Some Thoughts for the Evening
by Shoeless Joe Cicotte
October 17, 2005
As I sit typing, it has just turned midnight. So, "the evening" may not be correct, but you'll forgive me. I am sitting here, eating a turkey sandwich and drinking a glass of orange juice, and the reality of the fact that the Chicago White Sox are going to World Series is sinking in. What's more, my mind wanders off into the future and considers the fact that they will face either the Astros or the Cardinals. What does it all mean?
Well, it means that I will get to watch a World Series match up of two teams which are the mortal enemies of my team, the Chicago Cubs. I should be miserable.
Note that I said that I should be miserable. I am somewhat amazed to find that I am not miserable at all. In fact, I am actually pretty excited about the World Series.
I will not lie to myself – this did initially give me pause. I am a DIE HARD Cubs fan (is there any other kind?), and I will be damned if the across town rival White Sox are going to get to go to the World Series while a couple of NL Central teams duke it out to see who gets to play them. What does this mean? For one thing, does it mean that I am a bigger Saints fan than I am a Cubs fan?
Being a baseball enthusiast, much more emphatically than I am a football fan, this is troubling, because I would hate to think that I cared about anything in the sports world more than the Cubs. It would be a shame on my house, a burden to be overcome, and truly an embarrassment to me and all of my loved ones.
To be fair, I am a serious Saints fan. I am such a Saints fan that three years ago, I stopped watching the Saints to preserve my health and my sanity. I used to cry and throw things when they would lose. And I don't mean as a kid – I cried after a Saints game as recently as 2002.
When the Saints lost their first ever playoff game to the Minnesota Vikings on January 4th, 1988, the Vikings became my sworn enemies. I once harassed a kid for 20 minutes at school because he had the audacity to show wearing a Vikings hat.
To this day, I play Tecmo Superbowl on the old Nintendo system. I always play a full season. I can win every game (Tecmo Superbowl isn't about winning – its about the stats), but when I play the Saints, I lose on purpose!
Anyway, it would certainly not be dishonorable to be a bigger Saints fan than, say, a Lakers fan, or an Avalanche fan (ah, yes, the Colorado Avalanche. The result of my need to have "a team" and "a player" in every sport. I liked the Avalanche because they had Patrick Roy, and I liked Patrick Roy because he had a funny name), but to like the Saints more than the Cubs, well, that would be terrible.
So, the conclusion (or justification, you make the call) that I reached is that, I certainly like the Cubs better than the Saints, but I also like baseball better than football. I lived and died with the Saints because, frankly, I don't enjoy watching other football teams play. Generally, the football season ends when the Saints are eliminated from the playoffs. They are all I have. So, the world ends when the Saints season ends.
But baseball is different. While I am a Cubs fan, I will watch, and more importantly I will enjoy watching, any two teams play. There are many reasons for me to enjoy watching baseball. The Cubs are the team I love the most, but I also love the game, and I love watching the game, so I can take enjoyment from the upcoming World Series even though my Cubs aren't in it.
That having been said (and that potential crisis having been averted), I turn now to some thoughts.
No Yankees or Red Sox – This was actually my primary reason for being excited about this year's ALCS as well. You know, my brother Andrew and I were talking, and we realized that we both really rooted hard for the Red Sox for the last two years. We were behind them all the way, and we were thrilled when they finally beat the Yankees and then won the World Series. But then, once they won it all, we were both ready for both teams to kind of disappear, and they did. White Sox and Angels – very excited. White Sox in the World Series – also very excited.
If the Astros make it to the World Series – It will be the first time since 1986 that the World Series will feature two teams who have not been to the World Series in my lifetime. While that is an awfully specific criterion, my larger point is simply that we have fresh teams in the World Series, and I like that.
Also, if the Astros make it, we will be promised that either the White Sox curse will be broken, or the Astros will finally win their first World Series. A win-win situation.
I mean, seriously, imagine you were the St. Louis Cardinals last season. I bet half of the people in St. Louis were rooting for the Red Sox. It will be nice to not have a consensus, all-American favorite to win the Series.
Former Yankees Pitchers – If the Astros make it to the Series, there will be a total of four former Yankees starting pitchers on the collective World Series rosters (Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez). It is always nice to stick it to the Yankees somehow.
The Central Time Zone – No matter what, all of the World Series games will be played in the Central time zone. First time since 1987. In fact, since 1993, only three teams from the Central time zone have even made it to the World Series.
Bagwell and Biggio – Always happy to see a couple of good guys have a chance to win a World Series without having to sign with the Yankees to do it.
A Random Thought About the Astros – On the final play of tonight's Astros-Cardinals game, the announcer said, "there's a grounder, they won't be able to get a double play, so the run will. . . ."
As we know, they did in fact turn the double play, and they won the game. I don't know who the announcer was (probably McCarver) but what a blown call. I mean, you don't concede the outcome of a play, no matter what. Harry Caray used to say, "it might be, it could be . . . " for every home runs call. Sometimes, the ball would have already landed in the hands of some fan and been thrown back onto the field before Harry got to the "it is!" of this home run.
The appropriate call to make would have been, "there's a slow roller to second, this one is going to be close, there's the toss to second for one, and the relay to first and . . . he got him! Astros Win!"
What is my point? My point is just that I hope, if the Astros go on to the World Series, and even win the World Series, that the announcer's miscall tonight does not make that double play into some unbelievable, against all odds, miracle play that becomes this mystical legendary thing, like Ruth calling his shot, or Enos Slaughter's mad dash around the bases. Don't get me wrong – it was a magnificent double play, but it wasn't inconceivable as the guy calling the game made it seem with his remarkably bad call.
A Concluding Thought About the White Sox – At the beginning of the season, I picked the Cleveland Indians to win the AL Central. In June, I wrote a piece about how the White Sox pitching was not going to hold up. In August, I told a guy at school not to think the White Sox would be in the World Series because teams that have their divisions locked up early stop playing hard, and not having to play any important games down the stretch costs teams once they get to the playoffs, and that is why wild card teams keep doing so well in the post-season. In September, I took great joy in watching the White Sox demise and the Indians resurgence, and I was convinced the Sox would fold. I even laughed when I heard that Ozzie Guillen was having trouble sleeping and keeping food down. In the post-season, after briefly rooting for the White Sox against the Red Sox, I rejoiced when the Angels beat the Sox in Game One despite being so "exhausted" from all of their travel.
My point – these White Sox have been very impressive, and have proved me wrong every step along the way. I never imagined that trading Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik was going to go the Sox' way. I never imagined the Sox could win without Frank Thomas. I didn't think the Cuban guys would be any good, or that Jon Garland would be anything but average.
To the extent that impressing someone as meager as myself means anything, the White Sox have truly impressed me, and taken me quite by surprise.
Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox on making it back to the World Series.