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It’s time for MLB to reduce the number of intracity ‘rivalry’ games

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The current setup has far too many such games and it can lead to trouble in the stands.

A brawl broke out in the stands Sunday at the Cubs/White Sox game
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ever since the Cubs and White Sox (and other intracity rivals) began playing two series a year against each other in 1999, I have felt that was too many such games. Major League Baseball claimed that these games drew well and got fans to pay more attention to baseball, and while to some extent that’s true, baseball does not need attention like this:

That’s almost five minutes’ worth of video of a large brawl that broke out in the left-field bleachers at Guaranteed Rate Field in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game. It got so bad that actual uniformed CPD officers had to be summoned to help ballpark security and get things settled down.

I did not see, but heard about, other fights that happened in the stands during the other two games of the series this past weekend.

Mike Bojanowski, who was also at the weekend games, sent me this report on his experience on the South Side:

I must have won a cosmic booby prize, it accounts for the sort of “fans” I had to sit beside last weekend. The worst; an amazingly loud, offensive, and provocative jerk, acting like one, knowing and boasting that he was acting like one, and damned proud of it. And he was stone-cold sober. He was eventually ejected, or else I’d have been forced to move for the sake of my safety as well as my comfort, something I’ve done, for such reason, only a couple times in fifty-odd years of regular ballpark attendance. I pride myself on an ability to endure such nonsense, but I must confess I no longer look forward to attending high-profile games like the Crosstowns, they have become nothing but potential misery, all too often realized.

Let me make it clear: I am not blaming White Sox fans for this. Every fanbase has people like this, including the Cubs, and there were both Cubs and Sox fans involved in the brawl you see above. While Mike’s antagonist was “stone-cold sober,” it seems clear that alcohol consumption was one of the things that made Sunday’s brawl worse, as did the extremely hot and sticky afternoon.

It would be nice if alcohol consumption were reduced at ballgames, but given that it’s a major profit center for teams, this isn’t likely to happen. More security would help, but that’s an entirely different article.

What I’m lobbying for here is fewer Cubs/White Sox games. As Mike noted, they are high-profile, but seem to me to be less “special” than they were when interleague play first began in 1997. The Cubs and White Sox have now played 134 regular-season games (the Sox lead the series 70-64), and in seasons like 2021 when the Cubs are playing AL Central teams, they faced the Sox as many times (six) as they played NL ballclubs such as the Padres, Rockies, Marlins and Diamondbacks.

That’s too many Cubs/White Sox games, in my view. MLB should reduce the intracity “rivalry” games to one three-game series per year, alternated between ballparks. That would have each team visit each other’s ballpark once every other year, which should be more than enough. I’m not sure if these sorts of issues happen in the other two-team markets (New York, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area), but I can imagine those teams might want to see a bit less of each other, too.

And don’t forget that MLB has, from time to time, floated the thought of realigning the divisions geographically and placing the Cubs and White Sox in the same division, where they might meet as many as 18 times a year. I cannot stress enough how awful an idea this is. In my view, almost no one wants 18 Cubs/White Sox games a year.

The teams are scheduled to meet four times in 2022, twice at Wrigley Field (May 3-4) and twice at Guaranteed Rate Field (May 28-29). That’s more than enough for me. Give us less intracity Chicago baseball, not more.

Poll

Cubs/White Sox regular-season games...

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    More! 18 times a year would be great!
    (59 votes)
  • 31%
    The current scheme (four games a year, or six every third year) is fine
    (180 votes)
  • 51%
    Less! One series a year alternated between ballparks!
    (296 votes)
  • 7%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (44 votes)
579 votes total Vote Now