By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

CHICAGO -- Welcome to ghost town. The city of champions.

In Wrigleyville, the bars are empty. Not literally, but not figuratively, either.

The parking lot across the street from Wrigley Field, which usually charges $35 for regular-season Cubs games, wants only 10 bucks tonight.

"When the Cubs were in the playoffs [in 2003], I was charging $150 a car to get in this lot," the attendant tells me as I drop Jackson on him and look for Hamilton as change. "Do you know how much I'd get if the Cubs were playing tonight instead of the Sox?"

Inside the Cubby Bear, the world-famous bar that sits 10 yards away from Gate F, under the "Wrigley Field Home Of The Cubs" marquee, four doormen are on the clock (during regular-season games, it takes 15). The place holds a capacity of 2,500; tonight, there are 80 inside. The usual Wednesday Specials -- $2 well drinks, $10 buckets, $1 tacos and $1.50 Enchiladas are "un-specialed" for the night.

Reporters from the Chicago Tribune and ABC walk around unobstructed, and ask questions.

Orders are low, noise is in short supply. As one patron says, "It's a damn shame that this city is so prejudiced that people in the Cubs' backyard can't come out and root for Chicago."

Everybody watches flat screens. Backe drops five strikeouts in a row. The score is 0-0 going into the seventh.

The hate is something different.

Less than a half-hour later, Joe Buck's voice: "And the White Sox have won the World Series!!!"

The problem is, they weren't supposed to be this.

On Halsted, on Jeffery, on Giles. The celebration wasn't supposed to be this personal.

In a city that has not had a baseball winner since Capone had iron fists, the galvanization of love seems to reside only in certain areas.

But on the South Side, the action is alive. Not Bulls 1996 alive, but off the respirator, at least.

Eighty-eight years had passed since a baseball championship came to this city. The distance between then and now seems small. But the distance between the White Sox and history is something different.

Those six Bulls championships were graspable because we had Michael Jordan, but this is something hard to comprehend.

A sweep.

A blemish-free Fall Classic.

To need 11 wins and take only 12 games to get them is sick. To have that one loss be by one run … it's what puts you in the conversation. History's conversation.

But in the end, who will remember?

The noise on State Street at 35th is what it's supposed to be: Loud.

Hummers honk. Young Puerto Ricans, half-bodied out of Chrysler 300s, scream beautiful obscenities. Fireworks go off.

Once Juan Uribe dived into the left-field stands for out No. 2 in the ninth, the moment he charged Orlando Palmeiro's chopper and threw to Paul Konerko at first base, all was savored. All was remembered.

At Shinnick's Pub, four generations of Sox fans lose their minds. People come with brooms, ready for the moment. The outcome.

"We love the White Sox!!!!" one lady screams for the hundreds behind her, speaking a language that would not be understood without this World Series championship.

Because as big as it is to have a Chicago team not named Cubs win the last game of the baseball season, the victory carries social and political baggage unnecessary for a team so worthy of historic conversation.

As GM Kenny Williams said, "I felt it." Speaking about the weight of the hate, pressure and responsibility that he inherited. Feeling the pressure in Houston that is alive and paying rent on the North Side.

On Stony Island, they honk. On 47th, they scream. On Lasalle and Randolph, they talk about Ozzie running for mayor.

A baseball city finally wins the Tim Burton, and the story isn't about them.

"There's something racial about this," one South Sider says at Murphy's, another Wrigleyville landmark. "It doesn't make any sense for a third of the city to hate the Sox like this."

Every establishment, nearly empty. No buppies roaming the block.

For a place considered one of the baseball capitals of America, a place that was "outta control" last year when the Red Sox were in it, the visualization of no one was a dose of 312/773 reality I am not ready to swallow.

But at 1:30 a.m., CST, four miles up, outside the White Palace Grill on Roosevelt, a place Tony Allen would love to forget, the line gets long.

The respect gets vocal.

"I've been waiting for this all my life," one man says. Then he grabs his face with his hand, unable to say more.

Jermaine Dye took the podium, calm, as if he was still in shock.

"They could have given it to anyone," he said of the MVP trophy just handed him. "A couple of guys could have gotten this. It's really special."

But special is relative.

Because on the North Side of Chicago, where the 2005 World Series champs get as much recognition as Janet Jackson's daughter does on Christmas, the acceptance of the "other team" winning the whole thing is difficult.

Emptiness has its privileges.

With my White Sox cap TI'd on my head, I challenge a Cubs diehard once Uribe grabbed the Series saver out of the stands, once Bubba Sparks (Bobby Jenks) grabbed his shortstop.

"If you are a true Cubs fan and hate the Sox," I say, "I want you to prove it."

Dude, beer in hand, blue-and-white Cubs shirt covering his chest, looks at me defiantly.

"If you real," I say, "since you know the mayor is a diehard Sox fan, when the elections come around, don't vote for him."

He puts his beer down.

"A real Cubs fan would do that," I say. "They'd take it that seriously."

Dude says nothing. Couldn't.

Like most non-Sox fans in this city, dude isn't real.

Scoop Jackson is an award-winning journalist who has covered sports and culture for more than 15 years. He is a former editor of Slam, XXL, Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines and the author of "Battlegrounds: America's Street Poets Called Ballers" and "LeBron James: the Chambers of Fear." He resides in Chicago with his wife and two kids. You can e-mail Scoop here.


SPONSORED HEADLINES



Scoop_Jackson
Scoop
Jackson
WINDS OF CHANGE