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Cubs-White Sox rivalry a remnant of past but future remains bright

in Around Chicago by

Chicago Cubs fans and Chicago White Sox fans will never put a stop to the madness.

No matter how one-sided the rivalry might become and how meaningless the games might be, there will be exchanges of trash talk, blissfully ignorant of whatever situation presents itself. When the White Sox ended their 88-year World Series drought back in 2005, it was so. Now that the Cubs have ended their own 108-year drought, ditto.

Still, when the chasm opens as wide as it has, you don’t see the same energy that once followed this series up and down the Red Line. Take the current series, for instance.

The weather has sucked the life out of Wrigley Field and Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo launched first-inning home runs that put the game out of reach before it felt like it had even begun. And so Cubs fans will retain bragging rights until late-September when a very different looking White Sox team will have a shot at redemption.

But without the typical back-and-forth you see when the city fields two competitive teams — or at least has a competitive series — it’s not quite as gratifying to rub your friends’ and family’s noses in it. Typically, this series has been remarkably tight, and that’s traditionally fueled the Michael-Barrett-punching-A.J.-Pierzynski-type energy we’ve come to expect.

Since interleague play began in 1997, the White Sox hold a 58-56 advantage. By Sunday’s end, the Cubs could pull within a game of drawing level. And even in the World Series seasons for each team, the series finished tied for the year.

The good news is that it shouldn’t be this one-sided for long, at least from a talent perspective. Baseball is a remarkably unpredictable game and even the White Sox could theoretically begin a lengthy run, beginning on Sunday despite the fact the Cubs are clearly in a better place as an organization.

However, generally, things should be markedly different even by the time these two teams see each other again Sept. 21-23. The next wave of talent in the White Sox farm system will be on the roster and most likely on the field with September call-ups, and they’d love nothing more than to ingratiate themselves with their new fanbase by playing spoiler to the crosstown rival.

And in the coming years, the White Sox’s loaded farm system should produce a playoff-caliber team while the Cubs should remain well within their title window, setting up the ultimate dream: seeing the two teams meet again in the World Series. It seems like the next lengthy Chicago baseball drought (112 years) we need to see fall.

The White Sox are very clearly a long way from realistically entering that discussion. Their loss on Saturday gave them their worst 36-game start in franchise history.

However, with several dozen prospects in the system projected to challenge for major league spots in the next two seasons and a handful of players with superstar potential, Cubs fans should know better than anybody that they’re still in position to make a massive leap soon. It’s exactly the blueprint that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer implemented to end the Cubs’ long-time futility.

So as we all lament the current state of this rivalry (the Cubs have now taken five of six and are thoroughly embarrassing the White Sox in the current three-game set), know that there could be much higher stakes in play soon. So break out the Baseketball VHS, and prep your best psych-outs for when it does.

Because if we can continue busting each other’s balls when things are like this, it’s going to get personal when both teams have a chance to be successful.

We personally can’t wait.

Ryan Wooden is a full-time sports writer based in the Chicago suburbs. In addition to co-founding The Chicago Sports Column, he is a weekend editor for BetChicago and covers prep sports in DuPage County for the Daily Herald and Shaw Media. Find him away from the computer (or don't) on some body of water or some golf course somewhere.