Attention fellow White Sox fans:
COMMENCE PREMATURE WORLD SERIES CELEBRATION IMMEDIATELY.
Okay, okay, that might be a bit much. The Tigers are still 5-1/2 games up right now, the Red Sox and Twins are nipping at the Good Guys' heels for the Wild Card, and there are 46 games left in the regular season. Add to that the fact that 19 of those 46 games are against the aforementioned Red Sox, Tigers, and Twins. There's a long way to go.
We all remember what happened at the trade deadline last year. No Ken Griffey, Jr., no Miguel Tejada, no Barry Zito coming to town. Instead Kenny Williams brought some nobody utility man named Geoff Blum over from the Padres.
We all screamed that this wasn't what we needed. We needed power. We needed a legend, a leader. Someone whose mere presence would let other teams know that we were serious. And we got a benchwarmer instead?
Blum never put up Hall of Fame numbers and wasn't much of a power threat either. But that home run he did hit...mercy.
Turns out Kenny's trading gambles paid off. And this year, despite the heavy rumors about Alfonso Soriano wearing black, nothing major went through. Just a pair of decent middle relievers named David Riske and Mike MacDougal. Nothing legendary there. No fabled careers to be mentioned for either of them.
Now, I'm not saying that David Riske or Mike MacDougal will turn out to be South Side legends like Blum did. I'm not saying we're going to surprised by what these guys can or cannot do. Nothing's a guarantee in this game, and at this stage you can't pin your postseason hopes on anyone - especially when the season's this far from being over.
We also remember what happened last September. Specifically, the Sox were awful. Dropping seven in a row, losing left and right to the Kansas City Royals of the world. Watching what was once a fifteen-game lead shrivel up and almost die. We watched another team come out of nowhere and almost knock us down for what would have been the most embarrassing collapse ever.
Obviously it didn't pan out as badly as we feared (or as some hoped) it would. Our guys went home with the goods while everyone else's guys just went home. We know now that those guys can live through, and thrive after, a really rocky stretch of the schedule.
Other teams, and other fans, don't. The Tiger camp up there in Detroit is only two years past losing 119 games; many of their fans are too young to remember those glory years in the 1980's. Now is their time to have their late summer heart attack and luckily it coincides with the Sox getting over their own.
I'm not saying the Sox are going to run the table from here on out. Detroit has some remarkable talent and has a few guys on board who have been through this before.
All we as fans know right now are the following:
- The Sox have won five straight series, three of which were against top teams
- The Sox are also coming off possibly the toughest part of this year's schedule
- The Sox are 7-2 against the so-called-best-team-in-baseball Tigers, including last weekend's sweep
- The Sox have the best head-to-head record against .500+ teams
- The Tigers have the worst head-to-head record against .500+ teams
The point of all this is not that the Sox' ultimate victory is absolute.
In 2003 they were oh-so-close but watched the Twins pass them down the stretch.
In 2004 they were again oh-so-close but fell apart down the stretch.
Both times, we just shrugged our collective shoulders because these were the Sox and this was how White Sox baseball worked. "Remember those two weeks in July of 2003 when the Sox were in first? That was awesome!"
The point is that last year, the team learned how to win. More importantly, we learned there was reason to hope. Have faith, we learned, and September might not break our hearts this time.