Call it the Crosstown Classic, the Windy City Showdown or the Red Line series. Hell, I really don’t give a shit if you call it the “Cubs/Sox Series”
Just don’t call it “important” – because it’s nothing more than a listless marketing ploy.
For as long as there has been cheese on deep dish pizza, there’s been baseball in Chicago and it holds a lot of importance to its residents. I can remember ordering food from a corner store near Milwaukee ave in 2008 and staying to talk to the clerk for almost an additional hour because he loved the Cubs so wholeheartedly. This is far from abnormal anywhere you go, as Chicago is a city that loves their sports teams and their passion is among some of the most rampant of any North American city.
Of course, there’s a divide when it comes to Chicago’s baseball fans between the Cubs and the Sox. This is a debate faced by many prominent baseball cities including New York and Los Angeles and naturally, there’s some homegrown rivalries that develop based upon the fact that you’re playing the exact same sport, usually manifested by pubcrawlers and overly obnoxious sports fans.
It’s unavoidable and not to be unexpected in the least.
However there’s a potential advantage to having a “same city” sports team, especially for the players. The MLB realized this and mitigated the problem at the source. The issue of fairness when it comes to player travel for example (many others as well) is safely resolved by dividing the two teams in to separate leagues – in this case the AL and the NL. This ensures that the two teams almost never face one and other and maintain the certain level of fairness that other city’s teams who need to travel to their matches.
Subsequently, inter-league play was born and now the two leagues mix their primordial fluids within each other’s ranks, redefining the term “useless baseball” (this is a debate for another day though.)
NL and AL baseball mixing tends to screw up wildcard chases and just shits on a team’s strategy considering the DH rule; not to mention that AL team’s have been beating NL teams consistently since the mid 2000′s ( AL: .525 W% overall)
Now, living with inter-league play being a reality, there is no reason for the Cubs and White Sox to play each other every single year, no matter how many matches it may be. It simply feeds the debate of “which team is better”, even though no real baseball fan would directly compare AL and NL baseball.
It’s nothing more than a giant pissing contest. If you really want to compare which team is better, you better hope they both make the World Series.
Arguably, the Cubs should play the Sox as much as any other AL team in order to keep the purity of the game intact. No, I’m not a total baseball purist but I don’t see why the Cubs haven’t played the (insert pretty much any other AL team except for the Rangers) as much as they’ve played the Sox.
The Chicago vs Chicago thing does absolutely nothing to motivate me more to watch a match. Maybe it’s because I’m not a resident of Chicago so maybe I’m not equipped to take part in the boorish debacle of which team better, but any form of inter-league play boggles my mind, let alone to make some sort of annual series out of it. I’d much rather watch the Cubs and Brewers play for example, as there are significant playoff opportunities at hand.
I tuned in to the match today vs the White Sox for no other reason than it’s Cubs baseball and it’s my job and was treated to a marvelous display of pitching from Jeff Samardzija. It was a real treat to witness and a Cubs victory is always the sweetest plum, but at no time did I feel that it was a greater victory because of a White Sox defeat.
Thank heavens for solid performances which can actually add some flair to this series, but we see web gems and pitching wizardry in just about any series, inter-league, inter-city or not.
Frankly, I can see the casual baseball fan thinking that beating the opposite Chicago team is a big deal and that’s great for the growth of the game, but at what price to we take marginal growth? True baseball fans are the ones who are paying for season’s tickets, for MLB.tv, for merchandise and they’d much rather see relevant baseball rather than some beefed up, childish debate over which team is a better ball club.
These wishy-washy city series spit on what true baseball fans want to see.
What’s your thoughts? Do you love the Cubs/Sox series or would you rather watch the Cubs take on NL teams? Let me know in the comments section below.