CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko has one last season to touch on a wide array of topics with his younger teammates, and this week he has delivered a message.
It may not mean what it once did, Konerko admitted Wednesday, but if there is one thing he wanted the Chicago White Sox newcomers to know it’s that they should always treat games against the Chicago Cubs with reverence.
Getting his first, and possibly last, chance to start in this year’s crosstown series, Konerko contributed a huge three-run double in a four-run fifth inning and the White Sox went on to an easy 8-3 victory Wednesday.
It meant the White Sox were able to wrap up the series, and they received the Crosstown Cup on the field shortly after the last out was made.
It was the 75th game Konerko has played against the Cubs, and even though the crowd of 21,075 was the smallest in the series’ history, the captain seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.
“Listen, Cubs-Sox, it’s always great; there’s no way it’s not,” Konerko said. “Is it what it was 10 years ago? It doesn’t feel like it. But I think that goes along with all the interleague games because the more you do it, the more it just doesn’t have the same feel … but it’s better than losing three out of four or the series.”
If White Sox fans want to make city bragging rights a priority, then Konerko is happy to oblige. He felt their pain when the White Sox lost all four games of the series last year. And even though he has a part-time role in this season’s series, he was able to come through in a key game.
“When I got to this team, winning this season series was just about as important, if not more important, than making the playoffs, for some reason,” Konerko said. “It was ingrained in me early on that this was a big deal for our fans. Our fans care a lot about how we do against the Cubs. I would venture to say it’s more than their fans care about how they do against us.
“I’ve never taken that lightly. I’ve known that from the beginning, so I’ve always tried to show up in these games and do well.”
Even White Sox manager Robin Ventura has taken his cues from Konerko when it comes to the series.
“I think Paulie said it the other day: It’s not a regular-season game, it’s not a playoff game, it’s kind of somewhere in between,” Ventura said. “It just becomes a different game because two teams in the same city are playing, so there’s a little more life in the stands for both sides, really. So it’s a good game to win for our fans.”
John Danks struggled this past weekend against the Cleveland Indians, but he seemed to have an edge about him Wednesday, limiting the Cubs to three runs on four hits over six innings to pick up the victory.
“Well, it wasn't fun getting swept last year, so we look at these just as another game, but we know our fans look at it as more than that,” Danks said. “We're happy we could get them bragging rights.”