Crosstown Classic

Opening day in Major League Baseball is in less than a month, which means both White Sox and Cubs fans believe this is their year. It also means heated conversations in the halls about which team is better and fans getting annoyed when their team isn’t doing as well as the other.

This rivalry goes all the way back to 1900, when a man named Charles Comiskey moved the then-St. Paul Saints to the city of Chicago. The Cubs owner at the time, Albert Spalding, was unhappy and filed suit against Comiskey. Comiskey won and moved the newly named “White Stockings” (the former name of the Cubs) to Chicago, south of 35th Street (this location is where  the nickname “south siders” is derived from).

Then, in 1906, the two teams met in the World Series; the White Sox, known as the “Hitless Wonders,” won in six games.

The teams played only exhibition games until 1997, when interleague play began. From then until now, the series has brought out a lot of memorable moments, including in 2006 when AJ Pierzynski of the White Sox rammed into Cubs catcher Michael Barrett at home plate. This caused a massive brawl on the field, resulting in four players being ejected.

In 2008, the last time the two teams both made the playoffs in the same year, they both swept each other in their respective ballparks during the regular season.

However, the rivalry goes deeper than that: “You go deeper and see that the Cubs are perceived as the team that everyone likes. They kind of have done something very strange in that they have become very popular in their losing ways up until 2016,” said Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, who covered both the Cubs and the White Sox during their World Series runs. He plans on covering the Cubs this season.

According to Gonzales, most fans of each team didn’t feel the need to root for the other team when they were in the World Series, even though they are from the same city.

On the North Side:

For year, the Cubs were known as the “lovable losers,” and they were able to build fans despite their losing ways. However, this nickname came to an end in 2016, after the Cubs broke their 108-year drought, winning the World Series.

According to LHS senior and lifelong Cubs fan Andrew Zemeske, the Cubs have more of a family feel to them. His grandfather watched the Cubs ever since Wrigley Field was open in 1914. His dad was then born a Cubs fan and then so was he. He continues to go to Cubs games during the season and tries not to miss a game on TV. Unfortunately, Zemeske’s grandpa passed away before he could see the Cubs win it all.

“The Cubs are just better, in terms of their ballpark, the fans [and] culture. I feel like the Cubs are the older, more classic franchise,” said Zemeske.

Aliya Haddon

In regards to the Cubs actually playing the White Sox, “it’s always a lot of fun when they play, and I always get into the series more than the normal series. I also got very upset when the White Sox won the Crosstown Cup a couple years back,” said Zemeske.

With the Cubs and White Sox both having championship runs in the first couple decades of this century, there were times when some fans would root for the opposite team.

“I don’t blame people for rooting for the Cubs in 2016 because, to be honest, I would probably root for the White Sox if they were in the World Series because it’s better for the city of Chicago,” Zemeske explained.

On the South Side:

The White Sox have a different story. They made three playoff appearances in the first decade of the 2000s and won the World Series in 2005; however, the roles have switched, and now the White Sox are using the tactic the Cubs used to build their recent championship team, focusing on building their young players.

With the White Sox, many fans believe that not all Cubs fans have been fans for life. “I think some of the Cubs fans at our school jumped on the bandwagon after 2016,” said lifelong Sox fan and senior Matt Chyna.

Aliya Haddon

Similar to Zemeske, Chyna’s allegiance to his team comes from his  family. His dad was a big White Sox fan and that was passed down to him as he got into baseball growing up.

The Chyna family used to have season tickets to the White Sox. “I was there for Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in 2009; that was pretty cool to experience,” explained Chyna.

“I tend to just ignore what the Cubs are doing as an organization. Sometimes the [organization] can be annoying, but a lot of the time, I just think they can do what they want,” said Chyna when asked about the Cubs’ tactics.

Similar to Zemeske, Chyna believes that it is better for the city of Chicago if one of the teams has a deep playoff run and that both sides root for the city.

This Season:

Looking into this season, the Cubs look to rebound from their back-to-back losses in the NL Central tiebreaker game and the Wild Card game to end last season. Right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish is coming off an injury and will try to boost a starting rotation that includes Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks.

As for the Cubs offense, minimal moves were made in order to help the offense that struggled down the stretch last season. Kris Bryant comes into the season healthy, which is key because he battled ankle and shoulder injuries during the later part of last season. Last year’s NL MVP runner-up Javier Baez looks to continue his hot hitting.

The Cubs will look to overcome a busy offseason, which included shortstop Addison Russell being suspended late last season for 40 games due to domestic violence allegations. He will serve the final 28 games of the suspension this season. In addition, emails with racist content sent by  Joe Ricketts, the father of the Ricketts family, the team’s owners, pay for the Cubs, recently emerged.

As for the White Sox, missing out on the Manny Machado sweepstakes will most likely take a big toll on their chances to contend in the AL Central. Instead, the White Sox will look to continue to grow their farm system and their young prospects.

Michael Kopech will look to recover from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last year; in Kopech’s absence, Reynaldo Lopez will look to boost the starting rotation. The White Sox hope second baseman Yoan Moncada will continue to grow as a prospect and into the player the fans hope he will become. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who may start the season in the minor leagues, is a candidate for Rookie of the Year. Shortstop Tim Anderson and first baseman Jose Abreu are other key parts of the team’s offense.

With Machado signing with the Padres and Bryce Harper most likely signing elsewhere, the Sox will look to grow their existing talent, in order to continue rebuilding their team.