White Sox Week In (P)Review: "It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This."

Chris PennantSenior Analyst IJune 15, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 28:  Jermaine Dye #23 of the Chicago White Sox steals second base ahead of a tag attempt by Ronny Cedeno #5 of the Chicago Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field on June 28, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Last week (Sunday to Sunday), the Chicago White Sox went 4-5. They missed opportunities, failed to execute, and threw away a chance to gain meaningful ground on the division-leading Tigers.

Then they went into Milwaukee and took two of three from the division-leading (albeit slumping) Brewers.

This week, that doesn't matter. The division race can take a backseat.

It's Crosstown Classic time.

Last year, the Cubs and Sox were on top of their divisions, and the newspapers were talking about a potential World Series matchup come October. The city was dreaming.

This year, both teams are scuffling and struggling to stay around break even. But that doesn't matter.

It's Crosstown Classic time.

Getting the picture yet?

Don't Believe the Hype?

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As I said before, the White Sox had a great chance to show what they were made of against the Tigers. Ultimately, they did: they are a team that has not done the little things or gotten the timely hit all season long.

They had chances to win games in late innings on Sunday (against Cleveland), Monday afternoon, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but ended up taking the loss. On Friday, an error in the sixth opened the door to an eventual Brewers win.

The Sox have had glimmers of hope that they can withstand a late rally from the opposition, most recently in their ninth-inning triumph yesterday. However, they haven't been consistent in anything except the bullpen.

The offense is streaky at best, and only two and a half starting pitchers can be counted on to go seven innings every start (too early to call on Contreras).

Combine that with the absence of Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko's thumb injury, and the Jake Peavy fiasco, and you can see why the Sox might be yearning for the All-Star Break.

Across town, Cubs fans are blustering, but they've had problems as well. Aramis Ramirez has been down since early May, everyone in the lineup not named Ryan Theriot or Derrek Lee has been struggling, and the revamped bullpen has performed below expectations (Kevin Gregg, anyone?).

A win against the Twins yesterday pushed the Cubs back to the .500 mark, but they are still a few games back of the Brewers (through no fault of the ChiSox).

I've heard from many people that this year's edition of the Crosstown Classic is going to be nothing exciting to watch. Don't believe it.

Always a New Hero (Or Goat)

Brant Brown. Sean Lowe. Dave Hernandez. Ray Durham. Eric Patterson. Tony Graffanino. Fred McGriff. Mike Caruso.

Remember those guys? 'Cause only a few have had successful major league careers.

But all of them contributed something special to the Cubs-Sox rivalry.

Now, both teams have a slate of new players on the roster, ready to get a big hit or make a big pitch during this series and etch their names into Chicago baseball history. Chris Getz? Young Gordon Beckham? Jake Fox? Randy Wells?

Who's next?

The point is that this series is always exciting. Last year, the Sox held leads in the first two contests only to have the Cubs come back and win before Ryan Dempster shut down the South Siders in the rubber match on Sunday.

Then the Sox exacted their revenge at Comiskey, blowing out the Cubs on Friday and riding a Carlos Quentin home run to victory on Saturday before finishing a sweep on Sunday night.

So even though the current stakes might not be as high this season, the intensity will be the same. Two fiery managers, two clubs looking for the spark of momentum, and two groups of fans itching for bragging rights.

As Ed Farmer said, it doesn't get any better than this.

The Impact Players

John Danks pitched great against Detroit in his last start to take the tough-luck loss. He's looked better in his last few games, so look for him to pitch a good game against Big Z in the opener.

Gordon Beckham's defense has been top notch, and he's had two-run doubles in back-to-back games. Count on the Crosstown Series to hype the young man up and deliver a big clutch hit—or maybe his first home run?

Jose Contreras has had two masterful starts since his return from self-induced exile, and Ozzie moved up his start to give him a chance against the Cubs on Thursday. With any luck, it'll be the Bronze Titan giving the White Sox the road sweep at the (Un)Friendly Confines.

Ah, the Crosstown Classic. The most wonderful time of the year.

As always, let the sock fly on.