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Everything Coming Up Crabgrass

T.S. Eliot got it wrong. April is not the cruelest month. September is.

If there was any doubt, it was erased when Miguel Cabrera's long ninth-inning drive settled well up into the left-field stands at a drenched Comerica Park on Saturday evening.

How could this possibly happen? The Sox held an 8-1 lead after the Tigers and the umpires helped our athletes score five times in the fourth inning - three coming on Alexi Ramirez' home run - and twice more on back-to-back homers by Alejandro De Aza and Brent Morel in the fifth.

(By the way, that's Brent More-ell and not Brent Moral as Fox play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian referred to him all afternoon. His MLB network pal Mitch Williams failed to correct him. Pathetic!)

When Delmon Young began the Tigers' comeback with a two-run shot off Gavin Floyd in the bottom of the fifth, uneasiness permeated Soxdom.

Was the lightning and thunder that delayed the game for 36 minutes in the eighth inning an omen that the Sox were in jeopardy of finally losing all hope of catching Detroit?

Seems that way if you consider that the Motown crew scored a run off Chris Sale - who's about as good as it gets - to draw within 8-6 going into the ninth.

So the game was in the hands of Sergio Santos, who, by the way, found April not to be the least bit cruel because no one scored on him. But his first September appearance was a disaster. Austin Jackson tripled and Ryan Raburn slammed a game-tying homer before Cabrera reminded us all that the Tigers are a lot better than the Sox.

If there was any lingering questions, the 18-2 dismemberment of the Sox on Sunday was an embarrassing exclamation point.

Our White Sox have not treated us nicely. They've messed with us for more than five months. They got out of the gate quickly, winning seven of their first 11 games. We were confident, psyched up for a big year, believing that this team could go places.

Of course, 18 losses in the next 22 games put the Sox in a place where they were trying to get well the rest of the season. They finally got even at 42-42 after beating the Cubs 1-0 on July 2. Surely this was the benchmark, the point at which the team would take off. The confidence was back. Look out Central Division!

Not so. They split the next 20 to return to .500 on July 29 but then lost six in a row to the Red Sox and Yankees. This is the point where Sox fans should have felt betrayed. The season was over. Why couldn't Ozzie's guys simply have tread lightly the rest of the way, letting Detroit and Cleveland slug it out.

Not these fellows. After beating the Twins a couple of games last week, they moved three games over the break-even point and we began to ask, "What if?"

Why don't we know better? How can one explain this masochism?

This is a ballclub which leaves more runners on base than Elizabeth Taylor had husbands. Fly balls that should be caught - usually in center field - drop for doubles. Starting pitchers give up too many early runs too often so the rest of the day is a game of catch-up. Three or four guys in the lineup are hitting .230 or below.

We should have known long ago that it would all end as it did on Saturday. In reality, the season was over when the Sox sat at 11-22. No way this team has the ability to climb that mountain.

I was channel-surfing Saturday and watched part of the Cub-Pirate game. How can there be a more meaningless September contest than one between fourth- and fifth-place teams with neither closer than 11 games to .500?

In addition, the North Siders are in disarray. They have no general manager, a field manager who appears clueless, a disgraced star pitcher, paralyzing long-term contracts, and an owner who long ago ceased gushing, "Oh, golly, I met my wife in the bleachers, and now - behold! - I'm owner of the Cubs!"

Yet here they were in the bottom of the seventh, game tied 3-3, Soriano at bat with runners at second and third. The same scene at the Cell might create a slight increase in interest and enthusiasm - despite the ad nauseum use of something called the Fan-O-Meter telling all present to cheer, cheer, and cheer some more. On the North Side, 30,000 fans rise to their feet, clap, yell, and act like the lowly bums are headed for October heroics.

And when Soriano doubled, the place went nuts. Never mind that they lost in the ninth; Cub fans seem, well, happier than we are. It matters little whether the team wins or loses. It's as though they plant a rose bush which fails to thrive. If it comes back to life and produces a lovely flower, that's great. If it dies off, they'll plant another one.

The 2011 edition of the White Sox is anything but roses. It is more like crabgrass. At a distance, the lawn looks green and healthy. But on closer inspection, it's the unwanted broad-leafed weed that gives the appearance of greenery. And you can't get rid of the stuff. You simply have to wait for winter to kill it off and hope that the lawn is a lot healthier come spring.

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Comments welcome.


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