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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Now Pitching for the Sox!

by George Bova

Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the silliest of details, you lose track of the important matters. In the matter of being Chicago's one and only set of fans supporting a ballclub with championship pedigree, it is all too easy to be led astray by those motivated by strategic theories based in utter silliness, or others who are just plain ignorant about championship baseball in a specific sense, if not also winning baseball in a more general sense, too.

And the more silly and the more ignorant they are, the more they have spent this winter whining and crying about the course of the 2007 Chicago White Sox.

Mind you, I'm not talking about Sox Fans who look upon the loss of Freddy Garcia with apprehension. And I'm not talking about Sox Fans who feel the lining of their stomach burn a little more with the thought of Scott Podsednik at the top of the order again or wishing Brian Anderson wasn't the only serious candidate to play everyday in center field. We all have doubts and having doubts is normal.

It's NORMAL to have doubts about your team in the dead of winter. Not even the endless stream of outrageous annual payrolls stocking and endless series of 25-man rosters with talent as deep as the New York Yankees can prevent fans of that team from not envying the one or two extra guys who wouldn't -- in their own minds -- finally put their club most-definitely beyond even a shadow of doubt the crowned champions of baseball just as soon as October finally arrives. Just that silly little matter of 162 games to be played and another three series of do-or-die playoffs standing in their way...

The games are played for a reason. It's NORMAL not to know how they'll turn out! I suggest embracing the concept because Lord knows no amount of fretting over it will ever change the doubts we Sox Fans will have every winter -- defending champions or not.

Whether it is Podsednik leading off (a matter in some doubt given his recent off-season injury), or Anderson in center field, or Uribe back again at short, or future free agent Joe Crede still unsigned; the games will be played with a roster that doesn't look very different than the one that not very long ago won 99 games and another 11 playoff games to be crowned baseball champions.

And what about those changes?

Here's the biggest change that nobody in the Chicago sports media ever bothers to remind you of: The ballplayers are older. Unlike those of us out of school and spending several decades of our adult lives working full-time, the entire career of the average baseball player is measured in terms of a few short years. Two seasons can be an eternity in the world of baseball. No matter how much we Sox Fans wish it were so, these ballplayers are not the same ones who started the championship campaign together in April, 2005. Some have improved, and others have not. Again, we can't tell for sure who is who and which is which until the season begins. We'll let their performance speak for itself.

But there are more changes than just a few roster slots and a few extra pounds (if not gray hairs, too) on our 2007 Sox. No Sox Fan can seriously doubt what was the driving force that made their ballclub world champions, and as if to underscore the importance of this driving force, every other team in baseball is now throwing money at this very same thing in unprecedented quantity. It is PITCHING that wins ballgames and it is consistently good pitching that wins championships. Teams that don't have good pitching have spent most of this past winter spending their money like drunken sailors on shore leave trying to pick up any tired arm attached to any major league pitching mediocrity they can find -- especially if the mediocrity in question holds the ball with his left hand.

It was consistent pitching that made the 2005 White Sox world champions and it was lack of this very same commodity that made the 2006 White Sox also-rans. And because pitching alone amongst all the positions on a ballclub requires the effort of an entire staff to accomplish, it was no single pitcher who either made the winning or losing difference for either of these two Sox ballclubs.

It was the Sox pitching staff, and more precisely the starting five in the rotation, that sealed the glory (2005) and the fate (2006) of the Chicago White Sox. You can bank it that the 2007 White Sox will either win or lose with the performance of the pitchers, too.

So do the 2007 Sox get the Mark Buehrle who won 16 games with a 3.12 ERA in 2005, or the Buehrle that won just 12 games with a ballooning 4.99 ERA in 2006?

Do the 2007 Sox get the Jose Contreras who won 4 games with a 4.96 ERA the first-half of 2005, or the Jose Contreras who won 11 games and a 2.96 ERA in the second-half?

Do the 2007 Sox get the Jon Garland who won 18 games in both 2005 and 2006, or do they get the pitcher who never won more than 12 games in his entire career before 2005, relegating him to the near-bullpen role of the #5 starter in the rotation to start the '05 season?

If Orlando Hernandez's 5.12 ERA in 2005 wasn't good enough to crack the playoff rotation on a championship team, but Javier Vazquez's 4.83 ERA was good enough to be trusted on a 2006 ballclub that dropped 9 games in the win column, what can anyone say with any certainty about the logic of using ERA and past performance as the guiding light for any of these roster decisions?

Could it be that more than just roster decisions based in rational thought goes into ultimately fielding a championship ballclub? Might something else be at work?

How many Sox Fans would have predicted in April, 2005 that a Double-A free agent pick up from the Angels would pitch the final out to win Chicago its first baseball championship in 88 years? How many Sox Fans had ever heard of (forget about cared about) Bobby Jenks? Wasn't Shingo Takatsu our gong-ringing closer extraordinare?

How many Yankee fans were pissed off about their own ballclub's sorry luck (if not lousy management, too) over the championship ride Jose Contreras provided the '05 Sox? And how many of these very same Yankees fans were the very same ones smugly smirking just 18 months earlier when their own GM engineered a trade to bring them a recent Cy Young contender -- the White Sox' Esteban Loaiza -- in trade for the biggest head case who ever donned the Bronx pinstripes? Wasn't that the same Jose Contreras?

You never can tell, Sox Fans... you never can tell...

So Sox Fans, when the Tribune's baseball columnist Phil Rogers spouts patented nonsense about a "proven workhorse" with 7 career victories, please know he is speaking out of pure ignorance.

And when Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath spouts silliness about his skepticism over the Sox strategy of rebuilding the pitching staff on the fly, please know he is basing his opinion on nothing but the silliness any lover of losers would believe, too.

And when the Tribune's Dave van Dyck invents from whole cloth a completely fictitious quote about what Sox GM Kenny Williams never said, please know he is speaking purely from incompetence to be employed writing as a journalist.

And when the Tribune's Mark Gonzales covers for van Dyck claiming Williams's was apologizing to Buehrle for what he said -- when in fact he was apologizing to everyone besides Buehrle for allowing the incompetent journalistic boobs who believed and repeated van Dyck's pure fiction for weeks now -- please know he is strictly acting as any other corporate toady would act, too. Never admit your own culpability... never admit your own mistakes...

And as for the Sun-Times? Who cares, they're on the fast track towards becoming irrelevant.

Trust your gut, Sox Fans, and you'll never go wrong. Trust these idiots to do your thinking for you and you get exactly what you deserve: the facts exactly wrong.


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive. You can write George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com

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