[Ed's note: The numbers in bold refer to the facts, ultimately totaling 102.]
BETCHA DIDN'T KNOW THAT...
When they joined the National League as a charter member in 1876, the Cubs were known as the White Stockings. (1) They had more than a dozen other nicknames before becoming the Cubs, in 1902, because of their young roster. (2) When the White Sox played their first game, in 1900, they were also called the White Stockings, but the name was quickly shortened to fit newspaper headlines. (3) After 12 seasons of interleague play, the Cubs-White Sox series is tied at 33-33. (4) This, of course, does not count the 1906 World Series, in which the Sox, known as the Hitless Wonders (5), upset the Cubs, who won a record 116 games that year. (6)
The basket protruding from the outfield wall at Wrigley Field was installed in 1970 in an attempt to keep objects from coming onto the field, not to mention Bleacher Bums. (7)
Sox closer Bobby Jenks powders the back of his hat with the rosin bag before he takes the mound. It fires him up and makes it easier to dry his fingers between pitches. (8)
Cubs second baseman Mark DeRosa is buddies with Aussie singer Michael Johns, a finalist on American Idol this year. (9) When Johns was voted off, DeRosa "banned the show" in his house. (10) "I still think it was ridiculous," DeRosa says.
Harold Baines, who played for the White Sox three different times and is now their first base coach, had his No. 3 retired by the team in 1989, 12 years before he retired. (11) It was legendary White Sox owner Bill Veeck who, while working in the Cubs' front office in 1937, suggested planting ivy on the outfield wall at Wrigley Field. (12)
White Sox GM Ken Williams' godfather is Olympic track legend John Carlos. (13) Williams played college football at Stanford and was on the sideline when Cal's Kevin Moen ran through the Cardinal band in the famous five-lateral return of 1982. (14) Williams left Stanford after his freshman year to sign with the White Sox, who drafted him in the third round in 1982. (15) He later called that decision the worst he's ever made. (16) The tradition of flying the W or L flag from the Wrigley Field scoreboard after each game started in 1938, to inform El riders of what the Cubs had done that day. (17)
In August, White Sox star Carlos Quentin was plunked in six straight games. (18) At Stanford, he once got hit an NCAA-record five times in a game. (19) Ironically, it was a self-inflicted wound—he broke his wrist slapping his bat in frustration—that has put him on the shelf. (20)
DUGOUT CHATTER WITH RYAN DEMPSTER
On Sept. 15, the Cubs righty will perform with Chicago's Second City troupe at a cancer benefit. (21) "I'm gonna be funny," he says. "I don't know about anyone else." He warms up by dishing on his teammates.
Who's the funniest guy on the team? "It's not me. It's Reed Johnson. He's quick, really quick. He has refined the arts of dry humor and animated humor. He's extremely versatile."
Best dresser? "Derrek Lee. He is always wearing the nicest suit in the room. (22) I also think he knows how to cook, but he's never invited us over."
Worst dresser? "Ted Lilly. He leads the league in Magnum, P.I. shirts."
Who likes chick flicks? "Mike Fontenot. Sweet young man. Tender, even."
Anyone else you wanna embarrass? "Ryan Theriot's favorite color is pink. Geo Soto's favorite TV show is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. (23) And Mark DeRosa wishes he had played quarterback at Florida State instead of at Penn."
Who'll spend the rest of his life in Chicago? "Kerry Wood. He's from Texas, but this is his home. They love him here, and they should. He's done a lot of great things for this team and city. He raises huge money for children's hospitals." (24)
Biggest eater? "Well, let's have a look around. Jon Lieber is a big eater. And then there's Bob Howry, who I swear has a funnel into a bottomless pit. The guy can eat a steak dinner and wash it down with nachos and cheese and walk away with a lower body-fat percentage. It's freak genetics."
Best singer? "Jason Marquis is a closet American Idol. (25) He kills on SingStar, and man, he hits the high notes. He can sing anything: pop, rock, country, even rap, but it's rare that he'll sing for us. Henry Blanco sings on the plane, (26) and he sounds as good as Marc Anthony or Julio Iglesias. And if Bon Jovi is on, DeRo is full-on. (27) You might as well skip the concert."
Biggest misconception about the Cubs? "That we just want to make the playoffs. Everybody here wants to win a World Series. And it's not about the 100-year drought. We just want to be the 2008 Chicago Cubs. I mean, I vaguely remember 1908. I thought the next year we'd be back for sure, but we haven't won it since. It's tough. I'm getting old, and it's wearing on me. Hopefully this is the year."
Ever wonder what those strange rooftop signs across from Wrigley mean? "Eamus Catuli" is a Latin phrase that loosely translates to "Let's go, Cubs." (28) Below that it says "AC," short for "Anno Catuli," or "Year of the Cub." (29) The series of numbers designates how many years it's been since the Cubs won their division (00), the NL pennant (62) and the World Series (99). (30)
BETCHA DIDN'T KNOW THAT... (VOLUME 2)
The only ball ever to hit the Wrigley scoreboard was a golf ball struck by Sam Snead. On April 17, 1951, before the Cubs' season opener, Slammin' Sam used a 4-iron from home plate. (31) In 1973, South Side pitcher Steve Stone was traded for North Side icon Ron Santo. Stone is now a broadcaster for the Sox, Santo for the Cubs. (32) Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot have more in common than being the DP combo at LSU when the Tigers won the 2000 College World Series. (33) They're also two of the three players in Cubs history with a silent T at the end of their names. (34) The third was pitcher Ray Fontenot (1985-86), who's not related to Mike. (35) Dick Allen, who drove in 113 runs in 1972, is the only White Sox player ever to lead the league in RBIs. (36) Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano had at least 1 RBI in eight straight starts this season, the longest streak ever for a pitcher. (37) He became the first hurler since 1924 to have a 13-start hit streak. (38) Big Z also holds the longest active streak of all major leaguers without drawing a walk: 217 plate appearances. (39) Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, the Cubs' DP combo in the legendary 1910 Franklin P. Adams poem, despised each other. (40)
Both Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen were Rookies of the Year: Piniella with the Royals in 1969 and Guillen with the White Sox in 1985. (41) Now they're both fiery Chicago managers. We asked retired umpire Bruce Froemming to describe their "debating" skills:
ON LOU: "He's very loud. When he flipped his lid last year, I thought it was premeditated; his team was playing bad, the press was all over him, so he had to do something. But the next time we saw him, he was very humble, apologized and said it wouldn't happen again. He likes umpires." (42)
ON OZZIE: "He yells at the same decibel level as Lou. (43) The difference is, when Ozzie started yelling and talking really fast, I couldn't understand him. He'd go *@&@(!(@ and I'd say, 'Ozzie, slow down.' With him, I don't think anything is premeditated. I'm not sure he remembers the things he did three days ago. Which is good.
DUGOUT CHATTER WITH NICK SWISHER
The personable first baseman/outfielder joined the Sox last winter, and he's fit right in on a roster full of colorful characters.
What's up with that Captain Morgan dance you do after your home runs? "Orlando Cabrera is the one who can dance. He came up with the handshakes, and I brought the Captain Morgan pose from Oakland. (44) Now, at home games, there's a fan dressed as the Captain Morgan guy. (45) It's classic."
Is Ozzie Guillén nuts or what? "When Ozzie goes off, like he did this year about the Cubs getting all the love here, it's usually when we're going bad. It's his way of taking the focus off us and putting it on him. (46) That's not crazy—that's smart."
How has Ozzie helped you? "Well, Ozzie and Juan Uribe got me out of a slump by talking to my bat. (47) 'We need you to be a better friend,' they told it. 'We need you to help Swish.' Hey, it worked."
Have you gotten a handle on the North Side-South Side thing? "The South Side reminds me of Oakland: blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone people. We identify with that. We might not have the best talent, but we have heart."
Who's in charge? "Jim Thome is our clubhouse cop. (48) When he talks, everyone listens. Then we go back to being knuckleheads."
No, really, who's in charge? "We keep each other accountable. If you do something stupid, it gets brought up on the team bus. (49) Someone will walk to the front, take the mike and just let you have it. There's a lot of ragging."
What was it like to bring your dad, Steve, to Wrigley in June? "Being there with my dad, who came up with the Cubs, (50) was amazing—my coolest day in the big leagues. That Woo-Woo guy [iconic Cubs fan Ronnie "Woo-Woo" Wickers] yelled, 'Steve…Woo!…Swisher&helliip;Woo!' Hilarious."
AT THE MOVIES!
If there's anything film critic Richard Roeper knows more about than movies, it's the White Sox. He has season tickets at the Cell, and in addition to his five books on flicks he wrote Sox and the City about his favorite team. (51) We asked the former co-host of Ebert and Roeper to rank his five favorite Chicago-related baseball-movie moments.
1. Eight Men Out (1988) "Shoeless Joe is playing in the bush leagues in New Jersey, and the fans are trying to figure out if it's actually him. It's a sad moment from a White Sox standpoint, but it's memorable. What I love about this movie is that the actors actually look like they can play."
2. About Last Night…(1986) "Jim Belushi hits a homer in a softball game and is showboating around the bases. I love how it showcases Chicago's beer-league softball scene."
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) "Who can forget, 'Hey, batta, batta, batta…saaa-wing, batta'?"
4. Only The Lonely (1991) "John Candy plays a well-connected Chicago cop, and he's trying to woo Ally Sheedy's character, so he arranges for them to have a picnic in the outfield at old Comiskey Park. It's an awesome scene. They actually filmed it at Comiskey after the last game had been played there, just before it was torn down." (52)
5. The Natural (1984) "I love the part where Glenn Close's character resurfaces. She stands up and looks like an angel when the light shines on her. Roy Hobbs breaks out of his slump and shatters the clock with a homer. That scene was filmed in Buffalo, (53) but for the purposes of movie magic, it's Wrigley Field."
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto is a lock to win NL Rookie of the Year. Alexei Ramírez probably won't match that in the AL, but the White Sox second baseman already has the best nickname in Chicago: the Cuban Missile. (54) Here's what the new kids have learned so far.
GEOVANY SOTO, AGE 25
Cubs fans have your back. "Even when I strike out there will be some guy behind the dugout yelling, 'You're the man, Geo!' And Cubs fans are everywhere. Sometimes on the road, there are more people rooting for us than for the home team. It's nuts."
You need a good GPS system. "My wife, Luzem, drives me everywhere. Thank God, because I don't have enough time away from the park to learn the city. She found the shopping and the best places to eat downtown."
It helps to crack 'em up. "Sometimes I go out to the mound and make it look, to everyone else in the stadium, like my mouth is moving, but really I'm not saying anything. (55) That usually makes the pitcher laugh. The guy knows what he's doing wrong; you just go out there to calm him down."
Day games aren't so bad. "I've got a baby, so my wife likes it that I'm up early. Plus, you're done by 5, so you can go to dinner or just hang. As the season goes on, it gets more difficult to get up early. But this is what we train for all year long."
ALEXEI RAMÍREZ, AGE 26
The best thing about Chicago is the food. "I eat at Pancho Pistolas, a few blocks from the ballpark, lunch and dinner every day. (56) I love roast pork. And I love to eat. When I'm on the road, I'll call Omer Muñoz [a Sox instructor and interpreter] at 1:30 in the morning and say, 'Let's eat, I'm hungry.' I'm like an alarm clock."
Everybody knows your name. "People in town tell me they like how I play. They tell me I should be the Rookie of the Year, and I'm the MVP of our team. They say, 'There he is, the Cuban Missile.' "
It helps to have a friend from home. "I knew José Contreras before I came to America. When I signed with the White Sox, he told me, 'I'm here to be your father.' He showed me how the major leagues work." (57)
English is overrated. "The guys mess with me every day. Sometimes, I don't even understand what they're talking about. I don't know what their jokes mean. On our bus, they make me sing in Spanish. I can't sing at all." (58)
BETCHA DIDN'T KNOW THAT... (VOLUME 3)
Johnny Kling, star catcher for the 1908 world champion Cubs, sat out the following season and won the world pocket-billiards championship. (59) Kling returned to the team in 1910.
A group of Cubs fans have restarted the West Side Rooters Social Club, which was disbanded by team president Charles Murphy after the 1908 season. (60) Club members claim that's the real reason the Cubs haven't won in 100 years. Ernie Banks serves as chairman, (61) and the secretary is Ryne Sandberg. (62)
The last forfeit in the American League was by the White Sox. Between games of a July 12, 1979, doubleheader against the Tigers at Comiskey Park, the Sox held a Disco Demolition promotion, in which a local DJ blew up dance records. Thousands of fans stormed the field, lit fires and tore up the diamond. (63)
Three Finger Brown, the early- 20th-century ace who had only three fingers and a thumb on his pitching hand, holds modern-era Cubs records for ERA (1.80), complete games (206), shutouts (48) and winning percentage (.686). (64) Six-fingered Antonio Alfonseca, who has an extra little finger on each hand, (65) was the Cubs' closer in 2002…and holds no records.
In 2006, the Sox changed the color of the seats at the Cell from blue to green, but they left a couple chairs alone to mark home runs hit by Scott Podsednik and Paul Konerko in the 2005 World Series. (66)
Wrigley Field was built in 1914 on land once occupied by a seminary. (67)
The only hits that onetime White Sox farmhand Michael Jordan ever got in Chicago were at Wrigley Field: He went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in a Sox-Cubs exhibition in 1994. (68)
In the 1918 World Series, the Cubs played their home games at Comiskey Park because it held about 8,000 more fans. (69) Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth went 2–0 with a 1.06 ERA. As a hitter in the 1932 Series, the Babe allegedly called his shot at Wrigley. Ruth is the only man to play Fall Classics at both Chicago ballparks. (70)
We all know the White Sox wore shorts in 1976. But no one can dish Chicago style like Paul Lukas, ESPN.com's Uni Watcher. Here are his fashion high- and lowlights for each team:
The Cubs wore MLB's first zippered jerseys (1937), (71) vests (1940) (72) and powder-blue road unis (1941). (73) They also sported the first—and, thankfully, only—pleated pants (1940). (74) Does the Cubs' batting-helmet logo seem to pop more in the Wrigley sun? Unlike every other MLB team, they use an embroidered felt patch instead of a decal. (75) In the mid-1990s the Cubs wore a script insignia that looked like "Cuba." After lots of fan complaints (including a belligerent talk-radio call from "Fidel in Havana"), the design was abandoned. (76)
Chisox innovations: player names on jerseys (1960), (77) batting-practice jerseys (1972), (78) untucked pajama jerseys with stupid-wide disco collars (1976) (79) and the first throwback unis (1990). (80) Special occasions call for special attire, so the Sox broke out red, white and blue unis for the 1917 Series (81) and lived up to their name by trading their black stirrups for white hose in the '59 Series. (82) So why don't the White Sox wear white socks? Actually, they used to, from 1900 to 1945, and again from 1969 to '70 and '76 to '81. (83) They'll probably do it again at some point: It's a Clorox sponsorship waiting to happen.
TOP CHEF: CHICAGO BALLPARKS
Chicago hosted the most recent season of Bravo's Top Chef, so we asked winner Stephanie Izard to visit Wrigley and U.S. Cellular fields to rate the fare. Her take: "I'm a huge Cubs fan, so it pains me to say this, but the food at the Cell destroys the food at Wrigley." (84) Urp.
Veggie Burger (The Cell) "The patty is moist, and the whole wheat bun is soft. A really good veggie burger by any standard."
Pulled-Pork Nachos (Wrigley) "The barbecue sauce is nice and tangy, and the pork is supertender. Nice alternative to ground beef."
Corn on the Cob (The Cell) "Not something you would expect to find at a ball game. The corn is fresh, and if you don't slather on too much butter and salt, it's healthy." (85)
Cub Sub (Wrigley) "The turkey looks like the cheapest you could get from a bad grocery store. Why not just have a Subwaylike stand where folks can make what they want?"
Greek Salad (Wrigley) "When I ordered it, the concession guy said, 'Are you sure?' Then he went to look for dressing, because he didn't know it was hidden in a container below the lettuce. And the dressing had an inch of oil on it, ruining it as a healthy option."
Pizza (Wrigley) "Worst I've ever tasted; it almost made me gag. Not representative of Chicago pizza at all. (86) It's weird, because the same company provides the pizza to Cellular Field, but they didn't leave it under a heater where it could become dried out and nasty."
Late, great Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray started singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in 1976—while announcing for the Sox. (87) The Wrigley anthem "Go, Cubs, Go," played after every home W, was written by composer Steve Goodman, who was inspired by the 1984 Cubs. (88) He died of leukemia at 36, four days before that club clinched the Cubs' first playoff berth in 39 years. (89) The White Sox anthem "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" was recorded by studio musicians as a B-side in 1969. (90) When the label released it as an A-side, the writers created the fictitious band Steam to avoid listing their names on the single. (91) The one-hit wonder shot up the charts, knocking "Come Together" by the Beatles out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1969. (92) When a disco version came out, in the mid-'70s, Sox organist Nancy Faust began playing the tune after opponents pulled a pitcher. (93)
WHAT DOES BUSTER OLNEY THINK?
After a century of suffering, you figure the baseball gods will pity the Cubs and let Carlos Zambrano (shoulder tendinitis) or Rich Harden (tired arm) pitch in the postseason. Here are Buster Olney's reasons why the Cubs will finally win it all—and why the White Sox won't.
1. Pitchers who miss bats win in October. A longtime NL scout says there are just two big league pitchers against whom hitters' adjustments are futile: Mariano Rivera and Harden, who leads MLB starters with 11.47 K's per nine innings. (94) "If Harden has his command, there's nothing you can do," says the scout. "His fastball is too explosive, his changeup too good." Also, through Sept. 6, the Cubs' bullpen ranked second in the NL (behind the Dodgers') in getting hitters to swing and miss. (95)
2. Injuries hit every team, but the Cubs have a built-in defense mechanism: Mark DeRosa, who can play six positions. (96) "He's the John Havlicek of the majors," says one advance scout. "He can give the Cubs anything they need defensively, at a championship caliber."
3. The 2008 Cubs, unlike many of their predecessors, work the count, draw walks and drive opposing starters from the game, then feast on middle relief. (97) With the emergence of Geovany Soto and the additions of Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds, the Cubs have developed such a deep lineup that the hitters trust each other and are willing to take pitches and walks. They're on track to lead the NL in OBP for the first time since 1937. (98)
1. Yes, the Sox lead the majors in homers, which has helped them win about two-thirds of their games at cozy U.S. Cellular Field, (99) but they're below .500 on the road, where they rank 19th in runs. (100) That won't cut it in October.
2. This team can't compete against the Vlads and Youks in the playoffs without setup man Scott Linebrink at full strength. He has missed most of the second half (shoulder) and is still trying to get back on track.
3. The White Sox rank 25th in steals and 29th in sacrifice hits, (101) leaving Ozzie Guillén to wait for his one-dimensional lineup to pop the next big fly. Losing AL home run leader Carlos Quentin (broken wrist) doesn't help. The Sox top the majors with 47% of their runs coming from homers. (102) Unless they go deep in October, they won't go deep into October.