Cross-Town Rivalry...

Lauren once told me a story about the day she and her husband moved to Chicago. They had arrived at the airport and caught a taxi into the city. Their chatty cabbie was curious -- would the new transplants become Cubs fans or follow the White Sox? When they informed him where they would be living, the driver told them that their fate was sealed: they were destined to be Cubs fans.

This tale is illustrative of the pervasiveness of the North Side/South Side rivalry in Chicago culture. Although I lean slightly to the side of the Cubs, having been reared in the northern suburbs, I'm generally happy to see any Chicago team doing well. This sort of fair weather fandom is not looked upon with much kindness in my fair city, but it does relieve some of the angst that more rabid fans experience during the annual Cross-Town Classic, when the Cubs face the White Sox for bragging rights. In this unique situation, I can truly say that I'm happy no matter who wins, because a victory for Chicago is guaranteed.

I find it inexplicably amusing that the game is listed as Chicago vs. Cubs. Who decided that the Sox get to be "Chicago?"

Out of the three game series held at Wrigley this weekend, I snapped up Dad's tickets for Sunday, and invited along Mireya, the most hardcore Cubs fan I know, her brother, who matches her enthusiasm, and Zac, so that I'd have somebody to converse with while Mireya and her brother were absorbed in the game.

I contemplated wearing a neutral color, so as to not take sides in this Chicago-style civil war, but I figured Mireya might never speak to me again if I failed to support her beloved team.

Mostly, Zac and I were mind-numbingly bored during game, as the play stretched on without any scoring until the 7th inning. Mireya, her brother, and the fans around us seemed inexplicably excited as we sat and praised the game for at least moving along at a brisk clip. Finally, the 9th inning rolled around and after a series of anguished cries, Mireya finally explained that the Cubs had been pitching a no-hitter until the top of the 9th. Apparently, this was a big deal, and very exciting. The term, "pitchers' duel" was thrown around liberally. This too was evidently a good thing. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm no baseball fan; I was bored out of my mind. Give me a bunch of home runs over a low-scoring game any day.

The tension of the no-hitter drummed up plenty of acrimony among the spectators, and one Sox fan was thrown out of the stadium for throwing something onto the field. Still, there was one thing that both sets of fans could agree on -- the momentous achievement of the Chicago Blackhawks in winning the Stanley Cup. Not only were a large percentage of the fans clad in the Hawk's signature red, the Blackhawks were actually on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch. We missed the former because we arrived at the stadium a few minutes late (although still early enough to get the free rally towels that they were distributing, which ended up proving useful for wiping off the water that had accumulated on the seats after an entire week of rain), but we did get to witness the harmony of both North Siders and South Siders coming together to support a team from the West Side during the 7th inning stretch.

The Hawks were even nice enough to bring along their trophy for the fans. It's tiny, but it's there, in the center of this photo.

Perhaps some of the Blackhawks' good fortune rubbed off on the Cubs, because they won the day, after losing the first two games in the series. This fact was not lost on Mireya, who pointed out that I have a perfect record of my own: the Cubs have won every home game that I have attended since I started going to games a couple years ago. I, however, was mostly just glad to have someone to share in my pain over the unleashing of that epic earworm, "Go, Cubs, Go!" following the Cubs' win. Zac and I discovered something else that we have in common tonight besides a general disinterest in the sport of baseball -- he can't stand the Cubs' victory anthem either. At least now I won't be the only one suffering through a week of having it stuck in my head. It's true what they say; misery loves company...

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