Cubs fans, real and phony

After the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it became apparent that there was a serious schism in Red Sox Nation, with old timers who were around — or who at least claimed to be around — back in the bad old days and who wore their suffering on their sleeve on the one hand, and newbie, pink-hat-wearing, in-Boston-for-college-only Sox fans on the other. The antagonism between these two groups — which is a separate thing than the acrimony between the entirety of Red Sox Nation and non-Sox fans at large — still brews, though it has died down a bit since the second championship and years of elite play have lowered the stakes as to who can claim what.

Apparently Cubs fans have the same sort of dynamic about them:

The real Cubs fans, the ones who could cite the hometowns of all the players involved in the Lou Brock trade or Charlie Grimm’s 1931 on-base percentage, are some of the best fans on the planet for not only putting up with, but for somehow taking pleasure in, everything thrown their way. The chronic losing. The owners who raked in the cash but refused to spend it on talent because Wrigley Field is a tourist destination that draws no matter the state of the team. Wrigley itself, a place where reality shatters mythology once the discomfort from everything common to a 95-year-old building sets in. Those are the people who aren’t oblivious to such obstacles toward their enjoyment, but accept them as reality because, darn it, the Cubs are their team, always have been and always will be because any day is a beautiful day to play two.

They stand in direct contrast to the phony Cubs fans who tend to spoil it for everyone with their boorish behavior. Those are the ones who could not identify the top two starters in the rotation but are somehow instinctively aware of the beer vendor’s regular path.

I guess the only difference here is that the rest of the country is learning about the sectarian nature of Cubs’ fandom before they win a championship rather than after.

(thanks to Lar, who’s going to see the Brewers-Cubs game today — for the link)

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  1. zenny said...

    I find it interesting that, in my experience, the “boorish” Cubs and RedSox fans tend to dominate the road crowds for their respective teams.

    Their visiting fans in Tropicana Field were mainly loud, profane, insufferable jerks. Yet when I traveled to Fenway and Wrigley to watch my Rays, the people I met up there were great. Not sure why that is…

  2. Matt S. said...

    Zenny- I can offer two theories for this phenomenon. First, at Fenway, you get a majority of fans who are locals from Mass, RI and the rest of New England. These fans either remember the pre-2004 state of affairs or have family that passed that heritage down to them. They are experiencing the best of times right now and a happy and grateful for it. Out of state, you get a much higher number of people who adopted the Sox when they went to college or just jumped on the bandwagon in the past few years. These people are not much different from Yankees fans- they expect to win every year and they have that championship-stuck-up-their-ass mentality of dismissive arrogance. You might find that in a few years your Rays have fans of the same ilk.

    Second, from what I can see on tv, Tropicana is an anomaly. Because of the many Northerners that relocate to the area, it seems like it is half Sox or Yankees fans whenever they come to town. These people are by and large the worst type of fans- rich, fair weather fans who care their sense of entitlement around like a beloved putter.

    That’s not to say everyone in Fenway is some kind of saint. I just think the chance of finding a ‘real’ sox fans gets lower in proportion to your distance from Yawkey Way.

  3. Flemming said...

    “Yankees fans- they expect to win every year and they have that championship-stuck-up-their-ass mentality”

    Thank you for that.

  4. hermitfool said...

    Watching a game with life-long Cub fans at a spring training game in Arizona was one of the very best baseball experiences of my life.  They were full of background minutia on every Cub player and most of the opposing Angel players, watched the game with undivided attention, kept meticulous score. No Blackberries, no loud cell phone conversations. 

    My last couple of trips to Wrigley have been spoiled by drunken ignoramuses, who wouldn’t know a score card if it walked up and bit them in the ass. I suspect fan quality has deteriorated everywhere, but the erosion is in full bloom at Wrigley, where attending a game during the lovable losing glory years was often a beautiful Zen experience.

  5. AZsaluki said...

    All those bitter old-time Cub fans could just switch over and root on the Cardinals.  Then they can be all full of life & happiness like their friends that did it years ago.

  6. Hank said...

    I’m a Cubs fan and have alot of friends who are Sox (White) fans.  They all think Cubs fans are horrible, yet when I go to Comiskey, they’re fans are just as bad.  I have a feeling most teams are in the same position.  I’m pretty sure there’s obnoxious fans in every city as well as well behaved, knowledgable fans.  That’s just the way the rest of society is.  I don’t see a difference.

  7. Hank said...

    Yeah, and pretty much all people commenting on these sites are pale, wear trenchcoats, play DnD and live in their mom’s basement.

  8. GBS said...

    Hey, wait a minute, Hank.  I don’t even own a trenchcoat!  Now I gotta go climb the stairs and cry to my mommy.

  9. Hank said...

    Oh no, GBS, no need to cry.  I can steal you a trenchcoat since as a Cubs fan I’m a horrible person and that’s the type of things us horrible Cubs fans do.  Just give me your address and I’ll send one right over.

  10. Hank said...

    Yeah, I’m a bit sensitive on the subject since it seems everybody hates us Cubs fans.  Wisconsinites hate us because we take over their park (Wrigley Field North, AKA Miller Park), Sox fans hate us because our park is pretty and our female fans are pretty and have all their teeth.  Hell even the guy I voted for, Obama hates me because of the team I root for.  He says I’m a fake fan.  I guess I should get used to it.               

    And by the way, Pujols is my favorite player, seriously.

  11. GBS said...

    Hank, I’m with you on your views of all team’s fans – even my beloved Cardinals.  I just thought comment on the commenters was too irresistable not to respond to.  And the offer to send me a free trenchcoat is quite generous, even if you’re planning to steal it.

  12. Eddo said...

    Growing up in the Chicago suburbs a Sox fan, I’ve had plenty of experiences with Cub fans.  Most Cub fans, like fans of any team, are fine.

    One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that Cub fans who grew up in the city or the suburbs are much more tolerable.  It’s the ones from downstate or Iowa that are insufferable – the ones who would rather keep Wrigley Field forever than win a World Series (and don’t tell me this is just bitterness; I have a Cub fan friend who said to me, verbatim, “I don’t want us to win a World Series if it’s not at Wrigley”).  I think it’s because fans growing up near enough to Wrigley to actually go to multiple games each year realize that while it’s a fantastic historical experience, the park really is kind of a shithole.  The ones who visit it as an annual pilgrimage don’t see it for what it is (and there’s really nothing wrong with that, I suppose).

    Hank: it’s not that Sox fans hate all Cub fans; we hate when Cub fans characterize us as hating them because “their fans and ballpark are ‘prettier’”.

  13. Eddo said...

    …to further my point, Sox fans don’t hate the Cubs because we’re jealous, like Hank implies (seriously, does anyone actually hate a team because they have attractive female fans? isn’t that a point in their favor?), but rather because they’re simply another team that shares the city; it’s the same reason for hating any other sports team.

  14. Hank said...

    Yeah, I know most Sox fans don’t really care either way about Cubs fans.  I was just generalizing, because that’s what fans do.  Most of my friends are Sox fans, so it’s fun to go back and forth with them.  Much the same way Obama generalized Cubs fans as not being real fans.  There’s as many real Cubs fans as there are Sox fans.  But Wrigleyville isn’t that far from Lincoln Park with all the Trixies and Chads that don’t know much but show up at the game and get drunk because that’s what everybody else does.  My family moved down from Wisconsin when I was 2, so during family gatherings I always get crap from growing up in “Illinoiz”.  People just make fun of the charactures of each team. 

    If you ask me about Wrigley, I think they should tear down the grandstands and rebuild them, but keep the playing field and bleachers the way they are.  I mean, if any of you people not from Chicago haven’t seen Wrigley, the exterior of the grandstands are pretty ugly, the concessions are cramped.  The beauty of the park is the brick walls around the field and the outfield.  They can imitate the grandstands when they rebuild them to keep the feeling yet modernize the experience for the fans and players.  Also, the food at Wrigley sucks.

  15. Eddo said...

    That sounds like a very reasonable way to improve Wrigley.  I’m of the opinion that it’s no fun to see a game there because it’s so outdated, yet I’ve had friends tell me they would absolutely hate having more modern facilities.  Granted, these people are the “bad” fans I was talking about earlier, and my more intelligent Cub-fan friends would have no problem with a total renovation of Wrigley field, provided things like the brick walls and ivy are kept.

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