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I didn't want to write about the team this week; it was that bad. When I ran into Steve yesterday at Flying Saucer, I told him as much. My column will be: "THEY SUCKED. The End," I said, Maybe I'll draw the letters large enough to fill up the page. He assured me I'd come up with something. So . . . this will be about disappointment.
The Sox only won one game in the last six and that one was barely snatched from the jaws of defeat. I picked up a fan in Wicker Park who'd been at the game and was happy to relive the extra-inning victory. It was the lone bright spot; when the bullpen wasn't blowing leads, the outfielders dropped easy fly-balls and the hitters, who'd been so hot, were going dead-cold. Adam Dunn made it back from his appendectomy, but didn't do much to distinguish himself. Apart from a homer that was a run short of being a decider, he struck out eleven times. He'll likely whiff about a hundred-ninety more times and hit another thirty-eight dingers if history's any guide. He's all-or-nothing and I'm fine with that, but if the rest of 'em are that way we've got in for a long summer.
A clerk at the 7-Eleven at Wrightwood and Lincoln groused sourly about getting stuck with Matt Thornton on his fantasy team. "He's just not a closer," his buddy said. I wonder how many times every Sox fan screamed that in the last few days as one loss stacked on top of the next. When your team doesn't play up to expectations, you start to wonder. It's far too early to panic or even to despair, though that's a feeling most every fan knows. The closest I came to crying at a sporting event was Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. That was disappointment.
I remember watching the shots of the Red Sox locker room covered in plastic to minimize the effect of the champagne about to flow and the MVP trophy (that was to be handed to Bruce Hurst) on TV in my parents' house. I was sixteen. It all went away, of course, and we all knew that even though there was another game to be played, we'd missed our chance. Losing five out of six in April's nothing like that. If they do well on the road, we'll remember this as just a blip. A character-builder. A couple of the games were bad enough that I flipped the radio to the Cubs game to get my mind off it. Doesn't look like the Northsiders are doing much better, though not much is expected of them either.
We can all hope that this year's squad will have the opportunity to blow a Game 6; so far they've only blown the chance to be ahead of two bottom-feeders in the standings. The only sliver of silver lining is that the Tigers and Twins are doing even worse. Sometime soon, however, the Sox will have to start winning. April doesn't last forever.
Adam Dunn by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)
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