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It Could Happen...

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 1, 2006 6:22PM

It's just about that quietest period of the sports year, that point between when the Bears season ends and the Cubs and Sox report to Spring Training. Especially in these years where the Bulls and Hawks are nothing special. Yeah, there's the Super Bowl coming up but when it's Pittsburgh against Seattle, how much pre-game hype can one handle? For us, it's basically a one-day event.

2005_sports_sox_logo.gifSportswriters have to get creative this time of year, so the Trib's Rick Morrissey, looking to the recent SoxFest for inspiration, pondered whether Chicago could ever become a Sox town.

For the past couple decades the combination of a quaint ballpark, a hard partying broadcaster in Harry Caray and national airtime thanks to WGN have propelled the Cubs to top spot in town. In fact, they're right up there across the land with the likes of the Yankees. And all that came despite the lack of winning, for the most part. In fact, that whole "lovable losers" label became part of their aura. Morrissey notes, "You could put a Triple-A team in Wrigley Field (and the Cubs have), and 3 million fans would still show up for the sunshine, the ivy and the beer."

Meanwhile, across the town was another team that had none of the legs up the Cubs had. They tore down their historic ballpark and replaced it with a generic monstrosity, chosing to remain in the same less than picturesque neighborhood. They aired most of their games on cable, limiting their reach even within Chicagoland. And they weren't much more successful on the field either.

But something unexpected happened last fall. The White Sox actually won the World Series! For the first Chicago World Series title since 1917. Could that lure fans over to the "other" team?

Morrissey says, "pin me to the wall, I'd say that Chicago won't turn into a Sox town in my lifetime."

Chicagoist is a bit more optimistic. The playoff run seemed to shift a lot of Chicagoans over the Sox. Sure, many were bandwagon jumpers who might retreat at the first 3-game losing streak. But we were amazed when we heard that 2 million people turned out for the White Sox ticker tape parade. Some used it as an excuse to cut out of the office for a bit, but many were parents with children who ventured in from the suburbs simply to cheer on the Sox.

When the teams put about equal products on the field, we can understand why the Cubs outdrew the Sox. But we truly believe that winning changes things. People like a winner. And the Sox seem to have figured out the formula for success, not just for a year but for a few years. They've improved their team since they hoisted their trophy and will enter 2006 the favorite to win another title.

Some adult fans will gravitate towards the Sox. Not all, not most, but some... like the swing voters in an election. And the kids who experienced this season, playoff run and World Series will likely pick the White Sox in droves, rebuilding the Sox fan base from the ground up. Besides, they can't get to Wrigley by themself and they're not old enough to drink so what's in it for them to be a Cubs fan? And those kids will one day become adult Sox fans, who'll instill that upon their kids. Unless the Cubs win a World Series between now and then...