Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Another Year Lost To History

One of the things that fascinates me about baseball is that there are many years where you can look at a team's final record and wonder a number of things. How did they get there? Was it a close race all season? Were they blown out early? Did they ever have a shot?

One example of this is the
1964 White Sox. They finished 98-64, just 1 game behind the Yankees. That win total was actually the 3rd highest in frachise history, behind the 100 games won by the 1917 club and the 99 games won by the 1983 club. (It's scary to think that the Sox have only one 100-win season to their credit in 104 years of AL play). But was it a close race where they were edged out at the end of the year? No. They actually won their last 9 games of the year while the Yankees lost five of their last nine. The Sox were actually in third place, 4 games back, on September 25 (it was a good race, don't get me wrong, the Sox, Orioles and Yankees were mostly tight in August and September).

This year, some kid who wasn't born in 2004 will look back and see that the White Sox finished 10+ games out to the Twins. Chalk it up to another mediocre second-place performance in the AL Central. But, at the same time, another kid not born until after 2004 might look back to find the Sox in 1st place at the All-Star Break and wonder what happened?

It really was a tale of two seasons for the White Sox - the "fun is winning, winning is fun" Ozzieball of the first half, where it seemed that no opposition lead was safe, and the no-Magglio, no-Frank, bring out your dead second half. Some future White Sox fan will wonder, why on earth did Timo Perez get 300+ plate appearances in 2004? How did a team with a .346 OBP before the All-Star Break wind up with a .316 OBP after the All Star Break? (Note also - the team stole 25 bases in 46 attempts after the All-Star Break after going 47 of 70 in the first half).

The wheels have come off the wagon before, dear readers, but this is something more. This is the transmission falling out, the roof blowing off, the air conditioning going out, the battery leaking acid, and the steering wheel popping out.

The depressing part of it is that the 2005 White Sox are going to look a lot like the 2nd-half 2004 White Sox, absent a willingness to sign free agents or trade the players with value the Sox have. Do not expect help from the minor leagues in 2005. You're seeing the immediate future of the White Sox on the field today. And it isn't pretty.

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