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Bring On the White Sox!

Why have the Chicago White Sox never visited the New York Mets?

I hold no brief for the White Sox as currently constituted and, save for a few personal [1] and historical [2] attachments, have no surpassing interest in the White Sox any more than I do the Angels, whom we just saw, or the Athletics, whom we are about to see. The White Sox rushing to Flushing is not something that would necessarily quicken my pulse, but for cryin’ out loud, how is it they are the only American League team in now fifteen seasons of Interleague competition to have never come to Shea Stadium or Citi Field?

Where in the world are the Chicago White Sox? And why in the name of Charley Smith, Lance Johnson and Robin Ventura [3]are they afraid of playing us in New York?

They beat us two of three at what was then called new Comiskey Park in 2002, the only time we’ve played them outside of Spring Training  — which stopped being convenient when the Mets moved to St. Lucie in 1988 and ceased to be possible once the Sox abandoned Sarasota for Arizona in 1998. The Mets have gone longer without an official game versus the White Sox than they have against any opponent, active or otherwise, from either league. Defunctitude isn’t a dealbreaker; the Mets have played the Montreal Expos more recently than they’ve played the Chicago White Sox (though the Sox still have the Milwaukee Braves beat by 37 years).

Since Rocky Biddle bested Al Leiter 2-1 on June 12, 2002, we have taken on, from the American League…

• Toronto (most recently in 2006) and Tampa Bay (2009) 3 times
• Kansas City (2004), Oakland (2007), Texas (2008), Boston (2009) and Cleveland (2010) 6 times
• Seattle (2008), Baltimore (2010) and Detroit (2010) 9 times
• Minnesota (2010) and Anaheim/Los Angeles of Anaheim (2011) 12 times
• The other New York team far too often (57 times through May 22, 2011)

Barring acts of Bud, you can add 3X to Oakland, Texas, Detroit and the other New York team as of two weeks from now. Thus, by the Fourth of July, we will have seen the Mets compete against representatives of 13 junior circuit clubs 156 times since June 12, 2002 — nearly an entire season’s worth of games — and we’ll have had no dates with the White Sox. Furthermore, just prior to that June 10-12, 2002, series at the future U.S. Cellular Field, we had a three-game set in Cleveland. For the five seasons prior, we regularly saw every non-New York club from the A.L. East for three games a year, alternating annually home and away.

Thus, before we ever saw the White Sox, we had these American League opponents in official MLB contests:

• Baltimore for 16
• Boston for 15
• Cleveland for 3
• Detroit for 3
• Tampa Bay for 12
• Toronto for 15

Throw in 27 regular-season Subway Series dates and that’s 91 consecutive Interleague games of the non-White Sox variety for the Mets once the sacred boundaries between N.L. and A.L. were blurred forever in 1997. Thus, out of 250 Interleague games in toto, we’ve seen the White Sox less than we’ve seen anybody, and we’ve seen the White Sox here not at all.

(FYI, the White Sox were 6-6 at Shea against the Yankees in 1974 and 1975. Their last game in the environs of Citi Field was a 2-1 win on August 21, 1975; the winning hit was delivered with two out in the top of the ninth by left fielder Jerry Hairston, father of current Met and Sunday afternoon ninth-inning pinch-hitter/umpire-screwee [4] Scott Hairston.)

I don’t care so much that forces have aligned to allow the White Sox to avoid us and our ballpark(s) as I want to understand why. I understood when it was East vs. East through 2001. I understood why that was considered repetitious after a while. I understood that these things would cycle and even out from there.

Because we are forced/fortunate to play six NY-NY games every year, I realized there would be an occasional inequity, but I figured it would all come out in the wash. In 2003 and again from 2005 through 2009, we were one of those National League teams that landed an extra National League series via whatever math deprived us of getting, say, an entire American League West slate. But eventually those opponents we missed would materialize in our midst, which I thought was kind of the idea of Interleague play. Fans who didn’t get to see teams from the other league as a matter of course would, sooner or later, get to see every team from the other league once in a while. Or once.

I’m still waiting to see the White Sox.

I’ve gone to see every Interleague opponent Bud Selig’s half-assed scheme has sent my way since blasphemic stunt-scheduling commenced, including the Texas Rangers, whom I never got to actually see, except for a few sticking their heads out of Shea’s visitors’ dugout amid a Saturday night downpour of biblical proportions [5] on June 14, 2008 (and would have accepted an invitation for the makeup doubleheader that Sunday except it was Fathers Day and telling my dad, “I have to go watch the Texas Rangers so I can mark down in my Log that I have,” didn’t seem quite in the familial spirit). I never asked for Interleague play — I sure as hell didn’t ask for Sunday’s sleeper against the Angels [6]— but as long as it was coming to Shea, I was on board for the sake of history or novelty or whatever it was that made me think, “I can’t miss Tampa Bay’s first game ever against the Mets! [7]

But never the White Sox. Never at Shea. Still never at Citi. And not at the Cell since before it became the Cell. The White Sox have a two-year lead on the Royals in the American League race to avoid the Mets and are at least four years ahead of everybody else from over there. The Royals, whom we haven’t played since 2004, at least had the decency to make an appearance at Shea in 2002. It was so long ago that they had Carlos Beltran and we had Tony Tarasco, but they showed up. The Blue Jays haven’t been by since 2001, but they were the perfect guests for three series: nine games with us, nine losses for them. The A’s (putting aside the events of October 1973) [8] remained at large long after the rest of the West touched down next to LaGuardia, but they squeezed themselves onto our home schedule in 2007 even though we weren’t playing the Angels, Rangers or Mariners that year. I considered that very considerate of them.

Everybody and everything has been done in terms of Interleague. Done to death. So done to death that some powers that be think they can now parlay their blasphemic blurring into some sort of ridiculous realignment [9]. But they forgot one little detail. They forgot to send the White Sox to play the Mets where the Mets play. I’d go to see the White Sox at Citi Field because I go to see every American League team play at Shea or Citi at least once, even in the rain. Whether the American League team gets to play the Mets is up to the heavens, but I’ll show up.

After the White Sox visit the Mets, kill the whole Interleague thing, Subway Series and all. I used to modestly defend it. I have no use for it any longer. I just watched the Mets play the Angels for three days and felt nothing — and the Angels are the closest thing to a favorite American League team I’ve had in the last decade. If the Angels can’t move my needle, the A’s, the Rangers and the Tigers aren’t going to, either…and the possibility of some local A.L. opponent’s 3,000th hit occurring during a Mets game [10] definitely won’t. Hand Interleague its hat, call it a cab and tell it we’ll remember it intermittently fondly [11] as it’s driven away. We don’t have to hurt its feelings, but we do need to get rid of it already.

But first get the White Sox here. Or, failing that, tell me why they won’t come.