Saturday, September 22, 2018

Baseball has found a way to make the Chicago ‘city series’ feel lame

Remember back a decade or more ago when Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski wound up getting popped in the jaw by Cubs catcher Michael Barrett when the former went sliding hard into home plate to try to knock the ball free and score a run?
Remember how after being ejected from the game, Pierzynski tried getting fans at then-U.S. Cellular Field all riled up against the Cubs?

THAT MAY HAVE been a high-point in the intensity level for the so-called Crosstown Classic that has been played every year since the mid-1990s between Chicago’s two major league ball clubs.

But there’s one thing I can say definitively – we’ve hit the low point now.

Major League Baseball may be trying to shake up the way it does things, create a little controversy and maybe even rile up the fans. But the way the White
Sox/Cubs matchup this year was handled practically guaranteed it would come off as irrelevant.

This year, the two teams played a three-game weekend series back in May at Wrigley Field. Which means there need to be additional games between the two teams at Guaranteed Rate Field.

THOSE GAMES HAVE finally come upon us now – in the third weekend of September when many people already have written off baseball for the season.

Seriously, after this weekend, the White Sox have three more games to play in Chicago (against the Cleveland Indians), before finishing the 2018 season outright in Minneapolis against the Twins.

I know some people have tried to stir up interest from the White Sox perspective by pointing out that wins against the Cubs could become the ones that ensure the ’18 Sox don’t lose 100 ball games this season.
There also are those who take a bit of joy out of the idea that the White Sox could “pour it on” hard and sweep a series – and quite possibly could be the ball club that screws up the Cubs’ chances of taking a playoff spot, thereby ensuring that there won’t be a chance at a World Series in Chicago this year.

AS MUCH AS I personally have little use for the Cubs, or anything connected with the National League, I can’t quite get all worked up over this match-up so late in the season.

This is the time that many sports fans in the Second City get all absorbed with football and the Chicago Bears and fantasies that “da Bearz” could win a Super Bowl for the first time in 32 years.

Has it really been nearly a third of a century since the days of “Sweetness,” “Danimal” and “the Fridge?”

To derive any excitement from baseball this weekend, one is literally going to have to look back nearly as long ago for the days when Bridgeport vs. Lake View seemed like a grudge match.

NOT THAT FANS of the two teams have any love lost for each other. But it just seems the baseball feud has mellowed out a bit – at least until we get some lasting evidence that the rebuilt White Sox will provide worthy competition and smack the baby blue bears back into a role of submission.

Despite that, I couldn’t help but notice the crowds expected for this weekend’s ballgames.
I contemplated attending one of them (possibly the Saturday night game where Sister Mary Jo Sobieck again does first-pitch duties to try to once again unleash the wrath of God himself upon the Cubs), only to see that Guaranteed Rate Field was offering up standing room-only tickets.

And even those were at a cost of $75 – which to me seems like a ridiculous sum to pay to stand in the outfield concourse behind the outfield seats, as we move yet another year away from 1906; the season that baseball came down to a White Sox/Cubs brawl and one that Cubs fans will never be allowed to live down.


EDITOR'S NOTE: 10-4 on Friday, and a White Sox Winner! The beginning of a Sox sweep that makes them the Cubbies' spoilers, or a lone victory that will be the highlight of an otherwise dingy 2018 season?

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