Sox, Hurricanes: No Link Proven

I’m happy to report that, contrary to no reports of which I’m aware, there’s no established historical link between White Sox World Series victories and severe hurricane seasons. This non-finding is the product of minutes of meticulous research.

The White Sox won the World Series this year — last night, in fact, if reports are to be believed. At nearly the very same time as the Chisox went into their victory dance in Houston, the National Hurricane Center was reporting the emergence of the 23rd named tropical cyclone, Tropical Storm Beta, of the 2005 Atlantic tropical cyclone season. Could there be a correlation between the ecstasy on Chicago’s South Side and the agony throughout the Caribbean and Gulf basins?

To answer that question scientifically, I typed “1917 hurricane season” into my conveniently located Google search box, located in the upper right of my Web browser. The choice of 1917 was not random. Rather, it is the widely reported year that the White Sox won their last World Series. A severe storm season that year might suggest a Hose-hurricane convergence. While these cyclones can never be said to be “a picnic,” in the meteorological sense, evidence indicates that the season that year was as carefree as they come, with just three storms reported and just one that hit the United States.

I next searched for information on the 1906 hurricane season — which unfolded the year of the only other Sox triumph in the Series. The 1906 season was considered “average,” with 11 storms, six of which became hurricanes (and three of the hurricanes evolving into major, destructive storms).

To complete my investigation, I checked to see who won the World Series in 1933, which, with 21 storms, had held the record for the Atlantic’s most cyclonic year. The answer: The New York Giants. (Three of the other four years the Giants won — ’05, ’21 and ’22 — were mild hurricane years; the last Giants victory, in 1954, was average in terms of number of storms but produced Hurricane Hazel, which killed 1,000 or more people.)

Conclusion — are you still with me? — The White Sox played no part in this year’s overactive hurricane season. Future inquiries might look at the coincidence of Sox championships and major earthquakes.

Technorati Tags: ,

Obligatory White Sox Post 3

They may not be my team, and I may never have set foot in their ill-begotten “new” ballpark, but the White Sox did something tonight that no Chicago ballclub, of either the National or American variety, has done since the first Mayor Daley was a teen on the South Side and getting ready to make his mark in the world as part of a street gang. I’ll skip that historical side trip, for now. Anyway, it’s a sweet moment in a vicarious way.

Technorati Tags:

All About Pants


The last time a Chicago team won three straight in a World Series before last night was 1907, when the Cubs swept the Tigers 4-zip in a five-game set (you could look it up). If the White Sox go on to win the championship — take nothing for granted, sports fans — the name of manager Ozzie Guillen will be forever joined to that of Pants Rowland.

Sox cognoscenti — Lydell, I expect that’s you — will recognize the name of the South Side nine’s last title-winning manager. First, this is just more proof of the oft-lamented fact that the quality and color of baseball nicknames is in a sad state of decline. The ’17 Sox were loaded, moniker-wise. In addition to Pants, they had Shoeless Joe, Shano, Buck, Happy, Chick, Nemo, Swede, Ziggy, Birdie, Lefty, Red, Reb, and Knuckles. This year: Hmmm. They’ve got El Duque. And The (Non-Playing) Big Hurt. Other than that, a bunch of Dustins, A.J.s, Scotts and Jermaines — though mixed with non-nickname handles like Timo, Tadahito, Pablo and Raul that would never have been on a 1917 big league roster.

But let’s get back to Pants. According to one online account, the tag dated from his Iowa boyhood: "Rowland started in baseball at age nine, where he earned his nickname, ‘pants,’ from base-running antics while wearing his father’s overalls at games of the Dubuque Ninth Street Blues." Eventually, he became a minor league manager in Peoria. Then, perhaps because his services came cheap, a quality highly valued by Sox owner Charles Comiskey, he wound up in Chicago for four years; he was bounced a year after winning the Series. After that, he became an American League umpire and later president of the Pacific Coast League. Given the high quality of PCL talent and the rapid growth of the league’s franchise cities, his dream, apparently, was to establish a new major league on the coast.

He died in 1969, age 91, in Chicago. This Associated Press obit from The New York Times has the story. Both the subject and the way it’s handled are throwbacks.

(Photo above: Sox hurler Eddie "Knuckles" Cicotte, left, and manager Pants Rowland, c. 1915-18. From George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division. Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-133664.)

Technorati Tags:

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

By “we,” of course I’m talking about Cubs and White Sox fans. My friend Randy, a former lad of the Chicago suburbs, now a judge in the wilds of western Idaho, called after Game 2 of the World Series last night. At first I thought he was just getting in touch after a very long time to say hi. But he had something else on his mind. As a Sox fan, he wanted to gloat to a Cubs fan about his team’s victory. I disappointed him, I hope, because 1) I’d never root against Chicago (unless the Sox are playing the A’s, my adopted hometown team) and 2) Houston, as the putative hometown of the Bush dynasty, must not prevail.

But even without Houston’s involvement, it’s never been an article of my Cubs faith that I need to hate the Sox; it’s also not part of that faith that I have to like the Cubs, either, though I find myself pulling for them on the rare occasion they play games to care about.

Randy says that he became a convinced Sox fan at age 7, when they went to the World Series. He says he knows all the stats from the team that year, and sleeps with a Sherm Lollar replica athletic supporter under his pillow. Randy’s account made me think about when it was I decided I was a Cubs fan.

Growing up, we rooted for both teams and went to games at both ballparks, and I never heard that my Cubs fan dad had any trepidation walking through the turnstiles at Comiskey Park. I followed the Sox and liked them. They were my mom’s family’s team. They had good-bordering-on-great years in the early and mid-’60s, finishing second in ’63, ’64 and ’65 and going into the last five games of the ’67 season tied for the lead in a close race with Boston, Minnesota, and Detroit. They didn’t manage to win even one despite playing the the last five against the ninth- and tenth-place teams.

The same year, 1967, was the year that the Cubs awoke from a 20-year nap. They’d lost more than 100 games the previous year. They had some mature talent in their lineup (Banks, Williams, and Santo) and had added some good younger players (Kessinger, Beckert, Hundley) along with some decent pitching (Jenkins, Holtzman, Hands and Niekro). Suddenly they were contending. They had an incredible run in June, winning 23 of 27 or something, and went into the All-Star break tied with the Cardinals for first. They faded, but people had started to expect things from them.

I was 13. Impressionable. And maybe I’m a front-runner, too, because after that I was a Cubs fan; 1969, the year of their huge fold and the Mets’ huge run, was just over the horizon; but by then it was too late to back out — I actually cared. And besides, the Sox also-ran dynasty had run its course after ’67, and the folks down at 35th and Shields got a chance to see up close what Cubs fans already instinctively recognized: a loser.

So: Cubs fan, but not overly proud to say it. Hate the Sox? No. To the extent I work up that kind of bile over sports any more, I reserve my bitterness and revulsion for the preciousness surrounding the San Francisco Giants. Used to sort of like them, though.

Obligatory White Sox Post 2

Faithful Correspondent Lydell yesterday pointed out some interesting online mercantile activity involving White Sox tickets. The team’s Web ticket exchange had a bunch of Game 2 seats for sale. Top price, when I looked: Just under $10,000 per seat. There’s a lot more serious cash out there — heirloom jewelry being sold off, ancient mattresses getting raided for Grandpa’s rainy-day savings, big lines of credit getting tapped — than I ever imagined. The Sox ticket exchange says all the listed tickets are gone. But check out Chicago Craigslist: Someone offering tickets for the Houston games at anywhere from $1,900 to $2,300 a seat. (And on the other end of the spectrum: A buyer offering to pick up tickets for face value — the range is $125 to $185, which sounds almost modest — generously pointing out that tonight’s predicted rain would kill the scalpers’ market.)

By way of perspective, the eight Sox players indicted for throwing the 1919 Series were reportedly bribed something like $5,000 to $10,000 each.

Technorati Tags:

Obligatory White Sox Post

One sort of obvious statistical things I haven’t heard the broadcast guys talk about is the long roll the White Sox are on. Going back to the last week of the regular season, they’re now 13 out of 14, the only loss coming at home to the Angels in the first game of the second round. The run includes a sweep of the Indians, who had looked like they might be ready to overtake the Sox; a sweep of the Red Sox in the first round; and the 4-1 rout of the Angels. All this from a team that had gone into free fall after the first week of September (losing 10 of 14 at one point and with a record of 7-12 for the 19 games before they learned how to win again).

Technorati Tags:

More Futility, More of the Time

I spotted this statement on last night, and thought, “Wrong!”

“The 46-year gap between Series appearances is the longest in major-league history.”

Any Chicagoan knows there’s a team that has gone longer, much longer, without getting into the World Series: The Cubs. The story was attributed to wire reports. I imagined that the site’s editors were under email bombardment from fans pointing out the mistake. But then I heard the same sentence read on CBS radio news this morning. I went back to the CBSSportsline story. And it had changed. It now reads:

“The Chicago Cubs would end up with an even longer one, if they ever get back — their last NL pennant was in 1945.”

The second sentence, despite its breach of common sense, does make the first sentence true. Now that the Sox are back in the World Series, the temporal dimensions of their Fall Classic drought are known. The Cubs might go another 100 years before they play in the series — or 12 months. So who knows the length of their Series gap?

But that second sentence is the product of labarious, if not twisted, newsroom thinking that seeks to correct an error by qualifying it while ignoring a larger point. The important issue here (“important” in quotes) isn’t the gap — it’s the length of time a team has played without getting to the World Series. The White Sox went a very long time. The Cubs have gone even longer, whether they ever make it back or not.

Behold a Pale Hose

Even though I’ve been away from Chicago more than half my life — and when you get down to it, I grew up in the suburbs, not in the city — most of my family is still in and around the city and I follow what goes on there with more than passing interest. With the sports teams, too. And even though my brothers and I grew up with a Cubs allegiance I blame on my father, the Sox getting into the World Series is news.

Dad’s pulling for them, I think mostly because Mom and her brothers were all big Sox fans and, yeah, they’d love to see it happen. They’d love it especially because this kind of thing happens so seldom in Chicago. The Sox were the most recent visitors to the Series, having last played there (and lost) in 1959. The Cubs last trip was summarized by the late Steve Goodman:

“You know the law of averages says:

Anything will happen that can.

That’s what it says.

But the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant

Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan.”

So talking to Dad just now, he said: “It would be great to see them go all the way” — win the World Series. No debate there, though I’ll confess I’ve never had much love for the Sox under their current ownership and have never set foot inside the sadly misconceived stadium they built to replace Comiskey Park, the ballpark in which the Sox had played since 1910. The old place was decrepit by the exacting, fussy standards of our age; but it had history on its side and a certain trashed elegance that might have been revived.

But that’s a detour. Let’s turn back to my dad. Yes, it would be great to see a World Series winner in Chicago. In fact, it would be the first in his 84 years (he was born too late for the Golden Age of Chicago baseball, which seems to have coincided with the Roosevelt (Teddy, not FDR), Taft, and Wilson administrations.

OK — I’m on board. Go Sox.