<
>

Cubs torn over fate of cross-town series

The Cubs and the White Sox could play less frequently if the MLB amends it's scheduling system. Jerry Lai/US Presswire

CINCINNATI -- The first of the two cross-town series is a little more than two weeks away, and Cubs players didn’t seem sure how to handle the news that in coming years there could be less of the matchups that turn Chicago on its ear.

With a change next year in how Major League Baseball puts together its schedules, it’s possible that annual regional rivalries like Cubs-White Sox could be reduced to just one three-game series a year or else a pair of two-game series at each ballpark.

In one sense, a more balanced schedule that has teams in each division playing identical schedules is what is truly desired, even though that’s what is the biggest culprit in making the six games of the regional rivalries go away.

“The Dodgers play the Angels who have been great every year,” Reed Johnson said. “And then you get a team like St. Louis who might play a Kansas City or something like that where things can get really one-sided.”

When division races come down to the final day of the season, like possibly for the Dodgers in the NL West or the Cardinals in the NL Central, strength of schedule makes a difference.

But there is nothing like the energy fans provide when regional rivals meet, especially the buzz created by Cubs and White Sox fans not only at the ballpark but all over the city on the days the teams meet.

“Fans provide a huge aspect to that,” Ryan Dempster said. “For us as players, whatever game we’re playing we’re prepared to do the same thing, but whenever you have fans bringing in a little extra element, extra excitement, it helps bring up the intensity from pitch No. 1 all the way through. It’s always exciting.”