Tuesday, April 03, 2007


It's one of the hardest things to do as a sports fan: don't read too much into the opening day of the baseball season. Your instincts pull in two divergent, but equally irrational directions. Let's take the example of an opening season loss because, well, that's what the White Sox did on Monday. They lost. Actually, they lost ugly. One half of me wants to scream in terror, and fears we may never win a game this season. The other half of me, oddly, is far more optimistic today than I was before the loss. Remember the year Mike Sirotka gave up like 14 runs on opening day? We won the division that year. We're totally going 161-1.

Or not. The truth is no different today than it was Sunday. The Sox strike me as a mediocre team. The hitting will be good, but it would be hard pressed to match last year's explosive offense. The pitching will be below-average, at least the starters, but probably not as bad as last year. Add it up, and I think the Sox are a .500 team.

Many, of course, are prognosticating far worse than .500 for this year's White Sox. One Baseball Prospectus analysis predicted 72-90. And that has Cub fans gloating. I heard a number of talk radio callers yesterday arguing that the Sox slide to mediocrity is proof that the Sox owners are every bit as terrible as the now departing Tribune Company, who has owned the Cubs for a couple decades. (It's worth mentioning, by the way, that our owner bought their owner -- Sam Zell is a minority owner of the Sox, which is one of the reasons the Trib now needs to sell the Cubs). They blew off the 2005 World Series, "You won one in 85 years, great." Of course, that's infinitely more than the Cubs have won in the last century.

More importantly, the Sox have been consistently competitive under Jerry Reinsdorf and his buddies. The Sox have had winning records in 17 out of the last 25 years. That's legitimately 17 chances to win a World Series. A couple of lucky breaks and an 85 win year is a 90 win, playoff season. And, as last year's Cardinals proved, any trip to the post-season is a chance to win it all. In contrast, over the past 25 years, the Cubs have had only 8 winning seasons. That's half as many.

If you're not sure what my point is, that's fair because I'm a little hazy on it. I guess I have two points. One, the Tribune Company was a disaster as an ownership group, leading the team to losing records two-thirds of the time for the last quarter century. Two, whether this turns out to be a long summer or not, it's worth remembering that Reinsdorf has been a pretty good owner who deserves the benefit of the doubt over the long haul. The Sox may take a step back this year, but if history is a guide, they'll be competitive again by next season. So, if we're not going to go 161-1 this year, we can at least take solace in that.


Blogger Katie said...

I guess we have to settle for 160-2 now. My brother led me to your site after he listened to me whine about the Sox losing their first game, something I took way too hard to heart. It's a long, long season, so of course I shouldn't jump to conclusions yet, but I guess I'm just a pessimist. And hey, at least the Cubs lost opening day too. Maybe I am an optimist after all.

6:17 PM  

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