It's crosstown “rivalry” week again, friends, and your Chicago White Sox venture eight miles north to take on those “lovable” (?) losers known as the Chicago Cubs. I can’t even pretend to feel anything but the deepest disdain for the north side baseball team, the dump they play in, their fans, or the surrounding neighborhood. A neighborhood whose one-time charm has been stripped away, repackaged, commodified to the nth degree, and sold back at grossly inflated prices to a rabid fanbase of post-college transplanted midwest suburbanite sycophants as devoid of culture as the confines they cherish and inhabit.
Forgive me, dear reader, if I sound overly snarky or salty, but I hate the Cubs. Not the team itself per se, but the culture surrounding all things Cub. The undeserved national following, the Tribune using its media empire to promote the team as a product for a generation while writing disparaging columns about the White Sox, the Bridgeport neighborhood, and the South Side in general, and the incessant supposition that they are Chicago’s team. The arrogance of transplanted fans that take umbrage with the very fact that the White Sox exist, despite having never ventured south of Roosevelt Road, or the fact that both teams have existed in this town for more than 100 years. Or that before 1984, Chicago was a Sox town, and the upper decks at Wrigley were regularly closed to fans. Or that before pond scum in human form known as the Ricketts came on the scene, Wrigely was a crumbling piss-trough covered in weeds, and the franchise hadn’t known winning baseball in a century. Yet they were still popular. I guess there really is no accounting for taste.
None of that is overly relevant to this upcoming series, of course, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit my voracious bias against this week’s opponent.
What Have the Cubs Been Up To?
The Cubs return home after taking two of three from the Blue Jays north of the border. The north siders are six up and four down in their last ten. Despite their record over the past week, the Cubs are one of the more surprising teams in the second half.
They opened play after the All-Star break, losing their series opener against Boston, dropping their season record to 42-48 in mid-July. They would go on to lose to Boston but wouldn’t surrender another series until dropping two of three to the Mets in New York in early August. They sit at 61-57 entering play today, good for a tie for second in the National League Central. Mind you, the NL Central is only slightly better than the AL Central, so you know, the fastest snail of the escargatoire and all.
The Cubs find themselves four games over .500 at 61-57 and tied with the rapidly-downward-spiraling Cincinnati Reds for second place, 3 1⁄2 games behind the division-leading Brewers. The Brewers widened their lead after sweeping our hapless White Sox in three games. You’re welcome, Cubs fans.
After several years of sort of rebuilding, sort of not, signing players and flipping players, these Cubs are essentially a .500 team in 2023, and if we are being honest, only find themselves in the chase because the surprising Pirates and Reds have both fallen back to earth fast in the second half. Those Reds were 10 games over .500 on July 8 and enjoyed a seven-game lead over the Cubs. The Brewers were six games ahead of the Cubs at the same time. Cincinnati entered the All-Star break at 50-41, Milwaukee was 49-42, and the Cubs were 42-47. As we enter play today, Milwaukee is 65-54, the Reds are 62-58, and the Cubs are 61-57. Funny how baseball ebbs and flows over 162.
It would seem the NL Central is only slightly better than the AL Central, so let’s temper our enthusiasm accordingly.
What are the Pitching Matchups? How Do We Match Up?
The Cubs team OBP ranks them fourth in baseball at .333. The abysmal Cardinals rank fifth somehow if that gives you any indication how well said stat translated to winning on a larger scale. Their OPS+ of 101 is only slightly above the league average, as is their 142 home runs. They are in or near the top 10 in hits, runs, and total bases, so they aren’t completely inept offensively. On the pitching side, their team ERA, FIP, and WHIP are all middle of the pack, with their ERA+ and HR/9 both in the top 10.
The South Siders last faced off against the north side squad in late July, dropping both games at Sox Park. Tuesday’s projected starter Kyle Hendricks pitched 6 1⁄3 innings of four-hit baseball, surrendering three earned runs and striking out four to earn the win. Hendricks is 2-6 lifetime against the Sox with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 12 starts.
Wednesday’s projected starter Javier Assad will make his first career start and second appearance against the Pale Hose. He pitched 1 2⁄3 innings of relief on July 26 to secure the Cubs series sweep on the South Side.
Tuesday, August 15
Touki Toussaint vs. Kyle Hendricks
Wednesday, August 16
[redacted] vs. Javier Assad
The Sox are 73-67 all-time against the Cubs. They can thank the Sox for playing spoiler over the weekend, playing listless baseball in a sweep at the hands of the NL Central-leading Brewers. Cubs fans rooting for the Sox purely out of their own deluded self-interest can get fucked and crawl back into the sewers beneath Waveland. If this Sox team had any pride, they would dig deep and find a way to play spoiler to their north side foils. No doubt Pedro will run out a veteran-laden lineup that will struggle to play respectable baseball. I genuinely have little interest in watching either of these games. I don’t find anything charming about Wrigley or Wrigleyville or the mini-mall plaza that has enveloped the antiqued dump they play in. But at least we don’t have to watch pitchers hit anymore. Thank you, MLB, for righting that long-time wrong.