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updated: 5/5/2014 11:46 PM

Sox-Cubs buzz now nothing but a yawn

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  • The Cubs' Starlin Castro is brushed back from the plate by a pitch from White Sox relief pitcher Daniel Webb during the 11th inning Monday night.

      The Cubs' Starlin Castro is brushed back from the plate by a pitch from White Sox relief pitcher Daniel Webb during the 11th inning Monday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

The White Sox and Cubs attempted to make the opener of their crosstown series compelling Monday night.

Good luck with that.

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Sox starter Jose Quintana looked sharp enough to pitch a no-hitter, but that bid ended one pitch into the sixth inning.

All that was left after that was a pretty good game between two good pitchers on two sub-.500 teams.

A rivalry is supposed to produce more than a pretty good game, however. Ill will, nasty grudges and Michael Barrett applying a hard knock to A.J. Pierzynski are supposed to be included.

Can either of these teams boast of beating the other? Can kids on street corners really argue over bragging rights?

No, all they can do is wait 'til next year!

Or some year after that!

One highlight in Game 1 of four, which went to the White Sox 3-1 in 12 innings, could have been Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, who had a 1.98 ERA in April, against Sox slugger Jose Abreu, who was both player and rookie of the month in the American League.

As much as it would have been nice to bill this as Willie Mays batting and battling against Sandy Koufax … uh, no.

Even Sox general manager Rick Hahn said, "I just look at it as another good pitcher we have to face. As an individual 1-on-1 confrontation, not so much."

And Cubs manager Ricky Renteria mustered only obligatory praise for Abreu: "He's somebody we need to be careful with."

So much for trying to fabricate that storyline.

Maybe excitement for the series will build during the week. Except, Tuesday night's game is up against the Blackhawks' playoff series and Thursday night's game is up against the Bears' draft.

That leaves Wednesday: "Let's go Wednesday! … Let's go Wednesday! … Let's go Wednesday!"

Pardon the sarcasm, but sarcasm is my defense against melancholy. What has happened to this Sox-Cubs thing is a shame.

The only buzz -- in Wrigley Field and around town -- was that there was no buzz. Why not? Because so much has been done to diminish the appeal of the crosstown conflict.

The number of games has been reduced from six to four, which signals to fans that the series isn't as important as it used to be.

Want more?

This season the entire series will be played during the week, in spring instead of summer, with school still in session and Monday's game-time temperature 41 degrees and dropping.

Want more?

Worst of all, the Cubs and Sox came in with a combined record of 27-36.

Enough already.

No wonder the announced attendance was a mere 33,146, and it looked like half the ticket buyers stayed home. Those controversial rooftops across the street didn't have any better percentage of occupied seats.

The mystery was why anyone bothered to show up.

Seriously, this might as well have been San Diego playing Tampa Bay in Chicago. The atmosphere was more electric in the old days when the Cubs and Sox played one exhibition game every summer.

Maybe both the rivalry and weather will heat up as this week proceeds. Maybe fans will care enough to resume throwing beer and punches at each other.

For starters, though, all they threw at each other were yawns and condolences.

As much as the managers and players try to express enthusiasm for the Cubs-Sox rivalry, they're all scuffling for a victory against anybody in any uniform.

To them, this week's games are just four snapshots in an album of 162 blurred photos. Each team is simply a potential lifeboat for the other in a season of stormy seas.

That's how the crosstown series will remain until one or both the Cubs and Sox complete their rebuilding projects.

An attractive event has been rendered unattractive.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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