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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

What? Me Worry?

Some fans take real issue with the some of the doomsday posters on WSI.† These posters are sometimes ridiculed as chicken littles and nervous nellies for their knee jerk reactions to White Sox defeats and disappointments.† But if you are a long-time Chicago sports fan, it is hard to break out of the panic mold.† History tells us that if a team can blow a chance for a championship, a Chicago team can, and they can do it in the most mind boggling and gut wrenching ways.†

The reputation of Chicago sports was helped the by dynasty of the Bulls during the Ď90ís.† However, since the Bullsí last championship, Chicago has regressed to its title-starved ways.† The Sox and Cubs each made it to the post season once each only to be swept out in the first round.† Chicago baseball teams actually own an eight game losing streak in the playoffs at the present time.† The Bulls have suffered through their fifth straight losing season, and the Bears and Black Hawks are brain dead.† †

Still, itís the old memories of the close calls that still haunt us.† For us baby-boomer fans, it is hard to get over the post-traumatic shock.† Here are a few examples of past disappointments that will forever cause Chicago sports fans nightmares.†

*1967 White Sox.† During one of the last years of one divisional play, the White Sox could have advanced directly to the World Series with a first place finish.† They were within one game of first with five games to play in an exciting four-team race.† The Sox had two games against the Kansas City Athletics, then mocked as a ďfarm team for the Yankees,Ē and three against the Washington Senators, a team that eventually moved to Texas, the last major league baseball franchise to actually move.† Both teams played way under .500 ball, and so things looked good for our Sox.† A rainout forced a doubleheader with the Aís which the Sox lost 5-2 and 4-0.† They returned home needing to win every game of a three game series with the Senators.† The Pale Hose were eliminated 1-0 in the very first contest when they fell to a pitcher who hadnít won a game in nearly two months.† The other Sox, the Red Sox, went to the Series.†

*1969 Cubs.† Only the endless number books on the JFK assassination compete with the endless analysis of why this team didnít make it.† Cub fans thought their 1969 team was one of the best ever; they still havenít stopped deluding themselves.†

*1971 Black Hawks.† During the Ď60ís and early Ď70ís, the Black Hawks were truly a great hockey team.† Trouble was the NHL was really balanced and competitive back then and winning the Stanley Cup was more than a hard task.† Finally, in 1971, it looked like the Hawks would give Chicago a championship.† Leading Montreal three games to two in finals, the Hawks led 3-2 in the third period in Montreal.† The game was nationally televised and CBS showed the Stanley Cup trophy on screen several times.† Ah, but it wasnít meant to be.† Usually reliable Hawk defenseman Bill White fanned on an attempt to clear the puck out of the Hawk zone.† That lead to the tying goal and an eventual 4-3 Hawk loss.† Back at the Stadium for game seven. The Hawks led 2-0 in the second period when Tony Esposito let a slap shot from beyond the blue line get past him, and Montreal ended up winning 3-2.† This was before the smoke-free, politically correct days, and later Esposito said he lost the puck in the hanging cigarette smoke.† Hawk fortunes have gone up in smoke ever since.†

1975 Bulls.† By the mid-70ís, Chicago fans were practically begging for a championship.† The Bulls made the conference finals against Golden State and actually had a nice lead in the seventh game.† They couldnít hold it, and during the remainder of the 70ís no Chicago team seriously contended for anything.†

1983 White Sox.† Jerry Dybzinski.†† Just the mention of the Dibberís name makes me head to the liquor cabinet.†

1984 Cubs.† The ground ball going through Leon Durhamís legs still ranks as one of greatest Chicago sports memories of all time.†

I could go on and on, but I think anyone would get the point. †These failures and flops have nothing to do with the 2003 White Sox.† Yet it is hard to not to think catastrophe is just around the corner.† Yes, the Bulls won six NBA crowns, but they had Michael Jordan.† Yes, the Bears did win a Super Bowl, but that was almost 20 years ago.† Chicago sports is still Chicago sports.† †

Maybe 2003 can be a great year for the White Sox.† But then again maybe Mark Buerhle will fall off a mountain or Magglio Ordonez might get struck by lightening.† Or even worse yet, the Cubs might actually win their division.† Donít scoff.† Anything can happen with Chicago sports.

Editor's Note:† Dan Helpingstine is a free lance writer living in Highland, Indiana.† In the early 80's, he worked as a stringer for The Times, then based in Hammond, Indiana, covering business-labor news.† For six years, he worked as a part-time sportswriter for the Merrillville Herald, a weekly that was a part of a chain of weeklies in Lake and Porter Counties.† He covered high school football and basketball.† In 1995, Helpingstine had a short story published in a murder mystery anthology entitled Murder Is My Business.† He also has had articles on the JFK murder published in the Post-Tribune of Gary.† His new book is titled "Through Hope and Despair."† It is the story of one fan's roller coaster ride with the luckless White Sox.

More features from Dan Helpingstine here!

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