They’ll be battling for headlines in the Sun-Times and Tribune all next summer, but in this December week the White Sox and Cubs have taken ownership of the Chicago sports scene in ways we just aren’t used to seeing.
And to that end, the Chi’s diamond dwellers have transferred the rotational gravity of this year’s baseball off-season away from typical areas like the I-95 corridor connecting Boston and New York and the L.A. freeways connecting Chavez Ravine to Anaheim. No, all the excitement one Hot Stove enthusiast needs exists currently on the CTA’s red line between the Addison and 35th Street.
The Cubs confidently strong-armed Jon Lester from the team he’s most associated with, still just over a year after he won his second World Series title for the “Sawx,” months after he was torn away from them by a trade with the surprisingly-aggressive Oakland As.
But just as the North Siders mined Boston’s front office to start its big-time makeover, last night’s news put the deepest stake into Theo Epstein’s imagined transformation of the lovable losers.
Such a thing has happened before, Epstein was a catalyst and Lester a key weapon, now they are at arms in another location and the tore-down outer walls of Wrigley Field aren’t the only aspects of the franchise that can signal a complete re-construction and remodeling of a team we thought we knew inside and out.
Chicago baseball fans got reason after reason to be surprised this week, the White Sox’s double play of Samardzija and Robertson gave us our first inkling that 2015 really could be a trans-formative year for the sport in this city.
It would have been nice for Jeff Samardzija to re-unite with his old team in the way that Jason Hammel has but it seems to make a little more sense for the Northwest Indiana native — who can cite driving on the Skyway to get to U.S. Cellular Field and follow the Chicago team he’s always been closest to — to have the chance (key word: chance) to solidify his professional legacy on the South Side.
Big-time pitching acquisitions can be risky and the money eventually invested in this cross-town haul will inform the arguments Chicagoans will make for years regarding whether or not these moves were all worth it.
We could be on the path to an all-Chicago World Series or we can be on the verge of another promising era that came up short in the end, but in the present, in the most important time of each season outside of October, the Sox and Cubbies are finally acting like champions.
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