It’s become increasingly fashionable to proclaim the Cubs-Sox rivalry as a thing of the past, something no longer relevant in the brave, post-2005 world of Chicago baseball, as though the Sox doing what the Cubs couldn’t somehow negates years upon decades upon centuries of baseball-fueled civil unrest.
This, of course, is a stupid idea, as even the most casual observer will tell you that, championship parades aside, Sox fans are still poor white trash and Cubs fans are still whiny trust fund brats. And that’s okay: horribly misguided, misinformed stereotypes are the very thing Chicago was built on – some might say thrives upon – and in the end, it’s just a baseball game. No, the real problem with this year’s edition of the Crosstown goes much deeper, yet has a surprisingly strong grounding in reality.
The 2009 Sox and 2009 Cubs, all told, are both colossal disappointments.
Remember when the Cubs were supposed to run away with the division, the league and the World Series with it? How’s that going?
Remember when the Sox were supposed to kick the Tigers out of the basement? They can’t even get that much right.
So what are we really looking at this week? Our fair city declaring either an underachieving bunch of losers or an overachieving bunch of nobodies to be its resident band of collective heroes.
Monday afternoon at the corner of Michigan and Wacker, a man stood amidst the flood of foot traffic announcing “I got skybox seats for Cubs and Sox! All you can eat, all you can drink, $125!” And do you know something? No one stopped to take him up on that. Nobody. And why would they? One-hundred twenty-five bucks to watch Fonzie lead off the bottom of the first with a three-pitch, swinging strikeout? To later watch Brian Anderson do the same thing? A nail-biting parade of dropped fly balls and booted grounders?
What we’re looking at, instead, is two lame teams squaring off, neither having won anything of substance for a few years and a pair of fanbases looking for something, anything to cling to in lieu of glory and in the name of civic pride. It’s not dead, it’s just back to business as usual. Time has not dulled the rivalry; time has merely returned us to those halcyon days of 2004.
Also – death to the Cubs!