Cubs, Chisox Fans Achieve a Tentative Truce

Chicagoans fall into two clear categories when it comes to baseball: Cubs fans or White Sox fans. But with the Sox in the World Series, can all Windy City fans just get along? Not necessarily.

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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

The Houston Astros try to pull even tonight in game two of the World Series. Last night in Chicago, the hometown White Sox used timely hitting and strong relief pitching to beat Houston 5-to-3 and to take a one-game-to-nothing lead in the best-of-seven series. This is the first World Series for the White Sox since 1959, so the team's early advantage over the Astros was certain to spread joy throughout the Windy City. Or was it? NPR's Tom Goldman investigated and sent this report.

TOM GOLDMAN reporting:

Last night at US Cellular Field, it was Fourth of July in October.

(Soundbite of fans; fireworks)

GOLDMAN: Chicago outfielder Jermaine Dye prompted a bombs bursting in air display with a first-inning home run that did three things: It gave the White Sox a 1-to-nothing lead, it signaled the beginning of the end for Houston's starting pitcher Roger Clemens--the 43-year-old future Hall of Famer lasted only two innings--and it sent Chicago into a tizzy.

(Soundbite of fans)

GOLDMAN: But something gnawed at me as I listened to those bellowing Chicagoans. Was it real? Was this, in fact, a united city crazy about its long-overdue baseball heroes or were there as I'd been told by a simmering few, pockets of anger and resentment? Was White Sox success on the South Side of Chicago really prompting ill-will on the North where the Chicago Cubs play? Was the city's baseball civil war heating up? There was only one way to find out: Leave the game.

(Soundbite from game)

Unidentified Man: But, yeah, he'll go inside. He goes in with a purpose and he goes in with conviction and goes in there for strikes many, many times. Nobody out in the White Sox's half of the second with Everett on third, Rowand at first base.

GOLDMAN: With the score tied 1-to-1, I left the happy sanctuary of US Cellular Field and drove west on Highway 90/94. Destination? Wrigleyville, the North Side area around legendary Wrigley Field, the Cubs' ivy-covered home. I strolled into Sluggers World Class Sports Bar right across the street from Wrigley. Inside, bunches of White Sox fans and Derrick Threwit(ph), a man who says he bleeds Cubs blue.

Mr. DERRICK THREWIT: I'm out here supporting the Chicago team. Obviously we'd be much happier if it was the Cubs. We are out here 'cause we do live in Chicago. We do appreciate the South Side. That's why we're here.

GOLDMAN: OK. So the Sox are a great uniter then.

Mr. THREWIT: No. If--I'm here for Chicago. I didn't say I was here for the Sox.

Unidentified Man: Oh, get out. Yeah! Yeah!

GOLDMAN: In another part of the bar, brothers Mike and Jay Russell(ph) were very much there for the Sox. Watching the game on a big-screen TV, they erupted as third baseman Joe Crede smacked a fourth-inning solo home run. It broke a 3-3 tie and turned out to be the winning run. Feeling quite confident in the midst of Wrigleyville, the brothers explained that Chicago's presence in this World Series is especially sweet because it means the White Sox are breaking their long World Series drought--they hadn't been in since 1959--before the Cubs broke their drought. They haven't been in since 1945. Indeed, Jay Russell made the rivalry sound not like a civil war but the Civil War.

Mr. JAY RUSSELL: We grew up, we were taught if you like the White Sox, you hate the Cubs. We hate them. They're everything the White Sox are not. They're the pretty boys in town. The White Sox are for the average man, the blue-collar worker. Of course, now I'm a white-collar worker but I still love the White Sox.

GOLDMAN: There was a lot to give hope to White Sox fans last night. Their team hit home runs. Their relief pitchers dominated the end of the game, and perhaps most significantly, if the series stretches on, Roger Clemens may not be able to play. Last night, he had hoped to become the oldest pitcher to win a World Series game, but instead he limped off the field with an injured hamstring. Tonight will bring new drama in game two and another night of love and hate and civic pride spilling forth at Sluggers Sports Bar and throughout the city. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Chicago.

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