Maybe it’s because both teams are below .500? Maybe it was the lack of clutch hitting or the abundance of base-running blunders. Maybe it was the uninspiring 36 combined runs scored between the two mediocre ball clubs over the six games (18 runs apiece). Maybe it’s the dubious sponsorship by a corporate pariah like BP? Or maybe it was just the weather?
Whatever it was, this year’s Crosstown Classic just didn’t seem to have the same intensity and pasion as previous years. It started off with a wimper on the South Side when mid-week scheduling and biblical weather curbed attendance to all-time lows with the Monday night attendance of 36,005 at U.S. Cellular Field being the lowest in the 15-year history of the interleague series. The rest of that series was characterized by relatively lifeless crowds never seen before at Cubs/Sox battle.
The holiday weekend series at Wrigley was virtually assured to see record crowds, and it did—drawing a Cubs’ season-high 42,311 on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon and 125,962 over the three games, second only to the record-setting Yankees series last month. But I can tell you from sitting in the bleachers on Saturday there just wasn’t the same kind of passion or venom for the opposition from either side that had been so palpable in the past. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was into the game from the first pitch, the beer was cold and flowing and a good time was had by all, but the trash talk and back-and-forth between Cubs and Sox fans just seemed subdued to me.
Maybe it’s another sign that interleague play in its current form has run its course. Maybe it’s time for the kind of radical realignment hinted at over recent week by Commissioner Bud “Admiral Akbar” Selig. Or maybe it’s time to go even further and put the Cubs and Sox in the same division so that these games actually mean something in the grand scheme of things instead of just deciding who gets a silly little trophy?