By Scott Sullivan
That Sinking Feeling
Chicago is sinking but Sox fans are not surprised. Since winning the 2005 World Series our team has been worse than the Cubs. That’s bad.
The city’s plunge, due to post-glacial runoff from the Earth’s crust, has been gradual: 4 inches per 100 years. Not so the Sox. They reverted to losing 100 games last season.
Last time that happened was 1970 when they went 56-106. I was 15 and watched almost every game. I’d stay up summer nights after mowing lawns, eating Popsicles and thinking the White Sox couldn’t get worse. They did.
When Bill Melton lost a pop fly in the Baltimore moon, the ball landed and broke his nose; his 12th error in two dozen games.
The Sox replaced him at third base with Syd O’Brien, who was worse. One night, with the team running out the string, he didn’t run for a pop fly he could have got to, though he’d have probably dropped it anyway. A chorus of boos rained down from the three fans who were left in Comiskey Park.
They moved Melton to right field where he could not boot as many balls; at the plate July 23-28 he struck out 11 straight times. First baseman Carlos May blew off part of his thumb in a mortar accident.
On Aug. 30, when the Pale Hose gave up 21 runs to Red Sox, I polished off 14 double-stick Popsicles — rotating red-orange-purple hoping something would change the team’s luck. All it triggered was my adult-onset diabetes. I wasted a scary amount of my adolescence preparing for what I’ve done with adulthood.
The Cubs were on WGN superstation Channel 9. The Sox were on WFLD Channel 32, where through static you could see now-defunct Meister Brau beer was sponsor. The reviews are in:
“Back in college, when you could get a case of these bottles for about $6, the only way you could consume them was via beer bong,“ writes I.M. Fletcher on BeerAdvocate.com. “That way the taste could be avoided, allowing the alcohol to reach the bloodstream without being rejected involuntarily by your body.
“Once, on a lark, I took a big swig from a bottle instead. This was 24 years ago, but I still remember what registered in my brain as this swill hit my taste buds: Purple. A few minutes later, I was puking.”
Cub fans were elitists like George Will and Ronald Reagan. Sox fans were Jerry Springer and Steve Dahl, who gave the world Disco Demolition Night. Between games of a 1979 doubleheader, the Sox, desperate to draw fans, blew up a crate of records in centerfield. Non-disco fans were inspired to riot and trash Comiskey, forcing the team to forfeit Game 2 to the Tigers.
Owner Bill Veeck (as in “Wreck”) would do anything to put butts in seats, like shoot fireworks when the Sox won. He saved lots of money that way. This was during Harry Caray’s 11 years as Sox broadcaster, when he called games shirtless from the outfield, took showers and swilled Miller Lite, which had succeeded (term used loosely) Meister Brau as beer sponsor.
The only true Sox star was Michael Jordan, whose teams won six titles. Trouble was they were all in basketball. After two years trying to bail out the Sox playing baseball, even MJ bailed.
So Chicago sinking is no surprise. Who cares about sewer line flows? What about Billy Goat Tavern, which lies under Michigan Avenue downtown?
The damage was obvious two years ago when the Goat’s Curse ended. BGT owner William Sianis, as Chicagoans learn from birth, cursed the Cubs during Game 4 of the ‘45 World Series when he was asked to leave Wrigley Field because the smell of his pet goat was bothering other fans. “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more (Series) games,” he said.
It was a dark day for Sox fans when the Curse lifted and the Cubs won the 2016 Series, their first in 108 years. The Sox’ win 11 years earlier was their first since 1917.
What do you mean the Sox, who went 62-100 last summer, can’t get worse? Don’t sell the long; of course they can. We can only hope that Chicago planners — who in the 1850s and ‘60s jacked up the streets 4 to 14 feet, letting builders add a sewer system — can find new ways to not only flush waste, but reinstitute the Goat’s curse.
Cub fans who brag about suffering can’t hold a candle to us. Fandom is a life or death sentence. Either way, I would never consort with them.