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Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

A Pennant Race!

by George Bova

What a novel idea!  The White Sox have been playing baseball for over five months now and not one damned thing has been decided. 

Mind you, this isn't like the Bears or Bulls playing five months worth of games.  Not even close. 

The Sox have played over 120 games so far.  This is the equivalent to over seven full Bears "seasons" worth of games.  It is also the equivalent of four different Bears quarterback "eras", too!  In this rollercoaster 120 games, how many ups and downs have Sox Fans lived through going back to opening day in Cleveland back on March 31?  By comparison it makes the weekly soap opera of Brian Griese, Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton seem positively glacial in pace... and the blips across an 82-game NBA season for the Bulls is hardly faster.

Believe it or not, Sox Fans, this is precisely what baseball is all about -- especially on the South Side!  As a Sox Fan you simply don't have time to agonize over every hang nail, sprained toe, or botched opportunity.  They come at you too fast and none of them -- not one of them -- is enough to decide the whole season.

The Sox are locked into the city's best pennant race in at least one full generation and nothing could be better for the Sox, better for Sox Fandom, or better more generally for the sport of baseball across Chicago.

If only this came every year!

It's now nothing less than a death struggle with the Minnesota Twins.  The loser has a chance at the wild-card playoff spot but Sox chances of capturing it are remote compared to simply nosing out their rivals from the north woods for the division championship.

It's a great time to remind every Sox Fan just how ordinary it used to be to root, root, root for the White Sox under what today has become such an extraordinary set of circumstances.

Until 2005 there was no doubt any Sox Fan would point to the "Go-Go" era of Sox baseball as the greatest in franchise history.  From 1954 through 1967 our Sox piled up over 1200 wins, a winning percentage of .566 spread across fourteen consecutive seasons.  If you were a fan of WINNING baseball from Chicago, there was only one destination to get your fix:  the South Side.  But there is more to it than just that.

In an era before wild cards and divisional alignments, those same fourteen seasons the Sox finished no lower than third-place ten times -- and this in a league of teams eight and later ten teams deep. 

It wasn't exceptional for the Sox to be in a death struggle each August.  To the contrary it was exceptional for the Sox NOT to be in a pennant chase.  The Sox were killers, especially Sox pitchers in an era forever to be remembered as the Decade of the Pitcher.  If not for a group of murderous bombers of the types fielded by New York's Yankees, our Sox were a team to be reckoned with from coast to coast, year after year, throughout the baseball world.

Think of it.  Chicago, not as a laughingstock for lousy baseball and stupid fans lined up to watch it, but Chicago -- a city where the absolute best pitching staff in all of baseball routinely took the mound to prove the South Side home to the best of the era's dominant means of winning ballgames:  the 2-1 victory.

It was exciting precisely because nothing had been decided in the long flat season.  Wins piled up and nothing much came of it because league rivals were piling them up just as fast. 

The 2008 Sox are on the cusp of demonstrating to a whole new generation of Sox Fans precisely what an earlier generation Sox Fans knew too well:  Every game matters... but none more than the ones still left to be played.  It's a lesson easily forgotten when teams barely over .500 make the playoffs and also-rans get an October invitation, too.

In today's era when mere "magic" numbers are translated into "tragic" numbers and further still into interpolated odds with names like "Poff", "Div", and "WC", and every media goofball with 10 column-inches to fill in the newspaper or his internet feature column is cranking out weekly "rankings" of teams, the pennant race still only comes down to wins.  More precisely, it comes down to losses for any game already lost is a game your team can never hope to win and thus use to gain ground in the standings.

WINNING baseball is what South Side baseball has always been about.  And while every Sox Fan's heart and stomach lining would prefer a smooth as glass route straight to October, the truth is those same "games ahead" in the standings only offer false comfort -- as any Sox Fan knows too well who still remembers living through August and September in 2005 as the season-long  first place White Sox watched their lead melt to nearly nothing.  Championship glory was furthest from their minds -- and yet it still came, but not for another month.

Being a Sox Fan has never been for the faint of heart.

WINNING baseball is our legacy, a unique legacy claimed strictly by Sox Fans on behalf of Chicago.  Our team's record on July 1 is as meaningless as our record on August 1 and September 1, too.  It's our team's record after 162 games that matters, this year to be completed sometime the evening of September 28.

Every game is important... but none more than the games left to be played.

WINNING baseball?  Sox Fans say bring it!

Just win, baby.


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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