If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a White Sox fan for most of my “many”
years on this green earth, it’s that I should always be ready to expect the unexpected! And now that we’re less than twenty-four hours from the home and season Opener against the Royals, I have left my mind wide open to whatever may come of this season.
It always seems that when they’re supposedly strong in one department—pitching, hitting, or defense—the Sox fail to live up to those expectations and predictions, and, often times, do completely the opposite of what everyone figured they would do! Far too many times the White Sox have come out of spring training with high hopes riding on a starting pitching staff and good defense, yet weak hitting up and down the lineup.
After most of the season has unwound, however, the hitting has been better than hoped for but there have been way too many holes in the starting pitching and bullpen as well as a porous, swiss cheese-like defense. This usually has led to those mediocre seasons that by September, we’re already trying to figure out what next season’s outlook might be like.
But…every now and then, a season such as 2005 sneaks up and surprises us all, and we’re treated to an endless stream of magic and fun and we want it never to end! It’s one of those seasons where even the guys who are struggling at the plate, in the field, or on the mound seem to come through at just the right moment. Yesterday’s error might be righted by a sterling defensive gem that “You can hang a star on,” in the words of Sox broadcaster Ed Farmer. An 0-4 at the plate one day often is followed the next day with a game-winning clout in one of those patented come-from-behind wins with which we became so familiar in 2005.
The 2005 Opener, had we looked really closely at it afterwards, we might have realized that it might be a special season for the Sox. Ace lefty, Mark Buehrle, shut down the rival Indians for eight innings before turning it over to closer (at the time) Shingo Takatsu. And, in typical Sox fashion, they eked out a win, 1-0, the game winner coming in the seventh inning on a double, sacrifice fly, and a hard ground ball that took a bad hop, enough to score the run. Now that’s White Sox baseball!
It’s always good to win an Opener, and this one had magic written all over it—but none of us could possibly realize that at the time. But as the days and weeks and months wore on, it became apparent that this team was special, and the dreaded Twins would have to be even better than they were the previous season to prevail this time. Yes, there were some nail-biting moments, especially in the waning days of the season, but the Sox magic stayed with them right on through the playoffs and the World Series. Talk about the unexpected!
It’s hard to believe that eight years have clicked off since that magical season culminated in a World Series Championship. Hope springs eternal, as they always say, and it always does when the new season has arrived. Spring training has come and gone and the time to get serious has arrived. What can Sox fans expect? The answer is very simple: The unexpected!
See you at the ballpark!