You hear a lot about Chicago being a great sports city. Mainly you hear that from Chicagoans when they're finished trumpeting the town's hot dogs, Italian beef, sausage, deep dish pizza, and liposuction surgeons as the best in the world.
They are a humble people.
One of the city's (commander-in-)chief proponents is President Obama. He never misses an opportunity to reminisce about his days growing up on the South Side of Chicago. Before he became the ruler of the free world, the politician formerly known as Barry rooted for all sorts of White Sox players. Great players. Memorable players. Players he surely would have recalled during a recent interview - if only his aides had listed their names on his talking points.
Instead, during an in-game chat after throwing out the first pitch to help the Nationals usher in another ship-shape season, Obama was left to twist when asked about some of his favorite White Sox. Sadly, he couldn't name any. Instead, he did what all good politicians do - he pivoted and went in another direction. Suddenly, Obama started talking about how he actually grew up in Hawaii as an A's fan. (If Jay Cutler called audibles that well, the Bears would be a much-improved team.)
It was actually a better performance than Obama's appearance with Bob Costas on the MLB Network. During that interview, Obama took a shot at Cubs fans for "sippin' wine" - then referred to famed Comiskey Park as "Cominskey Field." With first fans like that, who needs enemies?
Obama's scatterbrained support of Chicago sports was another black eye for a city that's been bloodied and battered for years. There was the infamous Black Sox scandal, when eight White Sox players were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. There was the notorious Disco Demolition Night held at "Cominskey Field" in 1979, when thousands of fans rioted and set fires. There was the night, back in 2002, when a shirtless, tattooed father-and-son duo rushed out of the stands at U.S. Cellular Field during a White Sox game and attacked the unsuspecting and defenseless Royals first base coach. There's the ongoing shame and frustration associated with the Cubs' 102-year championship drought. And, of course, there's the awful way Chicagoans blame that poor goat for the Cubbies' misfortunes. (Steve Bartman doesn't deserve that sort of treatment.)
Someone ought to stand up and save Chicago from itself. Unfortunately for the city, the elected leaders there are more interested in their individual fiefdoms. Richard J. Daley served as Chicago's mayor for a remarkable 21 years. He was considered by many to be the last of the old-time, strong-arm, big-city bosses - until, that is, his son Richard M. Daley came along. The younger Daley has been Chicago's mayor since 1989. If he stays in office through this coming December, junior will replace his father as the town's longest-serving mayor. As far as dynastic dictators go, even the Castros envy the Daleys.
Given the city's lack of oversight, it's no wonder Chicago has long had a reputation for lawlessness. Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and Public Enemy No. 1 (here in Philly) - that arch-criminal Donovan McNabb - are all claimed by Chicago.
The town's biggest crime against America and its wholesome, apple-pie way of life, however, may have been perpetrated by the city's music scene. Kanye West is a talented producer and innovative lyricist, but his appearance at the 2009 Video Music Awards was unforgivable. (Forget about storming the stage and hijacking Taylor Swift's spotlight - what was he doing slumming at the VMA's in the first place?) Everyone knows the band Chicago is (was?) just a cheap rip-off of the band Boston, which is a neat trick since Chicago was actually formed first. And, worst of all, Common - Chicago's preeminent MC - recently starred in a bad chick flick masquerading as a sports movie with Queen Latifah. That would be like The Roots taking a bunch of money to serve as the house band for Jimmy Fallon. (What's that, you say? The Roots did what?)
It's all part of an odd and disturbing history for Chicago. Not only is the town damaged and mixed up, so is its hockey team. After the Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, the players refused to pick up the Campbell Trophy - the award given to the NHL's Western Conference champion.
"It's not what we want to win," Jonathan Toews told ESPNChicago.com. "They gave us hats, so we'll come home with those and be happy about that, but we're after something bigger and better."
What an insult to Chicago's (not so) proud tradition as an American afterthought. The guy wants "bigger and better"? In Chicago? Didn't anyone tell him it's called the Second City?