurants, games, and other diversions house many of the fans who perhaps aren’t as into the game as they should be, whereas in Wrigley they are hidden in plain sight. It’s a little silly for Southsiders to call Northsiders trendy when there are fewer gimmicky attractions to fall for at Wrigley.

Sox fans can claim that Cubs fans have a lot of false hope. If the Cubs are anywhere near first place around the All-Star break, you hear about "playoff-atmosphere" and how "this year feels different." If the Sox are 3.5 games back in July, they acquiesce.

One of the few real differences between the fan bases is that when the Sox are doing well (like this year) Cub fans will wish good fortune on the Southsiders when not in direct competition with them. Not so for Sox fans. They tend to resent the Cubs for being lovable losers, but then resent them even more when they’re succeeding and hogging an even larger percentage of Chicago’s spotlight.

But overall, baseball fans around the country are more alike than different. While Cubs and Sox fans would like to think that they have nothing in common but the city in which they reside, they are all basically good fans looking for a good time and a good team.

The difficulty in fulfilling that last qualification is the one frustration that Cubs fans and Sox fans most share.