These Cubs have far more than White Sox on their minds

SHARE These Cubs have far more than White Sox on their minds

Chris Sale looks on after giving up a home run to Kris Bryant in the first inning of the All-Star Game on July 12 in San Diego. | Harry How/Getty Images

The Cubs think as much about the White Sox as a fleet of corn threshers thinks about the gopher hole by the ditch.

The Sox can do whatever they want — even win a World Series in recent memory — and it means virtually nothing to the Cubs. The Cubs’ mindset, their army, their mission, is 100 percent about themselves.

The Cubs and their legion of fans are narcissists with a mirror before them and a tiny, 108-year clock ticking in the recesses of their brains.

In fact, if we — the Trump-detested, knuckle-dragging, horn-headed media — didn’t ask the Cubs every so often about the Sox and what they mean to baseball, it’s possible youngsters such as Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. might not know they even existed.

It’s only these summer crosstown meetings — two games at U.S. Cellular Field, then two at Wrigley Field this week — that keep the Sox on the Cubs’ limited radar.

Perhaps when Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hit a first-inning home run against Chris Sale in the All-Star Game on July 12, he knew Sale was the Sox’ ace lefty. But what he remembered more was that he was terrible against Sale in the Cubs-Sox games as a rookie last season.

‘‘This one doesn’t really count toward career statistics,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘I’m still 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against Chris Sale.’’

He knew this because Sale is on the Cubs’ schedule, not because the Sox are anything more than another team to beat on the road to you-know-what.

This Cubs team is loaded with young talent — from Bryant (24 years old) to first baseman Anthony Rizzo (26) to shortstop Addison Russell (22) to infielder Javy Baez (23) to Contreras (24). And these youths are, frankly, too young to care about rivalries with a team in the American League, even if its stadium is only 71 blocks south of Addison Street.

Right now, the Cubs have the best record in baseball. This season isn’t about beating any particular team, not even the always-successful Cardinals. This season is about getting to the postseason with as good a record as possible, then winning each round until the World Series, then . . . we won’t even mention it.

The Cubs and their fans know that 1908 was the last time the North Side team won the World Series and that doing the deed again is all that matters.

It might be instructive to bring up the Red Sox for historical perspective. That once-pitiful team had gone forever without winning the Series, and much of Boston’s energy in the last century oddly went into hating the rival Yankees, who had won the Series again and again, as though that would help.

Then in 2004, after 86 years, the Red Sox won the World Series. Then they won it in 2007. And in 2013.

Everybody in Beantown chilled out, no longer wanting simply to destroy the Yankees out of misplaced frustration, and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein came to Chicago in October 2011 to work the same magic with the Cubs.

But the Cubs don’t have that team to despise, a la the Yankees. Despite their success, the Cardinals aren’t Yankee-like to Cubdom. The Cardinals, for example, have to live in St. Louis.

And it always seemed that if the Cubs ever got serious, which they now are, the Cardinals would go back to being a prairie outfit playing under an arch to the Old West.

With Dexter Fowler finally back playing center field, the Cubs have their spark plug to ignite the offense. It’s not good news for Almora, who was sent to Class AAA Iowa on Friday, but it only makes the Cubs better.

The talk now, after acquiring lefty reliever Mike Montgomery in a trade with the Mariners, is that injured slugger Kyle Schwarber — a young stud, for sure — is a trade piece so valuable that he might bring the Cubs a super pitching arm (or two) that would guarantee a crown.

Oh, boy. You see where this is going?

The Cubs can’t wait until 2017.  They need to go for it all right now.

I’d like to say the mediocre, small-crowd Sox are on the Cubs’ to-do list, but they’re not.

You don’t hook minnows when there are fish to fry.

Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.


The Latest
Here are seven games, with some picks, to keep tabs on.
Hunter Dickinson scored 19 points and Michigan pulled away in the second half to earn a 68-51 win Thursday night in Evanston.
After struggling in January, averaging only 8.5 points in the Bulls’ 14 games, Dosunmu scored 22 points in their first game of February. He shot 9-for-10 from the field.
For decades, she traveled from her South Side home to clean the homes of prominent Gold Coast and Lincoln Park families and became a part of their families, too.