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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Fate!  A primer for Sox Fans.
by Hal Vickery

Is there anyone left who holds out any hope for the 2004 White Sox?  Let’s have a show of hands.  Come on!  I know there has to be somebody!  No?   

That’s what distinguishes Sox fans (at least those who have been around the block a couple of times) from fans of that other team.  We actually realize when the season is over. 

Sure a few of us held out hope even when Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordoñez both went down with season-ending injuries.  Those were generally the ones who haven’t been Sox fans all that long.  For those of us who have watched this club for a few decades, those injuries were the indication that it was time to place whatever shreds of hope we’ve managed to save over the years on Lovey Smith and the Bears. 

Sox fans know from experience that H. Vickery’s law is true.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, here is some history.  The reason I’ve attached my first initial to the name is because my father used to invoke what his friends called Vickery’s law.  It’s one we’re all familiar with:  “There are more horse’s asses in the world than there are horses.”   

Parenthetically, I’ve since stated H. Vickery’s corollary to Vickery’s law:  “Most of them are Cubs fans.” 

But back to the point.  H. Vickery’s law simply stated is, “Whenever anything good happens to the Chicago White Sox, disaster will soon follow.” 

Now, we’re not talking about bad luck.  We’re talking absolute disaster.  The disasters could be of the natural variety, but many of them have been man-made.  Here are just a few examples: 

In 1906, the hitless wonders came out of nowhere to win the American League championship and then surprised the Cubs (who won 116 games that year) in the World Series taking them 4-2.  In gratitude Charles Comiskey gave all of his players a bonus.  Then when the realization of what he had done sank in, he promptly made that “bonus” an advance on his players’ 1907 salaries.  Needless to say, his disgruntled players  were not happy, and their play showed it as they dropped to third place.  The Sox would wait 11 years for another pennant. 

Before the 1917 season Comiskey built his best team, a 100-game winner that beat the Giants 4-2 in the World Series.  The next year the draft or wartime industries broke up that team and the Sox finished sixth. 

Okay, so they were back together in 1919, and they finished first again.  But of course, several of the players, particularly those without signing bonuses attached to their contracts, decided they could make more money by throwing the World Series than by playing straight for their boss.  A week before the 1920 season ended, the scandal broke, and a team that boasted four 20-game winners lost two of those pitchers and two-thirds of their outfield, and half their infield.  The Sox did not win the 1920 pennant and they would not win another pennant until 1959. 

However, J. Louis Comiskey managed to put together a pretty fair team in the late ‘30s that included a young pitcher named Monty Stratton and a second baseman named Jackie Hayes.  They even finished over .500 a couple of years.  Of course, that couldn’t last.  Stratton blew off his leg in a hunting accident and Hayes went blind.  The Sox went back into the doldrums. 

When the Sox finally did manage to win a pennant, their recently arrived owner, Bill Veeck decided that pitching and defense were not the answer to beat the Yankees.  He traded the best players in his farm system for a bunch of aging sluggers.  The Sox dropped to third place in 1960.  They have yet to win another pennant. 

Most readers are familiar with the disaster of 1984 that followed on the heals of the Sox winning their division by 20 games in ’83.  Some would say the disaster really came in the ’83 LCS under the names of Tito Landrum and Jerry Dybzynski.   

Then there was 1994.  The Sox had won the division in ’93 and were leading their division by a game when MLB’s owners, reportedly led by none other than Jerry Reinsdorf, decided to force the MLB Players Association to strike.  This not only cost the Sox a chance at the World Series, but the ’95 team came out flat, Robin Ventura played horrible defense for the first month of the season, and the finished with a record of 68-76. 

This year is no exception.  The Sox put together a team of sluggers.  Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf brought in Ozzie Guillen to change some attitudes.  Things seemed to be going well when Willie Harris either didn’t hear or ignored Magglio Ordoñez calling him off a pop fly.  Some minor damage to his knee soon turned into bone marrow edema, and Ordoñez was forced to call it a season. 

Of course Frank Thomas was theire to pick up the slack, until he sustained a stress fracture in his ankle that ended his season.  Suddenly a team that was built around the home run lost its two biggest sluggers.   

What started out as a new beginning became just one more example of H. Vickery’s law. 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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