Polling Place: Better team, Cubs or Sox? The votes are in — and it’s not even close

Whatever “elite” really means in a 60-game regular season, we’ll see. But it’s the South Siders who have all the mojo in the world heading in.

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Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez after his grand slam off Yu Darvish.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It was just a meaningless preseason game, wasn’t it?

And yet, something about White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez’s first-inning grand slam off Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish a few days ago at Guaranteed Rate Field felt bigger than that.

To some, it may even have signified a shift of baseball power in this city from North Side to South Side. When you add Jimenez’s exciting rise, Darvish’s ongoing struggles and fellow Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana’s ridiculous dish-washing injury together, it certainly plays into a couple of early-season story lines:

One, the Sox, with Jimenez — the jewel of the 2017 trade of Quintana — and so many other young, talented, enticing pieces, are ready to win.

Two, the Cubs, four years removed from their World Series triumph — and in their first season without manager Joe Maddon — are trying to hang on to their magic of the last half-decade.

“Polling Place” — your weekly home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter — asked which team will be better in 2020, and the voting wasn’t close.

“Cubs, of course!” commented @IVYandICE2, who surely would’ve had the majority on her side heading into 2019, let alone in years before that.

But, no, not this time. Not even close.

“People love prospects and youth,” @PitRomney wrote. “The Cubs core is still one of the most talented in baseball. The pitching staff will decide whether this team is elite or slightly above average.”

Whatever “elite” really means in a 60-game regular season, we’ll see. But it’s the Sox who have all the mojo in the world heading in. They have loads of talent, an undeniable freshness surrounding them and, for what it’s worth, two-thirds of the vote over the Cubs.

On to the polls:

Poll No. 1: Better team in 2020, Cubs or White Sox?

Upshot: The Sox added catcher Yasmani Grandal, big bopper Edwin Encarnacion, former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Steve Cishek, among others. An offseason like that has a way of impressing the hell out of fans and foes alike. As for the Cubs, well, did we mention fans will be able to watch games from the rooftops across the street from Wrigley Field? Nah, it isn’t all bad on the North Side. The Cubs still have stars in the lineup and a few starting pitchers who’ve touched greatness. The race is on.

Poll No. 2: In a 60-game season, which are we most likely to see a player do?

Upshot: According to MLB.com, the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki hit .458 over a 60-game stretch in 2004 and the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton hit .427 over 60 games in 2010. So, sure, .400 is possible, but so is each of the other choices in our poll. Then-Marlins behemoth Giancarlo Stanton hit 33 dingers in 60 games in 2017, for crying out loud. And Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa each had an even more homer-heavy 60-game stretch than that … but we probably shouldn’t talk about it.

Poll No. 3: Will baseball pull this season off, World Series and all?

Upshot: This is the question at the heart of it all, wouldn’t you agree? All involved in the game are wishing baseball enough health and safety to make it to the finish line, but many fans are skeptical. Take @billy_mcgowan, who wrote, “We need a ‘tragically, yes,’ as I think they are hell-bent to finish the season — no matter what the consequences are.” Let’s just say there’s a road paved with good intentions, and we sure hope baseball isn’t on it.

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