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Tuesday, April 23

Gapers Block

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I know that when the White Sox wrap up the World Series either in a few hours or a couple of days, there is a real risk that I'll cry. Hey, women have weddings, OK? But the current underneath the joy, and whiskey, and tears, will be relief. "We didn't blow it!"

As I traveled around talking to Sox fans the last few days, that was a weirdly common theme. One guy told me, "I just kept saying, 'I'll be happy if we make it to the playoffs,' and then, 'I'll just be happy if we win the ALDS,' and then, 'If they win the LCS, that's all that matters, since all the real ball gets played in the American League, anyway, 'after the first game in the Series..."

He didn't need to finish, because I knew exactly was he was going to say: after the first game in the Series, I was confident, but I thought, "You need to win both your home games... or else."

After the second game victory, after which — really, truly — I did celebrate, they started flashing those damn, "only blah blah teams have ever won the first two games and gone on to lose..." stats on the screen, and of course, my first instinct was "Please god, don't make it blah blah +1..."

Last night, and then this morning, was the worst. Fourteen innings, where Ozzie Guillen clearly out-managed his hillbilly rival (although it didn't look like it early on) and the White Sox performed downright heroic acrobatics to just stay alive another inning — and you got the sense that some of the White Sox players, so deep into this game, were starting to think like the Chicagoans who've stood by them for generations: "Just don't let it be me, please. Just get past this and don't let it be me!"

It took a fresh bat and a fresh outlook to go out there and say, "How about we actually try to win it?" So Geoff Blum, fresh of the bench, steps into his first career post-season at-bat, shrugs at history and whacks a home run to short right, and the Sox go up. That woke the team up — and woke us nervous fans up, too. These aren't those old White Sox teams, and we aren't those old fans who worry and say, "Just don't be terrible," or "Just split the series," or "Just have a better record than the damn Twins," we're the new White Sox fans, the new Chicagoans, really, who say, "We don't have to be second best." Acheiving number-one-ness is in fact possible. The Bulls, who will always be a second-class team in this city, couldn't teach Chicagoans that. These White Sox behind Ozzie "I'm smarter than those guys at Harvard" Guillen could.

That's really what this World Series for the White Sox has been about, I think. Great baseball being played by a team that shrugs and says, "We can be the best, too." Like our Mayor, who shrugged and said, "We can cut the murder rate in half," and did. Who shrugged and said, "Why not try to eliminate homelessness?" and tried. Who shrugged and said, "I don't like that tiny little airport." And got rid of it.

This White Sox team refutes an attitude that at times seeps into all Chicagoans, into the city itself: that Second City Complex that tells us, "just don't be last." That makes us think, "Well, this is good enough." The kind of lessons taught by teams like the 2003 Chicago Cubs, who after one minor setback — the "Bartman" foul — completely imploded. These White Sox took a series of terrible calls by umpires that handed the Astros a home run, negated a hit-by-pitch, strike zones as wide as Bobby Jenks, and at least one balk by an Astros pitcher, and made the best of it. This game would have been over, tidy, in nine innings, but they reverted to that old Chicago mentality — please, just do enough — and it took something special to get them to realize that, yeah, our fifth starter can come in and strike out two guys after walking two. Yeah, we can hold them with bases loaded, with their top of the order, after making errors — we can hold 'em.

These White Sox are the face of the new Chicago, the Revenge of the Second City — Second City no more. Chicago can have the best culture, the best neighborhoods, the best economy, the best baseball team, without always thinking, "Just enough not to be shown up." I mean, we all know Chicago is the greatest city on Earth — but this series might go a long way towards helping us with our swagger.

Chicago White Sox, up 3 games to 0. Now, just please don't be just the second team to lose the last four straight...

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amy / October 26, 2005 2:34 PM

I can't believe it...
but I believe.

I believe in Group 4.
I believe in Bobby Jenks.
I believe in Small Ball.
I believe in the South Side.
I believe in Ozzie and his wacky kids.
I believe in Coop.
I believe in Marte (this was a hard one to believe in).
I believe in the power of a selfless team.
I believe in the mascot powers of Steve Perry.

and finally when I really don't have much in my life to believe in -

I believe in the Chicago White Sox.

Cinnamon / October 26, 2005 4:12 PM

I've often said that I think Chicago is like the middle child in a family. Always feeling like they have to be as good as the first-born instead of striking off on their own and being the best at what they do best. I call is Second Sibling complex.

Jeremy / October 26, 2005 7:56 PM

Are Sox fans ready to be the #1 ballclub in town? I've always held that the same number of baseball fans go to both stadiums, but the extra 30-40% of Cubs capacity are the drunken scenesters. When the Sox become the hottest trend in town, much like Bridgeport is already becoming, you're going to lose the much bragged about statement, that every Sox fan in attendance spends the middle of each inning discussing baseball strategies and stats. You'll get the cell-phoners and the people showing up not knowing who the opponent is. In other words, your new fans will be exactly what you claim that you hate about the Cubs.

Then you'll long for the old days, which, coincidentally, were the losing days.

Steve / October 27, 2005 12:23 AM

Jeremy has it half right -- the same number of local baseball fans go to both stadiums. But Wrigley Field, like the pyramids and the Parthenon and other ancient ruins, draws substantial numbers of tourists -- witness the squadrons of out-of-state buses parked all along Irving Park Road east of Clark on Cub day games.

Holy crap, my team has won the World Series! Maybe the Iowans will flock to the Cell now.

Ramsin / October 27, 2005 10:32 AM

For John Rooney:


DeLorean Crozzler / October 27, 2005 11:23 AM

Ramsin: the west wash bolg pays tribute to your sox this day. Caloo Calay

J Fizzle / October 27, 2005 12:19 PM

Hey, what did the cubbies do yesterday?

Ramsin / October 27, 2005 12:49 PM

For Hawk:

I luuuuv
I luuuuv e-mail.

C'mon Timo!!!!

Ramsin / October 27, 2005 12:49 PM

Oh, and how fitting was that Willie Harris' single was a duck snort!

J Fizzle / October 27, 2005 1:12 PM

Can a corn, baby, can of corn.

a / October 27, 2005 5:31 PM

okay, can you go back to politics now? enough with the baseball.

Ramsin / October 27, 2005 5:56 PM

I luuuuv politics.

And I'll be back to it--I'll cinch it up and hunker down, and it'll be a chopper-two-hopper!

I luuuuv comments.

Emerson Dameron / October 27, 2005 10:18 PM

I doubt the Sox will get trendy because of that one great catch alone, but don't think they're immune. I've never seen a neighborhood get gentrified as aggressively as Bridgeport right now.

applingforever / October 27, 2005 10:52 PM

There's no such thing as a "home run to short right." And the Astros weren't the beneficieries of bad calls by umpires, the White Sox were. And I don't know if Phil Garner is a hillbilly or not, but he's not the one who said "Hey, everybody, this guy's a homosexual! He's a child molester!" Ozzie Guillen did. But other than that, I echo your sentiment and go Sox.

John Fritchey / October 27, 2005 11:16 PM

The mission still won't be accomplished until we end a near century of futility on the north side. Just wait 'til next year. (or the year after that)

Ramsin / October 28, 2005 10:47 AM

Hey, snooty appling, I called it short right because that's the second-shortest homerun you can hit at the Juice Box, 320 feet or so. Those measurements are short in general.

The Astros benefitted from calls all over the place in Game 3, including being given a homerun that, ultimately, was game-tying. Being given a homerun is "benefitting."

And Phil Garner also called Carl Everett a "fu**ing fa**ot", if you were reading lips, across the field in front of fans. Ozzie's stupid remark was admittedly bizarre ribbing of a friend of his.

Fritch--Good luck with that.


About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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