White Sox fan Anthony Rodriguez puffed on a cigar Thursday outside Turtles Bar & Grill in Bridgeport as his team kicked off what fans hope is a long playoff-run after its first division title since 2008.
As the Sox played the first game of the best-of-five series against the Houston Astros, Rodriguez said he had cautious optimism.
The Houston matchup gives him a feeling of déjà vu that the Sox are going to win it all again, just as they did 16 years ago when the Sox beat the Astros in the World Series.
“I’ve got 2005 vibes flowing through me,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a long time already, but I remember that feeling, and it’s Houston again. It’s who we beat last time. We gotta pick up right where we left off.”
South Side native Anthony Ciaravino, who grew up just a few blocks away from the Sox Stadium, had “butterflies” in his stomach all day.
Although hearing the shouts of rowdy White Sox fans were commonplace when he was growing up, this year seems different. For one, the crowds at Guaranteed Rate Field are bigger than he can remember.
And the team is not in the shadow of the its North Side counterpart, the Cubs, who didn’t make the postseason.
“The White Sox always feel like we’re the red-headed stepchild in this city,” Ciaravino said. “It’s nice to finally get some attention.”
Rodriguez said the South Side fanbase has a special sense of pride.
“It’s kind of like bragging rights for the time being,” said Rodriguez. “Even the Cubs fans now, look at where they’re going, they’re rebuilding and this is our time now.”
Although fans didn’t get the outcome they hoped Thursday, they still took pride in the South Siders as it made the postseason for the second season in a row, the first time in team history.
“This season they started picking it up, and playoffs are a different ballgame. I’m liking the bats and definitely the pitching is good, too,” said Dan Archer, who was at Cork and Kerry at the Park, also in Bridgeport. He wasn’t worried the team had a subpar record later in the season. “It’s the playoffs, seeing firsthand like in 2005, they didn’t play for the second half either and they ended up winning the whole thing.”
And even if they don’t pull it out, fans have hopes for the future.
“They’ve got a lot of good prospects out there, and they’re coming into the room right now with [Luis] Robert and [Danny] Mendick,” Archer said. “They’re only going to get better.”