By Laurence Holmes-
CHICAGO (CBS) “Familiarity breeds contempt.”
It’s an old quote that sums up a lot of fans’ feelings when we get to Cubs vs. White Sox. Whatever team you root for, it’s likely that you have a close friend, relative or co-worker that roots for the other. For the most part that leads to good-natured ribbing, playful trash-talk and perhaps a friendly wager. That’s the good part of these games.
The bad part of when North plays South is the gang-like mentality that takes place. It’s like a scene from the cult-classic: Warriors. “CAN YOU DIG IT?” Everyone puts on their team colors and sometimes even paint their face to express their affiliation. That affiliation, fueled by passion and sometimes alcohol can cause what should be a friendly neighborhood rivalry into something ugly and dangerous, but I digress…
The way that this series is promoted (and yes, The Score is as guilty as anyone) leads people to think that this is Hatfield vs. McCoy, Bloods vs. Crips or the Civil War, but it’s not. If we strip away the manufactured emotion of it and really dig deep into our fandom, it’s a second-rate rivalry. It’s almost cartoonish.
Think about this: If the White Sox were to beat the Cubs in this series, sure it would hurt that next day when you go into work, but only for about 5 minutes. Paying off your lunch bet may smart a little bit, but doesn’t losing a tough series to Milwaukee or St. Louis (or the Pirates over the last 2 years) hurt more? If the Cubs were to beat the Sox in this series, sure parading around in a Marlon Byrd jersey for a day would be a tad embarrassing, but doesn’t seeing the names: Morneau, Mauer, Thome, Kubel & Nathan elicit more negative emotions from you?
It’s six games and it should be fun, but try and keep it in perspective. Both of these teams struggle in their own divisions and to an elevated fan, those games should matter more. This is a lark. A way to break up the monotony of a long grueling season. Nothing more. If your team wins, take some joy and don’t stop the fun banter, but deep down you know who you hate and it isn’t the Cubs or the Sox.
-If you listen to the show, you know how I feel about people wearing jerseys, but last night took the cake for me. I was at Wrigley and there were a bunch Yankees fans in “retro” jerseys. I saw a couple of Jeter, Ruth, Gehrig, and Mantle jerseys. I know this because I know the numbers: 2, 3, 4, & 7. It’s an iconic franchise and first 10 numbers in Yankees lore are well known. It bothers me that I saw so many of these jerseys with the names on the back of them. Throughout the history of the Yankees, there have only been rare occasions when names have been on the back and definitely not during the days of “The Bambino” or “The Iron Horse”. If you’re going for tradition, then stick to the tradition.
-Here’s a little fodder for Sox fans that want to poke fun at Cubs fans. During the game yesterday, there was a contested fair/foul call during a C.C. Sabathia at-bat. Joe Girardi came out to discuss and a Cubs fan behind me yelled: “SIT DOWN TORRE!” Really? Really?
-Shame on Rick Reilly from ESPN, for his ridiculous wrap-up of the US Open. If you didn’t see it, in a produced piece, Reilly anointed Rory McIlroy, golf’s savior, by trying to say that Rory is everything that Tiger Woods is not. What I hate about this is that it is so clearly agenda driven. I also don’t like that it takes away from what was a glorious tournament for McIlroy. That should be allowed to stand on its own. Too many times in sports we try really hard to use one event as some sort of predictor. It was out of place and vicious, but one shouldn’t be surpised after the hatchet job he did on Jay Cutler back in the fall. The only good thing about it is that since leaving SI, Reilly has been minimized in his scope and promotion. That’s a good thing for all who consume sports at the national level.