Still no truce in Chicago
CHICAGO - Everybody who played the last time the Cubs and the White Sox made it to the same postseason is dead. Wrigley Field wasn't even built yet; neither was Comiskey Park, the White Sox' home torn down to make way for their current digs.
So the once-in-a-century, plus two years, event has both the North and South sides buzzing with excitement and maybe a little bit - but not much - love for the team on the other side of town.
"I think it's great; I pull for Chicago teams," 79-year-old White Sox fan Tony Golden said yesterday.
Golden talked wistfully about working as an usher at Wrigley Field during the 1945 World Series, which, as any White Sox fan will remind you, is the last time the Cubs made it to the Fall Classic. That's a lot more years, they'll also remind you, than the three years it's been since the White Sox played - and won it all. And in case you've forgotten, that's something the Cubs haven't done in 100 years.
Retired bank employee Gloria Rose seemed ready to extend her own olive branch to the Cubs as she waited in line for a South Side souvenir shop to open yesterday morning.
"I'm rooting for them . . . " she paused.
Wait for it. Wait for it.
"To lose!" Rose said to laughter from like-minded Sox fans seeking their own "White Sox AL Central Champs" hats and T-shirts.
Across town, many Cubs fans preparing for last night's Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers weren't much more charitable.
"I would never root for the White Sox," said Paul Henrickson, a former Chicagoan who now lives in Reno, as he wandered around Wrigley. "I didn't root for them in '05 and I won't root for them this year."
Henrickson is not alone. White Sox fan Aaron Konen noted the last time he went to see his team play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Konen remembered one Cubs fan's shirt in particular.
"His T-shirt had the three biggest tragedies in Chicago history," said Konen, a 32-year-old airline pilot. "One was the Chicago Fire, I can't remember the second one, and the other was the White Sox winning the 2005 World Series.
"It would be nice if we could all be Chicago fans, but that's not going to happen," he added.
Cubs backer Mike Jacques was even more to the point as he had his picture taken outside Wrigley Field.
"Don't like them, despise them, not a big fan" of the White Sox, he said.
In Southern California, fans of the Angels and the Dodgers - also both with '08 postseason berths - don't seem to get angry, or even think about the other much at all.
But in Chicago, the rivalry has long been a bitter, and loud, one.
Nearly a century before banners at Sox games not so affectionately referred to Cubs fans as "Yuppie Scum," the Cubs were getting under Sox' skin.
Cait Murphy, who wrote "Crazy '08," about the Cubs' last World Series win in 1908, noted the Cubs of that era "might be the greatest team in National League history and they carried themselves with a swagger that other teams did not appreciate."
The Cubs team that played the White Sox in the 1906 World Series was widely considered unbeatable after winning a record 116 games while losing just 36. The year before, the Cubs won an exhibition series between the teams and promptly plastered their ballpark with a self-proclaimed "City Champions" banner.
"No one gave the White Sox a chance, including the Cubs," Murphy said.
The Sox, with an offense considered so feeble they were known as the "Hitless Wonders," stunned the Cubs in what remains, Murphy said, "one of the greatest upsets in World Series history."
And if the unthinkable happens and the White Sox and Cubs make the 2008 World Series a Chitown affair?
Chaos and mayhem, fans say.
"The most devastating thing to ever happen to the city," said Chuck Whitmer, a Sox fan who watched Tuesday night's 1-0 division tiebreaker win over the Twins at Jimbo's bar on the South Side, adding such a riotous event would spell doom for Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.
But Weber said if the city can handle the bedlam brought by a crosstown Series, it can handle anything.
"It would be good practice," she said.