For Better or Worse: A Cubs Fan’s Reputation
Around Chicago you might hear the Cubs’ home stadium of Wrigley Field described as nothing more than a bar with live entertainment. It’s an insult directed at the legions of fair-weather fans who only go to the “Friendly Confines” to get drunk and sunburnt and who don’t know Ryne Sandberg from Ronny Woo-Woo. Over time and owing to some demographic stuff that’s way too heavy to get into in this forum, the Cubs have come to be the franchise of privilege in Chicago in direct contrast to the Blue Collar ethos of the White Sox. The fact that the Cubs’ payroll consistently dwarfs the Sox’ yet the Sox have won a World Series in the last decade poetically reinforces this feeling. The Cubs and their fans are generally seen as soft and wiener-y and Wrigley Field is like a Bacchanalian temple to their frivolity.
There are certainly “real” Cubs fans though. Their dogged and frank fidelity to the team through a century of outright shitty-ness has left them a beleaguered but scruffily admirable bunch. When it looks like the Cubs might have a decent season their true fans’ optimism is a guarded, precious thing. You’ll rarely hear a true Cubs fan brag about the team during a good stretch because they don’t want to have their hearts broken…again. They’re also a lovable bunch because for some reason it seems like the biggest Cubs fans are drawn from the most lovable demographics: the very young and the very old. (This last bit is definitely not empirical but if you go to a Cubs game just pick out the people who are actually paying attention and you’ll see what I mean). But you’ll never hear a Sox fan acknowledge this.
Despite the existence of the real Cubs fan contingent, Cubs fans continue to be stereotyped in Chicago as pink Polo-wearing Northside yuppy scumbags with bottle-blond bimbo courtesans sneaking Marlboro Light 100s in the bleachers while wearing crotch-shot producing denim skirts and too-tight Mark Prior jerseys from a couple years ago. When the Cubs are doing well, “Johnny Come-Latelies” swarm Wrigley and act like they haven’t just boarded the bandwagon. Perhaps the worst part of the fair-weather fan phenomenon is how over-the-top the fake pride and enthusiasm the newbies muster up can become. All of a sudden, fresh off a lifetime of a indifference, they become full-on Sox-bashing zealots. Sox fans HATE Cubs fans for all these reasons and as much as casual Cubs fans try to hate back they end up sounding self-conscious and passive-aggressively ashamed of their lack of true fandom.
So why should you go to a Cubs game? Why deal with the weightiness of decades of Northside/Southside strife? Why risk being labeled a poser Cubs fan? Why go to a once-hallowed place that is now filled with people more interested in checking their Blackberry than in the results of the Brewers/Cardinals game and its effects on Division standings? Why? Because if you’re like me you really don’t give a shit about baseball! You want to eat hot dogs made with horse anus and ground-up monkey bones and drink eight-dollar Old Styles (should be called Old Stool), sweating profusely while the back of your skanky girlfriend’s thighs fry on the bleacher/broiler. You want to ogle the hotties and boo the umps and admire Derek Lee’s ripped forearms. You want to go to Murphy’s or The Houndstooth or Bernie’s before and after the game. The Seventh-Inning Stretch and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. Nachos. The ivy-covered outfield walls. The trough (gentlemen you know what I mean). The breezes off the Lake. Packing into the Red Line with hundreds of other fat people sweating their beery fumes into your grill (ew). ‘Nuff said.