Friday's World Cup headline is Neymar vs. James Rodriguez, but in the White Sox clubhouse it'll be Andre Rienzo vs. Jose Quintana with four-year bragging rights on the line.
Brazil — Rienzo's home country — are the odds-on favorites to win the World Cup, despite a near-upset at the hands of Chile in the round of 16. But Colombia — Quintana's home country — has perhaps been the most impressive team in Brazil, storming through the group stage and dispatching Uruguay in the round of 16.
"It's a really good opportunity for Colombia, it's the first time we've (got into) the third round," Quintana said. "I'm excited for that. I want them to win, my country."
It's much more of a grudge match for Colombia than Brazil, the latter of which Rienzo said views Argentina as its chief rival. But Quintana's seen soccer grow in Colombia, and while his home country has had some baseball stars in the past (Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera) it's always been a soccer-first nation, even though its success hasn't come close to equaling that of Brazil. Friday's match will be Colombia's first quarterfinal appearance in World Cup history.
Rienzo and Quintana plan on getting to the clubhouse early and staking out a spot to watch the match, and then hoping the White Sox put the broadcast of it on the scoreboard during warm-ups. The good news is the White Sox have done that a few times during the World Cup, for instance showing Monday's Germany-Algeria match on the center field scoreboard as players stretched and took batting practice.
The two pitchers haven't figured out what the payback will be if their respective country wins, but Rienzo or Quintana won't let the other forget about the result of Friday's match for quite some time.
"(Quintana's) really my best friend here," Rienzo said. "Hopefully we'll enjoy watching the game and making fun of (each other)."