Here's your annual reminder that it's okay to trash talk your neighbor.
There is a perfect time for Sox fans and Cubs fans to heckle each other, to compare teams and front offices, to spew good natured venom. That time is this week.
Contact information ( * required )
Look, the echo chamber of sports talk radio can be a damaging force.
I see it happen all the time. A host expresses a ferocious opinion, which empowers a listener who didn't realize exactly how he felt about the issue. Then that emboldened listener expresses it back to the host, who has gained a follower and some validation. The authoritative host and an emerging army of sycophants then just keep saying what they agree about back and forth to each other, ever louder and more forceful, until any dissenting opinion is shamed away.
That echo chamber has led way too many people to say that these Cubs-Sox games are annoying, or overhyped, and don't matter.
First of all, there's the fact that the games DO matter. As opposed to the once annual exhibition, in which neither team gave playing time to anyone of consequence (Michael Jordan does not count), the results this week factor into the standings.
Yes, division rivalry games against the Tigers and the Cardinals matter more, but it's not as if our teams will trot out inconsequential minor leaguers of note this week. Shawon Dunston Jr. isn't suiting up. There is no forgotten spawn of Ken Williams to grab a bat.
Then there's this: from August to May, when a fan of either city team rips the other, I groan and roll my eyes. They are not your rival ... they are not your direct competition, and their success or failure should not define your day-to-day baseball happiness.
But when they do play each other, let it all out.
Give in, Cubs fans: rip the White Sox' oft-stubborn loyalty, the talent-poor minor leagues, and the unpopulated stadium. Tell them how much Hawk Harrelson insults your senses.
Go for it, Sox fans: mock the celebration of a futile 100 years, the endless build towards a "Cubs' Way," and Wrigley's infamous pig-sized rats. Tell them what a stat-head nerd Len Kasper is.
The first game will showcase the league's single best offensive story -- Jose Abreu -- facing Jeff Samardzija. Anthony Rizzo, who is right now an OBP machine, will have to deal with lefties Jose Quintana and John Danks on Monday and Wednesday.
The newly effective, encouraging back half of the Cubs bullpen, led by Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon, will try to tame what is surprisingly the American League's best offense.
Rick Hahn attacked a bad big-league Sox roster by spending and trading for young guys who are ready to play right now.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have concentrated on the farm system, building the Cubs to the No. 2-ranked system in the majors, according to Baseball Prospectus.
Who's doing it right? Who's deluding themselves and their fans? There's plenty of boasting and ridicule to be had, and this is the time to have at it.
Don't let an echo chamber of apathy tell you how to feel.
Rare footage of the 1919 World Series, unearthed this week and posted on Youtube, is a must watch for baseball fans. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mPHqbJXDQI&feature=youtu.be)
It's not as if you gain any insight into the infamous Black Sox, but the shots of both stadiums, players leaving their gloves on the field, and 40,000 well-dressed onlookers are phenomenal.
Coolest tidbit: video of hordes in a New York City square, looking up as they "watch" the game live from Cincinnati. It's not a broadcast of course, but instead a giant manual version of the kind of "game-center" we can now watch online, or on our phones. Runners in the form of dots go from base to base, with stats updating. I never knew people "watched" games in public crowds that way.
It might make you want to re-watch Eight Men Out, which is never a bad thing.
• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.