Chicago Cubs fans have heard for years about the Southsiders’ rebuild. This season we’re getting a taste of that rebuild, and it is clear…they’re here.
The last time the White Sox made the playoffs was 2008, and Lou Piniella managed the Cubs, and current baseball announcers Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall were playing for the Northsiders. The Tribune Company owned them, and Jim Hendry was the General Manager.
A dozen seasons ago, both teams made the postseason, and both went out in the first round; they lost to the Dodgers, the Sox to Tampa Bay. A lot has happened in those dozen years, and now both teams are together again in the postseason.
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It might be strange for a diehard fan and Cubbies Crib writer to herald the rise of our Southside rivals. But I’ve never harbored the same antipathy towards the Sox as I do towards the Cardinals, Mets, and Brewers. Perhaps that’s because growing up, the Cardinals and Mets inflicted far more heartache. As for the Brewers, when those pretenders win a World Series, I’ll have some respect.
Plus, when I was growing up, there wasn’t interleague play, so the Cubs-Sox rivalry was purely academic. The Cubs and Sox had last met in the 1906 World Series and, aside from random charity games, didn’t play a meaningful game until 1997.
Throughout the teardown and rebuild from 2012-2014, the Sox managed just one decent season, a second-place finish in 2012. But that was the end of a five-year run. 2013 and 2014 were as dismal for the Sox as it was the Cubs.
However, while the Sox were floundering, the Cubs had a plan. Those plans came to fruition in 2015, and in the years since, as Cubs fans urged their team to postseason glory, the Sox labored in near obscurity.
Talk of a Southside rebuild was gaining attention. But where was it? The 2019 season gave no real evidence as the Sox posted their seventh losing season. Lest we forget, though, the 2014 season wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns either.
But the pieces were clicking into place. In 2014 Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon, who all played vital roles in 2016, we’re already on the MLB squad. Lurking in the minors were Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Willson Contreras.
The Sox were in the same place in 2019. Pieces started to appear alongside those already in place. In 2020 the rest fell into place, and the Sox became the second MLB team to clinch a 2020 playoff spot. Meaningful baseball is being played on both sides of Chicago for the first time since 2008. That’s not a bad thing.
But how ironic would it be if the Cubs and Sox meet in the World Series for the first time in 114 years and not one game is played in Chicago? MLB needs to address that if the time comes. On that, I’m sure Cubs and Sox fans can agree.