About a month or so ago, I wrote a column about how I thought the Chicago White Sox were going to win their division. Boy, was I wrong. I was chirping about how we didnt have to focus on a wild card berth, we were going to overtake Detroit and Minnesota and take it all. What was I thinking (drinking)?
The Sox have gone from World Series champions to, as Manager Ozzie Guillen would say, pathetic disappointments for many of their fans. The question is, whos to blame? The funny thing is, most of the players are not pointing the finger at anyone except themselves. Even General Manager Kenny Williams has come forward and said he accepts his share of responsibility for the disappointing season. That is all very honorable, but it still doesnt really explain their demise.
Some people put the blame on the pitching staff; others the lack of key hitting. Instead of being one thing, it is more likely a combination of all of those things. It seemed to me that at key points during the season the Sox werent able to muster any kind of sustained momentum. There were no extended winning streaks. No back-to-back sweeps against division foes. They ran into teams they were supposed to win against, and came up on the short side of the series several times.
Thats what happens when you are the defending champions. There is a bulls eye on the front of your uniforms. Every team is geared up for you. How you handle that type of pressure determines whether you can repeat. Its not an easy task.
Even though they arent going to play ball in the post-season, the White Sox have still had a respectable year. Yes, its less than most expected, but still a whole lot better than their counterparts on the north side. For many Chicago baseball fans, that is what will dominate the off-season discussions.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 27-Oct.3, 2006, issue