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The crosstown series between the White Sox and Cubs isn’t a rivalry in a traditional sense. The two teams don’t play in the same league, let alone the same division, so they’re not jockeying for playoff positioning like they would with other rivals. But fans get hyped for potential bragging rights over their buddies, the stadiums are (typically) packed, and that energy bleeds onto the field.
“Last year I remember taking batting practice and feeling like it was the middle of the game,” said Gavin Sheets. “It’s so cool how fans from both sides came, especially last year seeing our fans show up and almost taking this place over was a lot of fun for us. Obviously we hope for the same thing this year.”
With temperatures expected to be in the low-to-mid 40s on Tuesday and Wednesday, with chances of rain too, there’s a good chance the stands won’t be quite as full as years past. But that isn’t dampening the excitement for players like Jake Burger, who’s getting ready for his first taste of the North Side - South Side showdown.
“My dad actually flew up and took the train from Midway, so he’s coming to the game tonight,” Burger said. “It’ll be fun. My dad’s probably way more excited than I am, and rightfully so. But I am super excited. It’ll be a fun series.”
Even Crosstown vets like Lucas recognize the added excitement surrounding the quick, two-game series, even if they’re not against division rivals.
“It’s a super fun series,” Giolito said. “The fans are always getting into it, sometimes a little too much. But it’s always entertaining to see. Just seeing the passion of the entire city, whether they’re Cubs fans or Sox fans, and packing out the stadium, it always makes for a great environment to play in.”
As for what makes Crosstown a crazy series from the players’ perspectives:
“Multiple fights. Every once and a while somebody will get too much in them and they’ll get into it. This series, over the past few years, it’s like, second inning, ‘Oh, we got one already.’ Fourth inning, look to right field, ‘Oh ok, they’re going at it.’ Seeing multiple fights in the outfield bleachers can get pretty crazy.”
These might not be the craziest games in series history, given the aforementioned bad weather, and the equally disappointing records for the clubs. But the players sense bragging rights are on the line for their fans, all they’ll be sure to try to mark their territory within the city.
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