Thursday, October 4, 2018

Will the Cubbies still be relevant when the White Sox manage to rebuild?

I suppose there are segments of Sout’ Side Chicago who are elated these days – the Cubbies lost that wild-card game Tuesday night, making them the first team with championship aspirations this year to be reduced to irrelevance.
Century-old baseball memories … 

Not that I’m overly boastful. As a fan of the American League, I’m inclined to believe the relevant part of post-season (began Wednesday. The only use I have for the National League is for it to provide a team – any team – for the American League champions to beat upon in the World Series.
… that certain fans would just as soon forget

BUT WE HAVE the Cubs, whose fans want to believe they have performed something historic by qualifying in 2018 for the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

Personally, I think playoff appearances are cute, but you have to win a league championship and go to the World Series (which the Cubs did do in 2016) for it to mean anything.

Although as one who’d rather see the White Sox (it’s the American League, after all), I must admit to wondering how much longer this aberration of the Chicago Cubs being a ballclub of significance can last.

All things must come to an end, and it is just a matter of time before the Cubs return to their mode of irrelevance – it is their very character. The “College of Coaches” era is more Cubbie-ish than the notion of a World Series trophy being on display at Wrigley Field.
This ballpark billboard not yet obsolete. Photos by Gregory Tejeda
WHAT I FEAR is that this collapse is the beginning of the end. The Cubs have had their taste of a winning stint, and now it’s over. It’s time for things to return to the way they were.

And as someone who follows the White Sox, I have to admit – the thought of that stinks!
The White Sox 'winners' few and far between
For one of the intriguing parts of having the Cubs at a level of significance these days is that it created the possibility that we could someday have an all-Chicago World Series. A concept that has only occurred once before – back in 1906.

Yes, I do believe the White Sox are in a rebuilding mode that could take shape in coming years. They could become a legitimate contender (with a strong Cuban connection) by 2020. I wouldn’t mind if the Cubs could keep their respectable ways going just long enough for there to be a chance at a city series that matters more than those “Crosstown Classic” games of recent years.

YET HISTORY WOULD indicate that getting both Chicago ballclubs to levels of respectability at the same time truly is a unique event. Yes, we had both ballclubs winning division titles back in 2008 – but both teams got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
Star Chicago shortstop of the 1930s

With the Cubs not even capable of winning a single game!

In my lifetime, 1977 and 2003 are the only other seasons that both teams even challenged for playoff spots simultaneously.

More typical of the Chicago baseball scene is the 1930s when the Cubs managed to win National League championships every three years (1929, 1932, 1935 and 1938) while the White Sox were stuck in the doldrums of the days of Hall of Famer Luke Appling and a batch of losing ballplayers.

OR THERE’S THE 1950s, when the White Sox (of the Go-Go era) won an American League championship in 1959 and had winning records in other seasons, while the Cubs stunk up Wrigley Field with their Hall of Famer Ernie Banks surrounded by even more losing ballplayers.
Star Chicago shortstop of the 1950s

What is it about Hall of Fame shortstops that makes them want to play for otherwise atrocious Chicago ball clubs?

There’s most definitely a reason that an all-Chicago World Series seems like such a fantasy that we wonder if it was really nothing more than a dream in 1906 – when Hall of Fame pitchers Ed Walsh of the White Sox and Mordecai Brown of the Cubs went head-to-head and the South Side ball club prevailed.

Would it really be just my luck that Tuesday’s 2-1 extra-innings defeat by the Cubs to the Colorado Rockies is the end of an era – and by the time the White Sox are contenders the Cubs will return to their status as “lovable losers” whose fans forevermore live off 2016 memories of winning a World Series against Cleveland?


No comments: