"It's only going to get worse."
That's what my mind is telling me.
It wasn't like this last year, when the Sox started fast and then spun their wheels in May. It wasn't the same last year, when Carlos Quentin was the only guy hitting consistently, Jim Thome and Paul Konerko could only hit homers and Nick Swisher couldn't hit anything.
It wasn't like this, even though the Sox were dropping 1-0, 2-1 decisions to the Blue Jays this time last year.
Something was a little different. Something gave me some hope for optimism. Something had me saying, "We still have a chance."
The pressure's on
Last year, the Sox were picked to finish near the bottom of the division. No great surprise, as the moves Kenny Williams makes rarely send the baseball insiders into any kind of frenzy.
He was sticking with Javier Vazquez (who always seemed to disappear in the clutch), and Gavin Floyd and John Danks, who had gone through intense growing pains in 2007.
And no one knew the new faces on offense: Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin were unproven guys last April. So other than in Chicago, there was really no pressure on the team.
Sure, the expectations are heavy in the city you play in (unless you play in San Diego), but the baseball world didn't expect the Sox to do much. It was all about the Tigers (as usual), the Twins (as usual), and maybe the Indians (as usual).
That lack of pressure and the upbeat clubhouse attitude Swisher brought to the team put the Sox in a position they always enjoyed: surprise.
The Sox in '05 were the surprise of the first half and became the surprise of the year. The Sox in 2000 surprised the league because of their overachieving pitching staff. The 1983 squad wasn't even in first place at the All-Star break.
So now, with expectations high after a division championship, the Sox are flat. Check that, they're worse that flat in Chicago terms—they're mediocre. Good enough to win every couple of days, then lose the next two or three.
Plenty of blame
In Chicago, fans are used to their teams losing. (It's probably why we have such a bad case of Packers fans; people got tired of the Bears being bad.) Long losing streaks are fine, because we're used to it. "Oh, it's just a slump," fans say. "We'll shake it any day."
However, the current pace of the Sox isn't a simple losing streak. They'll lose a couple, then have everything click for a blowout win or even a close, late-inning nail biter such as last Saturday versus the Rangers.
Nope, the Sox are just losing. Or as my mom likes to shout when she passes me in the living room: "They're LOO-SERS!"
(She's not a Cubs fan. She just enjoys making fun of me when the Sox are losing.)
But who's the culprit? Who gets the full blame for the South Siders' current slide? And is there anything that can be done before the Royals (Really? The Royals?!) and Tigers pull away?
Answers tomorrow in the second part of the "Week in Review."
Until then, let the sock fly on.
(Side note: I apologize to the White Sox B/R community for being nonexistent for the first month and a half of the season. I got caught up in schoolwork and finals at the end of the year and so haven't had the time to write a weekly wrap-up until now.
I will try to begin doing the week in review on Sunday nights instead of Saturdays to fit in the usual weekend series. Again, my apologies.)