10/18/05 6:01 PM ET
A civil war? No, civil by the shore
Some in the North (Cubs fans) actually are rooting for the South
These people ought to be congratulated for their generosity of spirit and we will do that, in a minute.
This phenomenon came to my attention very recently. A piece I had written included the notion that the next Republican National Convention making a national health care plan its top priority was more likely than Cubs fans rooting for the White Sox.
I heard from numerous, numerous, numerous Cubs fans about this. Many of them were very polite about it. A few were stormtroopers, but it takes all kinds, and that's not the issue. These Cubs fans said that they were going to cheer for the Sox. They said this did not mean that they were front-runners; they were going to remain Cubs fans as long as they were drawing breath.
So let me make this clear: It is more likely that some Cubs fans will cheer for the White Sox than it is for the next Republican National Convention to make a national health care plan its top priority. (Let's face it. The Democrats aren't going with a national health insurance plan, either. In the richest country in the world, the best current estimates are that more than 40 million people do not have health insurance. It is a tragedy. But it is also a different column. Back to the Cubs fans and the Sox.)
These Cubs fans who were willing to cheer for the Sox said they would do so because, at least in part, a victory for the White Sox would be good for Chicago and good for Chicago baseball. When there have been only two World Series in Chicago over the last 60 years, and neither one ended happily, this is a particularly valid conclusion.
And some of the Cubs fans suggested that, at a time when their fellow Chicagoans were enjoying a rare time of real baseball jubilation, they should be supporting this rejoicing, rather than raining on this particular parade. This is a generous notion, too, and ought to be recognized as such.
Based on the available evidence, this is probably a minority position among Cubs fans. I have heard, too, from some Cubs fans who are basically terminally ticked and demoralized about the success of the Sox.
Short of a door-to-door survey of much of the known world, there can be no certainty about what percentage of Cubs fans will put aside a century of rivalry -- and animosity -- and pull for the White Sox. But the fact that even some Cubs fans will do this is notable. So we should note it. And we should applaud it.
These people, these Cubs fans who are willing to rise above rivalry and animosity, to even temporarily support the White Sox, are the peacemakers. They are the peacemakers, trying to close a gap that has existed for more than a century and has only grown larger with time and aggravation. These people are trying to find common ground between two factions that have both been in Chicago, but worlds apart, at the same time.
Peacemaking may be rare in Chicago, but it also in short supply around the rest of the globe. What can fairly be said of peacemakers? This is an important question, so we're not going to any run-of-the-mill source for the answer.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus Christ is reported to have said, in the Sermon on the Mount:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
"Sons of God." That's especially good, because most of the time, Sox fans refer to Cubs fans as "Yuppies."
I know, I know, in the Sermon on the Mount, there is no record of Jesus making specific reference to the White Sox or the Cubs or the fans of either club. Still, "blessed are those who mourn" could be interpreted, in most seasons, as being in the neighborhood. (On the other hand, Matthew clearly did not have a tape recorder. Presumably, he was just taking what he thought were very good notes.)
But from everything the Bible tells us about Jesus, you don't see Him as a Yankee fan, do you? He could very easily be in the corner of a team that hadn't won the big one in a long time, a team whose fans had suffered long and remained loyal, a consummate underdog team, a team, in other words, very much like either of the Chicago teams.
Without going further into what could be a very serious theological debate, this much is clear to us 2005 mortals: Cubs fans who are willing to cheer for the White Sox, while remaining Cubs fans at heart, are to be commended. Their motivations should not be demeaned. Their actions should be applauded. In this latest chapter of a century-old argument in Chicago, they are the peacemakers.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.