Here's hoping for some Cubs-Sox fireworks

May, 5, 2014
May 5
12:08
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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Contrary to popular opinion, you don't need good teams to have a memorable Cubs-White Sox series. That's a good thing, considering this is Chicago.

No, all you need are interesting personalities.

[+] EnlargePiniella & Guillen
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhThe current Cubs-White Sox series could use some of the unpredictability from the days of Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella.
Ozzie Guillen, A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Zambrano, Michael Barrett's angry fist, Lou Piniella, the BP Cup.

They're all gone, except the Cup. But it's not the same, either.

Heck, I don't even think there are rats in the Wrigley batting cages anymore.

Where have all our good storylines gone?

With four games this week, two at Wrigley Field starting tonight and two at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday and Thursday, baseball is front-page news in Chicago.

I mean, it's not bigger than the Blackhawks or the Bears' draft, but still, somewhere on the front page, folks. Not bad for a sub-.500 team facing a last-place one.

Will we be entertained? That's up for debate. The notion that this series has seen better days isn't up for debate. When you don't even have a sponsor for your intramural championship trophy, the writing is on the wall, man.

Maybe Ozzie can write some jokes for Rick Renteria and Robin Ventura, but their delivery won't have the same panache.

Jose Abreu might think he's back in Cuba when he sees the visitors clubhouse, but I don't see him complaining. Maybe Jeff Samardzija will talk about Hawk Harrelson's broadcast style again.

If a Sox player rips Wrigley Field, we'll have five Cubs executives agreeing with them: That's why we need minority investors to start the rebuild!

The true purpose of the crosstown series isn't to proclaim the best team in baseball -- the 96-loss Cubs won their first "Cup" last year, beating the 99-loss White Sox. Rather, it's to get all the inmates in the city's baseball asylums in one place for a mass convention.

But of course, we're missing Randle McMurphy.

No, not Pierzynski. While he best represented the rivalry on the field, the Cubs-Sox series, as we knew it, died the day Guillen left town for a big payday in Miami.

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It was Guillen who stirred up the city's internecine baseball rivalry during his eight years as White Sox manager. He would joke about the steroid-ingesting rats in the Wrigley batting cages ("I think the rats out there are lifting weights"); the intelligence of White Sox fans over Cubs fans ("Because our fans are not stupid like Cubs fans, they know we're [bleep]"); and Cubs players ("Tell that Triple-A [bleep] to shut the [bleep] up -- tell him to start throwing some strikes or he's going to get Dusty fired").

By the end, even Ozzie was sick of doing his Wrigley shtick, but he always performed.

And of course, we had Lou Piniella. Sweet Lou didn't have any problems, that I can recall, with the South Siders. During this series, he had a beef in his clubhouse and with the media.

Piniella had to kick out players in back-to-back years at the Cell after dugout tirades, Milton Bradley in 2009 and Carlos Zambrano in 2010.

"Boy, every time we come here," Piniella said with a chuckle after tossing Zambrano for nearly fighting Derrek Lee.

And then there was the time Piniella decided to rant about Sox broadcaster Steve Stone during the Cubs-Sox series. That was at Wrigley. Someone asked about the rookies and Piniella went off.

"And Steve Stone, he's got enough problems doing what he does with the White Sox," Piniella said that day in the home dugout, his voice rising. "What job has he had in baseball besides talking on television or radio? What has he done?"

As rants go, it was highly entertaining and furthered the notion that something always happens during this series.

I'm going to Wrigley on Monday hoping something does.

Jon Greenberg

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.

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