Posted by: Mike Rodbard
Apr. 20, 2009
The St. Louis Cardinals, our (Cubs fans) nemesis and arch rivals, were here in Chicago this weekend for an early "Big" series.
The Cubs and the Cards. When you really think about it, this particular rivalry overshadows the often over-hyped Cubs vs. Sox rivalry by far, these days (yawn). In fact, even the Cubs/Brewers rivalry is bigger than the rivalry with the Sox, too. I mean come on, the Sox play at Wrigley during the week and during the day as opposed to on a weekend when TV is ruling the baseball universe in a far greater capacity than it does in the infancy of the 2009 season.
Baseball itself even has a television rivalry with the NHL, now that the playoffs are starting (are the Blackhawks really in the post-season?)
This rivalry with our Missouri neighbors is always exciting. It's always compelling. It's always a grind and a battle between these two N.L. Central and natural geographic rivals.
Notice my gross over-use of this word, so far.
As opposed to the other "R"-word that was news this week in Chicago.
It is widely known that in Chicago, even on the North Side, the fans can be a bit unbecoming in their yearning for a pennant. They will boo a Cy Young award winning pitcher just as easily as they booed Corey Patterson (rightly so) when he was patrolling the outfield of the Friendly Confines. They will heckle and they will taunt. They might even spill a cold and obscenely expensive adult beverage on your head.
Such is the mentality of the Chicago baseball fan on both sides of town (you listen to Rush Limbaugh AND know the YMCA dance?). Such is the mentality in the city of Chicago, Illinois, and much of the Midwest, for that matter.
Our little Midwestern mecca here on the shores of Lake Michigan is still very much segregated. Chicago could quite possibly be the most segregated city in the U.S. There are still well defined racial boundaries within the neighborhoods: this neighborhood is primarily Latino, that one is Polish, the Italians are over here, the South Side is still predominantly African-American, the North Side is mainly lily white. For some reason, Chicagoans seem to accept and even embrace this 18th, 19th, and 20th century mentality.
The Chicago Sun-Timesran a couple of pieces about Wrigley Field being the "un-Friendly Confines" this past week. Several former (Cubs) players, like outfielder Jacque Jones had said that they were, "targets of racist taunts and fan mail."
Don Baylor, former Cubs manager from 2000-2002, and current Colorado Rockies coach had this to say about racism in America: "You just say, 'It's never going to go away.' You have a black president; that's nice. But it's never going to go away."
Dusty Baker, manager from 2003-2006, said, "''In the world, not just baseball...It's better than it was, but we still have some work to do. You can tell it is better than it was just by all the people that voted for Barack [Obama] .''
So before we start screaming about whether or not fans at Wrigley, or U.S. Cellular Field, or any public place for that matter are being racially insensitive or are being just plain racist (we all share this burden), we need to check out ourselves in the mirror and decide what we really shouldbe screaming about in the young 21st century where racism has no place.
Like when the hell is Milton Bradley going to grace us with his presence in the outfield.
Check out more of Mike's stuff at http://mikerodbard.blogspot.com