You may remember the story from the Colts-Bears Super Bowl in 2007 about the Bears fan who auctioned herself off as a “date” to the Super Bowl. Here at Midwest Sports Fans we respect any and all exhibits of true fan passion (and yes Philadelphia fans, that includes yours too), and when such passion is combined with creativity…well it just makes it all the more compelling.
In the end, not only did the aforementioned Bears fan get to go to the Super Bowl, but she actually received four tickets from Axe: three for her and her girlfriends, and one that she was able to choose as a contest winner to be their date for the game. Pretty damn cool I have to say, even if the fan in question describes the event herself as a “PR stunt.”
I’m sure that Alan Shantaji, the medical student who won the contest, couldn’t care less.
The intrepid Bears fan from that story was none other Sarah Spain, and the multi-faceted sports writer and reporter is our latest guest in the MSF Behind the Keyboard series.
In addition to covering the Chicago Cubs and other important Windy City sports news for MouthpieceSports.com, Sarah also has had many other pretty interesting gigs and experiences that most of us bloggers would give our right arm to have. Just click over to Sarah’s resume and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As Chicago prepares for the first of six intense games between the White Sox and Cubs, with the first pitch of Game 1 scheduled for tonight at 7:05 PM CT at Wrigley Field, Sarah was kind enough to parse some time from her busy schedule to talk White Sox-Cubs with us.
But first, a little background about Sarah Spain (and a picture), with her answers denoted by being in italics:
- Name: Sarah Spain
- Current job/website: Reporter/writer for MouthpieceSports.com
- Hometown: Lake Forest, IL
- College/Education: English Major at Cornell University
- Favorite Teams: Bears, Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, Phillies, Sharks, Celtics
- Favorite Chicago sports memory: Anything and everything involving MJ. Literally.
- Where were you when Bobby Jenks closed out the 2005 World Series? Can’t remember exactly where–but it was in the general Los Angeles area, where I was living at the time. While I didn’t watch the Sox win it all, I admit at the time I preferred to see a Chicago team win over any other city. I have since changed my mind, mainly because all of my Sux fan friends are mind-numbingly obnoxious about the win.*
- Where were you when the Cubs won the…wait, never mind this question. I’ll be front-row center, baby. : )
[* - Editor's note: for the record, Sarah clearly expressed to me that she did not consider me among the "mind-numbingly obnoxious 'Sux' fans" that she mentioned. Okay fine, no she didn't, and she probably lumped me in with that group after reading two lines of my first email, but all I have to say is that sticks and stone may break my bones, but the WHITE SOX WON THE WORLD SERIES!]
Okay, so now that you know a little bit more about Sarah, let’s delve into some White Sox-Cubs talk.
MSF: Both the White Sox and Cubs are playing below expectations so far in 2009. To what do you attribute their subpar performance and which team has a better chance of turning things around and making the playoffs?
Sarah Spain: The Cubs’ struggles mostly come down to injuries, lack of infield depth (sigh…Derosa) and a crap bullpen. The hitting struggles aren’t helping but there have been plenty of games where two runs would have won it for the North Siders had the bullpen not fallen apart. While I don’t have the overflowing excitement I’ve had in year’s past about the Cubs, I do think they’ll turn things around and at least win their division.
I have to be honest and say last year took a lot out of me. My only hope (here comes that typical Cubs silver lining attitude) is that the problems now will make the team stronger later. They seemed invincible last year and that obviously didn’t work out, so maybe the year they win it all will be more fitting for the Cubs organization–long, tough and a total surprise.
As for the Sox, I have to admit I don’t follow them as closely as I should. Never been a fan and never been one to follow them just so I can talk smack to my Sox fan friends. From what I’ve heard and seen since the beginning of the season, though, I just don’t think they’ve got the personnel this year to make a run. It’s pretty bad when your manager says the season will be over if you have to bring up Gordon Beckham and then a few weeks later…you bring up Gordon Beckham.
MSF: For those of us who are White Sox/Cubs fans but do not live in Chicago, what is the city like during the two Windy City Series’ each year?
Sarah Spain: You know what, I just moved back to the Chi in October after six years in LA. I made it home for one Crosstown Rivalry game a few years back and it was as expected: more expensive tickets and a lot more drunken trash talk. The game I went to ended in ridiculous score like 14-11 and the Cubs won, so my memories of the series are good. I’m headed to Vegas tomorrow to cover the NHL Awards so I’ll be out of town for this series, but back for the next one. Looking forward to it!
MSF: My observation has always been that White Sox fans (like myself) have a chip on their shoulder and hate the Cubs much more strongly than Cubs fans hate the White Sox. Do you agree with this? If so, to what do you attribute it?
Sarah Spain: Absolutely. Here’s a perfect example: I’m the Cubs point person for MouthpieceSports.com. Someone else covers the Sox all season. I post my Cubs stories and interviews on my Facebook and Sox fans take the time out to watch them, rip on them, and claim I’m missing out for not covering the “better team.” No matter how many times I tell them that’s not my “beat” I still get Sox fans coming onto my FB wall to “argue” with the Cubs fans who post comments. I also get emails and texts from my Sox fan friends all the time pointing out a Cubs loss or a poor performance by a particular guy.
Meanwhile, my Cubs fan friends and I genuinely, honestly, don’t really care about the Sox unless we’re playing them. We’ll catch the scores and have a general idea of how they’re doing because we’re baseball fans, but we don’t seek out information about the Sox solely for the purpose of ribbing our crosstown friends. I think there are a number of reasons why this is, not the least of which is the national obsession with the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Ozzie even brings it up, saying that even when his team wins it all people still don’t care as much about them as the Cubs.
Sadly for Sox fans, that’s the truth.
The national TV coverage of the Cubs on WGN and the tradition and history of Wrigley Field have turned the Cubs into a cultural phenomenon; the Sox are just a baseball team. I’m sure if I grew up on the Southside I might have been raised a Sox fan, but I wasn’t and I’m not. My only perspective is that of a Cubs fan, and I think Sox fans waste far too much time following a team they claim not to like.
MSF: Which obvious error in judgment was worse: Milton Bradley’s infamous brain cramp in which he forgot how many outs there were or White Sox fan favorite Steve Perry’s decision to wear sleeveless shirts without ever picking up a dumbbell?
Sarah Spain: Oh man, that’s a tough one. Most would say Milt because that was just such a boneheaded play, but I’ve got a particularly strong hatred for men in sleeveless shirts. The only time for a man to wear a sleeveless shirt is when working out or participating in a sport. (And if you know your team has sleeveless shirts, tan it and tone it and try to turn your jungle of pit hair into a manageable shrubbery).
MSF: Ozzie Guillen recently said that Wrigley Field makes him want to puke. What does U.S. Cellular Field make you want to do?
Sarah Spain: Go back to Wrigley. And then write a manifesto on the phenomenon that is men still getting frosted tips in 2009.
MSF: From Billy Goats to Bartman, we always hear about these abstract reasons why the Cubs have not yet won a World Series. Do you believe in curses or is there another explanation?
Sarah Spain: I don’t believe in curses, but I do think the idea of a curse and the sheer length of the drought has affected the team.
It’s impossible for anyone involved with the Cubs organization not to put the hopes of over a century’s worth of fans on their backs. Last year the team just straight up choked. Epic fail. I think the pressure of the one hundred year anniversary and the idea that they could finally win it took the guys right out of the game.
It’s kinda like a guy who hasn’t gotten laid in months…the excitement of just being in a position (no pun intended) to seal the deal after so long might be too much for him.
So I guess the explanation is that the Cubs are in the longest dry spell of all time and they couldn’t wake up their bats when it was time to step up the plate.
MSF: Who would you rather have pitching Game 7 for your team: Carlos Zambrano or Mark Buehrle?
Sarah Spain: Ooh…would it be no-hitter Z or Gatorade-hitter Z?
Either way, I gotta take Carlos. He gets crazy hyped up, sometimes to the point of uncontrollable rage, but I feel as though in that situation he would be just the guy to bring it on home.
MSF: Who would you rather have coming up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th down two with a couple of ducks on the pond and two outs: Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez or Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye?
Sarah Spain: Do you really think I’m gonna pick the Sox guys here? Come on now. Haha. A-Ram is one of the sickest late-inning hitters in baseball. As for D. Lee, I believe in the guy, even though he’s had his struggles in high-pressure situations. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, unless the choice is lopsided (Dye v. Freel?), I’m gonna go with the Cubs guy! I’m a straight-up homer.
MSF: And finally, what is your prediction for the season series?
Sarah Spain: cubbieeeessssssssss! (but you knew that)
MSF: I know, but how many games? 4-2? 5-1?
Sarah Spain: Oh…hmm…4-2.
My thanks to Sarah for participating in the interview…even though I disagree with absolutely everything she has to say and stands for as a Chicago baseball fan.
One thing is for sure: either Cubs fans or Sox fans will have initial bragging rights after tonight when John Danks battles Carlos Zambrano. And if Sarah’s Cubs-centric propaganda is to be believed, Sox fans everywhere will be reveling in the victory like we just won ANOTHER World Series, while Cubs fans will simply chalk it up as just another game. I, for one, promise to talk no smack either way.
Now, where was that URL to the Facebook page again?…