Over time, the flair of the Crosstown Classic has faded.
In fact, it’s gotten to the point where if you are a casual baseball fan, you may not have even realized the White Sox and Cubs just wrapped up their last series of the year.
The attendances at both series this season (at Wrigley Field in May and US Cellular Field the past three days) set record lows for the Crosstown Series. And at the game the atmosphere is just not the same as it was when it started back in 1997.
It’s sad, because the Crosstown Classic was once arguably the most popular sporting event in the city of Chicago each year.
Once time for Interleague Play rolled around, it seemed as if these games became more of a three-day holiday than just a baseball series. The trash talking between friends made it really seem like a Windy City “Civil War.”
But now it’s become just another series on the 162-game schedule. The city has tried gimmicks like the “BP Crosstown Cup,” but they have worked to no avail.
Is the malaise irreversible? Maybe.
But I am confident the Crosstown Classic can get it’s swagger back once again if a few things happen…
3. Decrease the number of games from six to three
This used to be the case, and this may be the case once again.
The MLB is discussing decreasing the number of games between crosstown rivals (like Sox-Cubs, Yankees-Mets, Dodgers-Angels and Giants-A’s) as early as next season. The Houston Astros moving to the American League will cause a big scheduling change.
I think this would do wonders for the series’ popularity, as the teams playing each other only three times would make it less redundant. Plus, no possibility of a series split would make the three games over a weekend much more important for city bragging rights.
2. Lower the ticket prices!
It seems as if both teams bank on the fact every year that they will sell out the Crosstown Classic, as the ticket prices for both series this season were higher than normal games.
The cheapest ticket for a game at US Cellular Field this past series was $45 (we are talking last row upper deck in the corner, folks), and face value for bleacher seats was $75! Likewise, the cheapest ticket for one of the games at Wrigley Field was for $29.
By setting these prices, the teams are taking the high school and college kids totally out of the equation, as there’s really no way they can afford tickets to these games. The more bases of people they make possible to come to the game, the more amped up the atmosphere will be.
1. Both teams having success at the same time
This is the most obvious one, but sadly it’s the most unlikely to occur (at least in the near future).
The last time both the White Sox and Cubs were good was in 2008 when both teams won division championships.
The city series’ that year didn’t disappoint either. Both teams swept the other at home, leaving Cubs and White Sox fans to debate all year long. No answer to the question of which team was better was ever reached, as both teams lost in their first round playoff series.
When both teams are bad, no one really cares who is better. When one team is good and the other team is bad, everyone knows who is better. It’s when both teams are good when fans cannot swallow their pride, giving the series a huge amount of intrigue.
Yes, the #1 spot on this list requires the teams to actually do some work on the field, but the organizations and the MLB can get the other two items done next season.
Being someone who grew up when this series was thriving and was such a huge deal. I hope the teams realize that this is a fading tradition, but one that can still return to, and possibly even surpass, its glory days.