Updated September 23
One hundred and forty years ago, two armies met on a field of battle outside a northern city.
A series of inspired victories had swelled the confidence of the invading army. During the first day of fighting the battle was chaotic, and missed opportunities by the south side left the outcome undecided when night fell. The second day's combat ebbed and flowed but ultimately left the northern army in the stronger, more defensible position. At the end of day three, after an ill-considered charge and much bloodshed, the southern cause was all but lost. The war continued on for a while, but the outcome was never again in question. The Yankees came to town this week. Call it the Reconstruction Series.
The White Line. Usually when a passionate cause in this city is crushed so swiftly and decisively, it's because the mayor ordered in the backhoes under cover of darkness. As September waxed, Sox fans had high hopes their team would either emerge as the division leader or, at the very least, take the race down to the October wire. But the south-siders tiptoed into that good night like Snuggle the Downy bear after an overdose of Percocet. As a result, history won't remember the excitement of the 2003 season, which will likely be recorded, as were so many others, with the notation "Chicago, 3rd place."
The Black Line. Like the Swiss Family Robinson, the Cubs find themselves in unfamiliar territory and in repeated pitched battles against Pirates. Despite the 28 runs scored by the Bucs last weekend, Cubs fans began the week in high spirits, just a half game behind the Astros and, as the last Chicago baseball team standing, with city bragging rights locked up until April. Of course playing for bragging rights is getting old--86 years old, in fact--and the Cubs had just a few games left to put their money where Mark Prior's mouth is.