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|CNNSI.com asked if White Sox fans had any opinions on the subject. And guess what ... they did.
Click here to read a sampling of what CNNSI.com users had to say.
Sports fans love to reminisce over the days that it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.
There are two sides to Chicago's history of baseball futility. But at least the Cubs have managed to look cute losing. White Sox fans, says CNNSI.com's Aimee Crawford, have suffered eight-plus decades of denial without the benefit of a cozy, throwback ballpark, national television exposure or a cuddly 60-homer slugger (more on Sammy Sosa later). Even though the Sox earned bragging rights by soundly thrashing their cross-town rivals in the 1906 World Series, the Black Sox scandal damned them to eternal second-class status in the Second City.
Not helping matters, Crawford says: the infamous "White Flag" trade in 1997; the ignominious release of Carlton Fisk; the George Bell-for-Sammy Sosa swap; the loss of Luis Aparicio; and, of course, the scandal that begat the phrase that inspired this CNNSI.com series.
| July 31,
| White Sox trade P Wilson Alvarez, P Roberto
Hernandez and P Danny Darwin to San Francisco for SS Mike Caruso, OF Brian Manning,
P Keith Foulke, P Bob Howry and P Ken Vining
OK, so this deal has actually worked out in Chicago's favor. But the immediate damage the "White Flag" trade did to team morale -- and the collective psyche of Chisox fans -- was significant.
The White Sox were only 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland at the trade deadline in 1997, but Chicago general manager Ron Schueler, at the direction of owner Jerry Reinsdorf, decided to unload rather than add veteran talent.
In June, Alvarez and Darwin wore throwback uniforms ... in July they were thrown away. |
Fans were outraged by the fire sale; players were shocked. Reinsdorf, whom many Sox fans still blamed for his role in the labor negotiations that precipitated the 1994 strike, was vilified. Attendance at Comiskey Park dropped from 1.87 million in 1997 to 1.39 million in '99.
Schueler and Reinsdorf were soon vindicated, however. The Giants traded Alvarez and Hernandez to Tampa Bay, where they spent last season collecting fat salaries from the last-place Devil Rays. Darwin was out of baseball by 1998.
Meanwhile, the Sox deployed a youth movement that paid dividends even sooner than expected -- in the form of 95 wins and an American League Central title last season. Keith Foulke and Bobby Howry, two of the six prospects they received, have become the anchors of the Sox bullpen. Rookie middle reliever Lorenzo Barcelo evolved from a top prospect into a reliable setup man. Only shortstop Mike Caruso, who was rushed to the majors, then suffered through two subpar seasons, is no longer with the organization.
|| 'White Flag' Trade Hit Nerve
with Fans and Players Alike
Chicago Tribune -- July 29, 1998
By Teddy Greenstein
No one could believe it. White Sox fans felt betrayed. White Sox players felt abandoned.
The Sox were like "Armageddon" minus Bruce Willis and the glitzy special effects.
"I didn't know the season ended on August 1," a glum Robin Ventura said.
One year ago this week, while trailing Cleveland by 3 1/2 games in the American League Central, the Sox traded their closer and two-fifths of their starting rotation to the San Francisco Giants for a half-dozen minor-leaguers.
It was dubbed the "White Flag" trade, and Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf added the final insult by proclaiming, "Anyone who thinks we can catch Cleveland is crazy."
Crazy, huh? Apparently Reinsdorf had not heard of the 1978 Yankees, who caught Boston after trailing by 14 games on July 19.
Reinsdorf later claimed his full quote was, "If we keep playing like this, anyone who thinks . . ." But it hardly mattered. The trade appeared to send the message that quitting was OK.
| June 28,
| White Sox release C Carlton Fisk
Carlton Fisk broke Bob Boone's major league record for games caught in a career (2,225) on June 22, 1993. Reinsdorf, with whom Fisk clashed frequently during his 12-year tenure in Chicago, and other team brass were conspicuously absent from the festivities celebrating the achievement. Fisk was unceremoniously cut loose six days later during a road trip to Cleveland.
Fisk's fallout in Chicago helped lead to a reconciliation in Boston. Allsport|| |
Worse still, when the Sox made the playoffs later that year, Pudge was thrown out of the clubhouse by security when he stopped by to wish his old teammates good luck.
Fisk's abrupt dismissal -- he was ordered to turn in his equipment and return to Chicago -- was perhaps even more disconcerting given his brilliant beginning with the team. Pudge became an instant fan favorite when he stroked a game-winning homer against his former team, the Boston Red Sox, in his very first game with the White Sox in 1981. A proud but often aloof player, Fisk cemented his throwback reputation when he scolded Deion Sanders after the Yankees outfielder failed to run out a groundball. Though he later made peace with Reinsdorf and even returned to Comiskey to see his number retired, Fisk unsurprisingly chose to wear a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
|| With an Avoidable Thud,
Fisk's Epic Career Ends
Chicago Sun-Times -- July 29, 1993
By Joey Reaves
It is sacrilege for any man to reach Cooperstown via the waiver wire, but no warrior has damned time and nature quite like Carlton Fisk. He should have retired a year or two ago, let his legacy bathe in proper glory. But old Pudge, defiant to the bitter end, kept battling the bosses who wanted to bury him. He fought and complained, fought and sulked, fought and politicked.
Finally, inevitably, he lost. The boss always wins, see, even when you're a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest ever to wear a protective cup.
How preposterous, the way the agate line reads today: White Sox - Released catcher Carlton Fisk. It makes us ask how a feud ever could come to this, why a successful businessman named Jerry Reinsdorf and one of sport's proudest athletes would let animosity spiral so hideously. Too, it makes us wonder if any legend of Fisk's stature, in any sport, ever has departed so ignominiously. Never should an epic career end with such lonely thud.
Yet insulting as it all seems, saddening as it is to a man, his loving family and his adoring fans, anyone close to the Sox scene knows the move is necessary. No, nothing was terribly noble about the way management handled the end Monday. General manager Ron Schueler, Reinsdorf's henchman, waited until Fisk and the club were in Cleveland, perhaps so no one would burn down Comiskey Park. If anything, don't make the poor guy take a road trip, then suffer the indignity of having to fly home alone.
Fisk 'Worshipers' from Buffalo
Get Jolt in Cleveland
Chicago Tribune -- July 29, 1993
By Joey Reaves
Joel and Beverly Marrs may never forgive the White Sox. The couple and their their 8-month-old son, Jordan, drove 175 miles from Buffalo to see Joel's hero, Carlton Fisk, play against the Indians Monday night.
"Instead of our wedding pictures on the wall at home, we've got a little shrine to Carlton Fisk," said Joel Marrs, 34.
"That's right. Eight pictures of Fisk," his wife said.
The couple said they didn't know about Fisk's release until they arrived at the stadium. A ticket vendor told them when he saw them walk up to the gate wearing White Sox caps and carrying a poster board with a picture of Fisk that read: "Carlton Fisk is my hero."
"I haven't seen his name in the box scores lately," Joel Marrs said, "but I figured even if he didn't play he'd at least be here."
Marrs said he became a lifelong Fisk fan in the late 1960s when Fisk played against the Buffalo Bisons one night and gave him an autograph. "I was a catcher, and he signed my mitt," Marrs said. "I can't believe this is happening. He was the greatest."
| March 30,
| White Sox trade OF Sammy Sosa and
P Ken Patterson to the Cubs for OF George Bell
We've already established that Sox fans are a decidedly insecure bunch who hate nothing more than to be shown up by those guys on the North Side. So you can imagine how painful it was for South Siders to watch Sammy Sosa chase Roger Maris -- and Mark McGwire -- in 1998.
Sosa's time on the South Side was like dust in the wind. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport|
Sosa's first full season with the Sox was 1990, but he hit just .233 with 15 homers and slumped so badly the next season that he was sent back down to Class AAA. The Sox figured they already had their superstar in Frank Thomas. And when they traded Sosa to the Cubs for George Bell in March of 1992, they figured they were gaining a slugger, not giving one away.
Alas, Bell was never the home run threat he had been in Toronto, and his surliness became a distraction in the clubhouse during the 1993 playoffs. Surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee caused Bell to miss most of the second half of the season; he finished the year 0-for-26. During the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Bell publicly lashed out at manager Gene Lamont. After the playoffs, Bell was released and was out of baseball within three years. Meanwhile, Sosa became "Sammy Superstar" in a -- gulp -- Cubs uniform.
| January 14,
| White Sox trade SS Luis Aparicio and OF Al Smith to Baltimore for IF Ron Hansen, IF Pete Ward,
OF Dave Nicholson and P Hoyt Wilhelm
Ask any fan old enough to have witnessed the Sox's last World Series to name his or her childhood hero, and the response will most likely be "Little Looie" Aparicio. Known for his speed as well as his defensive prowess, the slick-fielding Venezuelan brought the "Go" to the "Go-Go" Sox in the late '50s -- and almost single-handedly reinvented the art of stealing bases. Luis led Chicago to its last pennant, in 1959 and considered himself a Sox player for life. When Chicago GM Ed Short dealt him to the Orioles before the 1964 season, a bitter Aparicio predicted the Sox would not win another pennant for 40 years. So far, his prophecy still holds.
Though Hansen went on to hit 20 homers in 1964 -- a record for Sox shortstops until Jose Valentin swatted 25 in 2000 -- and proved himself a decent successor to Aparicio, back problems limited both his range and playing time in succeeding years.
Aparicio returned to Chicago in 1968 after another World Series appearance with Baltimore but was traded again, this time to Boston in 1971. The pint-sized infield magician was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984 -- where his plaque bears a White Sox cap.
|| Jack Lucas, Mission Viejo, Calif.
I was just kid living on the South Side of Chicago when my White Sox did the unthinkable and traded SS Luis Aparicio for what I felt at the time was little more than a bunch of bodies and a bag of magic beans. None of the guys the Sox got for "Little Louie" ever amounted to much more than one-year-wonders while the Sox were never the same again. Louie always was and always will be a White Sox first and an Oriole a distant second.
Say it ain't so, Joe!
| October 29,
| Baseball imposes lifetime suspension for OF Joe Jackson, P Eddie Cicotte, P Claude Williams,
IF Buck Weaver, IF Arnold Gandil, IF Fred McMullin, IF Charles Risberg and OF Oscar Felsch
The Red Sox have the Curse of the Bambino, the Cubs have the goat, the Indians have Rocky Colavito. But the White Sox bear the burden of the mother of all hexes.
What transpired during the first week of October 1919 has provided fodder for a surfeit of film and literature.
The 1919 World Series was supposed to be no contest. The Sox were one of the best teams in baseball history, with some old-timers maintaining they were every bit as good as the '27 Yankees. So why would Eddie Cicotte, a 29-game winner, and Joe Jackson, who hit .351 that season, conspire to throw the World Series?
The 1919 Sox were an unhappy and bitterly divided group. They were poorly paid and their two factions -- the city slickers and the country boys -- didn't get along. Their owner, Charles Comiskey, was an acknowledged cheapskate who was too miserly to have the players' uniforms laundered (a practice that led them to rename themselves the Black Sox well before the scandal broke).
So the lure of fast money (most of which they never actually collected) led "Shoeless" Joe Jackson; pitchers Cicotte and Claude "Lefty" Williams; infielders Buck Weaver, Arnold "Chick" Gandil, Fred McMullin and Charles "Swede" Risberg; and outfielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch to throw the best-of-nine Series. The Sox lost the Series 4-2 to the Reds, but the scandal did not reach the front page until late in the following season.
On Sept. 29, 1920, with just three games left on the schedule and the pennant still hanging in the balance, Comiskey suspended the eight players for their part in the fix. Although a jury -- after only two hours of deliberation -- acquitted them of criminal charges in the official trial, the next day the players were banned from the game for life by baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Jackson, whom Ty Cobb called "the greatest natural hitter I ever saw" and to whom the plaintive cry above was famously uttered, became the most tragic figure in the scandal. He would always deny his involvement, citing his stats as proof -- Jackson batted .375, set a Series record with 12 hits and was never charged with an official error. But the Black Sox scandal left his career for dead -- and the Sox a veritable ruin for more than 30 years.
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