Once again, the Cubs-White Sox Crosstown Classic drama will feature 6 ‘acts’

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs slides safely into third base with a triple as Matt Davidson #24 of the Chicago White Sox takes the late throw during the sixth inning on July 27, 2017 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – After 22 years, the novelty of their match-ups have failed to wear off.

Even when the Cubs are good or the White Sox are bad, or the South Siders are on top and the North Siders are trending downward. Even when, on occasion (see 2008), where both teams are in the thick of playoff races, there’s still an edge to their this Crosstown Series.

The first scenario listed above is the one that will play out in 2018, starting at Wrigley Field at 1:20 PM on Friday. As they have the past few years, the Cubs have their eye on another World Series, even if their play so far has been a bit more erratic than one might like.

As expected, the White Sox are towards the bottom of the league as they enter the second year of their total rebuild. As an example, the biggest story this week with the team is the play of Eloy Jimenez – in Double-A.

For the moment, however, the current fates of the teams can be put a bit on hold as they battle for city supremacy. Right now that belongs to the Cubs, who got the BP Cup back for the first time since 2013 after beating the White Sox in three of four games last season.

But that’s the biggest change this season for the Crosstown Classic – the number of times the teams will face each other. Unlike the last two seasons – and four of the last five – the Cubs and White Sox will face off six times in 2018 instead of four.

This gives each team the opportunity to face each other three times this season in their home ballpark. It’s a return to the format used between 1999-2012 then in 2015, though the timing of this year’s city series is a bit different from in the past.

The early May meeting with the teams is a bit unusual since the games traditionally have been reserved for the middle of summer, but the second time around is much different. After this weekend’s trio of games at Wrigley Field, they won’t have the return series until September 21-23 – the second-to-last weekend of the season.

Perhaps the White Sox could play spoilers for the Cubs at that point, since it’s expected they will be in the thick of a race for the NL Central title or a Wild Card spot? Maybe that’s the time when Jimenez along with Triple-A pitcher Michael Kopech are taking on big league roles for the White Sox? Either way, like the return of six games, it add a wrinkle to the rivalry.

In the 22 years since regular season interleague play was introduced, the White Sox hold the 58-54 edge, winning ten series with the Cubs taking five with six ties. The North Siders are the defending champions, but they can expect their counterparts from the South Side to be as competitive as ever, considering this will be one of the highlights of another rebuilding season.

At least this year, the drama is a play in six acts instead of four. Let the battle for bragging rights begin.