Playing off of the argument that White Sox fans are the new Cubs advanced by the Ted Lilly Fan Club a couple of weeks ago, I’ve come to realize the inverse is becoming true as well: Cubs fans are the new White Sox fans.
Up until a couple of years ago, Wrigley Field was a happy-go-lucky haven for former Greeks from Big Ten universities to act as if though they were still Greeks at Big Ten universities. Beer flowed freely, sunbathers in bikinis vastly outnumbered those keeping score of the ballgame, and above all else, everyone had a great time whether or not the Cubbies won or lost. The Cubs fans that I knew when I was growing up were the ones that made Wrigley Field into the world’s largest outdoor beer garden where the actual baseball game was secondary to getting blasted and hitting on every female with a pulse. While this in and of itself might be a perfectably acceptable activity, it also advanced the notion that Cubs fans didn’t care about how bad their team was and that the Tribune Company could run the club into the ground since people would continue to fill up Wrigley Field into perpetuity.
Today, the beer still flows freely and the bikinis are in force as strong as ever, but what used to be a seeming indifference to the game play on the field at Wrigley has turned into an atmosphere of narcissism and short tempers that are on par with, dare I say, White Sox fans. For example, in yesterday’s Cubs fans took all of 8 innings to start booing newly acquired Jason Kendall after he dropped a pop fly. In earlier times, Cubs fans would have been too busy planning out their bar crawl plans through Wrigleyville after the game to even notice that something like that even occurred.
It all started with ire directed at particular players. I remember being at a Cubs game where the fans were riding Todd Hundley so hard that when he hit a homerun, he actually extended his middle finger to the sky as he rounded third base. That’s the type of player-fan interaction that everyone strives for. Also, two words: LaTroy Hawkins. ‘Nuff said.
Still, it took awhile for Cubs fans to get to the point of such hostility with those players, such as Hundley batting .100 for a couple of seasons or Hawkins blowing a record 183 save chances in a row. What’s striking today is the new immediacy of the fans’ reactions these culminating in Kendall not even getting a one-game grace period.
Short-tempered, negative, people who throw trash on the field everytime something goes wrong? That used to be the definition of a pure White Sox fan. Now it looks like the North Side is catching the fever. Honestly, I actually respect Cubs fans a little more as a result of it.