The White Sox like the Cubs have a core set of exciting, young talent. Though they are in different stages of development, each team is more connected to the other than one might think.
When I meet someone from Chicago, the first thing out of my mouth is, “Cubs or Sox fan?” A Cubs response typically will receive a low-key, “Oh. Well, the Cubs have a great young team.” A Sox response will almost always be met with a louder-than-necessary, “YES!”
Live away from Chicago long enough and one may eventually feel like an expatriate. Get far enough away geographically, and all things Chicago are okay. Which is why as a White Sox fan, I’m grateful for the Cubs and wish them well.
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Why? Why in the world would I wish the Cubs any goodwill whatsoever? Because we have the Cubs to thank for the Sox current rebuild. By August of the 2016 season – the year the Sox season collapsed after a 23-10 start while the Cubs stormed to their first World Series victory in 108 years – Rick Hahn knew the Sox had to do something significant to combat the potential skewing of young fans toward the dynamic young team put together on the Northside. Simply put, no matter the cost the Sox could never afford to lose an entire generation of fans.
Baseball is a business. Oh sure, there’s a game being played on the field. The business is much broader than that. From a game perspective, the White Sox competition are the clubs in Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and Minnesota. From a business perspective, it’s the Cubs.
Since Chicagoland represents at least 95 percent of the addressable market for the White Sox, this explains why after the 2016 season something drastic needed to take place to make sure the team remained relevant. Enter the “We’re mired in mediocrity” determination and decision to rebuild. Without that, Chris Sale would still be in a Sox uniform…and Yoan Moncada, Lucas Gioloto, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Eloy Jiminez, Blake Rutherford and the host of other prospects Hahn artfully acquired through trades would not be part of the team’s exciting future.
Do you feel like thanking the Cubs yet?
Something else that’s interesting is the specific exchange between the teams of Jose Quintana for Eloy Jiminez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete. The teams chose to help each other based on their respective timing and needs. The best possible outcome here is the Cubs keep up their success while the White Sox develop theirs, and in the next few years find themselves battling each other in a rematch of the 1906 World Series (which the Sox won, by the way – just sayin’). The first time we get to see Jiminez hit a tape measure home run, we’ll be thanking the Cubs yet again.
Fans of both the Sox and Cubs are friends and family members. Don’t believe that then you haven’t attended a Crosstown Series game. And make no mistake the Chicago rivalry between teams is a family matter. I can talk bad about my brother, but you can’t talk bad about my brother. If the Cubs find themselves in a World Series against the New York Yankees, you’d better believe I’m rooting for the Cubs.
I’ll never forget Aug. 2, 1990. Frank Thomas made his Major League debut (along with Alex Fernandez) in Milwaukee against the Brewers. I watched Thomas get drafted out of Auburn, debut for the Sox, turn into a two-time MVP, have a fantastic career, retire, then give his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. We might all watch these amazing sets of youngsters do similarly great things. Imagine 25 years from now how we could be talking about Kris Bryant, Moncada, Anthony Rizzo, Kopech, Javier Baez, Robert, Kyle Schwarber, Jiminez, etc.
Chicago has the potential to be a very special place for all its baseball fans over the next decade. What we’ll see will not only be part of the city’s rich baseball history but the lives of these talented young players as well.
For helping the White Sox to seek out their current path and raising its game to a higher aspirational expectation, I for one will take a moment to say Thank You to the Cubs.