Thursday, October 27, 2005

White Sox Champs - Now What?

As a fan of the Chicago White Sox since 1977 I tip my cap to the 2005 squad. They have completely dominated the playoffs and World Series, posting an unbelievable 11 - 1 record. They found new ways to win each game and played like a true team of champions- absolutely unprecedented.

For me, the true elation came as the Sox clinched the pennant - just going to the World Series seemed like the promised land. As a fan, although Sox management would correct me, I was thrilled just to see the boys of the Cell earn their place at the big show. I felt relief and elation as they clinched their first World Series berth since 1959, lifting years frustration, as I have lived and died with the Sox since I was 10 years old. The Tito Landrum home run in the 1983 playoffs, the strike shortened season in 1994, and the futile offense of the 2000 playoff squad all dissipated as Paul Konerko grabbed a hard hit grounder and stepped on first base to end the Series hopes of the LA Angels.

After the first two games of the World Series, I already knew the Sox would win it all - you could sense it. They seemed to be on auto-pilot, getting a key hit or defensive play from any variety of grinders. The ball truly seemed to be bouncing their way, although 88 years of frustration were lodged firmly in the back of my mind - I vaguely expected something awful to happen. And if things were to go wrong, it would have to be in Houston.

Houston - you have a problem. The Sox showed they can find just enough runs to win more often than not. Watching the Sox clinch the title in yet another exciting final inning, all I could do was smile. Yes, it was our turn, and it feels good.

As I have been thinking about the success of the 2005 White Sox (with a big, dopey grin on my face), another thought has popped into my mind: What now?

Being a Chicago baseball fan (this applies to the north side team, also), my entire perspective on the game is tainted by the specter of futility. You hope every year that the Sox will have a good enough team, make a decent showing, and have a better record than the Cubs. Life was always pretty simple for a Sox fan - uncomplicated.

But now that the Pale Hose have won the championship, that perspective changes. Winning doesn't mean finishing over .500 or beating the Cubs four games out of six anymore. Winning means winning it all. And, I'm not particularly comfortable with that yet.

At this point, I think I'm going to go on with my standard expectations for the Sox, knowing they have potential for much more. Could the Sox repeat?

I don't even want to think about it. Let's just enjoy this moment, take 2 out of 3 at Wrigley and call it a good year.

Congratulations, Chicago White Sox. Thank you for a magic season I will never forget.