Powell: Crosstown Classic Highlights The State Of The Cubs, White Sox
By Kevin Powell
“It’s really easy to lose, and it’s very difficult to win,” Joe Maddon said on Friday before his club won the opener of the Crosstown Classic.
Lately, it’s been extremely difficult for the rebuilding White Sox to win. They’re 9-27 record is the worst start in club history. It’s an ugly product the South Siders are producing these days. But it’s called a rebuild, and nobody gets that more than their North Side neighbors.
“It’s not easy, man,” Maddon said.
And Maddon understands where the White Sox are at. He’s been a part of some really bad teams that were in rebuild mode. His first year with the Devil Rays the team lost 101 games and 96 the following season.
He didn’t have to agonize over the first few years of the Cubs rebuild, but he’s seen the direct benefits of what a full tear down can produce.
The Sox and Cubs are at opposite ends of the baseball world. One’s in a rebuild, one is in the middle of the franchise’s Golden Era.
It was evident in game one of the series opener. Carson Fulmer didn’t make it through the second inning for the third time this season. Matt Davidson was picked off at second. Leury Garcia let a Tyler Chatwood single to center get past him. The Sox struggled on a cold and rainy day on the North Side, losing 11-2. It was tough to watch.
Game 2 was much more of the same with the Cubs winning 8-2.
The Sox were able to get one in the finale, but this crosstown series perfectly mirrored the state of each franchise.
“I can’t lose focus in terms of what we’re trying to do,” manager Rick Renteria said before his team’s 5-3 win on Sunday. “I’ve got to remain positive.”
The good news for the Sox is that this is probably the bottom of the barrel. Things probably are not going to get much worse from here. We continue to see developments in their loaded farm system. Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez are on their way. And who knows, maybe the Sox do end up signing Manny Machado. That could be a franchise-altering type deal.
There’s been much talk about Machado ending up with the Cubs this season via trade. But it’s tough to see that scenario playing out. Theo & Co. like their core of guys and Epstein recently said they don’t like rentals. It worked with Aroldis Chapman. But in general, teams are going to have to pay a premium for rentals, and the Cubs are trying to refresh their farm system.
I think the chances are better that Machado ends up with Sox after a massive, franchise record-breaking contract this offseason.
The Cubs are on top of the baseball world. The Sox are trying to climb their way up there.
“I think that ultimately, as we continue to move forward,” Renteria said, “The one thing that these guys have to take from any experience that they have good or bad, is to gain some sort of knowledge from it…I think the growth, as frustrating as it may be right now, is going to happen.”
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7pm. Follow on twitter @kpowell720