Has an interleague series with two historic franchises ever had so little sex appeal?
Yes, there is the obvious storyline of the Red Sox “facing” Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer for the first time since the two took over the Cubs front office. But they’re not on the field where the games are played.
And on the field, this is turning into a season to forget for the two teams meeting at Wrigley Field this weekend.
Boston is tied for last in the American League East at 31-32. Sometimes the pitching has gone south. Other times the bats have gone cold. And of course, there’s the injury bug that has plagued them since Spring Training. Not to mention the ranting and raving of Bobby Valentine.
It could be worse. They could be the Cubs.
No team in baseball has a worse record than Chicago’s 21–42 mark. Epstein left a mess in Boston that he finally owns up to (props to Doug Sibor for the excellent column) for a situation that’s even direr. Cubs fans waiting for an exorcism of the Billy Goat Curse are going to have to wait a while.
This isn’t an argument for baseball being better if two tradition-laden (and high payroll) franchises are winning. Rather it’s a statement on how much of a slog the season can be when these notoriously hearts-on-their-sleeves teams (and their fans) under-perform so badly.
In the Red Sox and Cubs, you have teams with two of the most treasured ballparks and subsequently two of the best game day experiences in the big leagues.
Fenway has the iconic Green Monster and 100 years of history to its name. Wrigley has the iconic bacchanalia that is day baseball in the center field bleacher seats, where it reeks of cheap beer, suntan lotion and happiness.
Regardless of the teams’ place in the standings, people will keep showing up. But the din isn’t quite the same around Yawkey Way when the Red Sox’s plans for October revolve around golf.
And the bleacher bum experience on the North Side is something special when a winning team is on the field. (The great Gary Smith’s excellent cover story from the September 29, 2008, issue of Sports Illustrated captures this beautifully.)
But at the rate these two teams are going, the home stretch of 2012 will be filled with dog days rather than pennant chase scenarios. There’s no evident heart or spark in either of them. An opportunity to play meaningful baseball in two of the game’s cathedrals is passing by the wayside.
Never mind. Pass me a beer and some suntan lotion.