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Columnist
Putting the buzz back into Cubs-Sox
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Columnist

What if the White Sox wore the uniforms of its legends against the Cubs to honor former stars such as Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (11),and other stars of the 1959 team?

 

Associated Press

Is it time to bring back the retro look to spice up the Cubs-Sox series? Here's what the two clubs wore when they met on June 16, 1997 for their first official interleague meeting.

 

Daily Herald File Photo

Another idea to add some spark to the Cubs-Sox series would be to let today's players wear the uniform numbers of legends, such as these three from the Cubs: Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/25/2009 2:42 PM | Updated: 6/25/2009 11:45 PM

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Chicago is too much the working-class town to be using a word like "ennui" to describe the feeling at Wrigley Field last week during the first Cubs-White Sox series of the season. But a guilty-pleasure trip to dictionary.com provided a definition of this French word: "a feeling of utter weariness resulting from satiety or a lack of interest; boredom."

Wow, monsieur, talk about hitting the nail on the head about last week at Wrigley.

In good, old Chicago terms, maybe dat lack of buzz around da Nort' Side park last week had something to do with Cubs and Sox fans feeling tired of the whole concept of intracity interleague play. (And I'd rather use "ennui" in a sentence than call it the "Crosstown Classic.")

Of course, maybe the series being in the middle of the week had something to do with the lack of atmosphere around Wrigley. Or maybe it was because both teams have been mired in mediocrity.

Or maybe the darn thing in its current form has run its course.

Certainly, interleague play has its appeal. Just ask all those Minnesota fans - probably one for each of the 10,000 lakes up there - who descended on Chicago and took over Clark Street a couple weeks ago.

Did they have a good time? You betcha.

With that in mind, I got to thinking about ways to spice up the Cubs-Sox thing. Let's face it, it's not going away.

Here are a few of my ideas. I also garnered some thought from readers during my daily e-mail give-and-take.

Condense it: Instead of two three-game series at each park, let's start the Cubs-Sox series Thursday at Wrigley, stay there Friday and then move to the Cell for Saturday and Sunday.

The Sox don't get all three of the "Cubs gates" they covet, but they get two, and the teams and their fans move on just as happy.

Day-night it: OK, so this one is fraught with peril, but it would be cool to play one game at noon at Wrigley and then have everybody hop the Red Line train at Addison and head down to 35th Street for Game 2 at 7 p.m.

Call it the Red Line Day-Night Doubleheader (anything but the Crosstown you-know-what) and see how it works.

Rain delays or extra innings could play havoc here, but if the games went off without a hitch, it would have people talking.

Flip the rules: Major League Baseball has talked about letting the pitcher bat in AL ballparks and using the designated hitter in NL parks.

We couldn't have had a better situation for that than this year. How about Mark Buehrle hitting a homer at the Cell and setting off the fireworks?

Or every Cubs fan's new favorite, Jake Fox, belting a pair of homers as DH without manager Lou Piniella holding his breath every time the ball was hit to Fox at third base?

Flip the booths: For all you youngsters watching at home, maybe Channel 9 and Comcast could switch color analysts for three innings. Send Bob Brenly over to the Sox booth for three, and bring Steve Stone back for three on the Cubs side.

Stone likes talking about the Cubs as much as he does the Sox, anyway, so this might work. Maybe Cubs GM Jim Hendry, a frequent Stone target, would consent to a half-inning of Stone give-and-take. It'd be must-see TV.

Throw it back: No, we're talking about Sox fans throwing back home runs balls by the Cubs. That would be as silly as the Cubs shooting off fireworks at Wrigley for a home run (although it would be fun to see the neighbors' reactions).

But if you remember the first Cubs-Sox game that counted, back in 1997, the teams wore throwback uniforms from 100 years previous.

We can even take it a step further. One day, we could have the Sox in 1959 uniforms with the Cubs in 1945 uniforms.

Or how about the 1983 Winning Ugly Sox in those by-then outdated space-age uniforms against the '84 Cubs in the blue pullovers. Maybe even Leon Durham and Jerry Dybzinski could- oh, never mind.

Honor the greats: Here's one from a reader. How about having some Cubs and Sox players wear the name and number of past team greats?

For example, Derrek Lee could trot out to first base wearing Ernie Banks' No. 14. Cooler yet, the Sox' Alexei Ramirez and Chris Getz or Jayson Nix could man the keystone wearing Luis Aparicio's No. 11 and Nellie Fox' No. 2, respectively.

Billy Pierce's No. 19, Billy Williams' No. 26, Carlton Fisk's No. 72 and Ron Santo's No. 10 all could make one-day appearances.

As the reader pointed out, if a player had a special reason for wearing a number, that might make for a great feature story.

So let the games, and maybe even some excitement, begin again.

bmiles@dailyherald.com

White Sox vs. Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field

TV: Comcast SportsNet and Channel 9 today and Sunday; Channel 32 Saturday

Radio: WSCR 670-AM; WGN 720-AM

Pitching matchups: The Sox' Jose Contreras (2-6) vs. Randy Wells (1-3) today at 3:05 p.m.; Mark Buehrle (7-2) vs. Ryan Dempster (4-5) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; John Danks (5-6) vs. Carlos Zambrano (4-2) Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

About the White Sox: They split a rain-shortened two-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley last week. How close has this series been? The Sox have gone 34-34 against the North Siders and outscored them by just 3 runs (332-329). The Sox have won four of five and eight of their last 12. Paul Konerko has a 10-game hitting streak and has homered in three straight games.

About the Cubs: The Cubs have struggled with leaving runners aboard and hitting with men on base. They entered Thursday hitting .219 with runners in scoring position. Despite pitching well of late, Zambrano has not recorded a victory since June 5, thanks to some poor hitting and bad bullpen work. The Cubs' offense entered Thursday 13th in the NL in runs, 11th in OBP, 11th in slugging and OPS and ninth in walks. Manager Lou Piniella may use three different designated hitters against the Sox.

Next: The White Sox play the Cleveland Indians, Monday-Wednesday at Progressive Field; the Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates, Monday-Wednesday at PNC Park.