Hi, my name is Andrew, and I'm a White Sox Fan. It feels great to finally be able to admit this, to finally fess up. The guilt has been coursing through me for the better part of a decade now, but I've finally reached a point in my life where I don't have to hide from the truth anymore and can take responsibility for these feelings. For the longest time I was terrified to admit my passion for the Pale Hose. (What would the neighbors think? What would my family think?) But now that I've finally revealed my condition, I feel like everything's gonna be O.K. For the first time in my life I don't have to be ashamed; the clouds have cleared, and now things are gonna be different!
I can see it now: the black-clad rallies in Grant Park, the ticker-tape parades down the Magnificent Mile, the newborns named Tadahito--thank the White Sox for making it all possible, for showing the world I'm no heathen, just loyal to the cause.
Before this, I'd always felt as though I didn't belong, as if I were some sort of freak for having these feelings (which I didn't dare show). But in defying 22-to-1 odds to win their first world championship since the Wilson Administration, the White Sox have given me--and others like me--the courage to step forth.
There were at least 40,000 of us crowded in the U.S. Cellular stands not long after Game 2 of the World Series, still admiring Scott Podsednik's improbable walk-off home run that had given his team a 2-0 lead in the Series. There, we stood together in the cold and rain as brothers, our spirits high and voices hoarse from a night spent sipping Old Style and singing the team fight song. And that's when it dawned on me: I'm not alone.
I don't have to tell you how hard the last century has been on my people, living here in the City of Big Shoulders and feeling so out of place because we root, root, root for the wrong team. Rank the city's five big league franchises in order of popularity, and the Sox probably come in sixth. Our made-to-order park, U.S. Cellular (n� new Comiskey) is such a scourge, it doesn't even face the city. Look at our 104-year history, and you'll find no cute curse, no classic play-by-play calls, no celebrity supporters. Just bad hair (see Sosa, late '80s), worse clothing (see clamdiggers, late '70s) and botched opportunities (see the 1983, 1993 and 2000 seasons).
By rights, of course, I should be a Cubs fan. My folks, both Jamaican, had hoped for as much for their American-born son. But despite growing up in the North Side neighborhood of Lincoln Park (not more than 12 blocks from Wrigley Field), at 16 I was still figuring out this whole baseball thing when I went to my first Sox game. My seat was behind the visiting dugout and, from almost the moment I set foot in Comiskey Park, I knew I had found my place. Fireworks, funnel cake--who needs ivy? I haven't been back to the Friendly Confines since.
The 'rents say they've gotten over it, but I don't really believe them. "I was a little disappointed," my dad told me recently. Mom still seems to get a little squeamish anytime a Sox T-shirt surfaces in the wash, but she copes by living in denial. "I thought you were a Cubs fan," she remarked as I was making my way to the Cell one afternoon this past July.
Sure, a part of me thinks I could have made it easier on them by just sucking it up and rooting for the Cubs--but the whole culture's just too depressing: You drink, you bake in the sun and then you drink some more. (Maybe they could use a support group, too.)
Still, I know how different the Windy City's reaction would be if all this were happening to the Cubs. If the North Siders ever win another pennant, they'll dye the river blue, canonize Harry Caray and declare the clinching date in October a civic holiday. (Think Casimir Pulaski Day, except with floats festooned with ivy.)
Our boys win their first pennant in 46 years, and the best the city can do is throw a hat on a Picasso. Not exactly the same citywide euphoria that greeted the '85 Bears or even the Bulls' Ring Dynasty.