Chicago’s Crosstown Classic begins tonight- Sox vs. Cubs. Cubs vs. Sox. One team with the best record in baseball will play a team quickly fading into oblivion.
The team I’ve been rooting for since I was six years old is the latter, the team nobody talks about. The teams that doesn’t draw tremendous crowds or demand national attention, even when they’re playing good.
The team with a baseball field that isn’t surrounded by trendy bars and restaurants. The ballpark tourists don’t have on their “to-visit” lists.
In my decades of being a Sox fan, the Cubs have always been the more popular team, even when the Sox held a better record. Outperforming the Cubs on the field, or the Scrubs, as some Sox fans referred to them, was more important to us than beating them at the attendance game.
Being better than the team dubbed the “Lovable Losers” at least gave us a respectable comeback against all the ribbing about being the inferior team. “We’re better than you! Na-na-na-na-na.”
Well, we’re not better anymore. The Cubs are phenomenal. They fill their park, and now it’s for reasons that go beyond the spectacular ambiance that is Wrigleyville. This team is legit. They are Loveable Losers no more.
I watch the Cubs play and think of my grandmother, who died in 2009. She was a Cubs fan, but would root for the Sox when the two teams weren’t playing.
My grandmother and I used to watch these games together. Our two beloved teams playing each other, and things sometimes got ugly. I despised the Cubs so much I didn’t only want to beat them, I wanted the Sox to annihilate them.
On games when the Cubs beat my Sox, my grandma gave it to me good. I’ll never forget in 2003 when the Cubs made the playoffs, and I called to congratulate her. My brother was at her house and he answered the phone. When he called for her and told her it was me on the line, she took the receiver, and said flippantly, “Hello. Do you have something to say to me?”
She made extending good wishes to her and her team very difficult. I spat the words through clenched teeth, but I said them.
I rooted hard against the Cubs that year, becoming a huge Marlins and Bartman fan.
But now that the Cubs are showing signs of brilliance and could very well win the World Series this year, I think of my grandma. She would love this young, exciting team.
When the Cubs make the playoffs, do I root for them in memory of my grandma? I know she’s up there somewhere watching these games while smoking a cigarette.
I’ll play it by ear.