The lint of truth therein lingers sadly. Of the first 15 World Series, 10 were won by teams from Chicago or Boston. Since 1919 the Yankees and the Mets have won a total of 31 titles, and of course the Sox and the Cubs have won none. The Red Sox haven't won a Series since 1918, and they gave Babe Ruth to the Yankees way back then. But we'll let Red Sox fans tell their story another time.
There is one other factor in determining the Cubs' and the Sox' fan bases. "Yes, it's north and south," says Chicago native Michael Wilbon, a sports columnist for The Washington Post and cohost of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. "But it's also racial." Wilbon, who grew up on the South Side, remembers that black Sox players and even black Cubs players lived near him because they couldn't get housing on the North Side. "My dad tried to go see Jackie Robinson at Wrigley in 1948, and he was turned away, and he vowed he would never go see the Cubs again. Walt (No Neck) Williams of the Sox lived near us, and Ernie Banks lived just east. We'd all take the "L" to Comiskey, like, 20 times a year. But Wrigley, that might as well have been in Minneapolis."
Still, Wilbon is now a fan of the Cubs as well as the Sox, sensing their common ineptitude and linked striving. He has a satellite dish and a baseball package at his home in Maryland just so he can watch his hometown clubs. " Michael Jordan and the Bulls relieved pressure on Chicago baseball," says Wilbon. "Ditka and McMahon and the Bears of the '80s took a lot of summertime depression out of it.
"But I don't expect to see the Cubs or Sox win a World Series in my lifetime. I stopped daydreaming about it. I let it go."
All the bad trades and dumb deals by both clubs are enough to make most fans exhale like Wilbon. The Cubs' 1964 trade of left-fielder Lou Brock to the Cardinals for sore-armed pitcher Ernie Broglio, who won all of seven games for the Cubs while Brock became a Hall of Famer, is generally considered the worst in team history. But letting Greg Maddux go to Atlanta also ranks right up there, or down there.
The White Sox' signing of human virus Albert Belle for tons of money was bad. As was bringing in goofball pitcher David Wells, predict. But canning singular manager La Russa in 1986, three years after he won the division and was named Manager of the Year, might win the dunce cap.
And what of on-field blunders? How about Sox manager Terry Bevington going to the mound and calling for a righty out of the bullpen, only to discover nobody of either arm was warming up? The White Sox' red uniforms and their honest-to-god game shorts would make even Elton John blush. But let's also recall Cubs eccentric Joe Pepitone, who once, after reaching first, got a wink sign from first base coach Joey Amalfitano confirming a hit-and-run play. Pepitone, who spent great lengths of time grooming his toupee, winked back at Amalfitano, blew him a kiss—and was promptly picked off.
Hack Wilson, who holds the major league single-season RBI record, with 191, was such a drunk in the 1930s that an enlargement of a newspaper story titled HACK'S LAST WARNING is posted in the Cubs' training room. "Talent isn't enough," Wilson says in the old interview, when he was near death. "You need common sense and good advice.... I spent all of my money, most of it in barrooms."
Wrigley Field itself has been compared to an outdoor barroom, and former Cubs manager Lee Elia's tirade against the Wrigley daytime habitu�s in 1983 was half-inspired, half-deranged. "The f—-ers don't even work!" Elia ranted. "That's why they're out at the f———game! Tell 'em to go out and get a f———job and find out what it's like to earn a f———living! Eighty-five percent of the f———world works, the other 15 come here!"
Well, not all of them. A fellow like me is wandering around the outside of the park, marveling again that the only statue at Wrigley is not of Hack or Tinker or Evers or Chance—Cubs all—but of bloated, grinning announcer Harry Caray, holding out a microphone to an invisible crowd, singing silently in the seventh inning. LET ME HEAR YA.... the legend chiseled on the base reads. A ONE.... A TWO.... A THREE.... It's perfect, really, just like Disco Demolition at Comiskey years ago, the blow-up-the-albums riot that canceled a game and destroyed the turf as well as the sanity of the place. Deejay Steve Dahl, who concocted the event and wore a military helmet during the detonation, says now that Sox fans and Cubs fans can accept the endless losing because "we're happy just to be outside for a few months."