With the NHL and NBA regular seasons over and our two local teams thankfully battling in the postseason, we've gone into power rankings withdrawal here at the palatial SB Nation Chicago HQ. But, wait a second, the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs are no strangers to the PR phenomenon, are they? Indeed, they are not. So, in a grand tradition recognized by no one but me, let's peruse a smattering of power rankings to see where our two local teams stand. Naturally, we'll need to keep our expectations as low as our current temps here in the Chicago area.
1. The SB Nation Mothership is ... Pulling our leg. Yes, being the serial skimmer that I am, I found myself briefly baffled to find the 9-12 Pittsburgh Pirates, who've won just four of their last 10 games, in the No. 2 spot. But then I caught on. Grant Brisbee's most recent charts document the power of each team's name. I'd quibble a bit with his high ranking of the Toronto Blue Jays but, otherwise, he's pretty spot on. There's no denying that there's little intimidation in a name like "the Cubs" (who are ranked 21st) and the nineteenth century's obsession with athletic hosiery doesn't sit well with today's app-happy baseball fans (the White Sox come up dead last, which is sadly appropriate given the team's current state).
2. NBC's Hardball Talk is ... Hard to argue with. The Cubs fall from 16th to 20th after a mostly disastrous series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. As master tweeter Craig Calcaterra points out, "... they gave up 27 runs in three games to the Dodgers." And that denotes a huge, huge problem for the North Siders right now. Not only are two of their five starting pitchers on the disabled list, but the remaining hurlers are having trouble pitching consistent quality starts (at least six innings pitched with three or fewer runs surrendered). Although the Cubs offense has shown some hopeful signs of being late-inning battlers, the team still isn't exactly scoring a ton of runs (current rank: 10th in the NL).
Meanwhile, the White Sox fall from 14th to 29th on these rankings. It's been almost a perfect storm of horror for the South Siders. Good opposing pitching, tough opponents, a long road trip and a lineup dependent on middle-of-the-order sluggers who are mostly slumping.
3. ESPN is ... A bit more merciful. It's four-man team of voters felled the White Sox only seven places to the 22 spot. A kind gesture given the team's 1-10 record over it's last eleven games. Maybe the writers behind the votes are drawing patience from the fact that the Sox pitching staff has kept the team in most of those losses. And the offense has to wake up sometime, right? (Baltimore Orioles come in this weekend!).
The Cubs, on the other hand, drop just one spot to 20th -- the same place Calcaterra put them at. The North Siders schedule isn't exactly easy from here on out either. They face the highly ranked Colorado Rockies at home this week then head out west to face the lowly ranked Arizona Diamondbacks (at Chase Field, where the Cubs struggle historically) and the Dodgers (who, as noted, scored a ton of runs at Wrigley this past weekend).
Standings-wise, the White Sox (going into play against the New York Yankees tonight) are five-and-a-half games out of the AL Central. That's actually not too shabby, considering how far the team has fallen over the past week. The Cubs are still just a game and a half out of the top spot in the very, let's call it, competitive NL Central. Here's hoping for a better week ahead for both teams.