Crosstown Rivalry Renewed: White Sox vs. Cubs 2011 Begins TONIGHT!

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North side vs. South side. Red & Blue vs. Black & White. “All In” vs. “It’s a Way of Life.” This is the Crosstown Classic, a series that divides households, neighborhoods, and an entire city for six of baseball’s 162 games every year.

The Cubs travel south Monday to face the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field for the first three games of the series. With both teams floundering in the middle of their divisions, the series might be the only substitute for a playoff atmosphere, considering the postseason doesn’t appear to be probable for either team (at least at this point in the season).

By Jacob Gregus

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The White Sox are coming off a fast start to inter-league play after taking two against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their offense, which produced only one run over two games against the Twins, found new life after producing 15 runs over the past two games against the Diamondbacks. Paul Konerko has four hits in his last seven at-bats, and Alex Rios has driven in five runs over the White Sox past two wins.

As for the Cubs, they have yet to win three games in a row this year. They’ve come close but choked every time, failing to extend their streak against the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Yankees.

The most consistent thing the White Sox have going for them is their pitching. Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle are scheduled to start Monday and Tuesday with Jake Peavy confirmed to return (yet again) for the series finale against the Cubs. Peavy, who is nursing a groin injury, would give the White Sox a six-man rotation again, meaning the bullpen could have one less reliever.

The only consistent thing the Cubs have done is fail to finish. Starlin Castro might be the Cubs’ golden boy, but his mistake on a double-play attempt in the fourth inning of Sunday’s loss to the Yankees was the turning point in the game. If mishaps like that continue, it could be a while before the Cubs win three in a row, let alone take the Crosstown Cup back from the White Sox.

There will be a ton of hype (at least in the local media) for the series, and if it seems over-blown, remember what’s happened in the past. Every few years, one of the teams’ seasons takes off while the other’s falls apart as a result of the Crosstown Classic.

–Jacob Gregus

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