Dan Guzman is talking on his phone as he walks into Grandstand, a sports-merchandise store just a few blocks from the center of the universe for White Sox fans: U.S. Cellular Field.
He doesn’t like what he sees.
“I just got to the Sox store,” Guzman said into his phone. Then he looks around at the displays of jerseys, jackets, hats, t-shirts — even grilling accessories — all in enemy blue-and-red, and he added: “There’s too much Cubs stuff here.”
As the Chicago Cubs begin their playoff run on Friday, excitement in the city has reached new heights. Most of the city, anyway.
In those areas where White Sox loyalty is strongest, where memories of that team’s last World Series (2005, not so long ago) are freshest, there is resistance — and acceptance.
With money to be made, even South Side sports stores are getting in on the action. Grandstand, the go-to place for licensed White Sox gear for 25 years, now features a sign in the window advertising merchandise for the North Side rivals.
Guzman, who came in looking for White Sox driving gloves, feels the Cubs get more love than the they deserve, considering the team’s legacy of losses. Still, Guzman admits they have a good shot.
“I’m scared,” he said. “They might win.”
Mt. Greenwood resident — and lifelong Sox fan — Jeff Simms, is confident the Cubs are going to blow it. Either way, he doesn’t feel the need to follow along.
“Cubs fans are loud, so they’ll tell us about it,” Simms said, smiling.
Most Sox fans claim they want the Cubs to win, they just don’t want Cubs fans to feel too good about themselves.
“I get satisfaction from rubbing all my friends who are Cubs fans the wrong way,” said Tom Bennecke, Sox fan and regular at Mitchell’s Tap, 3356 S. Halsted. Bennecke said he’s looking forward to having Cubs playoff games on in the bar.
“If they win, great. If they lose? Oh, man, am I going to have fun with it.”
Bridgeport natives Tom Walsh and Omar Mandujano agree that Cubs fans are the main reason they don’t follow both teams. Mandujano still feels slighted by lack of support from Cubs fans during the White Sox’s 2005 championship season.
“I don’t understand, even when the Sox were winning, they still wouldn’t fill the seats,” Mandujano said.
If the Cubs do pull through, enduring a whole year of gloating from triumphant Cubs fans may be too much for Guzman. He said he’ll move to Indiana if the North Siders win the World Series.
“I hope they lose,” he said.
“No,” Grandstand owner Rosemary Powers chimes in from across the counter. “We need them to win for business.”
Still, even Powers will go only so far for the sake of profit: “I won’t wear a Cubs jersey.”