2016 Regular Season and both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs are home. It’s a rare occasion, during the regular season schedule, that Major League Baseball is played both on the north side and the south side on the same day. It may happen once or twice a season. Growing up in Chicago, I took it for granted and never tried to go to the ballparks. I had to be a tourist to think of it.
This time, its a Thursday in September and the Chicago White Sox play at 1:10PM in the last of a 4-game series with Cleveland Indians here at U.S. Cellular Field. White Sox would leave town after the game for a 3-game set in Kansas City. At 8:05PM, the Chicago Cubs were just starting their homestand, as they played the Milwaukee Brewers, the first of a 4-game series.
A huge contrast between the two contests for many reasons; the biggest one being that the energy was mostly on the north side, as the city was anticipating the Cubs to clinch a spot in the post season and fans were putting all their marbles on a World Series win. Over on the south side, White Sox were basically playing for pride, as 15 games remained in the regular season. The math would not add to anything more for the 2016 White Sox.
Game 1 at US Cellular Field: A day game with a free Jose Abreu t-shirt promotion for the first 10,000. In his third season, Jose Abreu was just grabbing a seat to the rebuild that took place on the south side. He went 2 for 3 in this one with an RBI and a run scored. That was the other glaring contrast; alow turn-out. It’s a problem the White Sox have had for some time, placing between 25-30 in attendance the last few years. Many reasons why that is. It’s also part of a bigger problem the MLB has. Still, it’s a source for grief from Cub fans who remind everyone that White Sox are second in the second city. Needless to say, I arrived in the third inning from out of town and was still able to get a t-shirt, glad that it worked in my favor.
Speaking of rivalries, the feud between White Sox teammates Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier was brewing. It would tip over in an on-field incident one day last year at Citi Field, when they were playing for Washington Nationals and New York Mets respectively. Chicago native Jason Kipnis was patrolling second base for the Cleveland Indians. He was traded this year to Chicago Cubs and is now playing for his boyhood team. Chicago White Sox beat Cleveland Indians 2-1 in a walk off win. Cleveland Indians would eventually clinch the AL Central title on September 27.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train system makes it really easy to get from one game to the other. Of the color code system identifying the routes, you only need to remember the red line. It takes you door to door without having to switch trains. Of course, you will need to change trains when traveling from one of the airports (blue line for O’Hare, orange line for Midway). Considering the time of day, it’s the best way to get from 35th Street to Addison Avenue.
Game 2 at Wrigley Field: Arriving with enough time to take in the scene. Wrigleyville is landlocked and you will not find huge parking lots or multi-level garages; plan accordingly. If it’s your first-time visiting Wrigley, you can get a free personalized certificate to make it official (concession is usually located behind home plate). Within a short period the seats, the standing room, the roof tops, and the streets were shoulder to shoulder, waiting for some one to yell play ball. A Cub win or a St. Louis Cardinals loss in San Francisco would turn this place into an all-night party. Milwaukee Brewers beat Chicago Cubs 5-4 but San Francisco Giants won at 12:49AM eastern standard time.
Ironic that two storied franchises were in Chicago unbeknownst of their opponent across town. The Chicago Cubs faced the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series and won. Besides the historical significance for the two teams, it was a hard-fought contest that made 2016 iconic. The only thing that would top that in Chicago would be a Crosstown World Series. The last time it happened was 1906, during the dead-ball era. They called it the “Chicago Panic” and it was the biggest event in Chicago since the 1893 World’s Fair. It’s September and both teams are going into the post season in 2020. If it happens, we can call it the “Chicago-Pandemic.”