A Crosstown World Series?
It's a Chicago baseball fan's dream.
The White Sox representing the American League, the Cubs representing the National League, for all the marbles. Sounds fun. Sounds electric. Sounds insane.
There's no figuring out which teams are going to end up in the Fall Classic — or if Major League Baseball will even get to the Fall Classic — in this pandemic-shortened season full of nothing but unknowns. The White Sox and the Cubs both head toward the 60-game sprint to the playoffs with aspirations, expectations of playing in October. If both teams get the answers they're looking for in their starting rotations, they could both be in playoff position.
But there are no guarantees this season.
Still, the schedule could provide the next best thing to a World Series zipping up and down the Red Line.
The Crosstown rivals will face off six times — eight if you count the exhibition games on July 19 and 20 — with the rivalry games accounting for one-sixth of each team's regular-season schedule. And the scheduling gods have smiled favorably on the Crosstown rivalry, with the White Sox and Cubs slated to square off in the final series of the regular season, when playoff spots could be on the line.
In other words, we're talking about potentially the most meaningful matchup between these two teams since the 1906 World Series.
"Let's look forward to that. Let's all be happy that there's a possibility of that occurring, let's all embrace it as a city," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. "I know that most of Chicago would like to see a Crosstown World Series some day. Maybe this will be a little taste of it."
Should the White Sox find themselves dueling with the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians for AL Central supremacy, should the Cubs be jockeying with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds or Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, should either team be making a mad dash for a wild card spot, it could all come down to how they fare against one another on the season's final weekend.
While it hasn't been the case in recent seasons, with the Cubs harboring championship expectations and the White Sox rebuilding, the two seem to be evenly matched while meeting each other in the middle of their respective trajectories, the White Sox on the precipice of opening their contention window and the Cubs trying to keep theirs from slamming shut.
Both teams boast thrilling cores, with Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez, Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito breaking out in a big way last season on the South Side and the Cubs boasting three MVP types in their lineup: Kris Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo.
The White Sox look to have the deeper pitching staff, but there are questions among the unproven arms. The Cubs might not have the depth, but they have the experience of Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester.
And the 2017 trade between the two clubs has put even more focus on comparisons. José Quintana, who went to the North Side in that deal, finds his season in jeopardy after injuring himself while washing dishes. Meanwhile, the return package of Jiménez and Dylan Cease is part of the reason that the White Sox are on the verge of brighter days on the South Side. Will 2020's multiple Crosstown matchups see Jiménez deliver another "thanks, Cubs" moment? What about the idea of Cease facing down his former organization with the playoffs on the line for his current one?
It will be fascinating to see these two teams square off during 2020. And it will be a lot more meaningful than usual. It could mean everything by the time we get to the season's final series, Sept. 25, 26 and 27 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
"We see our Crosstown rivals as just another team that we have to do the best we possibly can to defeat on a daily basis. If it happens to be for a slot in postseason, even better," Renteria said. "How much more exciting will it be for everybody in our communities to embrace both their teams fighting for something that's meaningful."