With one half of the Crosstown Series complete with 3 more games to come in Whatever They Are Calling It Now Field on the South side, I am left asking a question: Does anybody really care?
I will start out by saying I DO like Interleague play. I have always been in favor, and I have never thought that it takes anything away from the World Series, anymore than the NFL or NBA playing across conferences takes away from the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl. I have heard the argument that nobody cares about say, the Mariners playing the Marlins, or the Giants playing Kansas City. While I can’t argue that, I can also say nobody cares when the Mariners play the Royals or the Marlins play the Giants either, aside from fans of those teams of course. Some teams have a natural rival in the other league and some don’t. And some teams it just doesn’t matter. When the Yankees come to Wrigley, it’s a big deal. When the Cubs go to Fenway, it’s a big deal. When the Cubs go to Oakland, not so much. But as a fan, I do enjoy seeing the other teams and some of their star players that I might not normally get to see as much. I’d love to see Mike Trout come play 3 games at Wrigley. I know I was kinda of excited to see the Cubs return to Cleveland a couple of weeks ago too. Basically, it’s something different, and after the Cubs play the Brewers for the 18th time, something different sounds good.
The one thing baseball does that the NFL and NBA doesn’t do is cater to natural geographic rivalries like Cubs/Sox or Mets/Yankees. Now I don’t live in Chicago, and I am sure it may be different there, but playing the White Sox 6 times a year just doesn’t really turn me on anymore. Again, I know there is tremendous interest in it in the actual city, which translates into money, which, as we all know, is the driving force behind anything in the sports world. It’s Cubs/Sox, Mets/Yankees, Dodgers/Angels, Giants/A’s, maybe even Cardinals/Royals. But who do the Brewers play? How about Pittsburgh? They already play their in-state rival Philadelphia anyway. I guess there is Marlins/Rays, but does anybody in Florida care about either of those two teams regardless? Can you really call it a rivalry when the teams only play 6 games a year and those games don’t really matter much as far as the standings?
As Cubs fan, I am much more interested in the Cardinals as a rival than the White Sox. When the Cubs and Cards square off, it affects the standings in the division more than the Cubs and the Sox. I just don’t really think about the Sox during the year. They are in the American League, and what they do has zero effect on the Cubs. What St. Louis does has an impact on the Cubs directly. The Cubs just took two out of three from the Sox, but it really isn’t any different than if they’d had beaten the Diamondbacks. When they got swept two weeks ago in St. Louis, big difference. It isn’t like football when the Colts played the Patriots almost every year in the 2000’s when you knew that game would determine home field advantage in the playoffs.
Again, I don’t see anything changing, what with the money these games generate. And that’s fine. It’s not THAT big of a deal. I just know that after the Cubs play 3 games on the south side, I can forget about the White Sox again for another year and go back to worrying about St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the other teams in the National League that they are really competing against. The Crosstown Series is more of a novelty than anything else. I’m going to get up in the morning and turn on Quick Pitch on MLB Network and see what the Cardinals did, or what the Brewers did, not what the White Sox did. But if you are into this “rivalry”, by all means enjoy it. Have fun with it. Just know that if you’re a die hard Cubs fans or a die hard White Sox fan, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter very much. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Does anybody remember what they did against the Sox that year? In 2005, do Sox fans remember or care what they did against the Northsiders? Now if the day ever comes that both teams are contenders at the same time, and there is a chance they could meet in the final series of the year, it might be different. But for now, it’s just 6 games out of 162. I guess the best part for the teams at least is it’s the shortest road trip they have all year.