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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Yeah, it hurts.
by Hal Vickery

There seems to be an element in the local media that insists on defining everything that the Sox do, or that happens to the Sox, in terms of the minor league team that plays on the other side of town. The latest such definition came from Red Eye columnist Jimmy Greenfield who last week compared the Sox apparent failure to repeat (and it’s not official as of this writing) to the collapse of the Losers in 1969.

In a column “wittily” titled “Choke on This, Sox Fans,” Greenfield presented his case that the Sox failure to repeat would be a greater choke than those of the 1969 Legendary Losers.

Here’s how Greenfield breaks it down:

• The Sox might end up with a worse second-half record than the ’69 Legends.

• If there had been a Wild Card, the Legends would have qualifield whereas the Sox probably won’t.

• The Sox were virtually injury free during this so-called collapse.

• The Sox may not have ever had a ten-game lead over the division as the Legends did at one point over the Mets, but they blew an eleven-game lead over the Twins.

Since this is the Red Eye we’re talking about, that’s about it. They don’t get more than a hundred words or so to express anything in that rag because the average attention span of their readership won’t allow for any kind of in-depth thought.

Fortunately, we’re not under such restrictions here at WSI, so I’ll take a few more words to show just how idiotic any such comparison is.

Point 1: The Sox might end up with a worse second-half record than the ’69 Legends. The ’69 Legends may have lost to the World Champions of that year, but the division was not all that strong. The Mets staged a remarkable comeback to match the collapse of the Cubs. So a part of the Legends’ collapse had nothing to do with them. It had to do with the Mets playing tremendous baseball.

So the Sox may have had a worse second half. They also were contending against a team that played out of their minds the first half, and another that played the same way during the second half. The first-place legends on 1969 had to face one team that played completely out of their skulls in 1969, the Mets, and they were passed up.

Perhaps Jimmy was just looking for a way to recycle the article he had ready for the end of the 2005 season when the pundits were talking about the greatest collapse in baseball history by the Sox last year…the collapse that failed. So what did you do, Jimmy? Did you just bring up that old article and revise it substituting Minnesota for Cleveland?

Point 2: There was no Wild Card in 1969. There were only two divisions and twelve NL teams in 1969. We’re talking about two different eras with two different playoff systems. If, if, if….

As my late dad was fond of saying, “And if the dog hadn’t stopped to , he’d have caught a rabbit.”

Point 3: The Sox were virtually injury free, except for that period when the premier slugger on the team pulled a hammy and was out for several days. Oh, Jimmy, what major injuries did the ’69 Legends succumb to? Which of the following players missed major time in ’69 due to injury: Beckert, Kessinger, Williams, Santo, Banks, Hickman, Jenkins, Hands, Holtzman, Selma, or Regan?

They were the core of that team. Exactly which injury to whom contributed to the Legends’ collapse? If you knew your legend well enough, you would know that the blame for the collapse of ’69 has been placed on day baseball, Durocher’s refusal to rest any of his regulars (or maybe the inability to do so for lack of a bench), and wear and tear on the starters’ arms (three pitchers with over 250 IP) due to the lack of effective bullpen help.

So where does the injury factor play into this being a worse collapse than ’69?

Point 4: Exactly how many legendary collapses can you think of that involved teams that were in second place for the vast majority of the season? The 1969 collapse has taken on legendary status because it began with the Legends having a large lead on August first and finishing just as far behind the team that passed them as the lead they once had.

Unless things crash in around the Sox, it is still unlikely that they will finish as far behind the Twins as the amount they once led them by.

Even if they did, it was the loss of second place, hardly the stuff of legendary collapses.

Oh, and one more point you didn’t make, Jimmy. Call this “Point 5”: The 2005 White Sox won the World Series. The ’68 Cubs finished in third place.

Our 2005 season kind of reduces the pain of losing this year just a little bit. We’ve been to the top of the mountain. Any Cubs fans who can say that would have to be something like a minimum of 103 years old.

Yeah, it hurts not to repeat. Just ask any Sox fan. On the other hand, it must really hurt to watch the other team win it all. It must have hurt so much that the fans of that other team insisted on saying, “This is our year,” almost as soon as the World Series was over. And it must hurt infinitely more to watch that team fall apart in May and lose over 90 games.

It must hurt so badly that writers who work for the same corporation that owns that team have to find ways to disparage the better team in order to try to hide the truth from that team’s fans. The propaganda coming from the rag you work for says that fans of the Losers couldn’t care less about the Sox.

So why all the dreck coming from that rag trying to prop up the Losers at the Sox expense? Here’s one hypothesis: To cover up the incompetence of a corporation that has run most of it’s business enterprises, including it’s Major League Baseball operation, into the ground.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is certainly good to be able to write this column, or any column for that matter, after the internet access problems I encountered last week. I was offline from Wednesday through Monday, and as a result, couldn’t send a column to WSI. Things are now back to normal.

______________________________________________________________________

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.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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