It almost didn’t happen. Two series ago, the Chicago White Sox were left for dead. They went into Minnesota to play the badly limping Twins, armed with a 2.5 game lead and left down by .5 game with 3 to play. At least they were home and playing a Cleveland Indians team that was playing out the string in a disappointing season. The Twins were doing their part, losing the first two games of their final series against an all of a sudden very tough Kansas City Royals team, but the Sox kept throwing the generosity back, losing their first two games as well. Then, the first break came. Indians LHP Cliff Lee, the probable AL Cy Young Award winner and 22-game winner was shut down due to a stiff neck. The next break came in the form of a clutch outing by LHP Mark Buehrle on Sunday to extend the season. The third break was facing RHP Freddy Garcia (who so happens to be married to Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s wife’s niece) and the Detroit Tigers at home. The break after that was Garcia pulled from the game in the 6th inning after shutting down the Sox, only to be followed by 2B Alexi Ramirez’ grand slam to win the game for the Sox. The biggest break of them all? Hosting a one game playoff for the AL Central Division title at home against Minnesota.
The local Chicago media has been focused on a dual Cubs/Sox playoff presence for most of the baseball season. Both teams were in 1st place in their respective divisions for most of the season. TBS made a huge mention of this fact tonight on their television broadcast, as well as the fact that it has been 102 years since both the Cubs and the Sox made the post-season in the same year. Nobody else mentioned the fact that in the same city theme, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers also made the playoffs this season. Little coverage, little play anywhere for that story. Since 1901, the White Sox have made the post-season 10 times, in 2008, 2005, 2000, 1993, 1983, 1959, 1919, 1917, 1906, and 1901. In the same timeframe, the Cubs have made the post-season 16 times, in 2008, 2007, 2003, 1998, 1989, 1984, 1945, 1938, 1935, 1932, 1929, 1918, 1910, 1908, 1907, and 1906. The last time both the Cubs and Sox make the playoffs in the same year? That’s right, 1906. In contrast, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s have made the playoffs in the same season 5 times since 1968. The New York Yankees and New York Mets have shared post seasons three times since 1969 and the Dodgers and Angels have done it twice since 1961.
There have been 17 intracity World Series matchups in baseball history. The Yankees and Mets played each other in the 2000 World Series, dubbed the Subway Series. In 1989, the A’s swept the Giants in the Bay Series, marred by a devestating earthquake. Then it’s the Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 and 1955, 1953, 1952, 1949, 1947, and 1941. In the middle, the St. Louis Cardinals vs. St. Louis Browns in 1944. Before that, it’s the Yankees again vs. New York Giants in 1951, 1937, 1936, 1923, 1922, and 1921. Chicago Cubs vs. the Chicago White Sox? Once, in 1906.
I don’t know if this will be the year for the Chicago match up for the ages, but something special is in the air in the Chicago baseball world in 2008. Lets hope that it’s not another century before this happens again.