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Ted Cruz looking Tom Ricketts

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Know Your Enemy: Chicago Cubs

Our friendly rivalry to the north

Tom Ricketts somehow ruined something already terrible.
| Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Crosstown Classic.
The Red Line Rivalry.
The Fight For That Weird Trophy That One Team Gets When They Beat the Other Team, I Don’t Remember What It’s Called.
Sox vs. Cubs.

This is not one of those years where the city is bubbling with excitement over the Cubs heading to the South Side. The Cubs are fine, maybe a little better than expected, though not good. The Sox are terrible, and heading downward. And honestly, the rivalry seems less intense and visceral than it used to. Maybe repetition has changed things. Maybe the games being played on weekdays has lessened the fire. Maybe we’ve just stopped hating each other as much.

But don’t worry! There are still a lot of things to loathe, even in this denuded baseball environment.

The Sox are 73-65 all-time against the Cubs, with some real humdingers of wins in the past. Hell, just thinking about some of them is juicing me up. Let’s go!

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

If you had told me in April that in late July that Cubs would only be three games worse than .500 and within striking distance of the Brewers and the Reds, I’d have told you to leave me alone, I don’t care about the Cubs, why are you talking to me. But I’d also have been a little surprised. This is a weird teardown team that brought in some vets to help the kids learn baseball and it has … worked?

The Cubs are feisty and irksomely fun. They are middle-of-the-pack in all the slashy stats, Top 10 in runs scored despite not hitting a lot of dingers. Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger, whom the Sox should have signed, have been solid-to-good. Christopher Morel and Patrick Wisdom have been fun to watch.

But they are also weirdly not a very young team — average age is higher than the Sox. They aren’t really super-rebuilding, or tearing down. I think that’s good?

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

Not really, no. Wisdom leads the team with 17 homers, which is fine. Bellinger only has 14, but sports an incredible 145 OPS+ and 2.8 WAR. Dansby Swanson leads the team with a 3.0 WAR, and if you had told me in April that Swansby would be leading the Cubs in WAR I’d have insisted you stop talking to me.

This is the kind of team that makes people say, “it’s not pretty, but they find a way to score runs!” which we can all agree is awesome when it is our team and annoying as hell when it is a team we don’t like.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

Tuesday, July 25
Sox: Michael Kopech (4-8, 4.29) actually had a solid start the other day, creating a moment of brief optimism for the team.

Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 3.38) is just still around, still being mostly fine. He has five strikeouts in each of his last five starts, mostly low and out of the zone. The Sox never swing out of the zone, so we’ll be fine.

Wednesday, July 26
Sox: Lance Lynn (6-9, 6.18) got absolutely mollywalloped in his outing against the Twins, which really isn’t helping his trade value.

Cubs: Marcus Stroman (10-7, 3.09) has struggled a bit in July, but overall has been solid for the Cubs. He isn’t walking a lot of dudes but is getting into deep counts, minimizing his effectiveness. If the Sox can stay patient against him, and you know what, I can’t even finish this sentence.

Why Do We Hate Wrigleyville?

I recently took in a show at the Metro (if you haven’t listened to Squirrel Flower, you should), and afterwards we had a couple of beers at Gingerman’s Tavern. Or so I thought. Despite being the exact same as it ever was — a sticky sort of wooden bar, cozy without being comfortable, and the only place I ever liked in that blighted neighborhood — I saw that it had changed its name to G-Man.

Why? I have no idea. I don’t care to know. It’s like everything else in the area — a simalcura of a culture that is commodified, maximized for Enjoyment Efficiency, and made considerably worse.

I’ve obviously never liked going to Wrigleyville. The mainstays, the Cubby Bear and Murphy’s Bleachers, are for me hell on earth. Loud, irritating people in a garish waystation between Iowa State and Naperville. The rest of the area was scarcely better. And yet, it was its own place. It was not a culture I liked, but there was something undeniably special about a lovely dive of a ballpark looming up over city streets.

And now, it is mostly all gone. It is brick and glass multi-use buildings all owned by the ghoulish team owners, who waged a terrible war on the neighborhood in order to turn it into a profitable item in their vast and bloody portfolio. They turned the idea of the Cubs into a marketing leader for the Full Wrigleyville Experience, wringing out every last drop of originality or uniqueness in order to maximize shareholder value. They made Wrigleyville into Schaumburg, with more gambling.

In a culture that is increasingly flattened, homogenized, and maximized for efficiency, there was something interesting, if vomitous, about Wrigleyville. The Ricketts saw that and said “no more.” Can you mourn a place you hate? If what comes next is worse — if it is boring, and designed to make money for the worst people in the world — then yes.

Why Do We Hate the Cubs?

I’ll be honest, my hatred of the Cubs per se has mutated. I don’t have any animosity toward them as a team; I don’t root for their failure other than to see the Ricketts suffer, which they won’t, because in America being wealthy is a ward against shame. My feelings have softened into boredom at the idea of our rivalry, and I view them as I do most other teams: Something to follow with curious agnosticism.

But then I see shit like this, in Timeout Chicago, for Things To Do Right Now. Going to Wrigley is No. 10, which fine, it is iconic tourist blah blah blah. I get why it is ranked higher than Sox Park; people are dumb. But here’s the kicker.

Why go? Okay, so the South Side team doesn’t command the rabid following of its neighbors to the north (although the whole city went nuts when it clinched the World Series in 2005). But the stadium is much more spacious than Wrigley, and it’s almost always possible to walk up and purchase tickets.

Like, we always have to put up with this. The “Why Go” is entirely in comparison to the Cubs. That is the kind of shit that drives me absolutely bonkers. We do have a rabid following, goddammit. We don’t exist merely in opposition to the Cubs. But the media thinks we do, and so it becomes part of our mentality, and it sucks.

On the other hand, I think that being a Sox fan has led me to root for the underdog, the downtrodden, and has informed my anti-bully progressive politics and solidarity with international socialism and anti-colonialism, though I admit that isn’t exactly a universal leaning in, like, Canaryville.

The worst part is the Ricketts, but I’ll let you all take it from here.

Let’s Hear it From White Sox Fans!

The Ricketts

GENERAL WRIGLEYNESS!

THEY’RE TOO ... SUCCESSFUL?

MISC!

ACTUALLY IT IS SORT OF LESS!

SPECIFIC HISTORICAL BASEBALL REASONS!

I AM TOO DEPRESSED TO HATE THEM

Poll

What is the most detestable thing about the Cubs?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Ricketts ownership
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Wrigley Field
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Rebuilding/having the gall to finally win it all
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Wrigleyville
    (1 vote)
  • 28%
    Pro-Cubs media bias
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    "Attendance"
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    The fact that running this poll is seen as proof of some "obsession" Sox fans have with the Cubs when in reality they are just so easy to shit on
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    All of the above, plus more I’ll write in, down in the comments
    (10 votes)
38 votes total Vote Now

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