For the second straight year, the crosstown series between the White Sox and Cubs is effectively a four-game home-and-home. The Sox will hope the second verse is different from the first, as the Cubs not only swept the season series in 2013, but they won every game by a margin of at least five runs, too.
This is also the fourth straight year in which the Sox host the Cubs during the week. Even back before the Astros moved to the American League and the Sox and Cubs played two separate three-game series, the Sox hosted the Cubs on Monday through Wednesday in both 2011 and 2012.
It's certainly yet another bad break for a marketing department that deserves to catch a good one, and Hawk Harrelson has taken it upon himself to vent on the team's behalf while reading promos for the series over the last couple of weeks. Not only is it condensed into an inconvenient window, but it's also earlier than ever.
Hawk Harrelson in rare form in 1st inning. Rips MLB for scheduling White Sox/Cubs series during the week again. I agree.— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) May 4, 2014
Hawk Harrelson on Sox/Cubs playing Mon-Thurs: "Whoever makes these schedules out has no clue about the game of baseball. No clue."— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) May 4, 2014
As somebody who would rather not have to pay attention to the Cubs, I'm fine with fewer games. As somebody who's tired of reading/hearing about attendance, the weekday games will have more unsold seats to point out for shaming purposes. It's bound to be annoying either way.
On the other hand, Paul Konerko's reflections on the series inadvertently underscore its status:
The best moment of the Cubs-Sox rivalry for Konerko, though, was the A.J. Pierzynski-Michael Barrett scrap in 2006.
‘‘That was the crown jewel of Cubs-Sox,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘That was the shot heard ’round the world. If you reporters said, ‘What could happen in this game to give us our best story?’ you guys couldn’t have come up with that one. Then A.J. hits a home run against [Carlos] Zambrano the next day, gives it the Zambrano [point-to-the-sky] thing.
‘‘Back then . . . Cubs-Sox was like a trip to Vegas: action-packed all three games, morning, noon and night, people in town, you go out, it was just a . . . ’’
Konerko’s voiced trailed off, reflecting on it all. Good memories, to be sure.
It's all in the past tense, and the distant past to boot. And why wouldn't it be? Neither team's fan base is particularly proud of the product, so bragging rights ring hollow, and the now-unsponsored trophy makes the "stakes" feel even more manufactured. I mean, when the city is wrapped up in the Blackhawks' quest to defend the Stanley Cup, it makes the battle for the Crosstown Cup seem less like a major professional sport, and more like dress-up and make-believe.
That's not saying the series has jumped the shark, because as soon as one or both of the teams return to contending status, stomping the loser/destroying hopes will be its own reward. In the interim, when both teams' fans are locked into a legitimate title run at the United Center (which itself is situated on the dividing line between the North and South sides), it's really hard to add luster to regular-season series between two rebuilding clubs. I don't think six games and two weekend series fixes that problem.