CHICAGO | After participating in all but the first two seasons of the Cubs-White Sox crosstown duels, Paul Konerko is an expert on the prevailing trend of the series.
“Probably the amount of close games ... there were years where they were doing well and we weren’t," Konerko said, "and vice versa, both teams doing badly ... the amount of close, good games they’ve been.”
Fifty-eight of the 90 games since 1997 have been decided by three runs or less. The Sox are 9-4 in games decided by two runs. They hold a slim edge at 15-14 in one-run games.
Other pertinent storylines of Cubs-Sox:
*The missing-man formation. This is the first year since 2003 the series has lacked its two more colorful provocateurs, Ozzie Guillen and A.J. Pierzynski. When either opened their mouths, they were highlights of the summer. Or body English grist, as when A.J. was punched in 2006 by the Cubs’ Michael Barrett.
“That was about the wildest game I’ve been a part of with those two teams,” said the Marlins’ Juan Pierre, a Cub in 2006 and a Sox in 2010-11.
*The visitor’s dugout and runway to the clubhouse have been a conflict center for the Cubs. Witness Carlos Zambrano’s dugout blowup in 2010, and Lou Piniella cursing Milton Bradley out of sight the year before.
*Seventeen games have been decided in the final at-bat. Most dramatic was Carlos Lee’s two-out, 10th-inning walk-off grand slam for the Sox off Courtney Duncan on June 8, 2001.
*No lead is safe. On June 28, 2002 at The Cell, the Cubs led 8-0 after three innings. The Sox stormed back to win 13-9, thanks to a pair of Konerko homers.
*Day in the sun, or rain. Amid a soggy, rain-delayed atmosphere, little shortstop Mike Caruso hit a game-winning homer in the eighth off Rick Aguilera on June 13, 1999, completing a three-game sweep by the Sox at Wrigley Field.
*Walk on the wild side, but no Independence Day fireworks. On July 4, 2004, lefty Damaso Marte walked Todd Walker with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 Cubs win.
*Double no-hitter frenzy. With the just-crowned Stanley Cup Blackhawks in attendance, the Sox’s Gavin Floyd took a no-hitter into the seventh on June 13, 2010, while in the same game the Cubs’ Ted Lilly had his own no-no broken up by Pierre, who led off the ninth with a single in the 1-0 Cubs victory.