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Column: Do’s and don’ts for Chicago baseball fans now that the Cubs and White Sox are (almost) all the way back

It’s a great time to be a baseball fan in Chicago.

The White Sox are in first place, the Cubs are in a tight race with the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals and ballparks are filling up fast.

Attending games with 25% capacity was a huge step toward normalcy — and, you know, fun. With 60% capacity in effect at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field and 100% on the horizon, the chance to see one’s favorite team and high-five like-minded strangers is like winning the sports lottery.

But because it’s been awhile since fans have packed stadiums, here are some do’s and don’ts as a Cubs-White Sox World Series remains a tantalizing possibility — for the time being, anyway.

Do … tip vendors and concession-stand workers.

They’re probably ecstatic to have customers again, and rewarding their hard work will give you the warm fuzzies. Just be patient as you wait in line, reminding yourself the whole time that stadium food tastes better when enjoyed in its natural setting.

Don’t … throw home-run balls back onto the field if you can help it.

It’s a silly practice regardless, and your throwing arm is likely out of shape after lifting little more than the remote since 2019. The last thing any fan needs is a knot on the back of the head because you’re rusty.

A possible exception can be made if you add an interesting twist, as this fan and his young son did (good luck topping these two for viral appeal):

Do … resist the urge to fight with your fellow fans. At. All. Costs.

Several people failed to do this during a White Sox-Cardinals game May 24 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Here’s hoping the offenders get lengthy bans, and in case it’s not clear, THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Fans fight in the bleachers during the ninth inning of a game against the Cardinals on May 24, 2021, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Do … give a foul ball or home-run ball you catch to a child if you’re so inclined.

Need more incentive than making a fellow human being’s day? Well, it might get you a thank-you beer from the kid’s parents. Just be prepared to roll the ball down the aisle instead of handing it to a someone directly, if that’s what the family prefers. Safety first.

Don’t … sweat it if you forgot the words to “Go Cubs Go.”

Better yet, make up your own. Here are a couple of lines to get you started: “Hey there, fans in the mezzanine / Now’s the time to go get the vaccine … “

(I suppose the equivalent for Sox fans is “Let’s Go, Go Go White Sox,” a song from the 1950s that occasionally is played at Sox games. But does anyone remember those lyrics in the first place?)

Don’t … figure you’ve seen the last ‘unwritten rules’ dust-up involving the White Sox.

The organization knew what it was getting into when it hired Tony La Russa to manage a team featuring Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez and other players who aren’t afraid to flip their bats or wave to the cameras.

Do … show understanding toward anyone who still prefers to wear a mask when around other people.

Maybe that person is being extremely careful or can’t get a vaccine for medical reasons. Or perhaps that fan simply loves wearing a mask too much to give it up. After all, it’s another way to support your favorite team — and it definitely comes in handy on chilly nights.

Don’t … let the protective netting lull you into a false sense of security.

Netting that extends all the way to the foul poles still is a fairly new addition in MLB parks. More important, it is not similar at all to the boards around a hockey rink. One Sox fan discovered that the hard way during a game against the Minnesota Twins on May 13.

Twins left fielder Trevor Larnach runs into a fan on the other side of the protective netting while chasing a foul ball in the first inning against the White Sox on May 13, 2021, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Twins left fielder Trevor Larnach runs into a fan on the other side of the protective netting while chasing a foul ball in the first inning against the White Sox on May 13, 2021, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

Don’t … get too attached to the Cubs’ core players.

Some combination of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant might not be around past the MLB trade deadline if the Cubs fail to sustain their promising start.

Do … remember to apply sunscreen.

Bring a hat and sunglasses, too. In case you have been stuck indoors for long stretches of time (really, who hasn’t?), here’s your reminder that the sun does not mess around. Absorb that Vitamin D safely.

And for crying out loud, call your mother.

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