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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Ozzie's New Sox

by George Bova

A full month of the six-month season has been completed and virtually nothing has been decided in the American League Central Division. For once the prognosticators have been proven right. Most of them predicted that this year's division race would be a dogfight, and so far it certainly has been one.

The 2007 Chicago White Sox are right in the middle of the hunt, and everyone can agree this is a good thing. However there is still plenty of confusion in many Sox Fans' heads over whether to be pleased or pissed off. Hey, who can blame them? It takes more than one world championship to wash away the old way of thinking -- the way of supporting a perennial also-ran for 88 years straight. These are confusing times for Sox Fans.

The "Old Sox" era ended on October 26, 2005. In the "Old Sox" era, the Sox were always too cheap to build a first-class organization, too dumb to fill the roster with championship-caliber ballplayers, and too snake-bitten to ever get over the championship hump. It was easy for Sox Fans to know how to behave. We had 88 years to practice and perfect our view of our team and the organization.

Most of all, we knew who we were. It made the world an orderly place to live in -- even if the Sox sucked, and for many years in the "Old Sox" era, they truly did suck. Unlike our gullible neighbors, Sox Fans were always the first to admit when their team was lousy -- and never resorted to ridiculous excuses for explaining it away.

It has been 88 years since Chicagoans have supported a baseball team one season removed from their last championship. The 2007 Sox are like no Sox team we've seen in four generations in America's Second City. These are not the "Old Sox" but they aren't "Championship Sox" either. They are "New Sox" and the old way of behaving as a fan of this team simply doesn't fit anymore.

Thus for all those confused Sox Fans still trying to figure out how to support the New Sox, presented here is a brief and by no means complete primer to supporting a ballclub that is neither a championship team nor the same bunch of losers you learned to support through 88 years of futility.

New Sox, Rule #1.
The major league roster of the Chicago American League Baseball Club is not intended to develop talent. The rosters in Birmingham and Charlotte fill this need. If you can't fill a roster need, you don't belong on the Sox roster. Period.

Yes, we Sox Fans of the "Old Sox" learned to support an endless stream of rebuilding projects on the major league roster, under Veeck, the Allyns, and Reinsdorf, too. As recently as 1999 the ballclub was talking about serving youth as though it was a virtue unto itself. Not surprisingly, the team sucked. Once the Sox focused solely upon on-field results -- from both veterans like Carl Everett, and youngsters like Jon Garland -- did the Sox become champions. That's Ozzie's New Sox.

Are you listening, Brian Anderson?

New Sox, Rule #2.
Nobody is entitled to anything on the Sox roster. You're only as valuable as your most recent contributions. Make the most of your opportunities, and you'll get more opportunities. Screw up your opportunities, and you're looking at a demotion, perhaps even kicked off the roster completely.

Yes, we Sox Fans of the "Old Sox" learned to wait indefinitely. We waited 88 years for the championship love letter that guys like Dave Nicholson, Cisco Carlos, Thad Bosley, Freddy Manrique, Dan Pasqua, and Greg Norton never delivered to our door. The New Sox under Ozzie Guillen aren't waiting around.

Is this clear, Brian Anderson?

New Sox, Rule #3.
Everyone on the Sox roster must fill the need designated by the team, not their personal preference. Being a relief pitcher is hard work so don't expect to become a starter unless you show more promise than what the bullpen can hold. Similarly, being a pinch hitter and part-time ballplayer is hard work, so don't expect to become an everyday ballplayer unless you show more promise than what the end of the bench can hold.

Yes, we Sox Fans of the "Old Sox" were used to almost anyone getting to do "their thing" with the Sox. Dick Allen got to do "his thing" inside the Sox clubhouse and won the 1972 M.V.P. award. But Scott Schoenweis got to do "his thing" starting 19 games for the 2004 Sox and he lost 9 with a 5.59 ERA. Not everyone deserves the chance to do "their thing" and marginal talent must earn the right to do "their thing" for Ozzie's New Sox.

Do you now understand, Brandon McCarthy and Brian Anderson?

New Sox, Rule #4
If a ballplayer seems overqualified for their role, the team is STRONGER for it, not weaker. Willie Harris was a perfectly serviceable everyday secondbasemen, but the Sox went ahead and spent the cash to acquire Tadahito Iguchi, thus turning Willie Harris into a very good 25th man, capable of both picking up key hits off the bench, and a burst of speed on the basepaths.

Yes, we Sox Fans of the "Old Sox" knew Harris had more potential than his measly 121 at-bats reflected in 2005, but he played his best ball proving to his own satisfaction that he was valuable in his new limited role. Similarly, Jon Garland was a serviceable #3 starter on the 2004 Sox, but he was pushed to the verge of the bullpen as Ozzie Guillen's #5 starter at the beginning of the 2005 season. He had his best season ever, including four wins in April pitching as the fifth starter!

Harris and Garland were two ballplayers as different as different could be, yet they have one thing in common. They both excelled after being given reduced roles, and the Sox became champions for their contributions -- quite literally in Harris's case as he crossed the plate in Houston with Chicago's first World Championship clinching-run in Game 4. Harris came into that game as a pinch hitter off the bench. Ozzie's New Sox era began just one inning later at the conclusion of that very same game.

Are you paying attention, Brian Anderson?

New Sox, Rule #5
If the strategic moves don't make sense, you probably don't know the whole story.
It's true that the Sox move ballplayers up and down in their organization. All ballclubs do this. It's also true that the Sox ship players into town and out of town. All ballclubs trade players. The Sox sign free agents and lose free agents. This isn't unusual for any ballclub.

What is new for all of us Sox Fans is granting the benefit of the doubt to team management we rightly never gave as fans of the "Old Sox". Why should we have offered them the benefit of the doubt? We had 88 years worth of empirical evidence to prove how wrong-headed were the moves of people like Ron Schueler, Terry Bevington, and Jerry Manuel.

Ozzie's New Sox are most-definitely different. It is the height of narcissism to suggest you know better than either the GM or manager who built the city's first championship ballclub in 88 years out of the pathetic rabble that lost 79 games in 2004. If you love yourself this much, do the rest of us a favor and find some other pastime to indulge your twisted notions. I might suggest impersonating your pet parakeets, finding a mirror big enough to reflect all your glory back to you.

The New Sox really don't need anything from us the fans. However it would be a refreshing change if Chicago's self-described smart baseball fans could learn to differentiate between the "Old" era their ballclub has left and the "New" era they've now entered.

Are you paying attention, you "Free Brian Anderson" types?


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

More features from George Bova here!

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