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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Passing the Years

 Long, long ago, in a baseball era far, far away... the White Sox started losing.  I mention this fact because anyone reading this is likely to be a Sox Fan.  As Sox Fans, it is a certainty that you have been watching the Sox lose from the moment your brain formed enough to remember anything at all.  It's one of the curses of supporting the Sox that you both live with the losing and (unlike your neighbors, fans of the Lovable Losers), you must deal with the losing, too.

If you were ignorant to the losing, you wouldn't be Sox Fans.  There is a name for such people:  Cubs fans.  The only thing any Flubs fan really hates about their Lovable Losers losing is the WGN camera not trained on their suffering.  "Look at me!  Look at me!  See my furrowed brow?  Aren't I noble in defeat..."  Morons...

So it is for Sox Fans that this October bears no real difference with any other October going all the way back to 1917.  Sure, those of us with lots of gray hair will always have 1959 to give us warm memories, assuming of course we are lucky enough to even have hair.  In an era when baseball didn't hold three rounds of playoff games (even including teams that finished second), winning the 1959 pennant was truly an accomplishment.  It is only now, 34 years after baseball diluted the meaning of being the regular-season league champion, that we Sox Fans realize just how much losing our team has managed. 

86 years worth of losing.  Our Sox turned over their annual no-championship odometer again on September 23.  It was exactly two weeks earlier that manager Jerry Manuel decided a six-run lead in the ninth inning was safe enough for his Sox.  He doubtlessly expected the looming two-game lead for first place over Minnesota was good enough, too.  As Manuel himself stated, he needed to find out what Jose Paniaqua could do.  Why not find out now?

Nine batters later, the Sox wiped the sweat off their brow and Thanked God they survived to win an 8-6 nail biter.  They had just won their fifth game in a row, but they would win just four of their next thirteen, including an embarrassing sweep in Minnesota.   The 2003 Sox were revealed as losers, and we Sox Fans again face another winter with nothing but faint memories of past glory and (if we're lucky) hopes of future glory. 

In hoping for the future, it helps to be ignorant of the past.  Perhaps that's why so many Sox Fans measure their true allegiance to the team, not in terms of youthful exuberance, but aging and painful battle scars.  It's not wait till next year... it's what might have been ten years ago... 

We know our team's history, and we don't give a damn.  We're Sox Fans and we'll soldier through.  We always have. 

So what if the '19 team played to lose?  So what if the '37 team was the closest to hit paydirt in 15 years marching in either direction--and they only finished third?  So what if the "golden age" of the franchise, the Go-Go Fifties, yielded exactly one pennant and a heaping pile of "see ya laters" from the Bronx Bombers?  The '72 and '77 teams?  We know too well they were simply pretenders.  '83, '93, and '94... woulda, shoulda, coulda is the most we'll ever allow for any of them.  Now three years removed from the glorious 2000 season, staring across three seasons of inexplicable managerial ineptitude, we can only shrug our shoulders and agree with our harshest critics:  that team was a fluke.

So count 'em, Sox Fans.  As we sit here today it has been 86 years since our grandfathers and great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers hooted and hollered for Chicago's last championship baseball team.  With 86 years of hindsight, can any of us doubt they regretted not hooting longer, nor holler louder, to make up for the championship drought that now spans four generations of their progeny? Damn, grandpa... we weren't invited to that party...

We're still Sox Fans, and we're still waiting.  Today everyone of us knows with 100 percent certainty that our wait will be 87 years, for no Sox championships will be awarded before next October--if we're lucky.  We will wait 87 years... like we waited 86... and we waited 85... and we waited 84, 83, 82, and 81... and I personally began waiting with the very first column filling this space back in 1997:  80 Years and Waiting.

The title is now 87 Years and Waiting.  "Till Hell Freezes Over," as far as I'm concerned.


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

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