You know the saying: familiarity breeds contempt. With that in mind, allow me to introduce myself, so you can commence with hating me and the team I love.
I am a died-in-the-feather Orioles fan – born, bred, and now blogging on the Birds.
When I’m not abusing metaphors or making poor attempts at alliteration, I enjoy playing to stereotypes: I eat steamed crabs, watch The Wire, and dodge bullets on my way to baseball games. Oh, and I drink Natty Boh beer (National Bohemian to the unacquainted). So Baltimore’s got its own “Boh Knows” to match your “Bo Knows” from the early ’90s.
As for you, the White Sox faithful, well it just so happens that there’s a stereotypical image that comes to my mind when I think of the South Siders. It’s of a drunken, tattooed, bare-chested father-of-the-year and his now-unable-to-run-for-public-office-fifteen-year-old son sharing a bare-knuckled bonding experience on the dome of the grandfatherly Tom Gamboa in September 2002. . . just because.
Come to think of it, we might just share some common ground. Wasn’t said dad, William Ligue Jr., an extra on The Wire? I think he played the role of back-alley addict No. 2. So maybe we’re not that different after all.
Besides William Ligue, Jr., here are some other names that fans of our respective teams have shared over time:
Albert Belle. In 1998 Belle batted .328 with 49 home runs and 152 RBIs for the White Sox. When the Sox wouldn’t meet his free-agent contract demands, Belle used the strength of his ’98 numbers to earn a five-year, $65 million deal with Baltimore. Three years later he was out of baseball, but the O’s were saddled with his hefty contract for years to come.
Hey, thanks for that one, Chicago. You passed off the baseball equivalent of a crazy ex-girlfriend, and we played the role of your gullible buddy who’s willing to take a chance on her because she’s hot.
Rafael Palmeiro. The news of Rafael Palmeiro’s steroid use became public on August 1, 2005. And who were the Orioles playing on that day? The Chicago White Sox.
I was at Camden Yards for the game. Hearing the news for the first time – on a sunny day at the ballpark, no less – felt like a cleat to the gut. But that wasn’t enough for the White Sox. You kicked us when we were down, Chicago.
Final score: 6-3.
The White Sox went on to win the Series. The Birds, 51-54 after the loss, finished the season 74-88.
Hey, thanks again, guys.
Harold Baines. The Birds and the Sox treated this guy like a designated hitting hot potato toward the end of his career.
He started the 1997 season in Chicago then ended it in Baltimore.
He started the 2000 season in Baltimore then ended it in Chicago.
What gives? Baines played 22 seasons in the majors and was an amazing pure hitter with a .289 lifetime average, 2,866 career hits, and 384 career home runs. Give him a passable pair of knees and he’d use them to walk to the podium in Cooperstown.
During Baines’ time in Baltimore, I really wanted to claim him as an Oriole even though he spent the first decade of his career in Chicago. I even reduced myself to claiming that his roots on Maryland’s Eastern Shore made him an Oriole at heart. But alas, fair Chicago, I admit that he’s yours.
Tito Landrum. You’ve left me with no choice – I have to fight dirty.
Remember Tito Landrum? Oct. 8, 1983 ring a bell? The “player to be named later” in the Floyd Rayford trade belted a tenth-inning home run to initiate a three-run Birds rally that eliminated the White Sox from the 1983 ALCS.
You realize that Tito Landrum had one home run all season, right? That his career high, set in 1985, was four home runs? Yet the guy played in two World Series and has one ring earned by taking down the Sox on the path to the championship.
One question: Do you call him Tito “F—in'” Landrum in Chicago?
Ultimately, it looks like we share common ground, but there’s still some bad blood running between us.
So I’ll make you a deal, Southside Chicago: you start hating the Red Sox and Yankees, and I’ll start hating the Cubs. Because as those rivalries show, familiarity truly does breed contempt.
Matthew Taylor grew up on baseball and crabs in Baltimore. He’s never written for The Sun, but he’s pretty sure he could’ve come up with a more believable Opening Day story than the one Scott Templeton put together in Season Five. He writes about life with the O’s at Roar from 34.