The Cubs were in damage-control mode on Thursday, with Tom Ricketts releasing a statement distancing his franchise from racially divisive issues.
The Cubs had woken up to a New York Times report linking the chairmans father, Joe, to potential attack ads against President Obama funded by a super PAC. The head of the Ricketts family issued a statement rejecting those plans.
The Ending Spending campaign message comes at a politically sensitive time, as the Cubs try to lobby government officials for help with renovating Wrigley Field.
Against that backdrop, Chicago will be hosting the always unpredictable series between the Cubs and White Sox, as well as the NATO summit that will bring an increased security presence around the city this weekend.
The bomb-sniffing dogs were out at Wrigley Field earlier this week (though thats been seen at the stadium before).
Whether its Carlos Zambrano being restrained from Derrek Lee in the dugout, or Michael Barrett punching A.J. Pierzynski at home plate, or Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella talking trash, or fans going after each other in the stands, this usually reaches a boiling point.
Whenever youre involved in these kind of series, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, theres way more tension than in any other series. Thats just a part of it. Am I going to sit here and say: Is anything gonna happen? No, but theres completely different emotions that go on (here) that you dont have in regular series.
So whether its emotions from the fans, emotions from playersits just a whole nother level of baseball.
Sveum and Robin Ventura his former teammate and current counterpart on the South Side are low-key, first-year managers that try to project a sense of calm and dont provide bulletin-board material.
Guillen loved the attention and loved this environment, ripping Wrigley Field and the rats he claimed were running around inside.
If Guillen hadnt taken his talents to South Beach, you could have asked him about the renovations plans or the White Sox fan in the White House.
Thats supposed to be off-limits now for Guillen. Last month in Little Havana the day after the Miami Marlins manager returned from his suspension for making comments about Fidel Castro he was asked how different the crosstown series will be without him.
It will be a big media event still, Guillen said. I tell a lot of people: Besides playing in the World Series or playoffs, thats the closest youre going to get, when you play White Sox-Cubs in town.
A lot of people talk about New York, St. Louis. No, I think (about) that series in Chicago. People take it very seriously and thats a big event in town.
The Cubs and White Sox reportedly might not be guaranteed the same six-game split between Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field next year, when the Houston Astros move to the American League and interleague play rolls on throughout the season.
As a player, its 162 games, every ones important, Cubs utility man Jeff Baker said. Theres not too many outside of Opening Day (and) the playoffs where you really get overexcited. If you lose to the White Sox, its the same as losing to the Reds. (But) its not stale by any means.
On the flip side of that, for the fans, its awesome. Its water-cooler discussion. You see people at gas stations yelling at each other when youre filling up (the car). I know the city likes it and the city appreciates it, so I dont want to say as players its stale to us. We still get up for it. Its still fun. But I think it means a lot more to the fans.
Really, youve seen fans yelling at each other at the gas station?
I have, Baker said. I was picking up family out at Midway (in 2010). There were some Cubs fans out there. (Obviously, that areas) predominantly White Sox fans. They were yelling at each other. It was kind of funny. I kind of pumped my gas quickly and got (away) in my car.
The Bulls and Blackhawks have already been eliminated from the playoffs, and the Bears are weeks away from training camp. This city is going to start focusing on their two sub-.500 baseball teams.
You got to root for someone now, said Jeff Samardzija, who gets the start for the Cubs on Friday. I guess you got to pick the North or the South.