Why rooting for the Sox is a good idea for Cubs fans

This weekend offers the first opportunity for fans to greet some recent ex-Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera return to their former home with the White Sox. But if the thought of Kimbrel striking out the side in the ninth inning bothers any Cubs fans, get over it.

White Sox success in October is best-case scenario for the Cubs because it will give ownership a sense of urgency in the new rebuild.

Speaking as a (mostly) lifelong Chicagoan, the Cubs-White Sox rivalry has always been a sham.

First of all, the last time these teams played truly meaningful games against each other was 1906. Secondly, these are two of the most pathetic franchises in American sports history. The Cubs went 108 years without a title, the White Sox 88. Both teams winning a World Series in this century was a flat-out miracle.

The only rivalry here is which side has been the more miserable franchise. All those years of one side gloating because their team won 75 games and the other won 72 just gave owners on both sides of town what they wanted — permission to act like cash-poor, small-market sad sacks.

In modern times, success on the South Side has led to success on the North Side and vice versa. Just look at the numbers:

• The White Sox broke the city's long, long playoff drought in 1983 and the Cubs got there in '84.

• The Cubs won another division title in '89, the White Sox came back with new Comiskey, the Big Hurt Era and a trip to the ALCS in 1993.

• The Bartman series for the Cubs was a World Series near-miss and the Sox won it two years later.

• The Cubs answered right back as Lou Piniella's squad became the first team on either side of town to make back-to-back postseason appearances since — double-checks notes — 1907 and '08.

• The Sox went quiet for a few years, but now they're back and the Cubs World Series title in 2016 probably had as much to do with the White Sox getting serious as Jerry Reinsdorf's 80th birthday.

Kimbrel leading the White Sox past Anthony Rizzo's Yankees in a playoff series would be a win for all Chicagoans. Another Sox championship would be a best-case scenario for Cubs fans, because competition is a great motivator, especially when Tom Ricketts goes about deciding how to spend his sportsbook revenue this winter.

The idea that Chicago baseball fans must love one team and despite the other is absurd. Cubs fans should be focused on the Brewers and Cardinals. Sox fans should save their vitriol for AL Central rivals, if there were any.

This weekend's series at Wrigley Field is largely inconsequential. The Cubs are playing for a higher draft pick, the White Sox for home-field advantage. Pulling some upsets might end up hurting the Cubs in the long run, if it ends up forcing the White Sox to play a Game 7 on the road.

Some of you might say, “Yeah, I get it, but there's this one annoying co-worker who always rubs it in my face when his or her team does better and that's why I root against the other Chicago team.”

Well, now there's an easy solution to that issue: Find a job where you can work from home.


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