These Sox are still cursed
Chicago hasn't won Series since 1917,
and team's drought is second-rate in Chicago
After a historic victory Wednesday night, fans in Boston can scream to the heavens and dance along Yawkey Way. But one thing remains certain: The Sox are still cursed.
Yes, the Chicago White Sox remain one of the most afflicted teams in baseball history. But since they didn’t trade Babe Ruth or refuse to let a billy goat watch a World Series game, they have flown well under baseball’s curse radar.
They haven't won a World Series since 1917, longer than the Red Sox's streak even before Boston's victory over St. Louis. When they could have captured another Series two years later, the players threw games. One of the best players in history, White Sox outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson, is still denied entry to the Hall of Fame because of his role.
Forty years later, the White Sox finally captured another pennant — marked by the unleashing of sirens in Chicago that frightened half the population, who were convinced the Soviet Union was attacking — and returned to the World Series, hoping to shed the "Black Sox" label hung on them after the 1919 debacle. They played against the Dodgers in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which featured a left-field fence about 250 feet from home plate. Yet the White Sox slugger was the left-handed Ted Kluszewski, who preferred a short right-field porch. They lost in six games.
Forget the 1960s, as Sox fans are wont to do, and enter the 1970s. At the outset, the White Sox were best known for unveiling an Astroturf infield and grass outfield at Comiskey Park and for starting Carlos May, the only major league player bearing his birthdate on the back of his uniform (May 1).
Then, Bill Veeck — White Sox owner during the 1959 World Series — bought the franchise for the second time. The team wore shorts for one game, put on uniforms more appropriate for Manny¹s Bar & Grill softball team during others and watched a riot unfold on their home field during Disco Demolition night. Because the field was unplayable after drunken fans stormed it between games of a doubleheader, the White Sox became the only team to forfeit a game because of outrage over the Bee Gees.
It gets uglier — as in "Winning Ugly." Blessed with Cy Young Award winner Lamar Hoyt and power hitter Ron Kittle, the White Sox stormed to an American League West division title by 20 games in 1983. Then they lost meekly to Baltimore in the playoffs. In the past generation, their biggest move has been demolishing historic Comiskey Park and building much-maligned U.S. Cellular Field.
Businesswise, this curse has been a loser. The White Sox have gotten no publicity for it, they haven’t packed the stands with fans in hopes of breaking it and they haven’t sold any merchandise around it.
But with the Red Sox finally departing the land of the curse after 86 years, maybe the White Sox can take their place. Let Minnesota Twins fans start a chant of "1917!" when the White Sox visit the Metrodome. Let Frank Thomas let a ground ball roll through his legs at first base to lose a crucial game. Break out the "Cursed" T-shirts with a picture of old Shoeless Joe pocketing ill-gotten cash.
Though it all sounds good, problem is in their home city of Chicago, the White Sox are always upstaged by the beloved Cubs. And the Cubs’ curse — the team hasn’t won a World Series since 1908, the longest streak in pro sports history, much less baseball — features a billy goat, a black cat and Steve Bartman — a tough mix to beat.
So let the word go forth: The White Sox are cursed. So cursed, in fact, that their own curse is considered second-rate in their home town.
David Sweet is a sports business writer in the Chicago area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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