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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Sold on the Sox!

by
Guy Bacci

That’s it, I’m sold.

I wanna ride shotgun on the Pale Hose Bandwagon. Pour me a drink of that Southside Kool-Aid. Never mind the fact that it’s only mid-May and there are over 120 games left to go. Never mind that the Sox entered the weekend ranked eighth in league-OBP, and 10th in slugging. Never mind that the Twins are keeping pace with the fourth-best record in the AL.

What matters is the astounding winning percentage on the Southside: the best start most living Sox fans have ever seen. A new MLB record for holding a lead in the most consecutive games to begin a season. Jon Garland throwing back-to-back shutouts—the first Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat since Jack McDowell in 1991. And Garland winning his first seven starts. The last time a Southsider pitched so well to start a campaign—James Baldwin going 8-0 in 2000—the Sox won the division.

If you don’t believe by now, you’re either a fool or a Sox hater. There’s too much happening here. Too much mojo to be ignored. Too much magic to be dismissed.

Paul Konerko goes into a 0-for-26 skid, and the Sox don’t miss a beat. The offense gets shut down by the lowly Kansas City Royals, but two bases loaded walks are enough to pick up the win. Garland suffers his first lousy outing of the season at the hands of the Blue Jays, and the Sox offense awakens. The next day, Juan Uribe turns into Jose Valentin for an inning, allowing a bunch of unearned runs to score, but the bullpen holds down the fort.

About the only thing that has gone wrong this season is Hawk Harrelson’s vision. With Harrelson missing the previous road trip because of eye surgery, Sox fans had to suffer the amateurish play-by-play of Darrin Jackson. The first time Jackson spouted “uh oh” after a Sox homerun, it sounded as if he was caught off guard and unsure of what to say. Since then, he’s decided to run with it and make it part of his routine. “Way back … uh oh … bye-bye.” The worst homerun call in the history of broadcasting? Quite possibly.

In any other season, DJ would be cannon fodder for the WSI message boards. But when the team is playing great baseball, nothing bothers Sox fans. Since “uh oh” has been born during a winning season, it’s considered cute in a dorky sort of way.

Just a sampling of the reaction:

“I have to admit, part of me is starting to really enjoy DJ's ultra-stupid ‘Uh oh!’ call.”

“I'm ashamed to admit I kind of like it too.”

“It's just so bad and lame, that when one hears it, it becomes funny.”

“It's one of those things that's sooo bad that it's hilarious, and you can't wait to hear it again.”

That’s the kind of excitement a winning team generates. Every nuance becomes adorable, every quirk nostalgic. Much like Crede’s Crew during the second-half surge of ’03, Aaron’s Amigos bring a smile to most Sox fans’ faces.

But not everyone is ready to gulp from the brew that Kenny Williams has concocted. Those still trying to push an anti-Sox agenda want you to believe that opponents will start launching dingers at The Cell as soon as the weather heats up. While that may turn out to be true, the naysayers seem to overlook the Sox potential to heat up as well.

Sox pal Jay Mariotti reminded his readers a week ago that the Pale Hose have won 17 games against losing teams, and that they’re hitting an MLB-worst .217 with runners in scoring position. Ironically, the Sox responded by sweeping a winning team in a stadium where they went 0-3 last season. They followed that up by taking the first two games against the second-best team in the league.

Last Saturday’s game in Toronto was a reminder that the Sox can hit. Their 10-7 victory featured five homeruns. They used the long ball again in the first win over Baltimore, with solo homers by A.J. Pierzynski and Juan Uribe leading to another one-run victory. This is not a team without power. But what sets them apart from other recent White Sox teams is that they can win without the long ball, too. On Friday night, the Sox small-balled their way to another come-from-behind triumph over the Orioles.

Greg Couch is playing it safe after his embarrassing Sox-bashing column in mid April. His latest offering suggests that inserting Frank Thomas into the lineup later this year is worth risking a shift in the team’s chemistry. Well, duh. I’d say sticking an OBP machine in a streaky lineup is worth a little ripple in team chemistry.

With a solid bullpen and a deep rotation, including an insurance policy named McCarthy down in Triple-A, it’s time to accept that the Sox are in this for the long haul. Where this bandwagon is going to take us is anybody’s guess. At the very least, it’ll lead to a dogfight in September, and at the most, it’ll rumble all the way to the promise land.

Either way, it sounds like a helluva fun ride to me.

Shotgun!


Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back. He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player. His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay). Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at guybacci@yahoo.com.

More features from Guy Bacci here!

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