Jake Arrieta vs. Chris Sale: Cubs, White Sox could make it happen

Credit: Eric Risberg

Credit: Eric Risberg

Jake Arrieta said he would love to face Chris Sale during the four-game City Series in late July, calling it a potential "dog fight."

And why not?

It's a matchup so delicious, Cubs and White Sox fans finally agree on something:

It has to happen.

Because Sale and Arrieta are no-brainers to be picked for the All-Star Game in San Diego and figure to pitch at least an inning, if not start, scheduling "The Dog Fight" would be relatively simple.

Just make sure both make their first second-half starts on the same day.

Making a Sale-Arrieta matchup (or an Arrieta-Sale matchup, if you prefer) happen is doable, but it will depend on six key figures to get 'er done.

Managers Joe Maddon and Robin Ventura will announce the decisions on when the pitchers will start and presumably have the most say.

Pitching coaches Chris Bosio and Don Cooper will counsel their managers, and their voices have weight.

Cubs President Theo Epstein and Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams will also provide their thoughts on the matter and ultimately have veto power.

Many things can take place in the next two months to scuttle the idea, but let's assume both are still dominating as the second half begins.

If it's three days of rest after the All-Star Game for each pitcher, they would make their first second-half starts July 16, putting them in line for a City Series collision July 26, the second game at U.S. Cellular Field. If it's four days, they would face off July 27 at Wrigley Field, the third game of the series.

If one of the two gets three days of rest and the other four, they wouldn't match up at all.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf would figure to be more than happy to play host to the most anticipated pitching matchup of the summer. But they probably would disagree on which ballpark is the more appropriate venue.

Both parks will fill up regardless of who pitches in which game, but for marketing and promotional purposes, a classic Sale-Arrieta matchup in your park could pay dividends in the future and provide plenty of fodder for the jumbo-sized video boards.

When Kerry Wood faced the Yankees' Roger Clemens on June 7, 2003, at Wrigley Field, the iconic marquee promoted the matchup as a larger-than-life event.

Usually it would've just read, "Cubs vs. Yankees," but Clemens was going for his 300th win, Wood was seen as a younger version of Clemens and it was becoming a magical season for the Cubs.

The game actually exceeded the hype. Hee Seop Choi's collision with Wood sent the Cubs first baseman to the hospital. Replacement Eric Karros hit a go-ahead, three-run home run off reliever Juan Acevedo after Clemens was yanked in the seventh. And Wood struck out 11 and allowed one run into the eighth in a 5-2 win.

Thirteen years later, it's still the gold standard at Wrigley Field.

Sale-Arrieta (or Arrieta-Sale) could be just as much fun, no matter which ballpark it's in.

Cooper may be the key to pulling it off. Last year the Sox told Sale they didn't want him to participate in the All-Star Game to save his arm for the second half. Sale agreed and was not used. He had a terrible finish in September, so the extra rest was irrelevant.

Whatever Cooper decides will probably be the way the Sox go. The goal, of course, is making the postseason, not appeasing the fans.

Another thing to remember is neither Maddon nor Ventura is obligated to announce his second-half rotation before the All-Star break. Unless they announce it at the same time, one could see what the other team is doing and then decide whether to use his ace on the same rest.

Of course, even if both teams cooperated and "The Dog Fight" was a go, it could be messed up by a rainout.

Mother Nature always has veto power.