Crosstown: Where Cubs-White Sox ranks among MLB's civic rivalries

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Where Cubs-White Sox ranks among MLB's crosstown rivalries originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It’s been a little over 16 years since the Cubs and White Sox' benches-clearing brawl on the South Side, spurred by Michael Barrett punching A.J. Pierzynski in the face following a home plate collision.

“I just remember the whole White Sox dugout coming at me and I had no idea why,” said Rich Hill, who was on the mound for the Cubs that game, in an interview with David Kaplan on NBC Sports Chicago’s ‘Unfiltered with David Kaplan.’

“I hadn't really seen what transpired behind me,” Hill added. “You turn around and you see a scuffle going on behind the plate. I was just trying to back up the throw so I would not let another run in.”

That might have been the high point in the Chicago city rivalry, which in recent years has just been a series between two teams headed in different directions.

The Cubs’ recent competitive window came during the White Sox’ rebuild. Now, the Sox, who have had an up-and-down season so far, have aspirations of a deep run into October, and the Cubs are rebuilding for the second time in a decade.

Whether things change, we’ll see. But in the spirit of this weekend’s Cubs-Sox matchup, here are MLB’s top-5 crosstown rivalries by level of interest this season.

1. Subway Series

Twenty-two years after their World Series matchup, could we see another Mets-Yankees World Series? It's only May, but New York's two teams are off to great starts.

The Mets and Yankees enter Friday first in the NL and AL East with 29-17 and 32-13 records. The Mets have had success despite Jacob deGrom being on the injured list all season so far, while the Yankees, with their deep lineup, lead the American League in run differential.

The Subway Series is always great theater. There will be plenty of interest when the Yankees visit Queens in late July.

2. Freeway Series

How's this for interesting? There's always been plenty of star power in this series, but while the Dodgers have been the class of baseball over the last decade, the Angels haven't been to the playoffs since 2014.

Things are different so far this season. The Dodgers are up to their usual winning ways, leading the National League in wins with a 30-14 record. The Angels are also off to a good start, entering the weekend second in the AL West at 27-19.

Oh, and about that star power. The Dodgers and Angels' lineups are full of All-Stars and MVPs, including Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon.

3. Crosstown Classic

The city series was one-sided last summer, when the Cubs and White Sox met weeks after the Cubs' trade deadline selloff. The Sox went 5-1 in the two series.

The Sox won both games at Wrigley Field earlier this month but have hovered around .500 this season. They just dropped two of three to the Red Sox, including a pair of lopsided losses.

The Cubs, who are 18-26 entering the weekend, are coming off a series split against the Reds.

As far as this weekend goes, ex-Cubs farmhand Dylan Cease's scheduled outing Sunday holds intrigue. And even though these teams are in different places. fan animosity is always high when the Cubs and White Sox meet, creating a lively atmosphere at the ballpark.

"It's amazing just to be able to have great memories in this game," Hill told Kaplan. "Obviously those series against the White Sox, crosstown rivals, whether it was at Wrigley or whether it was here, [Guaranteed Rate Field], just great memories."

4. Bay Bridge Series

A lot can change in a year. The Giants went 4-2 against the A’s last season while being outscored 21-19. This season, the A’s are fourth in the AL West after an 86-win 2021 season. Their manager left for the same role in San Diego, and they conducted a massive sell-off over the winter.

San Francisco and Oakland did split a two-game series in April, but perhaps of greater interest is what the future holds for this matchup. There's persistent chatter the A's could relocate and move out of Oakland in the near future.

5. Beltway Series

Juan Soto is a perennial MVP candidate, and the Orioles just promoted top prospect Adley Rutschman. But beyond that, the Nationals and Orioles are a pair of rebuilding, last-place teams. And compared to other matchups on this list, the Beltway Series is more on the tame side of the spectrum.

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