The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Other Sox Left to Dream Up Own Curse

Well the day has finally come. A little more than a week ago, it seemed nearly impossible, but the Boston Red Sox have done it. For the first time in eighty-six years, they are the World Champions.

I can only hope that the next time the Chicago White Sox make a run similar to the one the Red Sox made this year that they will find the support in Chicago and around the country that the Red Sox did this October. Granted, the Red Sox earned all the accolades and praise that they received, but it seems unlikely that the White Sox will receive anything close to the same if and when they reach another LCS or World Series. Lost in all the hype of championship droughts and curses (which, by the way, the Red Sox never suffered from) is that the White Sox haven’t won a World Series since 1917 – or one year before the Red Sox last title prior to last night. Sure, that’s a full ten years more recent than the Cubs last title, but it’s most definitely second in line – and now there aren’t any real challengers to that crown.

I guess my perspective on things was a little different from most last night. Yes, the Red Sox story is a great one and their comeback will quickly become one of the greatest sports stories of all time. But it also made me think of the baseball futility that has gone on in Chicago over the past century. There have been some (ok, a few) great teams on both the North and the South side, but they have been few and far between. Even those select few teams that have won their league’s pennant have lost out – and now we’re approaching the half-century mark (we’ll be there in 2009) for the time that’s elapsed since the last Chicago team reached the post-season.

Somehow the legend surrounding the Cubs and their billy goat has persisted. Even the Red Sox made up a curse in the mid-80s to explain their plight (something needed to be concocted to draw attention away from the reality that the Red Sox had been overly slow to integrate). The White Sox have had none of that though. And to me, they’re the most logical team to have some sort of a curse legend associated with them. It’s eighty-seven years and counting for the White Sox (with no real reason to believe that the end is in sight).

The White Sox last World Series title came in 1917. In 1918, the Sox likely would have made a run at it too, but many players were lost to the war and the war effort. In 1919, the Sox had most of their team back, or at least enough of it to establish themselves as the clear cut champions of the American League. Then the Black Sox scandal happened. Think what you will of it and blame who you must, but it’s inarguable that the White Sox haven’t been the same since then. Sure, they reached the World Series in 1959 and won division titles in 1983, 1993, and 2000, but they haven’t ever really seriously contended for a World Series crown (I suppose you could argue that they did in 1994 – at least until their owner led the owner’s crusade during the player’s strike).

So why is there no curse of Joe Jackson, or Chick Gandil, or Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver or the others? Since these curses are all about made up phrases, why didn’t some allege way back when that Joe Jackson’s response to the little boy who implored “Say it ain’t so, Joe” was “It ain’t so, and the Sox won’t ever win again until they make it right”? Jackson wasn’t ever asked to say it wasn’t so, even though legend says he was, and thus he never had an opportunity to say anything of the sort though. Maybe he did though in his own private way and maybe that’s why the fate of White Sox fans seems to be doomed.

Maybe no one talks about it because there just aren’t enough White Sox fans and it wouldn’t sell t-shirts or magazines. I sure know the Sox don’t generate as many hits on this website as a quick blurb about the Yankees, Barry Bonds, or even Nelson de la Rosa.


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