Respect the key word in Red Line series
White Sox organization has little antipathy for North Side rivals
CHICAGO -- When Jerry Reinsdorf was the subject of ESPN 1000's "Lunch with a Legend" series back at the end of May, the White Sox chairman was asked for his opinion on one of the show's hosts, Marc Silverman, being a Cubs fan.
"Why don't you lie down, and it will pass," said Reinsdorf, taking an indirect but humorous jab at the White Sox baseball rivals from across town.
As for Ozzie Guillen, he has absolutely no hatred for the Cubs. The White Sox manager does desire equal respect for his team, in regard to how their current status is portrayed throughout the city.
"I don't really worry about the way people treat the Cubs in this town," said Guillen, prior to Wednesday's game with Pittsburgh and just two days away from the first Cubs-White Sox matchup of 2008 at Wrigley Field. "With all respect, they don't appreciate as a city what the White Sox have been doing here for the last few years.
"That's why I don't like it sometimes," Guillen added.
White Sox players have been hit with questions about the Cubs series for pretty much the past month, but that attention has heightened over the past week with both teams in first place atop their divisions. It's to the point now where these same players, some of the best quotes on the team, are offering up standard answers just to get through the respective interview sessions and move on to other topics.
You know, the "Let's focus on Pittsburgh right now" approach, followed by "It's just another series for us, but it has a little bit more excitement." In regard to hatred for the Cubs, a feeling the most ardent of White Sox fans regularly show off -- a feeling usually returned by the North Side supporters -- it's not outwardly present in the clubhouse.
"It's really for the fans," said White Sox third baseman Joe Crede with a smile. "I would never say that I dislike any team. As you play longer for one certain team, you grow accustomed to fans, and what they like and dislike about each team. You learn the whole situation of how passionate fans are here in Chicago."
"There's more craziness with all the fans and with all the hype, it's like a playoff atmosphere," White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye added. "It's an exciting series, but for the players, once you get on the field and start playing, it's like another series."
Dye has a friendship with Cubs first baseman Derek Lee, having grown up in the same area and played together as far back as the Arizona Fall League. Guillen also is close to Lee from their days together on the Marlins, as well as Ryan Dempster, while he also has a great deal of respect for manager Lou Piniella and general manager Jim Hendry.
So, the White Sox will lead everyone to believe this weekend will be just another series at a visiting ballpark among friendly rivals. The intense disagreements in the stands and the equally intense reactions to happenings on the field would lead everyone else to believe otherwise.
"Really, it's all about respect," Guillen said. "Am I a Cubs fan? Do I wish them doing well? As a fan, no. As a baseball man, yes. The thing is obviously when the game starts, it's another club to face.
"Off the field, a lot of people think I hate the Cubs or I'm jealous of the Cubs. But I have a lot of respect for them."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.