Thursday, May 8, 2014

You know it’s a dead season when a “No. 14” is the “City Series” highlight

This year doesn't come close to matching '06
It was kind of cutesy to learn that the Chicago Cubs felt compelled to pay tribute to Paul Konerko this week – what with him expected to retire from playing professional baseball after the end of this season.

Honored in home of Cubs' No. 14
It’s nothing on the scale of what New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is getting from every ball club the Yankees play against this season.

BUT SEEING THE Cubs put aside the natural, century-old rivalry between Sout’ Side and North, Sox and Cubs, to acknowledge that Konerko has been a significant figure in the history of Chicago baseball was nice.

I even got a kick out of the “gift” the Cubs gave Tuesday to Konerko – one of the number cards used in their allegedly-quaint hand-operated scoreboard. Specifically, a number “14” – to match up with the uniform number Konerko wore during his 16 years with the White Sox.

It’s not like this year’s version of the Cubs is ever likely to score 14 runs in any given inning; although I suppose it is possible that Cubs pitching will have several instances in which they will give up that many runs per inning.

Konerko retirement cycle not on same scale
I guess the Cubs will just have to ensure that high-scoring rallies by the opposition go to at least 15 runs at a time.

THAT MOMENT ALSO appears to be the highlight of the “Crosstown Classic” between our city’s two ball clubs; even though I still think that label sounds lame and I prefer to think of it as the “City Series” – which technically hasn’t been played since the Second World War.

Much has been written already about the level of apathy expressed by fans toward this year’s four-game version of the series.

A mediocre White Sox team, combined with a truly dreadful Cubs ball club, doesn’t exactly make for a must-see series – particularly since the current ways in which Major League Baseball operates has turned the series into just another set of games (all won by the White Sox, thus far) over the course of the 162-game season both ball clubs will play.

Dull series another reason to bring back Ozzie?
We’re still early enough in the season that the standings don’t mean much. Memorial Day is the date on which we can start to see how well a team is truly playing – there just haven’t been enough games thus far.

SO I WASN’T at any of the games at Wrigley Field (although it has been a decade since I have set foot in that ball park – which I remember because the Cubs lost to the Montreal Expos; who ceased to exist after ’04).

Nor did I feel the need to show up at U.S. Cellular Field Wednesday (although that was quite a catch by shortstop Alexi Ramirez to create that 9th inning double play). Nor will I likely be there Thursday night for the final game between the two until 2015 (because I really don’t see the scenario in which both Chicago ball clubs manage to make it to the playoffs, win their respective league pennants, and wind up playing in the World Series).

I care enough about what happened that I did take the time to look up the box scores. But I have been doing that all season, and would have done so regardless of whom each team was playing.

This series just isn’t intriguing enough now – this is one of the off-years that are bound to come. The kind that test how committed one is to following a ball club.

Remember '98
WE DON’T HAVE Ozzie Guillen going around talking about how rat-infested Wrigley Field was (one of the drawbacks, that and those troughs, of being 100 years old). Nor do we have A.J. Pierzynski trying to rile up the crowd after getting slugged by Michael Barrett following a home plate collision.

We don’t even have shortstop Mike Caruso achieving the highlight of his miniscule major league career during a city series.

We just get to “Wait ‘til Next Year” in terms of a White Sox/Cubs series that is on-field interesting – a concept that we are way too familiar with in this city.


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