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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Starry-eyed Sox!

Guy Bacci

Things are starting to get downright silly on the Southside. The season is going so ridiculously well that typically pessimistic Sox fans must be wondering if the proverbial “other shoe” is ever going to drop. It’s beginning to feel as if—maybe, just maybe—it never will.

The Sox continue to win games they have absolutely no right winning. There’s no better example than the June 29 game in Detroit. The Tigers had the winning run on third base in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings and loaded the bases with one out in the 13th, yet the Sox won the game 4-3, courtesy of a Frank Thomas solo homer. Juan Uribe made the defensive play of the season in the bottom of the ninth, going half way into left field to retrieve a grounder by Placido Polanco, bouncing the ball across the infield and nipping the runner by a hair. The miraculous play robbed the Tigers of a win and forced extra innings. Then the much-maligned Shingo Takatsu wiggled his way out of two more jams, allowing Big Hurt’s bomb in the top of the 13th to win the game.

Just the night before, Dustin Hermanson allowed a ninth-inning, lead-off triple to Ivan Rodriguez and proceeded to strand Pudge the Imposter on third, preserving a 2-1 victory for Mark Buehrle. A few days later, a lackluster performance against the Devil Rays was transformed into another gritty win, courtesy of Thomas’ three-run homer in the 8th off Lance Carter.

Yes, things are going so curiously well that lead-off hitter Scott Podsednik, who’s only stand-out statistic is his 40-plus stolen bases, actually beat out two Yankees—one of whom had an entire country behind him—for the final spot on the AL All-Star roster. Podsednik received just under 4-million votes, topping Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter and Japanese hero Hideki Matsui. Podsednik’s victory gave the Sox four All-Stars, including Buehrle, Jon Garland and Paul Konerko—the most the club has had since 1975.

The Sox success has reached such absurd heights that people are becoming bitter and jealous. All-Star nominee Carl Crawford called the Sox marketing campaign in support of Podsednik “bush league.” Quite ironic coming from a Tampa Bay Devil Ray who didn’t have a sundae’s chance in hell of winning the vote. Credit should be given to the Sox marketing team for creating buttons and posters in support of Podsednik (making one wonder if that short-lived nickname The Mayor shouldn’t be reinstated). Loyal teammate Buehrle jumped on the PA system before a fireworks show to encourage fans to vote for Scotty. The Sox unabashedly pushed for their teammate, which doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. But journalists in New York were crying foul as well, bemoaning Podsednik’s lack of flashy numbers.

As it turned out, Podsednik never got to swing the bat in the mid-summer classic, but Buehrle and Garland combined for three scoreless innings, and Buehrle recorded the win in the AL’s 7-5 triumph. Just another special night for the Southsiders in a supernatural season.

The All-Star break wasn’t long enough for Sox fans to catch their breath and contemplate the best first-half in franchise history. Had it not been for the Oakland A’s, Sox fans might be wondering if they’re merely experiencing a wonderful dream that the dreaded alarm clock will soon spoil. Luckily, some things never change. The Sox still suck against Oakland, providing a soothing sense of familiarity. Earlier in the season, the Sox dropped four of six in the Oakland Coliseum, where they’ve won only four of the last 24 games. Immediately before the All-Star break, Oakland stormed into U.S. Cellular and swept the Pale Hose in three straight games.

The minor slump may have caused some fans to wonder what the second half would bring. Would the Sox continue their torrid pace? Could they possible duplicate what they accomplished in the first-half?

It wouldn’t take long for those questions to be answered. In eerie fashion, the second-half began just as the first—with a 1-0 victory over Cleveland. Back on April 4, the Sox scored a run in the seventh on Aaron Rowand’s dribbler to shortstop; Buehrle pitched eight scoreless innings and the Indians managed just two hits. On July 14, Frank Thomas doubled home a run in the first, Jose Contreras pitched seven scoreless innings, and the Indians managed just four hits.

The latest 1-0 victory gave the Sox eight wins when scoring two runs or less. On the season, they’re 8-13 under such circumstances. To put that in perspective, they were 5-128 when scoring two or less over the previous three years. And those aren’t the only staggering numbers: The Sox have won 22 one-run games, and they entered the weekend 28-5 against Central opponents.

There’s not much left for Sox fans to do but walk around in a euphoric daze and try to soak in as much of this magical run as possible. As far as regular seasons go, we’ll likely never get one of these again. It’s been staggering, unbelievable, almost too good to be true…

But it’s for real. The Oakland A’s told us so.

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

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