Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs fans stay connected by the sacred CTA red line

A Chicago White Sox fan since my youth, I have always taken public transportation to Sox Park from the North Side. When both teams are in town, the rivalry is no more apparent than on the CTA Red Line.

A couple weeks ago the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs were both in town for a weekend series. Unaware, I headed to Sox Park (it will always be “Sox Park” for some of us) for a sunday game with the Texas Rangers.

After many years trying different options, I have found the easiest way to make the long trip from Skokie is to drive to the Berwyn Red Line line and take the train from there. On this particular day, I had on my traditional black White Sox cap when I unexpectedly stepped into a sea of Cubbie blue.

Before going any further, let me give you some background. When I was 12 years old, instead of going to summer camp, my friends and I attended a total of 25 baseball games; 18 at Wrigley and 7 at Comiskey (or Sox Park).

Both teams really stunk that summer so it wasnt like anyone was bragging about recent championships. We always sat in the right field bleachers, got to the park early for batting practice and stayed late for autographs by the opposing team’s bus.

At that time my family lived 5800 North Drake. I think it was about 25 cents to ride the CTA and two dollars to get into the game. A score card was 25 cents. Not to sound like Archie Bunker, but those really were the days.

Without exception, at every Cubs game, I wore my red White Sox cap, just like the one worn by my idol Dick Allen, and cheered for the other team. The team I cheered for almost always won the game.

At that time the Reds, Pirates and Dodgers were loaded with talent. In a sick way, there was perhaps even more joy watching the Cubs lose than seeing the White Sox win.

This “love White Sox, hate Cubs” way of being has followed me my entire life. Maybe the blame goes to my older brother who refused to even call the North Side team by their name. He would only say “we don’t talk about them”.

As the years went by, the big question remained, “Who will be the first team to win a World Series?”. In 2005 all doubt was removed. The Chicago White Sox were champs, not only in America but in the city of Chicago. That can never be taken away from us Sox fans. We were the first to break the curse!

Getting back to August 25th 2019, I walked onto the train and into a bunch of staring eyes. I especially locked eyes with a guy my age wearing a 2016 Cubs championship hat. Feeling like a lion surrounded by hyenas, I proudly stood tall knowing my crown was the real deal.

They were fans of a corporate owned team. These were fans who say things like “Why can’t you be a fan of both teams?”. I have always said that the difference between a White Sox fan and a Cubs fan is that a Sox fan would never ask such a, dare I say, stupid question.

Finally we reached the Addison street stop. Hallaluyah! All the Cubs fans left the train.

Then, something felt empty inside. I kind of missed them. I started asking myself “after all these years, is it time for me to repent?”

I mean these are just people. As Cubs fans, they just don’t know better. Maybe I can find a place in my heart to actually accept them as legitimate baseball fans. Maybe it is time to admit the Cubs did win a World Series (even though we were first) and may even be a real major league baseball team.

These thoughts consumed me for the next 25 minutes as we continued into the subway heading to the Sox-35th stop. I started to consider what it would be like to no longer judge people for their ignorance. Things were beginning to feel lighter.

Then I realized I am going to have to see these same fans on my way home. Oiy! Panic set in. I started ruminating with the thought “What if the White Sox lose and the Cubs win?” My plan if that happened was to get off at Fullerton and take an Uber from there back to my car.

Eventually, I decided to let it go and let G-d in.

It has been a long summer on the South Side. The rebuild has had it’s bright spots but as a whole there have been many ugly losses. On this day though, the Good Lord shined his light on the South Side.

The White Sox won 2-0 and I was no longer concerned about possibly needing that Uber. The best case scenario would have been a Cubs loss and seeing that guy with the Championship hat again.

Once on the train, I checked the Cubs score. They were losing 5-2 last I looked at the scoreboard in the Park. Now it was 5-5 and going into extra innings.

That meant we would get to Addison before that game ended. It also meant a lost opportunity to gloat.

Once home I saw the Cubs lost 7-5 as expected. Suddenly I felt sadness. Maybe the greatest joy would have been seeing those Cubs fans after both teams won. I mean, why not cheer for both teams? Why not share the joy? Why not be a heretic for even one day?

Then I heard a voice quietly whisper into my ear. The answer was “Tradition”.

 

 

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