Before the Cubs had their triple-digit title drought, before the White Sox had their infamous World Series fixing scandal that celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, Chicago’s two ballclubs made their Fall Classic debuts against one another in 1906.
Late October baseball has been seen far and few between since then. The Southsiders, who won that 1906 title, only won one other in the 20th century, 1917, before ending the sport’s third-longest drought with their 2005 World Series. They also made championship appearances with that Black Sox season in 1919 and the Go-Go Sox’s 1959 appearance, with an additional appearance coming earlier in 1901.
The Cubs have made a lot more appearances in the World Series, appearing 10 times since that all-Chicago meeting, but after their 1908, we all know they had the longest championship drought in professional sports before their thrilling seven-game series win over the Cleveland Indians, the current title holder of longest drought, in 2016.
And the stars have aligned for a Cubs-Sox series to happen again this year. The White Sox have the best record in the American League and became the first team in the junior circuit to clinch a postseason berth Thursday, their first since 2008. As the Sox sit in first in the AL Central, the Cubs are on top of the central division in the National League and will likely wrap up their postseason berth in the next handful of days.
I know I’m not the only one who has wondered what a Chicago World Series would look like. No city in America has baseball fans as passionate as Chicago, and as someone who has attended a handful of crosstown games, I can tell you the atmosphere is unlike any other.
Which is why it all makes perfect sense that two franchises who have had some of the worst postseason luck over the years could finally meet again in a year that will see a grand total of zero fans attend any games. Chicago fans deserve their own version of the 2000 Subway Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets, their own version of the 1989 Battle of the Bay between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.
Not only will there be no fans, but neither Wrigley Field nor Guaranteed Rate Field will host a game with these two potential rivals. Major League Baseball will hold their postseason in multiple bubbles, similar to what the National Hockey League has done this year in Edmonton and Toronto, and a little more free-flowing than the airtight National Basketball Association bubble in Orlando.
Don’t get me wrong, the bubble is a great idea and I understand why it’s happening. Both the NHL and NBA have executed the bubble plan to perfection, while we have seen on a handful occasions with baseball, who has played its regular season traveling from park to park, how quickly COVID-19 can spread on a team if one person catches it.
It’s just weird. Baseball is a little different than those other sports when it comes to how important the actual field of play is. Without fans, there isn’t a home-field, home-court or home-ice advantage in that sense. And all basketball courts and hockey rinks all have the same dimensions and features.
But baseball stadiums are all unique. The friendly confines of Wrigley Field and its unique angles and afternoon shadows can’t be replicated in the brand new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where this year’s World Series will be held. It doesn’t have the grass kept by the one and only Sodfather, Roger Bossard, or the pinwheels in the centerfield scoreboard the way The Rate does.
That 1906 World Series featured a pair of games with snow flurries. If the two Chicago squads meet up again this year, the chance of those flurries will be replaced by Texas heat that will have the Fall Classic feeling more like the Late Summer Classic.
Thankfully, the Sox look like they have a core in place to make World Series pushes for years to come, and the Cubs have the talent now and front office in place to make sure they can continue to make deep playoff runs as well. So, even if an all-Chicago meeting happens this year in Texas and without fans, as Cubs fans were conditioned to say for decades, there’s always next year.