White Sox fan’s obsession with Cubs’ affairs is a constant source of amusement for me. I’ve never understood why South Siders would bother to spend a minute worrying about a franchise that has had so little success and really offers no threat to them in any way. The mere six games the teams play annually are a blast to attend, but they have little affect on the success or failure of either team’s season. Yet Sox fans always seem to have their attention pointed to the north.
To see Sox fans get all worked up over the Theo Epstein situation is the latest and greatest example of this obsession. But this time, things have gone to a whole new level. From the beginning of Theo-Palooza, Sox fans have been intensely vocal, weighing in on the subject any time it’s brought up or bringing it up themselves, unprovoked. It’s come to the point that they are so distraught over the situation they appear to be exhibiting the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
The moment the idea Epstein could possibly be headed to the North Side, Sox fans were up in arms. “It’s not going to happen” was the very first post our Facebook page received after I brought up the subject for the first time almost two weeks ago. I even received condescending text messages from other Sox fans saying Epstein to the Cubs was “a joke” and “that’s why I love Cubs fans, always dreaming the impossible…” But soon after, it was clear Epstein to the Cubs was a real possibility, Sox fans immediately turned to the next stage of greif: Anger.
Anger is a very familiar emotion to almost every White Sox fan I know or have met. Even bringing up the idea that they are an angry fanbase makes Sox fans angry. Needless to say, it was a very smooth transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 for them. Any time I brought up the Epstein situation as it developed, I was met with jeers and taunts saying I was “obsessed” and Theo was my “wet dream” even though I’m anything but an Epstein champion. I’ve been on record since day one and have repeated many times that Epstein is second on my list of choices as Cubs GM behind current Rays’ GM Andrew Freidman. Clearly, it’s going to take a lot of therapy for Sox fans to work their way through this stage.
Thankfully, there are some positive signs that Sox fans might be getting over their anger with the Epstein situation and have moved on to Bargaining. The South Side’s current mantra is “even if Epstein goes to the Cubs, he sucks and is overrated.” This is a classic example of Stage 3 behavior as clinical psychologist, Julie Axelrod explains it: “A very normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control.” Attempting to tear down a GM with two World Series championships in the last eight years by grasping onto any disparaging remark to come out of a jilted and hurting city of Boston is clearly a desperate attempt to regain some sense of control.
4. Depression & 5. Acceptance
Inevitably, after the official announcement is made that Theo is indeed the next Cubs GM, Sox fans will move into the 4th and 5th stages: Depression and Acceptance. It’s impossible to know how long it will take to work through their depression (if ever) and finally accept that the Cubs have made a huge upgrade in their front office. But soon White Sox fans will realize there are far more important issues to worry about on the South Side like a GM that should have been fired instead of their manager, a new manager with zero managerial experience, and several long-term, big-money contracts for underperforming players that will weigh the franchise down for the foreseeable future.
Hang in there White Sox fans. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it through this difficult time. We’re all rooting for you.