Keep Your Enemies Close, Assuming You Have One

What a difference a fast start makes. The Blue Jays, improbably still in first place, are creating quite a stir in Toronto. Freed from the shackles of playoff-bound sports teams, the city of Toronto quickly began banding around their surprising squad. The recent homecoming of a certain ex-pat, decked in the colours of a sworn enemy, brought the best (and worst) out of Toronto.

About that sworn enemy . . . it’s something of a lie. Sure, the Jays have rivals. Rivals that fill the building and angry up the blood. Despite lapsing into self-parody over recent years, the Red Sox and Yankees fill the role of Bad Guys to a tee; the perfect foil in the Jays altruistic battle against Evil and Economics. I still have a hard time mustering up true outrage and hatred for the Red Sox and Yankees. Familiarity often breeds contempt, but constant exposure to Yanks/Sox somehow softens my feelings towards them. Stockholm Syndrome, if you would.

The more I think about your White Sox, the more I realize I’m envious of their role in Chicago: that of the perpetual underdog. Judging by the steady attendance decline at the Cell (losing 3k per night since 2006), even recent success won’t elevate the White Sox above also-rans in their own town. They are the unloved second child that harbours endless resentment over the preferential treatment given to the first born. No matter how much of a drunken disappointment. Marginalization breeds that resentment, but it also develops esprit de corps, the “fuck you, I’m a Sox fan” that this Jays fan can’t identify with. But I really, really want to.

I wish for a true rivalry, something close, constant, and real. A rivalry that will not only invigorate a town around a weekend series but spark heated discussion around a Thanksgiving dinner table, a practice tee, or an operating room. The Jays are Toronto’s second class citizen, lagging behind the very Cubbish Maple Leafs in coverage and overall love. But it’s not the same.

Copping to Jays fandom will garner zero knowing looks across a bar, no defiant watercooler clique. Exclusion isn’t usually a galvanizing force, but drawing a measure of satisfaction by not being something is powerful. There is something so pure and so admirable about the way good White Sox fans feel about the Cubs, I want a piece of the action. Give me something to hate.

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Drew aka Lloyd the Barber oversees operations for the outstanding Ghostrunner on First. He lives in Toronto, which is a fine place to be right about now.

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