NATO vs. Cubs/Sox
Published: Friday, May 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
What do both Chicago baseball teams, $1million in police riot equipment, and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello have in common? They’ll all descend on Chicago Sunday, May 20: the only day when the Crosstown Classic and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit occur simultaneously.
According to NATO Host Committee press secretary Jennifer Martinez-Roth, 7,500 delegates/participants and 2,500 members of the press are expected to attend the conference. Though it’s tough to determine how many protestors will also attend, the recent May Day protest drew about 2,000, while a “Stand Up Chicago” rally in October featured about 3,000. This may be a far cry from the sellout crowds expected at the 42,374 seat Wrigley Field, but soon, supporters of all kinds will be cheering their side.
Aside from pride and the natural rivalry, the Crosstown series isn’t too important in baseball standings. The Cubs and White Sox will both have 121 games to play after the series, giving the last place Cubs and the middling White Sox each a chance to streak to the top. But a rivalry is baseball’s call to arms, and fans will pack pubs, restaurants, and rooftops to see their team get an illusive “W.”
DePaul political science professor and Chicago sports media member Philip Meyers thinks the two overlapping events will only affect traffic patterns, if anything. “People from Chicago think in terms of our Cubs and White Sox encounters as being so huge, including bragging rights for both team's fan bases,” Meyers said. “On a grander scale, the games are of little value as a possible terrorist target or protesting location, for they are not a ‘Global Event.’ When looking at the big picture, therefore, this is merely three baseball games played between two clubs about seven miles apart. Thus, if baseball was such a big world event, the Olympics wouldn't have dropped the sport from its summer program.”
Like the Olympics, DePaul junior Christopher Rife isn’t much of a baseball fan, even though he lives just a block away from the Friendly Confines. But like Meyers, Rife doesn’t think the two events will impact each other. “It just means that there will be a lot of tourists all over the city,” Rife said. “My neighborhood especially.”
Rife isn’t too confident the NATO summit will change anything for the better, but said the conference is clearly more important than baseball. “This is the first time NATO has ever held a summit in Chicago,” Rife said. “Plus, they have weapons.”
True, NATO probably wields a bit more influence on the global stage than any Chicago sports team, but NATO isn’t necessarily a winning team either. Meyers said that though NATO was designed to have a positive influence, it frequently gets caught up in political gridlock.
“It's understandable that people are disappointed with the lack of results or worldly progress made regardless if the organization is NATO, the United Nations, or otherwise,” Meyers said. “There will always be a number of people dissatisfied with activities, resolutions, and results from global or regional bodies, and such will always continue. Fortunately, I'm not eyeing the protests to be overly harmful or disruptive. Unfortunately, you can expect little in terms of forward-moving results from the conference as well.”
None of the groups participating in the May 20 festivities are at the top of their game. But what kind of parallels can we draw between an international conference and interleague baseball?
“Both our local clubs are big-budget outfits when it comes to player payroll,” Meyers said, “Nevertheless, we've seen little success in terms of accomplishment. Doesn't that sound much like NATO? A great deal of money and hope invested with little result?”
May 20, Meyers won’t be watching NATO or the Crosstown Classic: he’ll be watching his favorite team, the Toronto Blue Jays, play the New York Mets.