People like to say that the Crosstown Classic is just another series. I don't believe it for a minute. Very rarely do we remember someone as being a "Tiger Killer" or a "Rays Killer", but I am sure most everyone on this site can name the guys who are "Cub Killers". Juan Pierre took a step in that direction with a huge two run triple yesterday to give the Sox the two run cushion they needed for the victory. Sergio Santos is quickly becoming a Cub Killer. This season, Sergio has thrown 3 1/3 innings against the Cubs and has struck out 7 of the 10 outs he's recorded. He also hasn't given up a hit and has nailed down 3 saves. Three guys stick out in my mind as the greatest Cub Killers of all. Carlos Lee, Jose Valentin and A.J. Pierzynski.
Lee's totals in the Crosstown Classic are .326 with 9 homers and 31 RBI's in 36 career games. The game I remember most came on June 8, 2001. David Wells started the game for the White Sox and after two bunt singles to lead off the game by Eric Young and Miguel Cairo, he walked Sammy Sosa to load the bases. Ron Coomer and Rondell White followed with base hits to make the game 2-0. Wells was lifted after going 0 innings. Sean Lowe was brought in and left the bags loaded. He went on to pitch 5 shutout innings out of the bullpen. With the game tied at 3 in the 10th, Courtney Duncan walked Tony Graffanino with one out, gave up a single to Chris Singleton and intentionally passed Ray Durham to load the bases. After Magglio Ordonez struck out, Carlos Lee hit a grand slam into the left field bleachers to send the South Side crowd into a frenzy.
Jose Valentin's Crosstown numbers don't show much in the way of batting average, as he only hit .211 vs. the Cubs. However, he hit 6 homers and knocked in 14 runs in the 28 games he played against them. Two homers stick out more than the others. On July 13, 2001, the Sox were leading 3-0 going into the bottom of the 6th. With one man on, Sammy Sosa bombed a Mark Buerhle offering over the left field wall to cut the lead to 3-2. Sosa, never one to shy away from the cameras, did his patented kiss of the fingers and pound of the chest. In the top of the 7th, Valentin lead off the inning with a homer of his own, off of current White Sox Will Ohman, and mocked Sosa by doing his maneuver- which pissed off Cub fans to no end. Then on June 27, 2003, Valentin pulled off more heroics. The Sox were leading 3-1 going into the 9th, but the combination of Tom Gordon and Billy Koch blew it and the Sox entered the bottom of the 9th tied at 3. With one out, Valentin stepped to the plate facing Antonio Alfonseca and ended the game with a walk off homer.
A.J. Pierzynski has had plenty of memorable moments in his Crosstown Classic career. On May 20, 2006, Pierzynski ran over Cubs catcher Michael Barrett at the plate and took a punch as the benches cleared. Pierzynski added to the scene by calling for the crowd to get louder. Shortly afterwards Tadahito Iguchi hit a grand slam that put the game out of reach as the Sox won 7-0. Fast forward a little over a month. The Cubs were leading 6-5 with Ryan Dempster on the mound. He retired the first two batters before giving up a single to Ross Gload and walking Jermaine Dye. Up stepped the number 1 villain, Pierzynski. A.J. connected for a 3 run bomb, causing the Wrigley faithful to trash their beloved ballpark. Bobby Jenks shut the door on the Cubs and the Sox won 8-6. Pierzynski is still killing them, as he started off the big 4 run rally in yesterdays game with a base hit to center.
It goes both ways though. Aramis Ramirez has killed the Sox plenty of times. Brant Brown made me want to throw up when he hit a walk off homer off of that no good bum Tony Castillo back in 1998. About a month after Carlos Lee hit his walk-off grand slam, Ricky Gutierrez hit one in the bottom of the 8th at Wrigley vs. Bobby Howry to give the Cubs a 5-1 lead and the eventual victory.
Starting in 1905-1942 the White Sox and Cubs played in a city series at the end of the season. Here are the results of those games. Then from the '40s- early '70s they played one exhibition game in the middle of the year. It started up again in 1985 and lasted until 1994. The Sox went 8-0-2 in those last 10 Windy City Classic games. Here is a really cool highlight of the final one in 1994.
So while others will say that the luster has worn off or that it is "just another game on the schedule"... I say to hell with that. These games mean a little bit more than any other game in June. It always makes for a great day when the Sox beat the Cubs or a terrible one if we end up on the short end of the stick.
* The Sox bullpen has been absolutely amazing lately. With Brian Bruney stepping up, they now have 3 dependable righties and 2 dependable lefties. The most impressive bullpen might reside on the South Side of Chicago. Who would have thunk that after the horrible beginning they had?
* Have a safe Holiday weekend. Remember, being careless with fireworks might adversely affect your SouthSideSox experience. So be careful.