Chicagoans abuzz about the matchup of first-place teams
CHICAGO – In the Second City, the buzz is all about first place.
The Cubs are on top. So are the White Sox. And starting Friday, they play each other six times in 10 days.
Somehow, maybe, this could be a preview of a Windy City World Series. Just imagine fans of the teams who don’t exactly love one another jamming the Red Line train that runs the eight miles between Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field.
The last all-Chicago World Series saw the White Sox, known as the “Hitless Wonders,” beat the favored Cubs four games to two, after the Cubs went 116-36 during the regular season of 1906.
Two years later, the Cubs won the World Series and haven’t captured one since, a 100-year stretch of futility that White Sox fans are quick to point out when there’s a debate over who’s the best team in town.
The White Sox, meanwhile, ended an 88-year drought of their own by winning the World Series in 2005, an accomplishment that apparently didn’t impress some Cubs’ backers.
“It’s so different. You might as well build a border, a Great Wall of China on Madison (Avenue) because we are so different,” White Sox general manager Ken Williams said this week in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “We might as well be in two different cities.
“The unfortunate thing for me is that it’s a shame that a certain segment of Chicago refused to enjoy a baseball championship brought to their city. The only thing I can say is ‘Happy anniversary.’ ”
When they meet Friday at Wrigley Field, it will mark the latest date both teams have been in first since Sept. 9, 2003.
The Cubs won the NL Central that season before falling apart in the NLCS and losing to Florida after being five outs away from the World Series. The White Sox finished second to Minnesota in the AL Central.
And since interleague play started in 1997, it’s the first time the White Sox and Cubs will meet as first-place teams at the start of the series.
“It’s great for the fans, it really is. It’s great for the city,” Cubs manger Lou Piniella said of the series, which he managed in for the first time a year ago, winning five of six. “Both teams have played well this year, which adds to it. We look forward to the challenge of facing them.”
The first-place White Sox visit the first-place Cubs this weekend:
Friday: 11:20 a.m., WGN
Saturday: 10:05 a.m., WGN
Sunday: 5:05 p.m., ESPN