The rivalry between the Cubs and White Sox is intense among their respective fan bases, but there’s also plenty that unites rather than divides.
The first-place Cubs and last-place White Sox met in the annual four-game Crosstown Cup series last week — with two games at each ballpark.
It was largely a competitive, entertaining and rancor-free series, despite a series of beanball incidents in one of the contests. And John Lackey insists he wasn’t aiming at any of his four victims (he hit Sox star Jose Abreu twice).
After long (some say eternal) waits, both sides now have World Series championships — both in this century, too. The White Sox captured the 2005 title in a sweep of the Houston Astros while the Cubs ended 108-years of disappointment with their memorable 2016 championship.
While they play in different leagues and competitive juices set these two teams apart, there are also plenty of connections.
It’s been infrequent, but the Sox and Cubs ave swapped players in the past. Players from one team have also ended up managing or coaching the other and broadcasters have jumped from South Side to North Side and the other way around.
The most recent trade — the 15th between the franchises — came earlier this month when White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana went to the Cubs for a collection of prospects.
It was a win-win transaction that bolstered the Cubs’ struggling pitching rotation while the White Sox added top prospects as they continue a serious reconstruction project — not unlike what turned out to be a successful rebuild the Cubs underwent.
Rick Renteria was manager at the start of the Cubs revival before he was dismissed when Joe Maddon became available. Now the genial Renteria is overseeing a hoped-for White Sox renaissance in the not-too-distant future as manager on the South Side.
Here are a few other connections:
* Sammy Sosa went from South to North in a deal that sent George Bell from the Cubs to the White Sox in 1992. Bell played two years on the South Side while Sosa went on to club 545 homers in 13 seasons with the Cubs, including seven All-Star appearances and a 1998 MVP award.
* Ron Santo went from North to South in a 1973 deal. The eventual Hall of Famer rejected a trade that would have sent him from the Cubs to the Angels and a deal was worked out that send him to the White Sox. He played one season on the South Side. Santo later had a lengthy career as a Cubs broadcaster until he died in 2010.
* Steve Stone, current White Sox TV analyst, played for both teams and was one of the players swapped in the Santo trade. He also spent 20 years as a Cubs TV analyst. Darrin Jackson, current White Sox radio analyst, also played for the Cubs.
* White Sox catcher Geovany Soto, currently on the disabled list, played for the Cubs from 2005-12 and was 2008 National League rookie of the year.
* Don Kessinger, shortstop for the Cubs snakebitten 1969 team, later managed the White Sox to a 46-60 record in 1979.
* After a lengthy career in St. Louis and one year in Oakland, Harry Caray came to Chicago to call White Sox games from 1971-81. He switched to the Cubs and broadcast games until his 1998 death. He’s the only non-player with a statue outside Wrigley Field.
* Bill Veeck, the two-time White Sox team owner, worked for his father at Wrigley Field and is credited with planting the original ivy on the outfield walls.
* For 70 years, WGN-TV has been a constant through it all, broadcasting both teams for many seasons and then exclusively presenting the Cubs as it built itself into a national cable superstation with baseball as a centerpiece. The Cubs prospered from that arrangement and built a national following and, arguably, became the dominant team in town. WGN now broadcasts selected White Sox and Cubs games.