North To South: Memories of The Crosstown Classic
The Cubs and White Sox will meet for the 121st time Saturday night on the South Side. The Sox lead the all-time series 61-59 after the two teams split a two-game series at Wrigley Field in June. As the series swings south, let’s reminisce on a pretty cool match-up.
A lot of people will tell you this series is dumb. “It doesn’t mean anything.” “They aren’t real rivals.” This and that. Blah blah. This series is fun. We all have close friends and family who root for the other side of town. Talking an excessive amount of shit for a few days to them makes you feel closer than ever.
Sure, a win over the Twins means more to the White Sox. Beating Milwaukee is more important for the North-Siders. We know. But guess what, the Sox ain’t playing Minnesota this weekend. The Cubs aren’t playing at “Wrigley North” either. It’s the Crosstown. Lighten up, talk some shit and have fun.
I want the Sox to beat the Cubs every time they play them. Not for that stupid cup thing they’re still giving out (why?) either. It’s all about pride. Bragging rights. We don’t have the Bears or Blackhawks right now. We need something to yell about. Let loose.
Saturday’s game should be a good one. Lucas Giolito will face-off with Jon Lester at 6:15. The game will be nationally televised on FOX. No, Joe Buck will not be popping into your living room for this one. FOX called on Len Kasper and AJ Pierzynski to jump on the microphones. The stage will be set nicely.
The Sox and Cubs have been playing each other every year since the beginning of inter-league play in 1997. In those 23 years, we have seen a lot of unforgettable moments. The guy in the booth next to Kasper Saturday has been involved in quite a few of them. Let’s dive in.
The Punch Heard Around Chicago
Undoubtedly the biggest moment in the history of this series. The White Sox were the defending World Champions as this series opened on the South Side in 2006. There was tension in the air between the two sides of town as the game opened. It didn’t take long to turn on the fireworks.
Brian Anderson sent a fly ball to left. It looked deep enough for Pierzynski to score. The throw came in as Pierzynski tagged up. He beat the ball to the plate, but Michael Barret was in his way. Pierzynski slammed into Barret and then all hell broke loose.
Most baseball “fights” don’t result in much. All bias aside, credit to Barret, he got a pretty good lick in here. Scott Podsednik picked up his catcher. Brian Anderson came running in looking to hit anybody wearing gray. It was an all-time moment. As the inning resumed, Tadahito Iguchi entered with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam. The Sox won 7-0. Watch Iguchi’s blast here.
1 Season, 2 Sweeps
2008 was an exciting summer in Chicago. For the first time in ages, Chicago had two good baseball teams at the same time. Hell, for many years, it was difficult to just get one good team. Nonetheless, both teams were in first place in their divisions and were slated to play back-to-back weekends.
The first series was played at Wrigley Field and the Cubs jumped all over the White Sox. Aramis Ramirez walked-off the first game with a long home run to center of Scott Linebrink. Ramirez homered in all three games that series and the Cubs swept the Sox.
The series returned to the South Side the following weekend. The Sox chased Ryan Dempster early, after Nick Swisher’s 3rd inning grand slam made it 8-0.
The Sox went on to win the next two games and return the favor, as they swept the Cubs. That year was special. Both teams made the playoffs for the first time since 1906. Baseball was king in Chicago in 2008; maybe we’ll be seeing that again soon.
Zambrano Tries To Fight…. His Teammate?
In the 2010 chapter of this story, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano grabbed the lime-light for all the wrong reasons. After the Sox jumped out to a big first inning on Zambrano, he returned to the dugout and went on a tirade even Lou Piniella thought was too far.
Zambrano was apparently unhappy the gold-glove first baseman, Derrek Lee, didn’t dive for a ground ball down the line. The floodgates opened, as the Sox went on to win 6-0, but the story was all about Zambrano and his lunacy. Another unforgettable moment.
A Visit From The GOAT
Any good book needs a cast of great characters. The characters are always changing in this story, but perhaps the mot famous one to ever participate was a basketball player. Remember when Michael Jordan decided he wanted to play baseball? Well, baseball brought him to Wrigley Field for the Crosstown Classic.
It was just an exhibition game, but Chicago was pumped up. Michael was back. Well, not “I’m Back.” But, back nonetheless. Jordan played right field for the White Sox that day and for the first time and only time, got Cubs fans to cheer for a White Sox player. Jordan even added an RBI double.
A Visit From The Champs
2010 might go down as the greatest summer in Chicago history. The Blackhawks had won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years and they were ready to party. It was an awesome moment for the city and shed some light on the rivalry. At the end of the day, we’re all Hawks fans.
Team President and former Cub employee, John McDonough, threw out the first pitch. The three teams posed for a picture. Jim Cornelison sang the national anthem. It was quite a day. Quite a summer actually. Oh, and both Gavin Floyd and Ted Lily flirted with no-hitters in this one.
The First Walk-Off
I hate to write a positive Cubs section here, but I’d also hate to be a complete homer. In just the second year of this matchup, the Cubs and Sox found themselves in extra innings at Wrigley.
Enter Brant Brown. If you google Brown, everything that pops up is about him dropping a ball, so apparently this wasn’t his most famous highlight. Nonetheless, the Cubs had the first walk-off home run of this rivalry.
El Caballo Sends Everyone Home
Carlos Lee holds the title of my first ever favorite baseball player. I have no clue why, I was like six, but here we are. Lee also has one of the most memorable crosstown moments.
The game was tied in the 10th and the Sox had loaded the bases for Lee. The left-fielder then sent a shot into the Chicago night. A walk-off grand slam against your crosstown rival. Not bad. A great call from Hawk. A reminder that thank god the Sox remodeled their stadium years later. Yikes. They should bring that air-raid siren back for home runs though.
Redemption Is a Dish Best Served Cold
Jose Quintana for prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. A trade that will never be forgotten by fans of either side of town. Jimenez had been given up by the Cubs for the lefty Quintana and he was now a member of the South Side club.
His first game back at Wrigley was about redemption. The game was tied in the 9th as Jimenez approached the dish with a runner on. Pedro Strop delivered the pitch and Eloy sent it into orbit. Thanks, Cubs!
Pitchers Who Can Rake
In 2013, Chicago’s two teams lost a combined 195 games. 195 games. Remember how 2008 was the summer of baseball? Well, 2013 definitely was not. Luckily, the Blackhawks won the Cup to distract us all.
However, the 2013 Crosstown Classic did provide a memorable moment. Say what you want about pitchers hitting. 9 times out of 10 it’s dumb. But when Travis Wood stepped up to the plate for this one, it wasn’t dumb. The Cubs won the season series 4-0 in 2013.
Wrigley’s Public Enemy No. 1
AJ Pierzynski once said in an interview that he’d never play for the Cubs. If they were the only team offering him a contract, he said he’d retire, That’s what I appreciate about you, AJ. He didn’t like Cubs fans. Cubs fans didn’t like him.
They got the upper-hand when Barrett punched him in 2006. A month later, AJ got the last laugh. The Sox were down to their last out, as the Cubs held a 6-5 lead in the ninth. Closer Ryan Dempster served one up to Pierzynski and he didn’t miss it. The Sox had the lead and AJ had his moment. My personal favorite moment.
Sox fans, Cubs fans, have fun this weekend. These games mean a little something extra whether you want to admit it or not. The wins feel a little sweeter. The losses sting just a little bit more. I hope The Rate is rocking this weekend and I hope the Cubs will be Flying the L for two straight. Go Sox!
Featured Photo: Chicago Tribune