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Bench the Crosstown Classic, Bud

June 19, 2012|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

If Commissioner Bud Selig has any compassion for Chicago sports fans, he'll take the Crosstown Classic behind the barn and give it the Old Yeller treatment.

Once upon a time, Cubs vs. Sox was among the city's finest sports theater regardless of how awful the teams were. When Major League Baseball decided the games that had forever been exhibitions would count in the standings, it became personal for fans on both sides.

Now?

The home-and-home series is the manifestation of the jock you went to high school with who still wears his varsity letter jacket to his full-time job as a bartender at TGI Friday's and only hangs out with the other "cool" kids from your hometown because his life peaked at 17. Really, that's just sad.

Sure he's there, but you're not going to save his number in your contacts because you know you're never going to call him to hang out because he's no longer relevant—or interesting, for that matter.

The city has all but given up on the Crosstown Classic for that reason: It's no longer relevant.

Whereas once the Cubs and Sox played to standing-room-only crowds, tickets have been easy to come by at the Cell. The cast of characters has changed so frequently over the years that it's hard to imagine these players feeling more than mild irritation toward each other.

Heck, even the schedule makers relegated the second half of the series to a Monday-Wednesday—hardly ideal for crowds it hopes to draw. Perhaps we've been spoiled by too much of a good thing, or perhaps we're finally sick of being told to care about two mediocre teams clashing just because they're from opposite ends of our fair city.

The good news is, even the dumbest jock gets a second chance to reinvent himself, much as the Crosstown Classic has a chance to become relevant again. And while it's going to take a lot more than simply mothballing the varsity jacket, maybe scaling back to one exhibition meeting per summer or taking a few years off from a crosstown matchup altogether will remind us of why we cared so much to begin with.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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