The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

So the White Sox are playing the Marlins, who are you cheering for, Mike?

So this week it finally happened. The White Sox came to visit me in Miami. While I didn’t make it to last night’s game, I did go to Tuesday night’s game, and unless something drastic happens, I’ll be at tonight’s game as well. The question posed as the subject of this post is the question that I've received more than any other this week, and I suppose it's a fair one. First of all, let me give you some background, and then I'll give you my answer.

As some of you know, I was born on the South Side of Chicago and am thus, a White Sox fan. Apparently some of the folks I ran into at Pro Player Stadium this week think that it’s a choice for people in Chicago (something like “which color pants should I wear today, and am I going to be a White Sox fan or a Cubs fan this year?"); well, there is no choice. People from the South Side are White Sox fans and people from the North Side are Cubs fans. It’s that simple. Some people will tell you that they cheer for both teams, or that they’ve changed allegiances over the years. Stay away from those people. There’s something wrong with them and they need help – they just haven’t acknowledged it yet.

So I’m a White Sox fan, and I have been my entire life. If you read this blog regularly, you might not realize that, but that’s mainly because I’ve lived in Miami since 1995 and slowly but surely I’ve come to accept the Marlins. In fact this year, since I expected this would be the first year since I’ve lived here (and have been able to afford it) that it would be somewhat difficult to get tickets on a whim, I became a season ticket holder (partial season plan). So now I find myself cheering for the Marlins at games, and I even own some Marlins things (although nothing that’s teal just yet). (And for my friends and family who did not know this about me yet, I am ashamed and I apologize, but it is the truth.)

Coming into this series many friends and family members asked me who I would be cheering for during this three game set. I always quickly said “the White Sox.” And I meant it. Inside though, I wasn’t quite sure. I’ve really come to like certain Marlins – particularly Juan Pierre and Dontrelle Willis – and since the Marlins are having a great year so far, I thought that in reality I might be a little bit torn about the whole thing.

Well, as soon as I got to the stadium on Tuesday, I realized that I wouldn’t be torn about anything. I was genuinely hoping to see the Sox win a 12 – 0 blowout on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night. That’s not exactly how it’s gone down so far (and probably won’t tonight with Beckett on the hill), but Tuesday night’s win was exciting for me the Sox fan as it would have been devastating for me if the Marlins had lost the game to anyone else in the league. Last night’s loss was disappointing. Although I hadn’t vocalized it to anyone, I was secretly hoping that the Sox would sweep this series and maintain an undefeated all-time record against the two-time World Champions. I don't think that any team holds that distinction currently (and possibly ever).

Marlins fans think they have it tough. In the team’s history, they have only had two winning seasons (and have won zero division titles). Some of their seasons, notably 1998, have been historically bad campaigns. All in all though, it hasn’t been that bad. Two titles in a little more than a decade is something that nearly every club (sans the Yankees) would trade for gladly.

What most Marlins fans fail to recognize though is that White Sox fans have had things much rougher. For instance, both the Marlins and the White Sox have won the World Series twice. Sounds pretty good, right? Sure, except that the Marlins have existed since 1993, and the White Sox have been around since 1903 (when the American League was founded). In my lifetime, in fact in the lifetime of anyone born since October 1959, the White Sox have only reached the playoffs on three occasions (just one more time than the Marlins, although the Sox have played thirty-three more seasons during that stretch). In those three appearances, the Sox have won a total of three games – including being the victims of a sweep against the Mariners in the 2000 ALDS. (The Sox were also jobbed out of a likely division title in the 1994 season because of the strike.)

Think about that. Three playoff wins since 1959 (and it’s not even like they won the Series in 1959 – the Sox lost to the Dodgers that year, and haven’t won a World Series since 1917); I personally witnessed more playoff wins by the Marlins last year at Pro Player Stadium than the White Sox have won in my lifetime. It’s not easy being a White Sox fan. They lose, and they lose with regularity – but they often enter the year, like each year in this millennium, with a club that’s capable of winning the division (and as Marlins fans can tell you, you don’t even have to win your division to generate some excitement in the playoffs). So you come into each year with reasonably high expectations, but somehow they find a way to disappoint you. Nevertheless, the suffering of White Sox fans goes virtually un-noticed.

If you watch baseball with any regularity, you surely know of the Curse of the Bambino and how the Red Sox have not won the World Series since 1918. Great story – it really is. What is rarely told though is that the White Sox have not won a World Series since 1917 – one year before the Red Sox last title. The only consolation in this for White Sox fans is that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 (ok – it’s more than consolation, it’s great joy). For some reason, the Cubs are accepted as lovable losers and the Red Sox are supported by true fanatics. The White Sox though wallow in near invisibility.

Regardless of how you slice it, the trouble of being a Marlins fan hardly compares to the regular despair endured by White Sox fans. Yes, 1998 was a horrible year for the Marlins, and a long, hot, devastating summer for Marlins fans. But at least Dave Dombrowski had a plan – and a plan that paid off with the ultimate baseball prize only five years later. The White Sox still seem to be reeling from the effects of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. They haven’t really ever recovered since (the 1959 World Series appearance is the only time they’ve been in the Fall Classic since 1919).

So keep that in mind when if you see me tonight in my script “Chicago” gray jersey and black Sox hat. Yes, I know I’m usually in Marlins gear at Pro Player Stadium, but this week I’m cheering for the White Sox. Like I’ve always said, my two favorite teams are the White Sox and whoever’s playing the Cubs. This week the White Sox came to visit me in Miami. I really don’t have any choice other than to cheer for the Sox. It's not even a choice actually. I am a White Sox fan, and when you're a White Sox fan, you cheer for the White Sox. It's not like being a fan of another team where you can change your allegiances on a whim. There may not be a lot of us, but those of us who are White Sox fans, are White Sox fans through and through. I just happen to live in Miami and the only professional baseball team in town is the Marlins. So I cheer for the Marlins when they're here and the White Sox aren't. Maybe that will change one day, but I doubt it.

Update: To prove my point about how biased the world is against the White Sox in favor of other teams, check out the GoogleAds that are coming up because of this post. I say Sox a few times and it turns into a Red Sox - Yankees ad fest. Disgusting.


Post a Comment

<< Home