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2 games, 1 city, zero losers

August 26, 2012|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

Saturday afforded us a rare occasion.

For better or worse, baseball is inextricably woven into the city's sociocultural fabric, team allegiances being one of the first questions you're asked upon meeting a stranger. Either you're a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan, but if you pledge allegiance to both teams, you're a liar.

A Red Line regular's nightmare became a Chicago baseball fan's wildest dream come true Saturday on the kind of cloudless, 90-degree-with-a-whisper-of-a-breeze day that makes Chicago the greatest summer city in the world. Cubs-Rockies at Wrigley just after noon, followed six hours later by White Sox-Mariners at the Cell.

All in all, I and a handful of others sat through 6 hours and 15 minutes of baseball with a 32-minute "L" ride from Addison to 35th.

Over the course of that time, a few things became glaringly apparent. The first is that while the future is bright on the North Side, the future is happening now on the South side. Guys like Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters will see far better days than they enjoyed Saturday, with Jackson striking out to end a 4-3, come-from-ahead Cubs loss.

The Sox, a team seemingly nobody is paying attention to, erased an early 3-1 deficit after Robin Ventura and A.J. Pierzynski were ejected for arguing with the home-plate umpire to win 5-4. In doing so, they increased their lead in the AL Central Division to 2.5 games.

Yet while the Cubs lost their game, they won the attendance battle by nearly 10,000—35,296 on the North side to 27,562 on the South Side—not because the product on the field is more entertaining, though.

The Cubs need Wrigleyville as much as Wrigleyville needs the Cubs.

"There are no bars around the Cell except for that Bacardi place," a seemingly sober Cubs fan moaned as the Red Line approached the White Sox 35th Street stop, referring to Bacardi at the Park. He's wrong, by the way—but his argument holds weight.

The adult amusement park atmosphere of the surrounding neighborhood stands as a stark contrast to the commuter atmosphere of the Cell, where fans come for the game and get out as quickly as they can.

But if Saturday is any indication, when the scheduling gods give us games on opposite sides of town with time to get to both, everyone in the city wins.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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