Thursday, July 9, 2009

The underdogs: an appreciation

Posted By on 07.09.09 at 10:24 AM

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I've written before about how there's always that moment of commitment to a Chicago sports team, how a typical Chicagoan keeps his or her final emotional involvement in check until giving in entirely, for better or worse. Well, there was nothing like that for me with this year's White Sox; I was theirs all the way, and vice versa. I wrote at the beginning of the year of how I liked this team, how it was built around one last victory lap for the 2005 championship veterans, but poised on the fulcrum to shift to youth: Gordon Beckham and Aaron Poreda and Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers. As I watched Tuesday's game at Sox Park against the Cleveland Indians, I marveled at how well those championship veterans were flourishing in what figures to be, one way or the other, their last go-round together in Chicago. Going into the home stand, Jermaine Dye had 20 homers, 51 runs batted in, and a .291 batting average. A.J. Pierzynski had nine homers, 25 RBI, and .302. Paul Konerko was at 13, 50, and .295, and that was before he hit three homers that night, including the grand slam that put the Sox ahead for good. And that's not even addressing the unexpected return of Scott Podsednik, who has reinvigorated the leadoff spot with a .311 average, and the revival of Jose Contreras from a career-threatening Achilles' tendon injury last year, as he pitched well again Wednesday. Pretty good for a bunch of guys in their 30s, and that's without even mentioning the Sox' lone All-Star, pitcher Mark Buehrle, or the big-league contributions of Beckham and Poreda. If the Sox' attendance was down -- and but 23,758 came out for Tuesday's start of the home stand -- I believe it's largely due to poor weather (and of course the down economy). This is a lovely team of favorites Sox fans already gave their hearts to, for the most part, four years ago. They were at 44-40 and breathing down the necks of the Detroit Tigers after Wednesday's win.

So once more around Sox Park, driver. This team has good starting pitching, a fine bullpen, and power to spare, and if it can tighten up the defense in the second half it can do some damage should it reach the playoffs. All I can say is, I'm with them, come what may. 

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