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Despite success, Sox overshadowed

Despite success, White Sox overshadowed

ST. PETERSBURG -- Since pretty much the first day he arrived in Arizona for Spring Training, Ozzie Guillen has heard the same basic mantra.

"You hear about how it's the Cubs' year," said Guillen, speaking prior to Game 2 of the American League Division Series between his White Sox and the host Rays. "When you carry it on all year, every day, it gets to the point where you need to relax. Now, it's getting worse."

That pressure on the Cubs has reached record proportions, only of the most negative variety possible, after the Dodgers crushed them in each of their first two playoff games at Wrigley Field. Suddenly, that 100-year World Series drought looks as if it's headed toward another "Wait until next year."

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But a funny thing happened as the Cubs were fulfilling their 2008 regular-season expectations and motoring to a second straight National League Central title. The White Sox played well above any expectations that anyone outside of the organization had for them.

Long before the White Sox officially locked up the AL Central via Tuesday's tiebreaker against Minnesota, the whispers already had begun. Could this be the year when a Red Line World Series finally takes place in Chicago? After all, both teams reached the postseason in the same season for the first time since 1906.

"People live with hopes, and people live with dreams," said Guillen of the potential World Series matchup, now looking unlikely. "I want it, not because the Cubs are there, but because at least I will be there."

"It's a marketing dream, as long as we win," said Brooks Boyer, the White Sox vice president, chief marketing officer. "All of Chicago would love that scenario. But we have work to do, and they have work to do."

Boyer pointed out how the winner of a Cubs-White Sox clearly would get a jumpstart with the next generation of fans. He believes some young baseball enthusiasts would align with the winner of such a major competition, just as a number of fans jumped on the White Sox bandwagon following the 2005 World Series championship.

"High tide clearly has floated all the boats, and baseball is a much bigger deal in Chicago," Boyer said. "If we were both to go to the World Series, we would even go up to another level. It is a marketing dream, especially in this market, to have that. But buyer beware."

For now, the Cubs simply have to try to survive for two games in Los Angeles and get back to Chicago. Although Guillen hasn't paid attention to the other playoff series, he agreed with comments from Cubs manager Lou Piniella that he heard after Thursday's debacle.

"Lou said it right," Guillen said. "They have to go to L.A. with two good pitchers and see what happens.

"They ask me about if [Friday's] game is do-or-die for us, but it's not. We lose today, then Chicago is do-or-die."

This weekend is do or die for both teams, with the White Sox going back home down two games to Tampa Bay. Instead of playing in that anticipated Fall Classic, both the Cubs and White Sox could be playing golf by the time Fall truly comes around. "Their Chicago fans over there are probably not too happy with the way the Cubs have played in the postseason, and now the White Sox," Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria said. "So there's probably going to be some hostility."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["2008_ds_cha_vs_tba" ] }
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