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Sox Pieces Almost In Place

Did you know that the 2003 White Sox had an eight-game winning streak?

That the 2001 team went 18-9 in June?

That the 1996 team emerged with a winning record against the AL Central?

No, you didn't and, all told, you probably shouldn't.

Not because those things weren't cool at the time, but because in the end they all just became marginal, less-than-representative components of larger, less-than-memorable campaigns.

And for all the bluster we're going to hear about how the Sox had that fantastic run in the middle bookended by horrible, horrible baseball and some extremely untimely injuries, the end result is a nothing more than a whole lot of the usual. They won some, and they lost some, but the weird part was simply that this team opted to get everything out of the way all at once.

In a way it was beautiful, knowing that when our beloved ballclub was going to lose it was going to lose all the way, or that if they were going to win, they were going to win forever.

Except we knew they wouldn't do either, and of course they didn't, so instead here we sit at the dawn of another October watching someone else get excited for what's in store and faced with a choice: Embrace the future, or bemoan it.

Jake Peavy may be finished, or he may be reborn. Paul Konerko may take his services elsewhere, or he may guard the right side of the Cell's infield into perpetuity. Edwin Jackson may be an albatross around the Sox' neck, or he may be turn out to be the smartest move they never should have made.

On their own, such dilemmas make it easy to dwell on the negative. The Sox, as with last year and most of the years before it, head into the winter with a mile-long list of question marks, most of which should sound awfully familiar. The money might not be there, the team doesn't have the pieces to make a major trade, the cornerstones are a little older and a little slower, and on and on and on it goes.

But what if, instead of unsolvable problems, the Sox actually have more opportunity at their disposal than they realize? What if, finally, they have a chance to clean house and truly build this athletic, fundamentally sound core of which they've been speaking since 2004? The division, despite whatever good fortune has smiled upon the Twins, is still up for grabs and the Sox are only a few pieces away, and some legitimately promising pieces sit poised to deliver in some very real ways in the extremely near future.

We're Sox fans. By nature or by experience we'll probably want to see it before we believe it. Soon enough though, we may just get our chance to trade their folly for our faith because, as the saying goes, there's always next year, even, no, especially when we have long since conditioned ourselves to believe there isn't.

Week in Review: Tardy. Take three of four from the Red Sox, then take two of three from the Indians. Where was this in April, May, August, and the first 27 days of September?

Week in Preview: Infuriating. The Twins will probably go winless yet the Sox will gain absolutely nothing despite going undefeated. Again.

Season in Review: Record-wise, second place in the Central is essentially fourth place in the East but you know what? The Sox don't play in the East, which is a good thing because I don't think any of us could handle the embarrassment of a fourth-place finish. Which is not to say this was such a graceful silver medal campaign.

Offseason in Preview: Right field, first base and/or designated hitter, catcher, closer, bench, left-handed power, situational hitting, defense, speed, hitting coach, and possibly a manager and we're all set. Piece of cake.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "And that's why, if you look at each team individually, you'll see how some things aren't real good measures of what each of those teams means after 162 games. Most good teams get to go to the playoffs, of course, and most bad teams end up at the bottom of the standings, but what makes baseball so unique is when you get teams like our Sox, who were by far, by far the best team in the American League this year, but there's no column in the win-loss records to measure that. I've always said that any team that can win not just a few but a lot of games, that's a team that deserves that spot in October, and I know that's something Bud Selig has been working to improve. Because you look at what our Sox did this year, with how they took care of business against the National League, how we beat the Yankees by a fine margin, how we beat the Carmines - even sweeping them at Fenway - or giving the Tampa Bay Rays such a run for their money, these are the things that good teams do, and the Sox did them so well that there needs to be a way for the record to show that. Now, the rules say certain teams will advance to certain playoff series, and that's what baseball is all about, but as far as I'm concerned our Sox finished this season as a better team than the Twins, or the Phillies, or the Rangers, or anyone who came through here, and when the dust settles I think that's what you're gonna see more of."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham positions played: Three. Luis Aparicio positions played: One. Might as well start stenciling his face onto the outfield wall now.

Alumni News You Can Use: Javier Vazquez, Nick Swisher, Royce Ring, Jon Rauch, Jim Thome, Jose Contreras, Ross Gload, Nick Masset, Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe, and the Corkaroo Bomb Factory all played for playoff-caliber teams this year. The White Sox Report wishes them individual success while simultaneously wishing tremendous, collective failure upon each of their current employers.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: "History," as in "History will never, ever, ever vindicate this experiment. Ever." Now let us banish Mark Kotsay's name from the history books.

The Q Factor: That's not the way I look at it, he thinks, eyes turned towards the setting sun. It's my bat, yes, but it's also my broom, my hatchet, my wrench: a tool designed to help a man reach a result, and we all know it is a poor workman who blames his tools. My hands already feel cold without gloves; my soul exposed without the uniform to contain it. But while the world outside is frozen, know that the fire still burns inside, and that I will return when the time is right. To some of you, I implore you, please accept my promise, and know that my words are bonded by love and honor. To the rest of you, you have been warned.

October Bandwagon Jumping: For single-handedly ruining my fantasy baseball team, The White Sox Report will specifically root against Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants, and because the double-switch is so grossly overrated as some sort of intellectual bench press, we also root against all other teams from the senior circuit. For operating as pure evil incarnate, The White Sox Report outright REJECTS the New York Yankees, as any good internet sports missive should. Out of some weird sense of bitterness over 2008's so-called divisional "series," the White Sox Report dislikes the Tampa Bay Rays and for even pettier yet more understandable reasons, outright HATES the Minnesota Twins. For playing their home games in the Schaumburg of the Southwest, the White Sox Report also refuses to hitch its wagon to the Texas Rangers' star and, as such, the only remotely desirable outcome of the 2010 World Series is for ringless good guy and beloved former South Side lumberjack Jim Thome to singlehandedly topple the Reds in six while the rest of the Twins' playoff roster sits at home, silently weeping over #25's decision to go it alone. Jim of Destiny!

Ye Olde Walnut Factory: You're right, he's probably not going to put up another .320/40/120-grade season ever again. So what? Someone's name has to sell those jersey t-shirts, and I promise you it won't be Mark Teahen's.

Rios Grande: He's a fine centerfielder and the long overdue solution to a problem that plagued White Sox baseball for far too long. That said, this play will forever best sum up 2010: an otherwise good player, now wearing a Sox uniform, tries desperately to stop the Twins from shaming his new club but fails so wildly, so hilariously, that the season effectively ends right then and there. In July.

The "A" Word: Total attendance at the Cell for 2010 clocked in at 2,194,378, a number both excellent and miserable at the same time. Should a mostly-contending team in a major market draw more strongly? Yes. Would it have mattered? No. No it wouldn't.

Odds: For entertainment purposes only. Including gambling.

Paulie comes back: Even. Because come on, where's he gonna go?

A.J. comes back: Even. Because, come on, dude belongs on the South Side.

Jake Peavy comes back as inferior version of known make of Jake Peavy: 1.25:1.
Jake Peavy comes back as a more pleasant version of Jaime Navarro: 3.25:1.
Jake Peavy comes back better than ever: 20:1.

Sox complete their quest to acquire every possible remaining mid-1990s Cleveland Indian: 1:2. Only Russell Branyan remains!

Sox sign a major free agent: 10:1.
Sox sign a formerly major free agent now past his prime: 2:1. Man, remember how awesome Edgar Renteria used to be?

Sox make an obvious, sensible trade that immediately upgrades the team: 3:1.
Sox make a bizarre trade for someone else's garbage: 1:3.
Sox trade for Carlos Zambrano: 4:1.

Sox position player receives votes for a major award: 1.2:1. Look to Alex Rios to get consideration, if not outright victory, for Comeback Player of the Year, with Paul Konerko notching a few tallies in MVP voting.

Sox manager, coach, or executive receives votes for a major award: Even. They give awards for trying, right?

The Guillen Meter: Having reached a nice managerial milestone, the Guillen Meter reads 600 for "Kiss my ass. I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea."

Endorsement No-Brainer: Peggy Lee and Diane Reeves for the inevitable end of baseball season: there'll be another spring.

Cubs Snub: It's a good thing the Pirates exist, lest the Small Bears finish the season as baseball's only sixth-place team. Because, you know, fifth place is totally respectable.

Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Her Goodbye: You took the winters and made it summer. Happy trails, Nancy.

The White Sox Report: Until then, read 'em again.

The Cub Factor: As it was, so it shall be..

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

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