Write your own caption: what is Alfonso thinking? Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano in the dugout during Wednesday's game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
You didn't really think this Cubs team could actually sweep the White Sox, did you? On the road, at the Cell, where they haven't swept a series since 2007?
It didn't happen, and in a pretty definitive way. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting your 2012 Chicago Cubs, the cure for any opposing team's pitcher who's having a rough stretch.
Wednesday evening, the beneficiary was Gavin Floyd, who had a 10.38 ERA and 11 home runs allowed in his previous 30 innings. Naturally, that meant Floyd would throw six shutout innings against the Cubs, allowing four hits and a walk. Meanwhile, the White Sox were hitting pretty much at will against Randy Wells and four Cubs relievers and shut out the Cubs 7-0, the fifth time the Cubs have been shut out this year (and second by the Sox).
The all-time series between the two teams now stands at 41 wins for the Cubs, 49 for the White Sox. Will we still see six games between the two teams when schedules get changed with realignment in 2013? I hope not. Attendance was a bit bigger Wednesday night -- 32,311 -- but thousands of seats for all six games this season between the Cubs and Sox went unsold.
What's the cause of this? Several things:
High ticket prices on both sides of town for these games, far more than the market will bear. White Sox marketing VP Brooks Boyer seemed to admit the mistake:
Thanks to dynamic pricing, City Series bleacher seats went for an outrageous $90 — hard for many families to justify in this economy.
"I wasn't comfortable taking the prices for this series lower," Boyer said. "But, when all is said and done, we can look at it and learn from this."
The fact that the Cubs are having such a miserable year contributed, too. There were far fewer Cubs fans at the Cell than in previous years; the lack of Cubs fans led to an atmosphere where you could almost feel Sox fans were sorry for us. There were no fights in the stands and few yells of "Cubs suck!" to any Cubs fan in sight. That could be because that phrase, applying to the Cubs' play on the field this year, is pretty obvious.
But the biggest factor, I think, is fatigue. Fans on both sides of town appear to be tired of too much regular-season baseball between the Cubs and White Sox. These two teams play as often as the Cubs play NL rivals like the Mets or Giants, or the White Sox play the Red Sox or Yankees. Reducing it to one series a year would be better; with year-round interleague play coming in 2013, interleague itself is going to become commonplace. They've talked about reducing it to four games, with two and two in each park in a single week. That might work; a clever way to do it would be to alternate dates, four days in a row, say having Monday & Wednesday games at Wrigley, Tuesday & Thursday at the Cell.
Meanwhile, there was a game you might want to hear about, or maybe not. Manuel Corpas struck out Paul Konerko to end the eighth inning. That was the only Cubs pitcher K of the game. Meanwhile, a bunch of walks had gotten Randy Wells in trouble; he left before the fourth inning was over, having thrown 69 pitches, although trailing just 3-0. Until Gordon Beckham smashed an opposite-field, three-run homer off Scott Maine, I thought the Cubs might have a shot at coming back; after that it was simply waiting for the inevitable, another loss.
Oh, and the Cubs, for the second night in a row, wasted a leadoff triple, this time by Starlin Castro. But by that time it was 6-0 and the Cubs were probably counting the minutes until their charter flight to Phoenix. Yes, it's gotten so that these Cubs don't even want to spend their off day in Chicago, instead choosing to spend all of Thursday and Friday in 110-degree weather.
Rumor has it that Anthony Rizzo might soon join this team. He's no savior, but at least he might make this mess of a season more fun to watch.