Siberian Baseball

Sunday, September 23, 2007

You're either with us or against us

As I'd mentioned this week, I was able to get to Wrigley this weekend for the Saturday game against the Pirates and in between bets on how many hot dogs I could eat and catching up with old friends, I actually managed to watch some baseball.

It's been too long since I was last at Wrigley and despite Frank the Tank's reports to the contrary, the usual, lazy crowd is still a hallmark of Cubs' games - with a new, vocal minority that is appreciated in my view.

I must say, though that there is a marked difference between the crowds I'm now used to versus the Chicago crowds. This was made more clear as I drove home and caught the Vikings post-game call-in show, where a caller ripped all Minnesota franchises for failing to provide a worthwhile product for fans.

Given the high demand for Cubs tickets, it's a fairly fluid fan base inside the park. Sure, there are some lucky individuals who own season tickets at Wrigley, but by and large, the fans rotate in and out on a game-by-game basis.

Get a crowd in a surly mood and it can be a long day for the players. While I'm not saying it's not an accurate barometer of Chicago fans, it is a very different feel from the stands. Twins crowds tend to be more slanted towards die-hards with a strong mix of single game spectators and vice-versa for the Cubs.

As a result, it seems like Chicago fans are ready to jump on the team vocally at a moment's notice - might as well get your money's worth for the one game you'll see in September, right? - while Twins fans have a long haul mentality which doesn't reward you for getting so worked up every night.

As a result of this, all of the cultural differences seem to magnify themselves between the two cities as well. A Chicago fan, already assumed to be louder and more offensive is rewarded for screaming his peace while he's actually at the game, while Twins fans maintain their Minnesota nice cred for quietly waiting for the team to right itself in a rough stretch.

In either case, it was nice to be home and surrounded by a pretty knowledgeable home crowd for a change. By that, I mean a crowd that didn't outwardly embarrass itself within earshot.

Each trip to Wrigley that Frankie and I take is traditionally marred by someone trying to look smarter than they are, arbitrarily making up rules to impress their girlfriend or demands for trades that include dead or retired ballplayers.

Of course, it's pretty easy to look intelligent when all that's required of you is to shut up, eat some peanuts and wait for the next homer to leave the park.

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