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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sox Delusions?

Some baseball fans have plenty of them, just donít let it be Sox fans

There once was a team that won a division title after 15 years of pitiful and fruitless efforts.† The team won the first two games of a best of five league championship series.† The team then went on to lose the next three and saw their World Series dreams vanish.† At that point they hadnít appeared in the fall classic in 39 years.† They still havenít been there and only a dope would think they have a chance in 2002.

Almost eight years later, the first place Pirates came to play this team for a three-game series.† The Pirates were six games ahead.† The team swept the Pirates and moved to within three games of first. Then the team was never heard from again.

Finally, this team lost two consecutive games to one of the worst teams in baseball after leading each game 5-1.† A fan of this team called into a radio show and beamed about ďa nice home runĒ one player hit.

Naturally, most people will recognize these misadventures of the lowlife Chicago Cubs.† Every Sox fan has great memories of the 1984 playoff debacle.† I remember the Harry Caray interviewing Jim Frey in San Diego after the Cubs had won their two games at Wrigley.† Caray and Frey had big smiles.† I wondered why they were smiling about.† The Cubs hadnít won anything yet.

The Pirates had visited Wrigley in late July 1992.† After the Cubs sweep, Cub fans and the equally delusional Chicago sports media predicted a World Series championship.† The Pirates won their next 13 and waltzed to the division title.† Meanwhile the Cubs never saw this side of .500.

The last example just happened on Tuesday.† After the Cubs had blown another game to Bud Lite's Milwaukee Brewers, a Cub fan called WSCR to comment on the game.† He actually was driving home from Milwaukee and beamed about a ďnice home runĒ hit by Todd Hundley.† Well, Hundley should hit some nice home runs.†† He has a $24 million contract.†

Some Cub fans and some of the Chicago sports media actually tell us Sox fans we should be like this.† We are supposed to be happy about a player hitting his first home run in two months in a heartbreaking loss, start printing World Series tickets after a three game winning streak, and have fond memories of our team blowing it big time in the playoffs.†

The Tribune Company counts on this type of wishful thinking.† As long as the Cub fans find the silver lining in every cloud, the Cub ownership knows it really doesnít have sport a championship team.† The ownership only has to appear to be trying.† Cub fans will do the rest.†

Well, I am one Sox fan who doesnít buy into this North Side thinking.† Being optimistic is one thing.† Going into a deep sense of denial is another.†

The current White Sox club is not without talent.† Their young pitching has even started to come around a bit.† But there is something missing here.† Their inconsistency, their losing of close games and their complete inability to come back in late innings keep the team from becoming a real contender.† After the injury riddled 2001 season, many adopted a Cub-like wishful thinking.† It was thought the injured pitching staff and Frank Thomas would just pick up where they left off.† The result into buying this delusion is a team that is barely contending in one of the weakest divisions in the majors.†

Last summer when the Cubs were actually in first place, one of their followers called talk radio and spoke bringing up some young kids.† His team was in first and this guy was talking about rebuilding!† He was so caught up in his hope springs eternal nonsense that he didnít even know what he was saying.†

We Sox fans should not fall into this delusional trap.† If the team makes any personnel moves, it should be for players who can help now.† Weíve heard the happy talk about a bright future too many times.† We donít want to be in nursing homes when the Sox finally do something really special.

Editor's Note:† Dan Helpingstine is a free lance writer living in Highland, Indiana.† In the early 80's, he worked as a stringer for The Times, then based in Hammond, Indiana, covering business-labor news.† For six years, he worked as a part-time sportswriter for the Merrillville Herald, a weekly that was a part of a chain of weeklies in Lake and Porter Counties.† He covered high school football and basketball.† In 1995, Helpingstine had a short story published in a murder mystery anthology entitled Murder Is My Business.† He also has had articles on the JFK murder published in the Post-Tribune of Gary.† His new book is titled "Through Hope and Despair."† It is the story of one fan's roller coaster ride with the luckless White Sox.

More features from Dan Helpingstine here!

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