Tuesday, July 19, 2005


the joy of sox

Man, what is it about this team?

Earlier today, I read an article about the White Sox by Scoop Jackson, who did a good job of describing the cautious pessimism of Sox fans, particularly this season, when nearly nothing can go wrong. Some of the numbers this season have been eye-popping:

31-5 vs. the AL Central
23-9 in one-run games
8 wins when scoring 2 or 1 runs (compared to 1 win last year)
22-6-2 in series
Podsednik's 48 stolen bases, Frank's 12 home runs in 32 games, 2 of the 3 candidates for AL Cy Young, and the game's second-best bullpen

Hell, they're even leading the majors in something called "defensive efficiency" (something about outs per batted ball) which doesn't surprise anyone who's watched what Rowand, Crede, Uribe, and Iguchi have done all season. That should be a minimum of two gold gloves right there.

But like Jackson says, the tough part of their schedule is around the corner, with Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, and Twins Twins Twins in their future. Still, they've built enough of a lead -- and have enough solid pitching -- that it's hard to imagine they won't make the playoffs. Plus they have had magic on their side in more games than anyone can keep track of. And they don't have to play those damn A's anymore.

The one quibble I have with Jackson's article is that he pretends that the fan base for the Sox is located within the city limits. No. Having spent 3 years within a stone's throw of the ballpark, and having worked there for the better part of two seasons, I can say unequivocably that the heart of Sox fandom resides in the Southwest suburbs. That's the reason why their ballpark almost has to be surrounded by parking lots - a huge percentage of the attendees drive to the games, and tailgating is an important ritual for them folks. (And for those who don't know, there are plenty of us in the city, perhaps mainly transplants, who support both the Cubs and the Sox.)

My road to Sox fandom goes like this: In 1991, my all-time favorite player, Tim Raines (best SB% in history for players with 300 attempts), was traded from the Expos to the Sox. I immediately changed my allegience to the Sox and remained a fan for the next 5 seasons, although the advent of the Rockies put a bit of a damper on my fandom. (Raines then spent three seasons with the Yankees, and damn it, nothing could make me a Yankees fan, athough I was happy to see Tim emerge as a team leader and was thrilled that he got his World Series ring in 1998, and was a contributor to that team.)

I moved to Chicago in 1998 and in 1999 moved to Bridgeport during their exciting "These Kids Can Play" year. They made it to the playoffs that year but were ignominiously swept by the Mariners in the first round. In 2000 and 2001 I worked as a server in the club section and solidified my fandom. 2001-2004 were all disappointing years for the faithful, which is what makes this year so special.

Could it be because Raines rejoined the club as First Base Coach??? We'll just say yes.

GO SOX!!!!!

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