On the John
All hail the Chicago Blue Sox! Chi-Town’s finest baseball club.
Originally completed June 2, 2009
My friend Kristin and I were at the bar, playing a game called Question. It’s simple: you ask a question, and then I ask a question. (Think Truth without the Dare.) Kristin is from Arkansas. She has lived in Chicago for five years. Her question:
“If you could change one thing about Chicago, what would it be?”
This was difficult. At first, every change I considered was simply something I would change about America and big-city living. School systems, housing, police, etc. Kristin reminded me that segregation is a much greater problem in our fair city than in many other American metropoliseseses, and after a bit of consideration, I agreed. But before that, my answer was:
“One thing I’d change? I wish we only had one professional baseball team.”
I paused. And then: “Absolutely.”
Though I’d never articulated that sentiment, it had been growing in me since 2005, when what should have been one of the greatest moments in Chicago sports was sullied by the split-screen that is Northside-Southside baseball.
Those 2005 White Sox were one of the great Chicago teams of my life. Lock down defense, timely offense, ten pitchers with ERA’s in the 3’s and an 11th (El Duque) responsible for a classic postseason Forgotten Man Performance (Game 3 of the Boston series). The lineup had nary a boring nor unsettled spot—not like Alex Gonzalez on the ’03 team or the Cliff Floyd/Fontenot/DeRosa question in ’07—and the playoffs produced a slew of fantastic games and impressive outputs, such as…
…the four straight complete games thrown by the Sox staff in the ALCS.
…Pierzynski’s dropped third strike play in Game 2 against the Angels, followed by Crede’s walk off double.
…Crede hitting .368 with two home runs while making every key defensive play against those Angels.
…Ozzie’s “big guy” hand sign for Jenks in Game 1 of the World Series.
…the Jermaine Dye phantom hit by pitch followed immediately by Konerko’s game-swinging grannie in Game 2.
…the Scotty Pods walk-off.
…the 14-inning Game 3, capped by Geoff Blum’s pinch hit two-run shot and Buehrle getting the save in relief.
…the tense, 1-0 Game 4 Series finale.
From Contreras’s first pitch to the final one from Jenks, the 2005 World Series was one of the greatest sporting events I ever viewed. Two of the four games were played less than 25 miles from my home. I followed it, loved it, felt good for my White Sox friends.
And I could not call it mine.
The Bulls defeat the Lakers for their first title and both sides of Madison Street rejoice. The Bears shuffle to a Super Bowl and delight everyone from Gary to Lake Forest. But the White Sox win the city’s first World Series in 88 years, and it’s accompanied by cross-town bickering, heckling, and taunting, with Cubs fans going out of their way to be bitter and Sox fans going out of theirs to deride. What’s so great about that?
Better to unite the city’s baseball fans around one team. We could donate the other to an MLB-less region. I nominate Omaha, home of the college World Series, a city in a state that loves its baseball yet is 200 miles away from the closest professional stadium.
Which club needs to go? Matters not to me. I say we flip for it. The other club heads off to Omaha and the American League (or the National League, if you like). We could even develop some kind of clause ensuring that the city’s favorite players would remain with the team staying in town, just to be fair to everyone. And they could play half their home games at Wrigley and half at the Cell. I think that would be nice.
The name? I nominate the Blue Sox, a merging of sorts, as well as nods to the Cubs’ roots as the Chicago White Stockings and the Sox blue helmets from 1970. The new ball club would officially be an expansion team—the Cubs’ streak would end at 101 years, the White Sox would forever bask in 2005, and out of those franchises would grow the fabulous Chicago Blue Sox, a team for all of our children and grandchildren to share.
Imagine: it is October of 2010. Over the past nine months, our city has experienced a Cutler-led Bears team marching deep into the playoffs, Rose’s Bulls taking LeBron and the Cavs to six games in the East Finals, and Toews and Kane leading the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup appearance in 18 years. Cutler and co. are now in their sixth week of the 2010 season, the U.C. will soon be rocking once more, but today, the city’s entire fan population is locked into the fierce World Series battle between our beloved Blue Sox and those hated New York Mets (or those hated New York Yankees, if you prefer). Win or lose, we’re in it together. And that is something I would never change.
Copyright 2009, jm silverstein