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WSI News - Season Features

September, 2000.  The Sox have the fattest lead in the majors but the team's coverage continues to be pitiful.  Sox Fans get increasingly angry! 

No Respect at All

by George Bova

"All I heard was that no one wanted to come to the White Sox. We called ourselves the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball. We had no respect because of the image we had." 

- Eddie Einhorn reminiscing about his early days as a Sox owner in 1981.

Old habits die hard.  The 2000 Chicago White Sox have outgrown their usefulness to the national baseball media.  What was a great story back in May and June has turned to nothing but indifference and contempt in July and August.  As the season turns into the home stretch, exactly what can Sox fans expect from the self-important on-air personalities earning their living telling the rest of us how to think?

Sox fans, expect more of the same... no respect at all.

The conventional wisdom amongst the talking heads is the Sox can't win this season.  Their reasons for stating this are well known since they repeat them over and over and over again, perhaps hoping through repetition to convince themselves they are right if not the rest of us listening and snickering in contempt.  

It has truly gotten ridiculous.  Sox fans watching ESPN's Baseball Tonight waiting to see Sox highlights are treated to the same tired act every night.  They bury the Sox coverage in the second-half of the show, relegated with meaningless games they only cover for sake of thoroughness.  Sox fans are given two or three video highlights and then are treated to shallow, dim-witted pontificating from one of ESPN's deep thinkers about the team's shortcomings.

There isn't a Sox fan with a pulse who hasn't heard it repeatedly.  Our team can't field, we have no "ace" pitcher, the bullpen is overworked, our rotation is too weak, Frank Thomas is carrying the offense, the Sox are no better than .500 as their post all-star game record suggests, ... blah... blah... blah... .  It makes no difference whether it's Peter Gammons, Buck Martinez, Mike MacFarlane or anyone else running their mouth.  These Pavlovian dogs all react the exact same way, not an original thought to be found amongst any of them.

Why should we expect anything different?  They are, after all, simple creatures.  Believe me Sox fans, you know and understand 100-times more about the White Sox than any of these guys ever will.  They are expected to offer an informed opinion about thirty different teams each playing 162 regular season games spread across a six month season.  It isn't possible for them to keep up.  Thus they are always 6-12 months behind the rest of us keeping up on just one team.  By comparison, the ESPN boys sound like idiots talking about the Sox.  It's YOU, the hard-core Sox fans who know the team best.

Don't believe me?  Do you think Buck Martinez remembers Jose Valentin having his bat cut in two by an inside fastball from Mariano Rivera, yet being fast enough and strong enough to muscle the pitch over the Yankees infield for a game-winning hit?  Do you think Peter Gammons has watched Keith Foulke successfully closeout Sox victories facing down and defeating the best hitters in the American League, both with and without his good change up?  Do you think Mike MacFarlane has ever watched the core of the Sox line up, from #3 all the way through #7, calmly take pokes to the opposite field when that is all they were given by a pitcher who otherwise was on his game?  

Is Joe Morgan the last man on Earth who still isn't aware 1968 was 32 years ago, that Pedro Martinez is an anomaly, that earned run averages over 5 are common for pitchers today, and the resulting increase in runs scored has marginalized the importance of fielding percentage like never before in the history of the game?  In short, has anyone told Joe Morgan he isn't playing baseball anymore?

Still not convinced these guys are clueless?  Just wait.  Here's predicting not one of them will change their opinion of the Sox until after the Sox win something in the postseason.  Like a flock of dull-witted sheep, they will seek the comfort of sharing the same misguided beliefs.  These sheep believe there is safety in numbers when they all bleat, "Baah...The Sox aren't the real deal,...baah."

Cold reality waits for them.  These Sox have demonstrated a champion's heart too many times to be dismissed by anyone but fools.  They have responded every time a key game needed to be won.  It's precisely this characteristic that will serve them best in the winner-take-all pressure of the postseason.  It's their willingness to go to war that counts far more than the tired "playoff experience" cliche which the ESPN crowd uses to dismiss them.

The cold, terrifying reality will come to these sheep as the teeth of a wolf, wrapped around their throat, suffocating the last bit of life from the tired notions now revealed false.  That silver and black wolf will be us, the Sox fans who knew better and moved in for the kill.  This team is too damned good against top competition to go down without a hell of a fight.

Come October watch the Sox turn the dullards at ESPN from sheep into veal cutlets.  Peter Gammons will be the tastiest pork chop of them all!

To my fellow Sox WOLVES, "Bon appetit!"


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive.


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