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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Cubs-Sox series becomes even MORE Corporate

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There’s a new corporate sponsor, and trophy, added to the Windy City’s Red Line series. Yes, it’s like a college football trophy game now…if it were sponsored by a giant oil multinational.

CHICAGO (April 26, 2010)Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox today announced an official structure to the celebrated Chicago interleague rivalry known to fans as the Crosstown Classic. Starting in 2010, the series will be called the BP Crosstown Cup, and its new format will raise the stakes of the series and solidify its standing as an annual, citywide observance.

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Cubs and Sox Fans Mutually Exclusive?

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By Sam Svoboda

Before I even begin, I’d just like to say that I fully expect to catch some flak for this- too many people have their opinions on the Cubs and the Sox and refuse to even think about modifying them. But with the “Crosstown Classic” again this weekend, it’s a perfect time to examine the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the city’s two baseball teams are not mutually exclusive. In other words, liking the Sox does not mean you have to hate the Cubs, and vice versa: you can actually (gasp!) like both teams.

If you haven’t already started typing out a comment degrading my sports intelligence, hear me out. I’ll start with my personal story: My paternal grandfather is a life-long Cubs fan and my maternal grandfather is a life-long Sox fan. I grew up going to games both at Wrigley and Comiskey, and listening to both Harry Caray and Hawk Harrelson. I can rattle off the names of completely forgettable Southsiders like Mike Caruso and Jorge Fabregas and Northsiders like Jose Nieves and Brant Brown (insert obligatory dropped fly ball reference here).

And when I was little no one ever told me I was wrong to grow up rooting for (aka suffering with) both teams. Maybe it was because I was a kid, and they figured eventually I’d pick one or the other. But I still don’t see the need to choose. And it’s not because I’m a “glory hunter”, thinking that supporting two teams will double my chances of success- I mean, this is Chicago baseball we’re talking about after all, where World Series titles are less frequent than Haley’s Comet. I just think that, as a born-and-bred Chicagoan and one who loves his city, why shouldn’t I root for both of the teams that are representing it?CT 00294379E_Sox0628_23.JPG

Now, I also realize that this argument is not universal, especially as a fan of English soccer, where “derbies” between teams in the same city make the rivalry between Cubs and Sox fans look almost loving. But these are different in fundamental ways, and can actually provide contrasts that show why the Chicago baseball teams are not mutually exclusive (for simplicity, we’ll compare the Cubs and Sox to North London soccer rivals Arsenal and Tottenham).

First of all, the Cubs and Sox only play six out of their 162 games against each other (1 out of every 27 games), whereas Arsenal plays Tottenham twice in a 38 game season (1 out of 19 games- not counting the possibility that they’ll also face each other in a domestic cup competition). I’m basically the opposite of a math major, but I can tell you that the six Crosstown Classic games will not have a huge impact on the overall season. But in the Premier League, where there are no playoffs and everything is decided in the regular season, two matches can be very influential in determining a team’s fate.

More important than the different mathematical weights of games, however, is the different league structures. In the Premier League’s “single table” structure, every Tottenham match has an impact on the same standings that Arsenal are in- they’re fighting for the same spots.

With the two-league structure of MLB, though, how the Cubs are doing has zero effect on the Sox’ hopes of success, and vice versa. In fact, games against the other Chicago team mean a whole lot less than those against division rivals, or even just fellow NL or AL teams. These separate spheres mean that the success of one team does not hinder the other… unless the two play each other in the World Series again, in which case Satan will need to buy some heavy wool clothing.arsenal-london-club-badge-4900624

This is magnified even more when you add in history. Arsenal and Tottenham have been playing each other in high stakes matches- including many in the aforementioned cup tournaments- for over a hundred years (except for the years when Tottenham have been relegated to the second division). The Cubs and Sox played each other in the 1906 World Series. Interleague play started in 1997. Suffice to say, the two teams didn’t exactly play hundreds of meaningful games between each other in those 91 interceding years.

So while they’ve occupied the same town, the Sox and the Cubs might as well have been in separate universes in baseball terms- and they still compete in separate spheres today, although they both represent our fair city. Again, I’m not naive enough to think that the above argument will make all Chicagoans love both teams, but if I’ve convinced one person….

Cubs-White Sox Exchange Part Deux: Weather Will Be Better!

By The Soxman and Paul Schmidt

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(Paul Schmidt) – It’s time for round two! The Red Line series shifts south to U.S. Cellular Field, where this Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Cubs and Sox will once again take each other on in a battle for city supremacy.

Now, that really sounds like I’m fired up about these games, doesn’t it? However I’ve always, as a Cub fan, felt like these games are nothing more than games against, say, the N. L. East in terms of importance – Sure, they are baseball games and they are obviously important to win, but nothing like games against your division-mates.

Just because we’re both in the same city doesn’t add any more drama to these games for me.

Is it the same for most White Sox fans, or am I barking up the wrong tree by bringing this up?

(Soxman) I think the rivalry means a great deal to most Sox fans because if it didn’t, the White Sox would not have a special Meeeemmmorieeees...sniff...ticket pricing bracket for this series only. Personally, I believe the depth of the energy and passion is relative to the season both teams are having. In 2006, the Cubs were playing with a chip on their shoulder. So I wonder why Michael Barrett threw that punch at AJ? This season the weather in Chicago has been about as extreme as both of our teams play, so I think fans are stoked, but not as stoked.

Honestly, neither team is exactly dominating in their division, so for me personally, I wish you guys would just do you your job and beat up the Tigers for us like we beat up the Brewers for you.

(PS)
– In all seriousness, we wish we could have beaten the Tigers a couple of times for you, too…

Let’s dish a little on your team. Jose Contreras is one of those guys that Sox fans love to hate. His relationship with the team and their fans reminds me a little of the Red Sox and Derek Lowe, a guy that Red Sox fans quit on roughly 250,000 times in his career there. Is everyone back on board the bandwagon of the Sox’s Friday starter, and can he keep up his absolutely torrid run since coming off the DL?

(SM) Jose came back to reality a little bit in his third start since being re-called from AAA, although it seems like he was on the disabled list or at least was limited to pitching batting practice for the first two months of the season. Despite a more human start last week, he still has posted a 1.23 ERA in three starts and appears to be throwing pitches with more confidence. While Sox fans are excited, I believe that he was never going to be counted on as more than a 4th or 5th starter this season anyway. More encouraging is Gavin Floyd’s 1.25 ERA over his last three starts.

Now it’s time for our hitting to come off the DL. We are hitting an appalling .217 at home this season, second worst in major league baseball only to the San Diego Padres. See, there was a reason Jake Peavy turned that trade down.

(PS) – Floyd is finally looking like the starter I envisioned him to be when I drafted him as an end-game starter in most of my fantasy leagues. Too bad I dropped him prior to the good run.

You also bring up something interesting – the White Sox’s struggles to hit the ball at US Cellular. Couple that with the Cubs’ road struggles (after being swept by the Tigers, they have one of MLB’s worst road records at 13-22), and we may have a series no one can win!

Moving on, since sometimes it’s difficult to diagnose problems with your own team without rose-colored glasses, I’d like to get your opinion on ’09 Cubs issues. If you were Jim Hendry, what’s the move you make at this point? Do you stand pat? Is this just a season where bad luck with injuries (after two extremely injury-free, division-title seasons) is going to derail things?

(SM) Jim Hendry really only has himself to blame for his team’s troubles. First, they have minimal payroll flexibility (the Cubs have the 3rd highest team payroll in MLB). They have large sums of money tied up in players with either minimal trade value (Fukudome, Bradley), or to players who are injury prone or attitude prone (Big Z, Soriano, Harden, etc.).

Soto has had a massive sophomore slump and Kevin Gregg was never the most stable closer in the game. He wanted a left-handed bat who could get on-base, which is why he brought in Bradley, and in essence took away a team sparkplug in Mark DeRosa. While he really has no choice but to stand pat, I’d dismantle and try again.

The fun thing about the Cubs has always been the heart they play with. While I truly like guys like Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, who is the true leader on this team? Where is that heart and passion? Big Z water cooler episodes aside? You have more egos to manage than ball players. The only hope they really have is to not be passive. Play whoever performs and ignore the dollar signs next to their names. How about you, what would you do with the White Sox?

(PS) I agree with most of your assessments, although today we learned that Geovany Soto is so fat this season because he’s got the munchies and is getting high. Awesome. Have I mentioned how much I love this Cub team?
For the White Sox, get out your dynamite. There are a lot of pieces that could be valuable come trade-deadline time,

One Cub fan has a little "man-crush" on Becks...

One Cub fan has a little "man-crush" on Becks...

and the Sox could go a long way towards building for the future if they’d just eat some salaries. Send Thome and Konerko out to any teams needing a DH (Seattle, or perhaps even someplace like Kansas City). Send Jermaine Dye to, well, anyone needing a perennial, fringe-MVP candidate. Send Mark Buerhle (yeah, I said it) to the Cardinals. Last but not least…see what Carlos Quentin can get you, assuming he can return to the field 100 percent. I get that he was a revelation last season, but his trade value will NEVER be higher than it is now, and the more he gets hurt the less he’ll be worth to the rest of the league. Again, I’m not saying they will do it, but they should. The future of this team rests with Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham (who may have one of the strongest arms I have ever seen).

(SM) Ok let’s play Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox (and Cubs) and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly? Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words! Let’s play ball…

The Cubs need this series more than the Sox.

(SM) Mirage, The White Sox are hiding their white socks in fear of a white flag.

(PS) Maybe. This answer was different prior to being swept by the Tigers.

The Cubs are in 1st place with Mark DeRosa on the team.

(SM) Maybe, a true sub for A-Ram, and a spark plug.

(PS) Mirage. I love DeRo, but he had an awful start to the season, only coming on of late.

Alfonso Soriano will turn it around in the 2nd half.

(SM) Mirage. Even if he boosts his numbers the 2006 player appears gone forever.

(PS) Mirage. Coughcough PEDs Coughcough

The Sox bats will come alive at the Cell this weekend.


(SM) Maybe.
They better or the only player who walks might be Greg Walker.

(PS) Mirage. The only thing the Cubs have going for them is their rotation right now.

Scott Podsednik patrols CF when Quentin returns.

(SM) Maybe. Unless Brian Anderson suddenly becomes the true reason we traded Aaron Rowand.

(PS) Mirage. Unless Ozzie wants to attempt to field one of the worst fielding outfields in history…