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A south side journey

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, November 4, 2005

Those of you who have ever been to the Linebacker Lounge know that you can walk into the bar with certain expectations. As inevitable as the free drink coupon you get at the door, you know your night will include tunes such as “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Ignition Remix,” “Only the Good Die Young” and, of course, some Journey. While hits such as “Anyway You Want It” and “Open Arms” can be real crowd-pleasers, nothing gets the Friday night crowd at the Backer on the dance floor more than “Don’t Stop Believing.”

More recently, this song has seen a revival on the South Side of Chicago. It has been among the top downloaded songs on iTunes over the past couple weeks. It’s impossible to watch the local news in Chicago without seeing Steve Perry appear on screen. Heck, even my grandmas know the words to Journey’s famous ballad. This is all thanks to the success of the Chicago White Sox.

When I was growing up in the Chicago’s Western Suburbs, it was never in vogue to be a White Sox fan. While most kids donned their blue and red Cubs hats, I had to stick to the more mundane colors of black and white. Even after I grew up and my circle of friends expanded, I still found myself in the minority. On warm summer days, many of my Cubs-fan friends like to spend several hours in Wrigleyville bars, stagger into the Cubs game for a few innings, then stagger back to the bars, talking about how much they “Love their Cubbies.” As a Sox fan, I also enjoy spending a summer night at the old ballgame.

However, when I go to Comiskey Park (for true Sox fans, the name-change to U.S. Cellular Field never happened), I go cheer on my team. When the game is over, I either head to my car or hop on the train to get back uptown, because going to a Sox game is about baseball; not people watching at overcrowded bars.

Part of the reason that there has been nothing trendy about being a White Sox fan is due to the fact that the Sox have gone relatively unnoticed in the baseball world. The Cubs attract fans with an archaic stadium that doubles as the world’s largest outdoor beer. They have cute little curses involving goats to explain their chronic losing.

The Cubs have enjoyed a reputation as baseball’s “loveable losers,” whereas the Sox were its “forgotten losers.” They were never good enough to win, yet never bad enough for people to realize that they hadn’t won. They never had the high payrolls that are commonplace in Los Angeles. Their roster never included the names of legends like those who played in the Bronx and they never had a nationwide following like the team in Boston. Simply put, the Pale Hose have always been a blue-collar team – the second team in the Second City.

Nevertheless, week after week, year after year, arguably baseball’s most loyal fans cheer on the White Sox. Though small in number, we supported our team despite the fact that our last World Series title was not even broadcast on the radio – radio broadcasts hadn’t been invented yet. Even our last go at the Series was back in 1957 and so you can imagine the astonishment Sox fans when the Pale Hose jumped out to their best start in franchise history this spring.

We all watched the season with cautious optimism. The Sox started strong and had the best record in baseball by Memorial Day. Even though the team seemed to be running on all cylinders, we held our breath because, “C’mon, it’s the Sox! When do we ever win?” But then again, could this be our year?

The summer passed us by, and the Sox clinched the division title in late September. Much to our surprise, they got on a roll and began winning playoff games in bunches. Can they really do it? Could our Sox get to the World Series? Well, it happened. On Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005, the Chicago White Sox beat the Angels in 5 games to advance to their first World Series in 46 years.

It was at this time a story came out about one of the players, Joe Crede. In early August, Crede and some teammates found themselves in a New York piano bar celebrating a win over the Yankees. Crede, apparently a fan of ’80s music, demanded that the pianist, “Play some f***ing Journey!” Well, once word of this spread, Sox fans, young and old alike, decided to play some Journey too. We adopted “Don’t Stop Believing” as our post-season mantra.

Last Wednesday the Sox found themselves up three games to none in the World Series. Hoping that they would sweep the series, I took a gamble and “journeyed” to the South Side to cheer on the Pale Hose with some true fans. We won the game 1-0, swept the Astros, and celebrated our first World Championship in 88 years. It was like nothing I had ever experienced.

As “Let’s Go Go-Go White Sox” (the Sox fight song) and “Don’t Stop Believing” played on repeat until the wee hours of the night, I witnessed complete strangers hug each other and grown men cry. There wasn’t a person there who was not thinking of a deceased parent or grandparent who had waited many years, but never got to experience this sort of moment. It was a magical night; after all those years of putting our faith behind the Sox and believing they could do it – they did.

And so we danced and sang – I know you all know the lyrics.

“Working hard to get my fill

Everybody wants a thrill

Paying anything to roll the dice

Just one more time

Some will win, some will lose

Some were born to sing the blues

Oh the movie never ends

It goes on and on and on and on

Don’t stop believing

Hold on to that feeling”

And so for “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” who stood by the Sox for so many years with nothing in return, these words really resonated. Sticking by them through the wins and the losses finally paid off, because we never stopped believing.

For those of you who are not baseball fans, or even those who are Astros fans, you may not see what this has to do with you (heck, you may have stopped reading once you saw the words “White Sox”), but this is a good message for everyone to take note of. We are all at a time in our lives where the future is uncertain. At times we get discouraged. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of pressure on us – will I find the perfect job? Will I get that internship? Can I get into my top medical school?

Of course, I don’t have the answers to these questions, but this I can tell you – don’t stop believing. Believe in yourself. Believe in God and believe that he will help you. While all of us Sox fans are still “holding on to that feeling” of a victory, follow our example of persistence and faith. Just think, if the White Sox can win the World Series, then you can do anything you set your mind to.

Molly Acker is a junior communication and humanistic studies double major at Saint Mary’s. She can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Ovserver.