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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

We got ours 2 years ago
by Hal Vickery

It’s been a long time, much longer than I anticipated. So I’ll briefly fill you in on my recent absence before we move on to more pleasant things.

I have one brother, nine years older than I am, who is retired and spends each summer up in Minnesota fishing. This summer he phoned our mother telling him how he hadn’t been feeling well for several weeks. When he returned home he saw a doctor and within a few days ended up having major abdominal surgery.

The surgery went well, but his body apparently reacted to the trauma much the same as mine did six years ago. He has been unable to keep any solid food down. So a month after the operation, he’s eating pureed food.

In the interim there have been several trips back and forth between his convalescent care and the hospital, and my non-work time has involved becoming our mom’s means of transportation for shopping, etc.

With the serious illness in the family, neither my mind nor my heart has been on baseball.

Then a week ago I ended up in the hospital myself for four days with an intestinal problem which, fortunately, has worked itself out. At least the last couple of days in the hospital allowed me to relax and watch a little ESPN so I could catch up on the post-season.

Physical ailments aside, it hasn’t been a fun summer. Watching the Sox drop from 90-72 to 72-90 has been almost painful to endure. To make things even worse was watching the North Side Lovable Losers back into the NL Central Division championship.

Now let me preface this by saying that I bear the NSLLs no real malice. I got over that pettiness on October 26, 2005, the Night That Changed Everything. In fact, I really wouldn’t mind seeing the NSLLs win something while my aunt, a 92-year-old Cubs fan, can still enjoy it. Blood is thicker than water and all that.

If all Cubs fans were like my aunt, i.e. actually knew something about their team and the game of baseball, I wouldn’t begrudge them one moment of glory. The problem is that so many of them aren’t like her.

The problem is that so many of them aren’t. So in the faculty lounge at work I listen to disparaging remarks about “Sox fans.” Now, I have to admit that I wear my fandom on my sleeve. Once the weather is cool enough, I wear my Sox jacket to work every day. My usual head covering is one of many Sox caps from different eras I’ve purchased over the years.

There are a couple of Cubs fans at work whom I’ve mentioned before in this column. They are a husband and wife. They know baseball. They know the strengths and weaknesses of their team. I enjoy talking baseball with them. But there are one or two who like to make those nasty remarks. I’ve sat through most of them quietly, content in my knowledge that we’ve won a World Series in the past 24 months.

But I couldn’t keep silent about two or three weeks ago when one of those more obnoxious type fans made the comment that Sox fans would be unbearable if the Cubs won anything this year. I calmly said, “Why? Our guys have been wearing their rings almost two years now.”

“Oooo, I knew that was coming!”

Well, if you knew it, why did you bother to say it?

Then the very day before I went into the hospital I was in a parking lot. I happened to be wearing my AL Championship T-shirt. A couple of twenty-something (if that) Cubs fans approached me and said with a smirk, “How ‘bout those Cubs.”

Once again, I remained calm and said, “We got ours two years ago.”

Not a putdown. No malice. Calm voice. No response from them whatsoever.

They say that a sure sign of insanity is that you do something that fails and you keep repeating it over and over. Cubs fans must be certifiable. Every few years for the past couple of decades the Cubs have put together a team that is good enough to make the playoffs. Every time they do they start their “This Is the Year” ritual. Every time they decide to taunt White Sox fans with their success. And every time it blows up in their faces.

You’d think that after decades of this recurring, they’d have the good sense to keep their mouths shut and just enjoy the ride. I know when the Sox were making their run in 2005, I wore my Sox gear proudly, but I didn’t use the occasion to taunt anyone wearing blue, but Cubs fans, just keep repeating the same obnoxious behavior towards Sox fans. That has to make them certifiable.

It’s behavior truly unworthy of the self-described “Greatest Fans in the World.” On the other hand, so was their behavior after Saturday night’s loss to the Diamondbacks. The Cubs had a season in which they fell far behind the Brewers but managed to claw their way to the division championship. Granted, a lot of that had to do with the utter collapse of the Brewers, but still it was at least somewhat impressive.

So how did the “Greatest Fans in the World” show their appreciation for their teams’ effort to at least get them into the playoffs? They booed, of course. They booed loud and long. They booed until the rafters at the Ivy Covered Burial Ground shook. They booed until concrete fell into the netting below the upper deck. That’s how the “Greatest Fans in the World” showed their appreciation for their team.

Greatest Fans in the World, my derriere!

______________________________________________________________________

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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