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Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Playoff Teams

by George Bova

Winning is fun, but winning ain't easy!

What's easy is to forget how long it took for the White Sox to become anything more than just the perennial "contender" that never did much of anything when it counted. 

There was the forty year pennant drought from 1919 to 1959, followed immediately by a 4 games to 2 World Series defeat.

There was the string of second and third-place finishes in the Fifties and Sixties, which as Sox Fans of a certain age know too well, meant the Sox got exactly nothing for their efforts come the final game of the regular season.

There was 1983, the year many Sox Fans to this very day still believe the Sox would have won the pennant if only staff ace LaMarr Hoyt takes the mound for Game 5.  Instead the Sox lost the ALCS in four games, cleaning out their clubhouse before Hoyt ever got the opportunity.

The Sox losing in 1993 is nearly forgivable to eventual two-time world champions Toronto, but missing the World Series in 1994 plays into so many stereotypes about Sox Fans, Sox front office management, and Sox ownership it almost seems at times as if it was only the Chicago White Sox who didn't get a chance to win the world championship -- instead of the truth that every team in baseball missed their shot, the one and only season whose World Series was ever cancelled. 

2000?  The less said the better about a team that was lights out in June but just plain asleep in October.

2003?  Our manager setting his rotation to beat a rival destined to lose 119 games is plenty enough indictment for a Sox ballclub that perfectly defines the term "also-ran".

After all this miserable history, it is no wonder at all that the White Sox trumpeted such meager accomplishments as the "winningest record of any franchise in the 90's" or similar pathetic accomplishments like "a better record than the crosstown Cubs."  You could argue that the greatest wins the Sox ever achieved in the 90's were in the crosstown series starting in 1997 when these games finally began to matter in the standings.  How's that for proof how far the White Sox franchise has come today?  These pathetic accomplishments are nothing at all to most of us today.

The White Sox have a world championship trophy.  Finishing in second isn't any big deal, nor is an early exit in the playoffs.  Beating the Cubs?  A mere diversion to get us through the otherwise inconsequential games played mid-season.

So it is both difficult and reassuring, too, to watch  the White Sox struggle in August with teams that likely will be the ones the Sox must beat if they are to make it to October playoff baseball or have any success once they get there.  It's a damned shame to lose games to quality opponents like Minnesota and Tampa Bay but Thank God it's happening in August and not any later in the 2008 season!

The pennant chase death struggle still has over a month left to go and absolutely no game between now and September 28 can be spared for the Sox push towards glory.  Teams like Tampa Bay will not make this task easy and the series just completed at Sox Park can thankfully be appreciated far more now that it is over than before it started.  It's what the Sox do that matters, not Tampa Bay.  Isn't this clear?

Who cares who Minnesota is playing?  Who cares whether it is played inside a north woods dome or under California sunshine?  The wins (and the losses) all look the same in the standings.  The Sox must beat the Tampa Bays, the Minnesotas and the Bostons of the American League --  if not in August then certainly in September and October.  Whether they win the games by scores of 10-2 or 2-1 doesn't matter either.

It's just winning that is important.  Nobody ever needs (or ever needed) to explain this to a Sox Fan.  Winning is what has always defined us.

As Sox Fans it's time to sharpen our outlook, to focus upon what makes this Sox team worthy of our support and clear-eyed for what is still missing from the championship puzzle.  Yes, the three games in Minnesota later next month loom large, but looming even larger are the 20+ games the Sox must play (and win?) between now and when the Sox charter plane's wheels first touch the ground at Minneapolis International.

Which pitchers are stepping up and which ones can't be trusted with anything beyond mop-up duty must be resolved now.  The Sox bench must get shorter, not just in the bullpen but also inside the dugout, too.  This is no time for wasting at-bats on ballplayers who aren't delivering hits nor batters-faced on pitchers who can't get anyone out.  April, May and June are a distant memory. 

The time is now.  If the Sox win, every loyal Sox Fan will rejoice for our heroes will have delivered on the promise -- the only sort of promise we Sox Fans ever respect -- the promise of victory.

And if they lose, we Sox Fans more than anyone else will know exactly where the performance holes remain for the winter months to fill.  If the victory promise isn't fulfilled, nobody need remind Sox Fans that Opening Day, 2009 can't get here fast enough.  Pile up major league talent like cord wood beside the hearth.  Losing is for losers and we Sox Fans aren't having any part of it.

Tough games ahead to be played.  Aren't we Sox Fans thankful they matter?


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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