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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

WSI's FLYINGSOCK.COM.  Chicago White Sox coverage with totally biased attitude!

Make that 84 Years

by George Bova

When you were you a kid, what kind of ride did you like best at the carnival?  If roller coasters were your favorite, then the 2000 Sox were your kind of team.  Lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and ultimately a jump-the-track crash landing, breaking the hearts of Sox fans.  It was a great ride with a tragic ending.

I once wrote that watching a Sox game was sort of like watching a Greek tragedy, or living through a train wreck.  New Sox fans have been welcomed at this website for nearly two years with this greeting.

And now as I wallow in despair at this latest and greatest Sox loss, a sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, I've never been more sure of the truth in those words.

The Greek Tragedy of the Sox

Who can forget what Frank Thomas lived through last winter?  He was booed at Comiskey Park near the end of last season.  Thomas was stabbed in the back by several malcontent ex-teammates and a poison-pen local sportswriter.  

Like any dull-witted one trick pony, you can always count on this guy to massage his quotes and cast his prey in the worst possible light.  Even his own sources back-track after reading what he wrote.  Of course the damage had already been done.  The Sports Illustrated cover feature last spring was only the most obvious manifestation of the media feeding frenzy this guy created.  Frank Thomas was damaged goods long before Ozzie Guillen or Roberto Hernandez could ever clarify what their true feelings were for Frank Thomas.  

If that's journalism, we're proud not to aspire to it.

So after two very average seasons (and very below-average seasons for Frank Thomas), the Big Hurt returns with a vengeance.  He bats .328 with 43 homeruns and 143 rbi's, good enough to be considered the favorite for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

But Frank is human, and he knows the team's unexpected success is largely due to his own resurgence.  He's a ferocious competitor but can be mentally distracted.  Our hero has feet of clay.

Suddenly all of those weaknesses conspired to bring down Frank Thomas.  Seattle's manager is smart enough to order pitches around Frank Thomas, most too poor for Frank to do much more than get himself out.  As the team's leading hitter, and playing in his first playoff series in seven years, Seattle's manager also knows Thomas is anxious to deliver runs and rbi's.  Thomas's swing was completely off.  The pressure from failing only made the situation worse.  

He finished the playoffs 0 for 9.  After six months as the most fearsome hitter in the American League, media morons like ESPN's Dan Patrick drool over the lumbering ox of a softball player who finally showed up to wiggle his Athletics into the playoffs--five months into the season.  Dan Patrick, if you want to Jason Giambi honored, lobby to have him named Player of the Month.  The MVP award means a bit more.

Ah, the slings and arrows...

Living through a Train Wreck

Was there any Sox fan who wasn't fretting at the beginning of the American League Division Series?  The stakes were higher and years of conditioning has taught us the fall would be greater and more painful.  As a group, we Sox fans are nothing if not realists.

And we were right.  The experts all predicted our team would get eliminated quickly.  They pointed to our team's obvious holes.  Sox fans can recite them forward and backward we've heard them so often.  Our defense sucks, our pitching is too weak, and Jerry Manuel and his team is too inexperienced to be effective come playoff time. 

So what happens?  Ray Durham and Jose Valentin throw around the leather like men possessed and the Sox starting pitchers each deliver quality starts.  Meanwhile our supposed strengths become our downfall.  The mighty Sox offense scores just seven runs in three games with the biggest power shortfall coming from the heart of the order.  Even Paul Abbott looked like Cy Young against our guys.  Our other supposed strength, our bullpen, played a key role in two of the three losses.   

So the experts got it exactly wrong.  Our supposed strengths in fact were our weaknesses, and our weaknesses proved to be our strengths?  Did inexperience cause this to happen?  If so, perhaps you have an explanation for how veteran and multi-Cy Young winner Greg Maddux got roughed up in Saint Louis?

Of course the experts have proclaimed themselves "right" because they correctly predicted our demise, never mind their reasoning was obviously flawed.  

Meanwhile we Sox fans could almost taste the failure before it happened.  We sat and suffered through the whole thing, clutching our seat even tighter, dreading what might happen next.

And we were right, again.

Keeping Faith

If outsiders think this is pathetic behavior to be pitied, they simply fail to understand what drives us to remain loyal to this team.  The White Sox are a religion, a sort of cult built around being differently-minded for those born with a stubborn nature.  It's not in our nature to be swayed to another team's allegiance simply by that team's supposed success or packaged charm.  

We find strength in keeping up the fight, in charging forward towards glory, or in lean years (which happen too often) defending the last ditch for simple respectability.   This isn't rational behavior, and most of us will even admit to the irrationality of our unwavering allegiance to the team.  

But that's what faith is all about.  And that, too, is what being a Sox fan is all about.  Eighty-four years since achieving that ultimate glory, we still proudly proclaim our simplest and most heartfelt article of faith, "Go Sox!"

Go Sox!


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

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