There are a lot of elements missing from this year's Cubs-Sox showdown that might usually make its added tension, regional chest-beating and built-in attendance a fun feature:
- Either one of these teams being any good, thus giving this game some meaning on its own merits
- Some sort of built-in actual rivalry or even a connection between players on this team, so that it goes beyond: fans hate each other, bloggers annoyed at one another
- Chris Sale
Instead, it's four games happening in the here and now that act as a sort of referendum on long-term rebuilding philosophies. Worse yet, the Sox have positioned themselves so that for their argument to hold water in the eternal endowment-measuring contest that is the baseball internet, they have to win every game.
The Sox were the win-now team, and now they'e the flash-fried rebuild team, and in either case, if they're not winning immediate head-to-head matchups with the team dutifully punting seasons for a greater reward at some unknown date in the future, then what are they doing?
And yet, with the fate of their fans' sanity at stake, the Sox are starting a clod-footed ogre in right field....and Adam Dunn in left!
White Sox Lineup:
- Alejandro De Aza - CF
- Gordon Beckham - 2B
- Jose Abreu - 1B
- Adam Dunn - LF
- Dayan Viciedo - RF
- Alexei Ramirez - SS
- Tyler Flowers - C
- Marcus Semien - 3B
- Jose Quintana - SP
I try not to delve into sports antipathy too much, but....nevermind. Here are the Cubs
- Emilio Bonifacio - CF
- Junior Lake - LF
- Anthony Rizzo - 1B
- Starlin Castro - SS
- Wellington Castillo - C
- Nate Schierholtz - RF
- Mike Olt - 3B
- Darwin Barney - 2B
- Jeff Samardzija - SP
Junior Lake is a fun, athletic player with a fantastic nickname (LAKE SHOW!) and probably way too many contact issues to work out. He'd be more likable if he hadn't become a Cubs prospect enthusiasm punchline before he was even promoted. Rizzo has been bananas so far this year, and Castro looks back to normal, so Cubs fans have to be rightly enthused about that.
Castro being a famous athlete with a sexual assault accusation on his tab would probably make me aggressively and unabashedly loathe him if he were with another franchise, but since he's with the Cubs, I'm constantly second-guessing how much my bias is playing in. Jeff Samardzija is a sneering, obnoxious presence on the mound, who draws more attention than he deserves for his football past, Notre Dame notoriety and being the best Cubs starter during a lean pitching period for them. I think he'd be unlikable on the Padres. And soon, he might be!
Wellington Castillo is legitimately good, but seemingly doesn't play the innings a full-time, No. 1 catcher with a bullet should play. Or maybe the Cubs don't try to run their catchers into the ground or hide Double-A players on their roster. Go figure.
For all their shrewdness, I cannot figure out how the Cubs didn't trade Nate Schierholtz last July. WHAT IS HE DOING HERE? He's like a bag of Easter candy at the grocery store right now.
Mike Olt and Darwin Barney both seem to be attempts by the Cubs fanbase to gaslight us. Olt is terrible, not very young anymore, has two-uber-monster prospects who could play third behind him and can't be shifted over to first because of Rizzo. The enthusiasm for him has to be in jest. Barney, on the other hand is some sort of distended parody of Gordon Beckham. He fields better, hits worse, and gets even more praise for his makeup and forgiveness for his weaknesses is. I see this joke and I find it very funny. Good one, Cubs. Beckham is ridiculous.
There, hope, that was all over the place enough to not be construed as pure anti-Cubs venom.
Where to Watch: 7:05pm CT on WCIU if you want the Sox feed, CSN Chicago if you want the Cubs feed
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