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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

A Lousy 2007
by Hal Vickery

Thank heavens itís almost over!

I imagine that most Sox fans will agree with me on that proposition. The year 2007 wasnít a very good one for Sox fans. Seasons where your guys lose ninety games are never good, especially when the North Side Cute and Cuddlies win their division.

In fact about the only good thing about 2007 when you get right down to it is the fact that the North Siders went three-and-out in their National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Well, there was the little matter of Mark Buehrleís no-hitter, but that came less than three weeks into the season. After that it was all downhill except for one playerís personal milestone. Just a couple of weeks before the end of this forgettable season, Jim Thome smacked his five hundredth career home run.

That was it. Seventy-two wins, the utter collapse of the bullpen, the collapse of Jose Contreras, and a lot of low batting averages more than offset these personal achievements in the minds of most Sox fans. Any positives that any fans managed to extract from this terrible year can only be classified as grasping at straws.

The off-season hasnít gone all that well either. The number of ďPlan 1BsĒ Kenny Williams has gone through to shore up this clubís weaknesses can only be guessed at. Weíve chronicled those and wonít bother to do so again. All we can hope for is that the few deals and signings that Williams was able to come up with result in a team that ends up being a whole lot better than it looks on paper.

Part of being a fan during the off-season, though, is to look forward to the next baseball season. After all, it is the dead of winter, and there is snow on the ground. Itís almost the start of a new year, and there is much to look forward to. Thatís the joy of being a fan, but itís also the agony. After all, we all know that ultimately only one team will win it all, and for fans of the other twenty-nine teams, the ultimate result will be disappointment.

Of course some disappointments are worse than others. Everyone familiar with this column knows that Iím greedy. The Sox have won two pennants and one World Series in my lifetime. Iíve made it no secret that Iíve always wanted to see a White Sox dynasty, the type of dynasty that seems to be reserved only for fans of the New York Yankees.

The 2007 season only seems to prove that my desire is no more than a pipe dream. The roster moves that Kenny Williams has made this off-season go a long way to confirming that.

Iíve also made no bones about my distaste for those fans who before 2005 would say on the WSI message boards that they would put up with twenty years of last place finishes for just one Sox World Series Championship. Most of them reneged on that deal with the devil once the Sox did win it all. Like those of us who experienced the 1959 American League championship, they succumbed to the endorphin rush you get from a winner of any kind. The rush was even greater for those of us who experience the disappointment of í59.

Unfortunately it appears that the devil didnít completely buy into the retraction of the deal by our fans. A drop to ninety wins and a third place finish in 2006 now looks like it was just a tease. It may not be twenty years of cellar finishes, nor in fact may it be as long as twenty years, but Sox fans are going to pay for their loser mentality with more losing teams.

As currently constituted, the Sox will be lucky to win eighty-one games in 2008, the ultimate in mediocrity. It was unexpected in 2007, but it appears that the 2008 Sox once again appear poised to battle it out with the Kansas City Royals for fifth place in the AL Central.

Still, it is the time for optimism. That time runs from about now until at least the end of spring training. You never know. The Sox could surprise everybody and be contenders. After all, there werenít a lot of people who expected the 2005 Sox to win a World Series.

So despite all the negatives Iíve just written, I still hold out hope for 2008. Maybe John Danks and whoever the fifth starter is will pitch better than I expect. Maybe 2007 was just an off year for Jose Contreras. Maybe the $19-million man will shore up the bullpen. Maybe. Stranger things have happened.

Happy New Year!

______________________________________________________________________

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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