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By Daniel I. Dorfman–
CHICAGO (WSCR) Tonight we start our biannual ritual of the White Sox versus the Cubs. Some say the novelty has faded after all these years and there probably is something to that. But the ballparks will be filled (maybe?) for a few days to make the beer distributors happy.
In honor of the fact 2011 marks the 15th season of interleague play, I have put together a Top 15 list of the most memorable moments from this series which the Sox lead 41-37. It’s a list, and I am sure there will be disagreement on both the moments and the placement of the moments. Such is the fun of a list!
Without any further adieu…
15) Sox rally from 8-0 deficit to beat Cubs 13-9, June 28, 2002: Paul Konerko hit two homers and went 4-for-4 as the Sox came back from an 8-0 deficit to outlast the Cubs 13-9. I think Konerko’s career with the Sox has contained just a few more highlights in these past nine years.
14) Carlos Lee hits walk off grand slam to win game, June 8, 2001: With the game even at 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th, Carlos Lee, who at this point had already established himself as a Cub killer, hit a game winning grand slam off Courtney Duncan at what was then Comiskey Park, in front of a crowd of 45,936.
13) Milton Bradley v. Lou Piniella, June 26, 2009: Weird things tend to happen at the Cell for the Cubs. In the one disastrous season Bradley had in Chicago, he exploded in the dugout on this day and went back to the clubhouse where he and Piniella had a heated exchange. The details got out and a lot of people were embarrassed as the sanctity of a clubhouse was compromised. It was just a minor bump in the road for Bradley who has proven to be a fine human being. Oh wait.
12) Todd Walker draws walk to win game and Cubs sweep Sox, July 4, 2004: In front of a national television audience, the Cubs finish off a sweep of the Sox when Todd Walker coaxes a bases loaded walk from Damaso Marte in the bottom of the ninth. Carlos Lee had tied the game in the top of the ninth with a homer, but the Cubs started a rally off Shingo Takatsu to win the game.
11) Sox sweep Cubs, June 29, 2008: Sox fans were crouching under their desks when they got to the office the previous Monday as the Cubs had swept their team the previous weekend at Wrigley. In the ultimate application of the phrase “turnabout is fair play” the Sox return the favor the following series at the Cell.
10) Aramis Ramirez hits tying and winning HRs as Cubs take the first of three, 6/20/2008: In the aforementioned sweep by the Cubs the previous weekend at Wrigley, the White Sox were winning 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh when Derrek Lee and Ramirez hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game. Ramirez led off the ninth against Scott Linebrink by hitting a game winning homer. Cubs fans went crazy and the North Siders went on to easily win the next two games.
9) First interleague game, June 16, 1997: Interleague play got started with an afternoon game at Comiskey Park as the Cubs won 8-3. A lot of people will have to dig deep to remember the names of the starters. Given up? Kevin Foster for the Cubs, Jamie Navarro for the Sox.
8) Jose Valentin mocks Sammy Sosa, July 13, 2001: Everyone remembered how Sammy Sosa preened for the cameras after hitting a homer with a collection of hand gestures. So as the Sox were on their way to a 7-2 triumph, infielder Jose Valentin hit a homer in the seventh inning and from the first base dugout, did a pretty good Sosa impression. He denied it was a shot at Sosa, who said he didn’t take offense. Not sure a lot of people believed any of that.
7) Brant Brown wins classic Wrigley game, June 5, 1998: Ah, the ivy at Wrigley Field. On this day it was poison ivy for the White Sox. The first regular season game between the teams at Wrigley was tied at five in the eighth and with two out and a runner on first, Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez hit a double into the right field gap. A go ahead run easily would have scored, but the ball got lost in the ivy forcing a ground-ruled double to be called and the runner was sent back to third. The Cubs got out of the jam and Brant Brown homered in the bottom of the 12th to give the Cubs a victory on their way to a sweep.
6) Ozzie Guillen going after Wrigley Field, June 20, 2008: Saying Ozzie Guillen doesn’t like Wrigley Field is a little like saying Rory McIlroy had a decent tournament at the U.S. Open. Among his numerous shots at Wrigley Field, in June 2008 he told reporters, as reported by mlb.com, that Wrigley had huge rats. “I think the rats out there are lifting weights,” Guillen said. With attendance falling at Wrigley this year, Guillen seems to be getting some company with his Wrigley assessment.
5) Mike Caruso hits homer as Sox complete sweep at Wrigley Field, June 13, 1999: In what turned out to be one of the few (the only?) highlight of what was supposed to be a great career, the one-time prized Sox shortstop prospect Caruso hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Rick Aguilera as the Sox beat the Cubs 6-4 and finish off a sweep. The game had been delayed for over three hours, but Sox fans didn’t mind as many were seen driving through Wrigleyville with brooms after the game.
4) Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd both have no-hitters deep into game, June 13, 2010: On the night the Blackhawks brought the Stanley Cup to Wrigley Field, Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd toss a double no-hitter until the seventh, when the Cubs break through and eventually score the game’s only run. The Sox broke up Lilly’s no-hitter and let a golden chance to at least tie the game slip by. It was one of their few hiccups during their 26-5 stretch in June and July last year.
3) Speaking of the Blackhawks coming to Wrigley last year, June 13, 2010: This one didn’t have either baseball team as the main actor, but to see members of all three teams taking a picture together was really awesome. Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen got a chance to hold the Cup and meet with ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. Moments like that don’t happen too often in this city.
2) Carlos Zambrano v. Derrek Lee, June 26, 2010: Almost a year has now passed since Zambrano and Lee were not exchanging pleasantries in the U.S. Cellular Field dugout after the Sox had taken a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Zambrano was apparently complaining about a lack of effort and Lou Piniella had to separate the two. Zambrano was sent home and general manager Jim Hendry said, “We’ll play with 24 before we tolerate that kind of behavior.” Zambrano was sat down by the Cubs, but has returned and has continued to make an occasional fool of himself. But with his high salary, the Cubs are stuck with him.
1) A.J. Pierzynski v. Michael Barrett, May 20, 2006: The novelty had started to wane with interleague play in its 10th season, but it got an injection of life when Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tried to knock the ball out of Michael Barrett’s glove as he was trying to score on a sacrifice fly. As Pierzynski was picking up his helmet, Barrett took a swing at him and the fight was on. Sox center fielder Brian Anderson came charging in and soon we had a bench clearing brawl. Barrett was suspended 10 games, Anderson missed five and Pierzynski was fined for waving his arms supposedly egging on the crowd. The next day Barrett and Pierzynski had a calm conversation at the plate and later in the season, the two shook hands at Wrigley Field. Still, for fans of both teams, a bench clearing brawl does get the juices flowing.
So who knows if there will be any additions to this list in 2011, but let’s hope something does happen. We will need something to remember this season by.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.