Cubs-White Sox rivalry officially under way
Sox win on Saturday marks start of Windy City showdown
MESA, Ariz. -- The first day of Daniel Hudson's Major League Baseball career was spent sitting in the bullpen at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3, taking in one of Major League Baseball's most heated rivalries known as the Cubs vs. White Sox.
One of Hudson's goals, among the many as his career progresses, was to make a start in one of these heated Chicago battles. For now, the right-hander will have to settle for a Cactus League contest before 12,712 at HoHoKam Park.
Hudson worked the first three innings during the White Sox 15-3 shellacking of Lou Piniella's crew on Saturday. He faced the minimum six hitters in the first two frames, before giving up three runs on three hits and a hit batsman in the third.
This second strong spring effort from Hudson earned praise from manager Ozzie Guillen. It also helped the rookie gain a greater comprehension of the Interleague, intra-city battle.
"I don't think I understand the whole thing yet," said a smiling Hudson of the meaning of the White Sox-Cubs. "It's a huge rivalry, crosstown, with the best fans in baseball. It's awesome.
"Even though it was Spring Training, it still feels like a mid-season rivalry. Like a three-game series on the weekend, that's how it feels."
These two teams actually have a two-game weekend series, weather permitting, with the Cubs traveling to Camelback Ranch in Glendale on Sunday. Jake Peavy is scheduled to make his first Cactus League start for the White Sox in front of another raucous crowd.
How much do these games between the two actually mean? Well, the whole "top team in the city" concept actually changed when the White Sox gained the ultimate bragging rights via the 2005 World Series championship. Ultimately, this competition is more about the fans' enjoyment, with one group gaining the edge for a day or two.
Even in a Cactus League game, when 88s and 85s dot the uniform back of players entering the contest, it still gives the winning fans an opportunity to puff out their chests. The rivalry is enhanced by Guillen and Piniella, the two accomplished managers and friends, who can turn a quote as well as anyone in the game.
Piniella joked on Friday about getting a Twitter lesson from Guillen, while Guillen gave Piniella grief before Saturday's game about not going to Las Vegas for next weekend's two-game set because the White Sox swept the Cubs there last year. There's respect between the two sides at the core.
"They have a great team and they have a great bunch of guys," said Carlos Quentin of the Cubs, after Quentin pummeled the North Siders for two home runs and five RBIs. "A lot of us know each other, and I think they enjoy it as much as we do. It's great for the fans."
Guillen went as far as to say he would not root against the Cubs breaking their century-long drought and winning a title.
"I'm not going to say I hope they never get to the World Series because that's not the way I think. I will say what I think. I think it would be great," Guillen said. "The manager is a good friend of mine. The general manager [Jim Hendry], I have a lot of respect for him. I don't come out of the clubhouse to say hi to very many people.
"And I did. The only reason I don't want to is because of the fans. Besides that, why not? I got a lot of guys that are my friends. Am I going to root for them? No. But I really don't mind for them to win the World Series."
Playoff baseball stands many miles away at this point. The Cubs-White Sox games are as close to postseason atmosphere as either team can get in the regular season and stand as filled-to-capacity highlights of the Cactus League ledger.
"It's always exciting when you have that kind of rivalry. It's good for the game," said White Sox reliever Sergio Santos, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Cubs. "I grew up with Angels-Dodgers, but I'm sure this is a pretty tense one because Chicago is such a big baseball city, with very passionate people."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.