1. Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Rob writes in yet again: 

    Actually, I’m older than you. 38 to be exact. I know who my family was descended from on the South Side, and we were the bottom of the barrel, like the rest of our neighbors.

    According to this wikipedia article, the Near North side is 69% white.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Nea…h_Side,_Chicago

    Hell the median income of Wrigleyville is $53,811.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Lak…go#Wrigleyville

    The median U.S. Income? $43,318.

    Let’s face it, the Cubs have always been a rich man’s team, just as the South Side has been a poor man’s neighborhood and the Sox, a poor man’s team. When I was a kid, not far from where you grew up, the Cubs were the team loved by 90% of the populace. Sox, the also rans. The die-hards kept the flame alive.

    If you mean to say that the Cubs had more fans while both teams sucked, that’s damn right. That’s what makes being a Sox fan so great–we stayed with the team despite its unpopularity. The bandwagon Cubs fans stayed with theirs.

    Dan l, shut the fuck up. I live in Washington, D.C. now, am I not a “real” Sox fan? Who the fuck appointed you king, asshole. What a dumbfuck.


    Ignore Dan. his theory is unless you were born in the city and stayed in the city you have no right to root for anyone except the sox or else youre fake, a bandwagoner, a rich white yuppie, or the taliban. he also believes the world is still flat, that brownie did a heck of a job, and cock tastes better fresh from the ass of a third man preferably a sleeping teen. he gets no hits on his blog and his attitude is just as repulsive as frat boys drinking Bud Light with their caps on backwards at my beloved Wrigley. for the sake of this discussion, i will throw out his type of sox fan, if you also admonish the above type of cub fan, which i think we both agree dilute the scientific nature of our discussion.

    as for median incomes, etc. i have never argued that the north side hasn’t been far more affluent than the south side – thats obvious. nor am i arguing that the Cubs had more fans than the Sox did when they both sucked, because i think that’s obvious too but i dont think that the affluence of the neighborhood means that the teams belong to those tax brackets.

    what i am saying is your bandwagon theory is faulty because, to me, a bandwagon is a phenomenom that happens when a team is winning and fence-sitters and quasi-fans suddenly love the team and become fans for a short period of time when the team is hot.

    the cubs have never been hot (or good) for more than a year or a year and a half. therefore there hasn’t been a bandwagon for years. its not that bandwagons didnt exist, they certainly did with the bulls with mj and with the bears during the super bowl shuffel. it was then that people who never went to the old chicago stadium or the unforgiving benches of soldier field suddenly donned jerseys and packed the stands.

    i once went to a pre-mj bulls game at chicago stadium where the bulls faced the boston celtics with larry bird, and the san diego chicken was there, and still the bulls couldnt sell out for a sunday afternoon game. six years later you couldnt see the bulls if you tried and everyone was suddenly an expert on all things bulls. thats a bandwagon in my mind.

    the reason i think the cubs have had more fans over the last 50 years than the Sox is two-fold.

    the first is how i became a Cub fan: wgn. now, at 113, approaching 114 years old, i am indeed older than you, but perhaps a 38 yr old like yourself remembers the wgn lineup in the early 70s during your formative years.

    you woke up with Ray Rayner at 8am or maybe Garfield Goose at 7am if you were an early riser, and then watched Ray. when noon rolled around you had Bozo which somehow kids watched despite having to be in school and despite tivo being nowhere to be seen. then the Cubs would be on, for free, at 1:00p with the Lead-off Man and the game would begin at 1:20p. meaning that if you were a kid your dial would be locked in to wgn from 8am to 3pm. for most of the spring, all of the summer, and part of the fall.

    decades of that schedule created a familiarity with the Cubs via WGN that carried through the 80s.

    now in the mid 80s the second reason why there are now more cubs fans who are loyal and real appeared, the greatest ambassador to baseball ever came to Wrigley with an act that he started on the South Side that was good down there but better on the North Side because everything is better in natural sunlight with a backdrop of ivy: mr. harry caray. it also didnt hurt that the Cubs had a great team in 84 and 89 led by a soft spoken second basemen who was adored by women and respected by men: hall of famer ryne sandberg.

    harry + ryno + wgn over the period of years and years added later with sammy sosa’s 500 homers and kisses to his momma via that dugout camera in the 90s created a momentum and a tradition that established not bandwagoners, but serious fans who learned to enjoy baseball for baseball because harry showed us what love was.

    the same amount of fans could have turned into Sox fans if the Sox had had the same relationship with one station (instead of jumping around from 44 to SportsChannel to WGN and now a weird mix of WGN and CLTV). But as my buddy Bobby D says, when they pissed off Harry by trying to charge extra through the failed pay-per-view scamola in the 80s, it was over for them in Chicago. not because Hawk Harrelson isnt/wasnt good – he was great – but because nobody could touch Harry at Wrigley on WGN for free. and it also didnt hurt that ex-sox owner Bill Veeck was also in the bleachers with his beer and shirt off and wooden leg exposed – validation that there was only one true place to watch baseball in chicago.

    not only did it sway the fencesitters in the city, and the young kids in the suburbs, but also millions of orphaned baseball fans across the country who had no team to root for, particularily fans in states and cities that had no mlb team at the time. cities like phoenix, and denver, and miami who got wgn via cable, and grew up with the team and flocked to wrigley when either they moved here as adults or visited the second largest city in the nation.

    but as Chicago’s suburbs boomed in the 70s, my belief is, so did the real fanbase of the Cubs in Chicagoland because those kids who were brought up on the Rayner > Bozo > Brickhouse (and later Caray) diet drove or took the train into the city as often as they could and experienced the greatest ballpark in the world and were instantly made lifelong fans.

    Part of that was because of Harry’s 7th Inning Stretch which was an inclusion of the fans who were there in the park, which, like i said, got started in Sox Park, but made into a national phenomenon when he brought the act to clark & addison and it got beamed through the superstation.

    Bozo taught us that every circus needs a ringmaster, and Harry was that star, and when the Cubs get the long parade of guest conductors for the stretch his legacy continues in a way that continues the great tradition at Wrigley.

    added with the mess that the new Sox park is, the corporate whoring of the name, the lack of charm, and the team’s inability to market itself against the behemoth that is the wgn + cubs one-two punch, it is not surprising to me that there will be many more days to come where a cubs team in last place on a friday at 1:20p can draw just as many fans as a sox game 4 games out of the wild card on a warm monday night. it has nothing to do with median incomes, it has to do with how one was raised.

    i will be in DC in two weeks, we should drink!