Thursday, October 13, 2005

The White Sox and Their Sad, Sad Fans

Oh those poor long suffering White Sox fans. Fated to second class status in the country’s second city, their lot in life is not to be envied. You see, the White Sox never get anything right, certainly not winning. I’d say they are the Charlie Brown’s of the baseball world but that really wouldn’t be accurate. Charlie, despite his set backs, despite his absolute certainty that Lucy was going to pull the ball away at the last moment, never gave up hope.

White Sox fans are just the opposite. Bitter, curmudgeonly people, they are supremely aware of the joke that life has played on them. The last time their team made it to the World Series Shoeless Joe and the boys agreed to throw the games resulting in the notorious Black Sox Scandal. Not content though with screwing up the winning angle, the hapless Sox fans are doomed to support a team that can’t seem to get the losing thing right either. Although they haven’t won a World Series since 1917, even this milestone is less than impressive when compared to the feats of incompetence achieved by their cross town rivals, the Cubs, who haven’t won since 1908.

And of course we have the Cubs too don’t we? Oh the loathing that your average Sox fan feels for the Cubs and their fresh faced legions is unequaled in human history. The Cubs, the most hated of teams, out lose, out screw-up, out mismanage the Sox in every way possible. Still, Wrigley Field is filled day after day with screaming fans who support their “Cubbies” with the very last of their energy, and the Sox are a forgotten after thought in the city where all sports teams are forgotten after thoughts. So forgotten in fact, that most Cubs fans can’t even be moved to give a hoot about the south siders. Damned with the indifference of their greatest rival; is there any insult that cuts more?

I really feel sorry for these grimy, fist clenchers because nobody, not even Sox fans, deserve such a fate. In many ways their team is quite likeable. The White Sox throughout the years have bent over backwards to entertain their fans. Legendary owner, Bill Vech used to pull all sorts of stunts to ensure the crowd had fun at the ole ballpark. Whether he was putting a midget up to bat, installing a centerfield shower, igniting fireworks after homeruns, or blowing up disco records between games, fans could be sure that whether or not the team was any good, there still would be excitement of some sort on hand at each game.

Still, nobody except the most hapless of Chicago’s mopes ever really cared. So it was quite exciting to see the Sox have such an outstanding season this year, and I was as excited as anyone when they made the playoffs. As a Yankees fan, I was looking forward to seeing my guys crush the Sox in the ALCS. Although the Yanks didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, I didn’t mind too much since I was then at least able to root for the Sox without reservation.

I should have known better though. Last night I experienced a small taste of what Sox fans have felt for years. The cold hand of fate once again reached out and put a veneer of tarnish on whatever this team accomplishes this year. As I’m sure you all are aware by now, after dropping the first game to the Angels, the Sox won the second game only on the virtue of a highly questionable call by the Umpire. Even worse, while the Sox did win the game, they were one of only a very few teams to win an ALCS game without scoring a single earned run. In other words, either the Angels or the Umpires gave them the win.

The October air in Chicago is filled with more than it’s normal amount of bluster this morning. Sox fan’s everywhere insist the call was legit, while also admitting that even the most charitable viewing of the replay yields a perception that is “inconclusive”.

Such an adjective this word is; “inconclusive”. A four syllable indictment. Sports fans are accustomed to using so many other words to describe the actions of their champions. Outstanding, unbelievable, amazing, incredible, legendary………..


This then is the White Sox. Formerly the team of crooks now reduced to something less. My goodness, they couldn’t even get this right. I look on with a mixture of pity, anger, and yes amusement. Very much the same way I would watch a particularly stupid dog chew rocks thinking they were kibble. It’s enough to make you turn away and thank your lucky stars that this fate belongs to someone else.

Sox fans claim that they don’t care. Their manager said that he would “rather be lucky than good”. Fans this morning say that a “win is a win”. In their hearts though they know that this isn’t so. Champions, while lucky at times, would never willingly supplant talent and achievement with luck; and the rest of us know that all wins are not equal. Some come with asterisks behind them in the record book. Indelible reminders that somebody somewhere thought your accomplishment didn’t quite measure up.

The best the Sox can hope for now is that they win three games in row so that they don’t stretch the series to its maximum length. Perhaps then they won’t have to live with the dreaded asterisk. Perhaps then, when the Cubs finally win a World Series, Sox fans won’t have to live with the taunts of their asterisk free rivals.

UPDATE: Nevermind

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