Back in 2003, I was working at Fox Sports Net when the Cubs lost Game 6 of the NLCS (a.k.a. "The Bartman Game) to the Florida Marlins. I remember making the case separately to three Cubs fans that everything was okay, that the Cubs had Kerry Wood on the mound for Game 7 the next day at Wrigley Field, the Cubs were still just a game away from the World Series.
Without fail all three fans shook their heads. "You don't understand," lamented one of them. "It's over. There's no way we win tomorrow. No way at all."
And that, in a nutshell, is the mentality of Cubs Nation... I guess 100 years will do that to you. I have a Cubs fan co-worker here who has spent the entire season on an emotional rollercoaster. Every two-game winning streak was met with morning greetings of "It's Gonna Happen!" and every two-game losing streak brought cries of "What is WRONG with this team?" It's in their blood.
I guess that's why the reaction I'm getting from White Sox fans both here at NBC Tower from among my friends is so jarring. The White Sox have lost two straight to the Twins and enter tonight's action on the verge of losing the lead in the AL Central for the first in seemingly forever. The AL Central title, once a foregone conclusion, now looks almost out of their grasp.
And Sox fans are completely unphased.
"We're fine!" said one of my co-workers. "Even if they lose tonight they'll crush the Indians at home."
"We're just giving (the Twins) some false hope!" claimed one of my friends.
"Dream on!" cried a third, when I mentioned I thought the Sox might blow it.
"I think sox fans have more confidence only because they won the world series a couple years ago." Dave, one of my Cubs fans friends told me today. "Those same people would have been holding a Cubs fan's hand as they both prepared to jump off the nearest bridge over the chicago river (in the past.)"
There's probably some truth to that.
"I think Sox fans are a little more realistic about their team," Peggy Kusinski, a long-time Sox fan who has a picture of her wearing a 2005 World Series ring on her desk, told me. "I don't know that it's that (Sox fans) believe they're going to win it as much as they just kind of think if they don't then they don't deserve it anyway. And yes, there is a little bit of "been-there, done that" that probably keeps us grounded."