Since the days of the old Windy City Classic exhibitions where the White Sox and Cubs (or at least a bunch of their minor leaguers a la Michael Jordan playing for the Sox at Wrigley back in 1994) would play each other for charity to the advent of interleague play, there was always one thing in common with all of those games: Sox fans cared a whole lot more about winning those matches than Cubs fans.
I don't need to go into too much detail about the well-worn stories of the historic inferiority complex of Sox fans compared to our cuddly neighbors to the north with their gem of a ballpark and superstation-fueled national fanbase. I'll sum up those dark ages in this fashion: few things would get my blood-boiling more than traveling out-of-town, mentioning to someone that I was from Chicago, and then having that person ask about what I thought of the "Cubbies," to which I would retort something rhyming with that the team could go chuck themselves. It was the ignorance of general public believing that everyone from Chicago loved the Cubs that was more maddening to me than anything else. Since the Sox were more often than not out of the pennant race by June, beating the Cubs was the one thing that would matter for the entire year.
However, the Chicago Tribune's John Kass wrote a poignant column today which perfectly sums up how the baseball universe has turned since last October. We won the World Series, which pretty much washed away the outright bitterness that I always applied to these crosstown games. What matters more than beating the Cubs is staying ahead of Detroit (who is inexplicably crushing everyone this year) and Cleveland while making another run in October – and I can say that without a hint of B.S. Winning a World Series and having an even more talented team on paper the next season changes your perspective on things.
Meanwhile, what do Cubs fans have to look forward to? Watching the savior Kerry Wood get rocked for a homerun per inning in each of his outings? Hoping Derrek Lee comes back before they fall behind the Pirates in the NL Central standings? Praying that Mark Prior still has at least one or two functioning limbs? For the first time that I can recall, this crosstown weekend actually means more to Cubs fans than Sox fans. Sure, I still want the Sox to pummel the Cubs everytime in the same manner that I'd like to see the Bears beat the Packers or the Illini to oust Michigan, but the season doesn't hinge on this weekend anymore. For me, that's a beautiful thing.