It’s been 110 years since Chicago had a Cubs-White Sox subway series. Or should I say horse and carriage series? That was In 1906. The Sox, a feeble hitting team with a ridiculed .230 regular season batting average, upset the loaded Cubs in six games. The Cubs were heavy favorites as they were coming off a MLB record for regular-season wins (116) and winning percentage (.763) in a 154-game season.
During that year, Gandhi introduced his Non-Violent Protest Philosophy of Satyagraha and the Kelloggs Company was founded. Baseball icon Satchel Paige was born and the President was Teddy Roosevelt. We would still have to wait four more decades for Jackie Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier.
Unfortunately, there’s no one alive that could have even witnessed that series first-hand. But when you haven’t won a World Series in 108 years like the Cubs, then your fans tend to hold onto history like it’s their last dollar at a gentleman’s club. There's never been any love lost between these two squads.
(Photo Credit: sportingnews.com)
After a century of World Series failure, the Cubs are looking like MLB’s Top Dawgs. They were derailed by the Mets in the NLCS last season, but this year they were “everybody’s” sexy preseason pick to finally win a World Series because they are loaded with youth, talent and dominant, veteran pitching led by 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.
Chicagomag.com did a huge layout on the team in March in response to the overwhelming excitement in the city.
“I don’t know if this team has a weakness,” says Christina Kahrl, a baseball writer for ESPN online and a co-founder of the legendary stats-oriented website Baseball Prospectus. “This team has so much going for it, in terms of depth and talent. You could totally see the Cubs winning a hundred or more games and putting away the best record in the league.”
A small but effective 26-game sample says the Cubbies are the real deal and leading baseball with a +89 run differential. The fact that the Chicago White Sox are also putting the beats on teams and distinguishing themselves as American League contenders is icing on the cake for the Windy City.
This is a historic time for two of the flagship franchises in MLB history. According to STATS, Chicago has two first place baseball teams for the first time since May 29, 1973, when the Sox had a 26-14 record and a four-game lead over the Angels in the American League's West Division, while the Cubs were sporting a 29-18 clip with a 5 1/2 game lead over the Mets in the East.
The Chicago White Sox, who last won the World Series in 2005 under the leadership of Ozzie “Mighty Mouth” Guillen, lead the American League in wins (19-9) and they sit four games in front of the Tigers in the AL Central. The Cubs are looking like a formidable machine with no weaknesses and lead all of baseball with a 20-6 record. The Cub’s closest NL Central competitor is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are six games out.
While the Chi-Town squads are diamond-mining something serious, please remember that baseball is a marathon, not an Olympic sprint. Back in ‘73, the city was buzzing about a potential subway series and both team’s ended up succumbing to the battle of attrition that is baseball.
The White Sox, managed by Chuck Tanner, peaked too soon and finished with a 77-85 record in fifth place, 17 games behind the Oakland A’s, who ultimately beat the Mets in the World Series.
The Cubs didn’t do much better, finishing with a 77-84 record (.478) and falling victim to Tug McGraw’s, “Ya Gotta Believe” chant that inspired a miracle NY Mets run to the World Series. The Cubs finished in fifth place.
One City, Two Teams
Skipper Robert Ventura’s Sox are thriving with a nice mix of veterans and lethal pitching.
Last year’s All-Star Homer Derby king Todd Frazier is playing third and has added some punch with seven homers and 18 RBI. Once a disgraced PED cheat who was leading the league with a .347 batting average in 2012 before failing a test, outfielder Melky Cabrera continues to revitalize his career and be a positive presence in the clubhouse.
Melky leads the Sox with a .287 batting average and is second on the team with 29 hits. Second baseman Brett Lawrie is super solid and the meat-n-potatoes guy is Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who has 19 RBI and isn’t even luke warm with the bat yet.
The pitching staff runs three studs deep with 27-year-old Jose Quintana coming into his own in his fifth season. He is 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA in six starts. Veteran ace Chris Sale is picking up where he left off last year when he struck out 274 batters. Sale is 6-0 with a stingy 1.66 ERA. Matt Latos is on one of his upswings as the 6-foot-6, 245-pound mound marauder is 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA.
The Cubs are loaded with talent at every position and with the guidance of skipper Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein's sabermetric-based philosophies, they have risen to the top of the MLB heap with a lethal combination of hitting, defense, power and power pitching.
(Photo Credit: upi.com)
Chicago lost a heartbreaking NLCS to the Mets last season, but the potential of the team’s greatness was evident. Now, they have to do it this season. The Cubs haven’t been this talented since the last time they won the World Series, which is around the last time these two teams were title contenders at the same damn time.
It would be ironic and appropriate that these squads meet in a subway series and shine a positive spotlight on the city if Chicago, if only for one season.