No lack of intrigue between Cubs-White Sox
Stanley Cup fever won't overshadow rivalry for too long
MILWAUKEE -- Tom Gorzelanny grew up in Evergreen Park, Ill., which is more South Side than North Side. He knows all about the importance of the weekend Interleague series between the Cubs and White Sox.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"I don't think a lot of people understand how intense the series is," the Cubs' pitcher said of the Chicago showdown, which begins Friday at Wrigley Field with the first of six games. "They make a big deal about the Red Sox and Yankees series, but I feel this one is a little more intense because we play twice a year. They play 18 times a year. We only play two series.
"For the city, it's one of the biggest times of the year. I think it's very underrated. People who know, understand the rivalry. Growing up, you talk about it all day, every day leading up to it. There are people talking [smack] to each other about who will win. It's definitely a major event in Chicago."
The Cubs-White Sox Interleague matchup will likely be overshadowed as the city celebrates the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night in six games. But baseball is baseball, manager Lou Piniella said.
"What the 'Hawks did is fantastic for the city and their organization," Piniella said. "We followed them, and it was fun and it was exciting. Their whole organization should be complimented, but we're playing baseball and it's a different sport."
A parade is scheduled to honor the Blackhawks for downtown Chicago on Friday. Maybe they'll bring the Cup to Wrigley Field? No one would say, but a few of the players planned on wearing their Blackhawks jerseys during batting practice Friday.
"[Cubs-White Sox] might be a little more tame, because everyone's still excited about the Blackhawks," Gorzelanny said.
Or hung over.
"It's an awesome thing they did and awesome thing they did for the city," Gorzelanny said of the Blackhawks.
It's been 49 years since the Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup. The White Sox won the World Series in 2005. The Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985. The Cubs? They last won the World Series in 1908. The focus may now be on the Cubs.
"That's good -- give us all the pressure," Marlon Byrd said. "I don't think this team has ever flown under the radar. Added pressure doesn't mean anything to this team."
The Cubs-White Sox Interleague series began June 16, 1997, with the Cubs winning, 8-3, but they trail in the series, 37-35. The Cubs have defended their turf, posting a 20-16 record at Wrigley Field.
Byrd has played in Interleague series between Baltimore and Washington and also between Texas and Houston.
"This is no comparison to that," he said of the Cubs vs. White Sox. "This is territorial."
The Cubs play host to the White Sox this weekend and the series will shift to U.S. Cellular Field on June 25-27. This will be Byrd's first exposure.
"I want to see this," Byrd said. "I don't know if the stories are true about the fights in the stands. It should be fun."
He just has to ask Gorzelanny.
"That one day in September, it summed it up a lot," he said. "I've seen it a lot, but being in a game against the White Sox, it was definitely a different feeling."
Cubs vs. White Sox in Interleague Play
Sammy Sosa has played in the most games (42) of this series, while Mark Grace (.350) has the highest batting average among Cubs players. Sosa also has hit the most home runs (11), RBIs (39), doubles (12) and hits (45). Carlos Zambrano, who won't pitch in the first meeting between the two teams, has the most wins (five) and has made the most starts (11). Ryan Dempster and Bob Howry are tied with three saves each.
Since 1997, 30 of the 72 games have been decided by one or two runs. Fifteen have been decided in the final at-bat, and five have gone extra innings.
There have been 165 players who have appeared in at least one Major League game for both the Cubs and White Sox, from David Aardsma to Dutch Zwilling. The two teams have made 22 trades, the most recent Nov. 16, 2006, when the Cubs acquired Neal Cotts in exchange for pitchers Aardsma and Carlos Vazquez.
Sixteen players have played for both the Cubs and White Sox in the same season, the last being Josh Paul in 2003.
Here's a recap of the 2009 Interleague series:
June 16, 2009: The first game was postponed because of rain and rescheduled for Sept. 3. This was the first regular-season matchup between the two to be rained out.
June 17, 2009: White Sox 4, Cubs 1
John Danks held the Cubs to one run on five hits over seven innings, striking out nine. Milton Bradley recorded the Cubs' lone multihit game, going 2-for-4 before a crowd of 40,444 at Wrigley.
June 18, 2009: Cubs 6, White Sox 5
The Cubs erased a four-run eighth-inning deficit with back-to-back two-out home runs -- a three-run shot by Derrek Lee and a solo shot by Geovany Soto. In the ninth, Reed Johnson scored the game-winning run on a two-out single by Alfonso Soriano. Kevin Gregg picked up his first win of the season, pitching a scoreless ninth in front of 40,467.
June 26, 2009: Cubs 5, White Sox 4
The series shifted to U.S. Cellular Field. Jake Fox hit a two-run homer in the fourth, and Soto belted a three-run homer in the seventh to give Randy Wells the win. Wells gave up two runs on five hits over seven innings, striking out six. Fox had three hits.
June 27, 2009: White Sox 8, Cubs 7
This game featured six lead changes. Gordon Beckham hit a RBI single with two outs in the ninth for the game-winner in front of 39,529. Soriano and Ryan Theriot each had two hits and two RBIs.
June 28, 2009: White Sox 6, Cubs 0
Danks once again proved to be too much, picking up the win. Soriano had the Cubs' only multihit effort, going 2-for-4 with a double. Zambrano took the loss.
Sept. 3, 2009: White Sox 5, Cubs 0
In the makeup game, rookie pitcher Carlos Torres shut out the Cubs to give the White Sox the season series, 4-2. Fox ended an 0-for-12 skid with two hits. Dempster gave up three unearned runs on nine hits over seven innings, but took the loss in front of 40,741 at Wrigley Field.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.