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Sox have most to gain in City Series

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http://www.suntimes.com/sports/slezak/1008...carol17.article

 

Sox have most to gain in city series

It's more than just 6 games; beating Cubs would be a boon to confidence

 

June 17, 2008

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BY CAROL SLEZAK Sun-Times Columnist

 

Overhyped? Maybe. Just another six games on the schedule? Technically correct. More meaningful to fans than players? Probably so.

 

Until now.

 

At just about any point during the previous 11 seasons, the White Sox-Cubs interleague series were a fun diversion for fans and not much more. But this year? Everything is different. With both teams leading their divisions -- and they're guaranteed to be in first come Game 1 on Friday -- the games have taken on new meaning.

 

Until now, the series primarily were about fans' bragging rights. Beginning this weekend at Wrigley Field, they're about getting to the playoffs. More important for the Sox, they're about believing you can get there.

 

In the past, the question was always Which team will earn citywide bragging rights? This year, the question has become Which team has the most to gain from winning the series? The answer is obvious: the Sox.

Everyone expects Sox to fail

 

Most of the country already has anointed the Cubs as division winners. Still lovable but no longer losers, they are the people's choice. Invincible at home and no longer pushovers on the road, there is a feeling the Cubs are built to last through the fall.

 

No matter that their starting pitching remains suspect -- their lineup more than makes up for that weakness. Besides, when the time is right, they will rent a starter to get them over the hump.

 

Neither the Cubs nor their fans lack for confidence this season. If the Cubs were to lose three straight to the Sox this weekend, the prevailing attitude would be That's OK, we'll start a new winning streak Tuesday against the Orioles. And they probably would.

 

The Sox are a different story. No matter that they enjoy a 4½-game lead over the second-place Twins, which is one game more than the Cubs lead the Cardinals. It seems that everyone expects the Sox to fail.

 

Reasons abound. They're streaky. Paul Konerko and Jim Thome have struggled mightily all season. Their starting pitching can't possibly continue to look as good as it has. And don't look now, but the Tigers and Indians have started to heat up.

 

Just about everyone, including their own manager, has expressed concern about the Sox. You sense plenty of people are wondering if the team even should bother showing up to play the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday. Because this is a Cubs town, and this is the Cubs' year.

 

There could be no better time for the Sox to make a statement: Oh, yes, we can.

 

Oh, yes, they can win the series at Wrigley, and at the Cell the following weekend. Oh, yes, they can remind everyone that the Cubs are not the only first-place team in Chicago. Oh, yes, they can remind everyone, including themselves, that they plan to stick around for the long haul.

Games vs. Cubs a measuring stick

 

The Sox and Cubs never have played each other while leading their respective divisions. They've never played each other when the games mattered this much. For the Sox, these six games will be about measuring themselves against a team that's considered the best in the National League, maybe in all of baseball. It's a chance to prove to themselves and everyone else that they belong in that conversation.

 

Despite protestations from players on both sides of town that these games are not that big of a deal, they have produced a lot of memorable plays. Wrigley's ivy costing the Sox a run in 1998. Frank Thomas' Waveland Avenue home run in 1999. Sean Lowe picking Mark Grace off first in 2000. Jose Valentin's Sammy Sosa impersonation in 2001. Antonio Osuna striking out Sosa with the tying run on third in 2002. Valentin's game-winning homer in 2003. Juan Uribe intentionally misleading Derrek Lee about a fair ball in 2005. A.J. Pierzynski bowling over Michael Barrett at the plate, followed by The Punch, in 2006. Pierzynski's grand slam in 2007.

Emotions always run a little higher

 

Even in years when neither team was contending, emotions always have seemed higher than the players care to admit.

 

Joe Crede remarked recently that the series against the Cubs are ''pretty much meaningless'' because ''you don't get a ring'' if you win them. True enough. Technically speaking, it's just six more games on the schedule. In the Sox' 2005 championship season, they split 3-3 against the Cubs. But each year brings a different set of circumstances.

 

Many already have pronounced 2008 the year of the Cubs. The Sox have a great opportunity to say, Hey, don't forget about us.

 

CAROL SLEZAK

 

cslezak@suntimes.com

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I dont know, I think they both have a lot to gain and lose in this series. If the Sox win the series, its a great confidence boost, if they lose it, it isnt like people are going to be saying that they lost to a clearly inferior club.

 

I just want the Sox to come in there with a chip on their shoulder from last years disaster and show some spunk during the series.

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Neither the Cubs nor their fans lack for confidence this season.

 

That's funny, considering their long and storied history of post-season collapses.

 

Because this is a Cubs town, and this is the Cubs' year.

 

I remember the windbags at the Sun-Times saying the same thing back in 2003.

 

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It's as simple as this...and it doesn't matter that it's the Cubs. They have the best record in baseball, so playing them is indeed a measuring stick. If the Sox want the respect of a top team this year then the need to beat the top team. That should be motivation enough.......Get er done...

 

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QUOTE (Controlled Chaos @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 10:57 AM)
Get er done...

 

Please no.

 

Get it done? Sure....

 

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QUOTE (whitesoxbrian @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 09:23 PM)
Win at least 1 in each series and I'll be fine with it.

 

I'll take that as long as they lose to the Phillies in the playoffs.....

Edited by DABearSoX

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f*** taking one, I'll be disappointed if they don't win both series...I'm always disappointed if they don't win a series

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QUOTE (whitesoxbrian @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 03:23 PM)
Win at least 1 in each series and I'll be fine with it.

seems like low expectations. i know we struggled this the last two series but i would like to split them 3-3.

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"At just about any point during the previous 11 seasons, the White Sox-Cubs interleague series were a fun diversion for fans and not much more. But this year? Everything is different. With both teams leading their divisions -- and they're guaranteed to be in first come Game 1 on Friday -- the games have taken on new meaning."

 

I'm pretty sure both teams were in 1st at least one other year going into the series. Am I wrong?

 

 

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QUOTE (LosMediasBlancas @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 04:28 PM)
"At just about any point during the previous 11 seasons, the White Sox-Cubs interleague series were a fun diversion for fans and not much more. But this year? Everything is different. With both teams leading their divisions -- and they're guaranteed to be in first come Game 1 on Friday -- the games have taken on new meaning."

 

I'm pretty sure both teams were in 1st at least one other year going into the series. Am I wrong?

Im pretty sure its the first time. If we can win 2 games in Wrigley it would be a HUGE boost to our team. The Cubs are (as of right now) the best team in baseball. I know it disgusts me to say that, but it is the case. That article was a little far fetched, but we do have something to prove here. The Sox are ALSO in 1st place and the way the media has been talking, it seems like they are in last. I hope for the Sox fans sake, they stick it to the Cubs and shut the media up...

IMO the only thing this team needs to win the division is a true leadoff hitter, if KW aqcuires that, i think we will be just as good (or even better) than the Cubs....

Go get em KennY!

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it looks like we need a poll thread to see how many of us think we will take the series at wrigley

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QUOTE (whitesoxbrian @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 03:23 PM)
Win at least 1 in each series and I'll be fine with it.

I'm confused how any fan would be "fine" with winning 2 out of 6 games against anybody.

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QUOTE (Controlled Chaos @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 07:46 PM)
I'm confused how any fan would be "fine" with winning 2 out of 6 games against anybody.

Well, probably because we just lost 2/3 against one of the worst teams in the league, and the Cubs are going to throw Lilly (who's ERA is dropping steadily), Marquis (who has been pitching well as of late), and Dempster (who is lights out) at us, which calls for about a 5 run total for 3 games.

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I don't think making a statement matters much to the Sox.

The team has a batch of veterans who probably remember last year's s*** pair of series vs. the Cubs.

I think they've played enough games they are just games.

Hopefully the weird Sox offense will compete.

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QUOTE (Cali @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 02:11 PM)
Please no.

 

Get it done? Sure....

 

 

Agree. I get enough hillbilly lingo down here. That crap is worse than ebonics.

 

 

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The players can say all they want about the series' not meaning anything, and just being another six games. But we've seen over the course of this rivalry that the players DO care. These series' always end up being some of the most exciting and controversial of the year. And while a lot of that can be chalked up to the media and the fans, one can see it on the field as well. It's always a playoff atmosphere, and that definitely affects the players.

 

From a White Sox point of view, I think there is always a chip on their shoulder. They're sick of being the second team in town (at least on some level), and enjoy knocking off the City's favorite son...

 

From a Cubs point of view, I always get the sense that the Cubs' players want to actually prove on the field that they can beat the Sox, and not just in the attendance figures or beer sales. They have a chip on their shoulder, not because they don't have the fan support (they do), but because they want the pride that comes along with actually beating the Sox (who seem to usually be the better team on the field).

 

So say what they want, I truly believe the players do look at this series differently. And for different reasons.

 

This year should be special...

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I would not be pleased to go 2-4 in the series.

That would be lousy.

3-3 would be acceptable, though we'd lose ground to our red-hot Detroit rivals in doing so.

I mean winning two of three at home and losing 2 of 3 at Wrigley is about the best we can hope for.

4-2 would be great.

5-1 awesome.

We ain't gonna go 6-0.

0-6 would be a great big bummer and likely end our season.

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QUOTE (LosMediasBlancas @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 04:28 PM)
"At just about any point during the previous 11 seasons, the White Sox-Cubs interleague series were a fun diversion for fans and not much more. But this year? Everything is different. With both teams leading their divisions -- and they're guaranteed to be in first come Game 1 on Friday -- the games have taken on new meaning."

 

I'm pretty sure both teams were in 1st at least one other year going into the series. Am I wrong?

 

I don't think we were in first place this late last year...

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QUOTE (whitesoxbrian @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 10:20 PM)
Well, probably because we just lost 2/3 against one of the worst teams in the league, and the Cubs are going to throw Lilly (who's ERA is dropping steadily), Marquis (who has been pitching well as of late), and Dempster (who is lights out) at us, which calls for about a 5 run total for 3 games.

And that's baseball...

 

Where's the fun in expecting the losses to come.

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QUOTE (greg775 @ Jun 18, 2008 -> 01:58 AM)
I would not be pleased to go 2-4 in the series.

That would be lousy.

3-3 would be acceptable, though we'd lose ground to our red-hot Detroit rivals in doing so.

I mean winning two of three at home and losing 2 of 3 at Wrigley is about the best we can hope for.

4-2 would be great.

5-1 awesome.

We ain't gonna go 6-0.

0-6 would be a great big bummer and likely end our season.

 

why aren't we gonna go 6-0.. this team is ridiculously streaky.. if they hit their stride both weekends, it's completely possible.

 

I know it's unlikely, just saying, let's go in shooting for 6-0, while expecting 3-3, anything better is a bonus, anything worse is a punch in the gut.

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The Sox have more to gain in that they'll have 3 more tallies in the win column. All I care are the wins, no matter who we really beat. Although it would be nice for the Cubs fans to shut up for a while. I'm all for making Cubs fans look stupid.

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I know it's unlikely, just saying, let's go in shooting for 6-0, while expecting 3-3, anything better is a bonus, anything worse is a punch in the gut.

 

I can't argue with that. GO SOX.

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QUOTE (whitesoxbrian @ Jun 17, 2008 -> 10:20 PM)
Well, probably because we just lost 2/3 against one of the worst teams in the league, and the Cubs are going to throw Lilly (who's ERA is dropping steadily), Marquis (who has been pitching well as of late), and Dempster (who is lights out) at us, which calls for about a 5 run total for 3 games.

I don't care how well they've been pitching, i don't think those 3 guys would scare any team. The Sox may score only 5 runs in 3 games but they could just as easily score 25 runs as well. While Lilly is pitching better, a relapse to normal form for Dempster and Marquis is likely too.

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No way the Sox have more to gain, especially with the Cubs coming off a SWEEP at the hands of Tampa Bay......I don't care how much more improved TB is this season, we're coming off completing a sweep, their coming off getting swept.

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