Thursday, September 08, 2005

Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago

Sept 8, 2005

Well, well, well.
Show of hands....

Who here thought the Pale Hosers would be in first place in September, leading their division by the 2nd largest margin of all division leaders, with the 2nd most wins of any team, AND become a team which others dread to face?

Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller? Bueller?

I would expect that there are a number of hardball enthusiasts out there who noticed the subtle but discernable thud of several million jaws hitting the floor. My friends, that's the unmistakable sound that echoes throughout the streets and alleys of the Windy City, the sound of disbelief.

And this year, there is hope.

Hope that perhaps this year, THIS time, Chicago will find themselves with a dog in the hunt, as they say. Hope that a team with such a rich history of talented players and grevious dissapointment will step onto the baseball field AFTER the regular season is over for only the seventh time in their entire EXISTENCE. This is a team that has finished 2nd or better 27 times, and has only 4 AL pennants to show for it.

They haven't even BEEN to the World Series since 1959.

Oh, and there's that whole "Black Sox" thing...but noone talks about that anymore. Right?

Their record over the previous 15 seasons is not the record of a team who is fiddling with their DVD players and TiVOs, teaching their sons and daughters to ride a bike, and ordering NFL PPV packages in October. In 15 seasons, from 1990 to 2004, they finished 2nd or better in their division 12 times. In the other 3 seasons (1992, 1995, 2001), they finished 3rd. Is that the record of a club who shows up to the postseason without a date? Hardly.

Jon Rauch, a Louisville product (yay, KY!), is undoubtedly the team ace this year, 17-8, with a 3.28 ERA thus far. Three other starters have 11 or more wins (Mark Buehrle, 15-7; Freddy Garcia, 12-7; Jose Contreras, 11-7), and Orlando Hernandez has 9, his most since 2000. The Chicago bullpen has accounted for 23 wins, and players like Cliff Politte, Neal Cotts (Who?) and Dustin Hermanson have led the charge.

There are no candidates for the batting title, here, but everyone hits consistently. Consider this: Tadahito Iguchi leads the team with a .284 average. Among starters, the lowest average is only 49 points below that, Joe Crede at .232. If they lost an RBI man or basestealer, someone else would pick up the slack; the team averages an RBI every 7.5 ABs. There are 5 players with 10 or more steals, Scott Podsednik leading the majors with 56.

Bottom line, this team is no pretender. We'll have to see whether or not they can withstand the pressure that comes with winning more games than anyone else.

And of course, the weight of history.
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