By Dan Bernstein
It’s not paranoia if everybody is actually out to get you. And that now seems to be the life of the increasingly embattled and endangered White Sox fan. It’s the Cubs’ world across baseball, and the remaining handful of grumbling supporters of Chicago’s other team are only living in it, as unhappily as ever.
For some history, the hegemony of the Cubs in Chicago has long been the bane of the Sox’s existence here. The top-dog status of the National League club is obvious in attendance and ratings creating bitterness toward what has been perceived as media bias instead of a reflection of local interest level. A Sox fan would be known to curse the darkness rather than light a candle, finding more reasons to avoid their own park than populate it.
But there were legitimate reasons for them to gripe Monday as they had to absorb the hype for the Cubs’ World Series appearance, with their successes or very existence all but forgotten.
Sports Illustrated posted a picture on Twitter with the comment “Searched for the best Cubs photo I could find. This is a clear winner.” The photo showed former Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray in the stands, shirtless, embracing (groping?) a smiling blonde woman as onlookers applauded.
The problem was that it clearly was from a White Sox game at Comiskey Park in the 1970s, where Caray worked from 1971 to 1981 before joining the Cubs in 1982. The hats on fans’ heads and Caray’s still-not-all-white hair should have made it clear that it was not a “Cubs photo,” but alas.
Earlier in the day, CBS This Morning tweeted a picture of Wrigley Field and noted that it was “prepping this morning for an event Chicago hasn’t seen in 71 years: the World Series.” This casually ignores the Sox’s world championship of 2005, one of the very best postseason performances in baseball history in which they went 11-1 and swept the Astros in the World Series. It also fails to acknowledge the team’s appearance in the event in 1959, when their American League pennant was celebrated infamously by air-raid sirens that terrified thousands of Chicagoans at the height of the Cold War and sent them seeking shelter from imagined Soviet missiles.
ESPN got in on the act, too, airing a graphic on SportsCenter that contrasted the number of major-sports titles won by teams in Chicago and Cleveland since 1965. The Cavaliers had the lone tally on one side, while the other featured six by the Bulls, three by the Blackhawks and the one Super Bowl win for the Bears. And that was it, as if 2005 never happened.
Max Bretos was the anchor for the segment and explained via Twitter that “I mentioned we did not include the White Sox, as Cub fans would not be fans of them.” That Tweet was since deleted, likely at the behest of bosses who understood the oversight, since their official explanation that followed in a statement to AwfulAnnouncing.com read “We expect better of ourselves and apologize for our mistake. No excuses, we made an error.”
I thought so, because I was in Houston with the White Sox when they won it all, and shared an early flight back home the next morning with a beaming Richard M. Daley, the then-mayor and pride of south-side Bridgeport up front in his gray suit and black Sox cap. I didn’t think I merely hallucinated that, but I was getting close to wondering.
There’s a bar called McNally’s in Chicago’s far-south Beverly neighborhood that is publicly and unapologetically anti-Cubs in all respects, frequently using its Western Avenue street-side marquee to express thoughts like “FUN STARTS NOW. GO INDIANS.” and “2016 CUBS CURSE. JOBU.” This is despite their nearby competitors in a busy drinking district welcoming Cubs fans and cheering them on.
Amid all the recent revisionist history, I can picture Daley in a dark corner of McNally’s, idly cracking peanuts and muttering to himself, cursing the holes in so many memories.