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Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

In Defense of Sox Hitting

 by George Bova

The worst part about the opening of the new season is the inevitable crushing of dreams that often soon follows.  Everyone can dream of improbable glory through the winter and right up to opening day.  It's that damned reality of wins and losses that always gets in the way.  Having endured an 88-year drought, we Sox Fans know too well the grim reality that baseball's regular season can hold.

Some might get upset at the first week's results, a generally miserable 2-4 record against two division rivals the Sox must ultimately beat straight up if they're to entertain hopes of playing next October.  Unlike any other professional sport, even the weakest starts to a season are never fatal  because baseball provides 162 games worth of opportunity for any team to set itself straight and dig itself out of a hole.  A 3-game deficit in the loss-column on April 10  is really nothing to be too worried about when 156 games remain to be played.

Having said all that, the Sox can hardly afford to be complacent about losing.  Too many more weeks worth of losing efforts like the one just completed and the Sox could easily blow their entire season before Memorial Day arrives.  These games count and losses against the Indians and Twins count double!

As a group Sox Fans are hearty realists.  We don't like sugar-coated fairytales.  We know damned well why our team loses and we won't suffer fools blaming anybody or anything (such as a goat) besides the bullpen that blows a lead, a hitter that fails to advance a runner, or a bone-headed fielding play by one of our own.   Sox Fans will most-definitely hold somebody accountable for these mistakes but it will never be the South Side's equivalent to Bill Buckner's glove, Steve Bartman's Walkman or the Bambino's Curse.

This relentless drive deep within the average Sox Fan to find a rational cause for such hated losses manifests itself in some very intense emotions.  The players and managers know too well they are being scrutinized with every at-bat, every play in the field and every dugout move.  Sox Fans are intense and playing for the Sox (and managing the Sox) requires intensity to survive the scrutiny.

This leaves a huge question for all we Sox Fans to ask ourselves.  Is this productive activity?

The first part of the answer should be obvious.  Yes it's productive, but only to the point the Sox are motivated to field a winner.  In a city that had not won a baseball championship since the Wilson Administration, a complacency for losing could too easily infect not just the losers on the ballclub but the losers sitting in the stands, too.  The Sox know we Sox Fans will not support a losing effort.  Don't ever take for granted that this sentiment is universal across all 30 major league teams.  So yes, it is productive activity.

But what if the Sox are losing?  Having played six games and lost four of them, the very same relentless drive inside Sox Fans that helps the team focus on winning can just as easily cause these fans to jump to some very irrational conclusions -- and not for the good.

Six games is not nearly enough time to evaluate how good or bad this Sox team might be.  Drawing conclusions this early is neither healthy or credible.  There are several Sox players being asked to assume new roles for the 2010 season, a natural process in a sport where the average player reaches his peak at 27 and is likely out of the Show entirely by the time he is 35. While they may have practiced their role in Arizona, the opponents were practicing, too.  Only now do the games count with everyone giving a full effort.  These are not exhibition games.

If there are any conclusions to be drawn this early in the season, it must only be within the context of the historical precedents of the modern era of baseball.  Here is where the relentless drive of Sox Fans to solve for missing wins can too easily come off the rails.  The solutions offered aren't based in anything that bears itself across seasons of experience.

To wit, here are a few important historical precedents every Sox Fan should keep in mind.

  • Expect every team in 2010 -- no matter how good -- will lose 40 games and the vast majority will lose well over 60.
  • Expect every team in 2010 -- no matter how bad -- will win 40 games and the vast majority will win well over 60.
  • The average team will score about five runs per game.  Eureka!  The average team will give up about five runs per game, too.
  • If the average team expects to win the average game, they should plan to score at least five runs.

The 2010 Sox are 2-4.  The two games they won the Sox scored 6 runs and 5 runs.  The four games they lost they scored 3, 3, 3, and 1.

Notice a trend here?  It's a trend that's older than anyone reading this page, too.

It's a long season and the Sox have been scuffling for only a very short portion of it.  It's nothing to panic about.

What is worrisome is the continued notion that the Sox can nullify a 90-year trend that generally proves MLB run production won't resemble the Dead Ball era anytime soon -- no matter how many "good pitching" and "solid defense" moves they make.

Most every Sox Fan loves the Go-Go era, even those of us like me too young to remember it first hand.

Most every Sox Fans loves Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, the double play tandem upon which so much of that era's mystical bond has been built.  There's nothing wrong with any of this.

Just let's please not forget those teams finished second- or third-place eleven times but first-place only once -- and that one break-through 1959 season the two games the Sox won over the L.A. Dodgers in the World Series they scored 11 and 1 runs. The four they lost they scored, 3, 3, 4 and 3.

Notice a trend here?

Our 2010 Sox will be fine.  Give it time before we all start chewing our paw.


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


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