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updated: 7/30/2013 10:16 PM

Cubs' rebuild could have ripple effect on White Sox

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For someone who takes pride in Chicago being a vibrant two-team baseball town, the current plight of the White Sox is both frustrating and frightening.

A lot of thoughts concerning the Sox have raced through the mind recently. The scariest is that this week's trade deadline might be the most interesting this team will be for quite some time.

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On the field and on the street and on the sports pages and on the airwaves, the Sox are in jeopardy of being buried if general manager Rick Hahn doesn't make the right moves and his team doesn't rebuild quickly.

At least it's a start with Tuesday night's trade of starting pitcher Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox.

White Sox executives will tell you that they don't compete with the Cubs. If you buy that they'll try to sell you a pair of tickets for a Montreal Expos game on the next homestand.

Seriously, the Sox have to compete with the Cubs for the hearts and minds of Chicagoans. Considering that, maybe even Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf chuckled at the difficulty the Cubs have had trying to get the city to approve their Wrigley Field renovation project.

Now, though, the Cubs appear ready to wipe the chuckles off all White Sox faces. If the Sox think they're in a Cubs town now, imagine if the Cubs' grand plans evolve into reality.

Already the Cubs are collecting promising young players while by comparison the Sox appear to be collecting dust. The Cubs are building an empire throughout Wrigleyville while by comparison the Sox are building a hole for themselves in Bridgeport. The Cubs are operating in the 22nd century while by comparison the Sox are still operating in the 20th century.

The Sox will be fine financially. They aren't going to go bankrupt or anything like that. TV is making all big-league teams flush with cash.

So, no, the Sox aren't going anywhere. Chicago isn't in danger of becoming a one-baseball-team town. But the Sox always are fighting the good fight to remain relevant in and around the city.

Not even eight years ago, when the Sox won the city's first and only World Series title since 1917, did the Sox' place on the local landscape become secure.

The Sox weren't able to translate a championship into what the Blackhawks have: a potential dynasty and sustainable popularity.

Indications now are that the Sox must embark on a rebuilding program. If it takes years, assuming that they even know how to go about it, will anyone remember this team?

The Sox have gone down this path three or four times in my lifetime with varying results. It's what they do. It's what periodically they have to do. It's what they have to do now to begin resembling a big-league team again.

The only difference this time is that in the past the Sox didn't seem even more futile than they were because the Cubs were even more futile than they were. When one team hasn't won a World Series in 105 years, winning once in 96 doesn't look so bad.

But what if the Cubs' blueprint for building a minor-league system, major-league winner and money-printing franchise works?

The Cubs have a fresh, eager and aggressive ownership family led by chairman Tom Ricketts, who is full of new ideas like Reinsdorf was three decades ago.

Ricketts wasn't afraid to search for, find and familiarize himself with somebody outside the Cubs' organization to help build something significant.

Meanwhile, the Sox' baseball operation is being run by the same people who plunged them into their current abyss.

Nothing guarantees that the Cubs will fulfill their latest promise to become a legitimate major-league team.

But if they do, well, that really should be a frightening thought for the White Sox if they don't rebuild sooner than later.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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