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Funny how a Major League Baseball season can change in a week's time. One minute you don't really care to watch your favorite bunch anymore and suddenly you can't wait for the next game.

At the All-Star break, the Chicago teams weren't giving their fans much reason for optimism.

The Cubs' hangover from their breakthrough World Series triumph seemed ready to sabotage hopes of even returning to the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the White Sox were in complete rebuilding mode, which with most of their fans agreed. Still, viewing guys you know aren't going to be on the roster in two or three years when the young talent finally arrives wasn't exactly must-see TV on a regular basis.

Well, like an Aaron Judge blast in the Home Run Derby, things have taken off for the Cubs and Sox in the last 10 days. That makes their four-game crosstown series beginning Monday at Wrigley Field (1:20 p.m. on Comcast, WAOE) more entertaining.

The Cubs, spurred by trading for White Sox ace Jose Quintana, won six straight heading into this weekend's series with St. Louis (Saturday at 3 p.m. on Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports 1; Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN). Combined with Milwaukee's slide, the Cubs found themselves just 1½ games out of the division lead before Friday's loss to the Cardinals.

The White Sox's first step toward showcasing their talented minor league system came Wednesday when No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada, obtained in the Chris Sale trade last winter, was called up.  

Moncada went 0-for-2 in his debut during a 9-1 loss to the Dodgers, but that didn't matter to Sox fans. They just want to see more of him and hope Moncada can help them at least be respectable against the rival Cubs this week.

Whether any more of the Sox's top farmhands, such as hard-throwers Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Gioloto, come up in September remains to be seen. But there is hope again for South Side fans.

The rest of the season could be more misery to Cardinals followers. Their underachieving team seems to squander late-inning leads on a regular basis without much hope of it changing this season.

Fortunately for Central Illinois baseball faithful, watching former Illinois State star Paul DeJong playing for the Cardinals has been a surprising treat.

And, remember, St. Louis made a late push in their World Series title runs of 2006 and 2011. It's not over yet.

Golf: British Open (NBC, 6 a.m. Saturday, Sunday): The rain and wind arrived during Friday's second round. Here's hoping for more of the same this weekend.

NASCAR: Brickyard 400 (NBC, 1:30 p.m. Sunday): Kyle Busch seeking to become first NASCAR driver to win three straight at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Contact Jim Benson at



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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