HOFFSTEDT: The tough and the tender of Chicago sports

Jul 10, 2012


However, there are some differences between the baseball Cubs and the football Bears.

First of all is the Cubs name. It’s softer than “Da' Bears," which is how Chicagoans pronounce their team’s name. It sounds big and tough, doesn’t it? The Cubs sound like little babies that the Bears have to nurture.

And how about their nicknames? The Cubs are called “the Cubbies” — cuddly little things. The Bears are called “the Monsters of the Midway.” Monsters versus Cubbies?

How about where they play? The Cubs play in Wrigley Field, but it’s mostly referred to as “Cubs Park.” Who wouldn’t want to play in a park with green ivied walls — beautiful!

The Bears play in Soldier Field. They play in a military arena? What’s that all about?

How about the weather? The Bears play in rain, snow and mud. Call off their game? Never!

But at Cubs Park, at the first drizzle, they roll out a big tarpaulin and cover the diamond while the players get to nap in the dugout. If it really starts to rain, they all get sent home for cookies and milk.

They also have something called the seventh-inning stretch, where they wake up the bored fans so some guest celebrity gets to murder “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in every key but the right one.

You never know when the game will end either: no clock, no time limit. Before they got lights in 1988, the Cubs had countless games called on account of darkness. Hey, they’ve been playing in the dark as it is for over a century.

Let’s discuss their rivalries. The Cubs longest rivalry in their league is with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ah, sweet little red birds.

Their cross-town rivals in the other league are the White Sox. White Sox? Who names a team after something you wear on your feet? How about calling them the “Pale Hose?”

The Bear’s rivals? The Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions — all ferocious and rough names.

Now how about equipment? The Cubs wear a soft little beanie with a visor. Sure, they do wear a batting helmet now, but years ago that was unheard of.

The Bears wear everything but the kitchen sink. On their heads, they wear a helmet, like in head-on collision, and padding everywhere.

Let’s look at some of the names of players on these two teams. The Cubs had “Peanuts” Lowery, “Twig” Terwilliger, “Jolly Cholly” Grimm, “Monk” Dubiel, Dominic “the Fireplug,” Dallasandro and Bill “Swish” Nicholson. That was because "Swish" struck out so often.

There was Dizzy and Daffy Dean and Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown. He won more games than any other Cub pitcher in their history and with only three fingers.
Notice all these names? They’re cute.

Now the Bears: They had “Bronko”` Nagurski, “Bulldog” Turner, “Necktie Tackle” Sprinkle, “Refrigerator” Perry and Dick Butkus. Butkus didn’t need a nickname; it sounded tough enough as it is.

During the course of a baseball game, if you make a mistake, all they do is charge the individual player with an error. That’s it, an error — no penalty.

In football, if someone makes a mistake, the whole team is penalized. Penalized! It sounds like they’re going to march them off to prison.

In baseball? You’re excused. You only made an error. Baseball is the only game where you’re applauded for stealing — a base, that is. And you can’t even take it with you after you stole it.

Now the game. In football, when you’re on defense, you might have your “backs to the wall.” Sounds like a firing squad. You might then have to resort to the “blitz” or try to “sack” the quarterback. Sack the quarterback? What do they do, throw him in the river like week-old-kittens?

The “blitz” sounds like London during World War II. It fits right in with Soldier Field.

On offense, the Bears want to “march” down the field. If all else fails, they’ll have to resort to using the “long bomb.” We’re at war. Look at all those military terms.

In baseball, you play catch. You try to hit a small white ball with a skinny wooden stick. It’s like a difficult game of golf.

The object of the game? You try to get to first base. If successful, you try for second base and so forth.

But the ultimate goal? To get home safely. Who wouldn’t want to play a game where all you want to do is get to the safety of home?

Editor's note: Richard Hoffstedt is one of our new community columnists. His columns will appear on the second Tuesday of each month.


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