History is a funny business. Most of the time it revolves around the good times, the successes the triumphs, at least as far as popular history goes. We aren’t particularly drawn to the mundane, the less heroic, history that demonstrates the middling to poor aspects of our past. There is a reason Millard Fillmore isn’t on a currency note.
If you take on history as a profession, however, the overlooked and unheralded become your bread and butter. What’s more as an historian, you begin to see how incomplete the picture of the past is if all you are looking at is the high notes. The mistakes of our past, the less sparkling aspects of our nature are as informative, if not more so, than the points where everything seemed to work out. This isn’t so much about shedding light on injustice, historical evil, or catastrophe. No it’s more about the foibles, the mistakes and just plain blunders of the past. In short, it is looking at the mediocre and the losers.
Taking this tack, the 2013 White Sox season becomes glorious in its ineptitude. This is easily the worst White Sox season I’ve ever witnessed since becoming a fan of the South Siders. The worst year I watched was 2007 and this season is going to surpass that record. For the better part of my time in Chicago the White Sox have been marginally competitive, with the great exclamation point being 2005. That is a pretty good run, not Yankee or Red Sox good, but compared to places like Kansas City and Pittsburgh (rooting for both of those teams BTW) it shows that the franchise has done a decent, if sometimes only mediocre, job.
This season, once we get past the optimism that was felt coming into April, is historically bad. They haven’t been this far out of first place this early (August 8) since 1995; they had their first ten game losing streak since 1976; they have been in last place, uninterrupted, since June 11, a span of 49 games. That is their longest time in the basement since the AL Central was created and if things stay the way there are, they will finish in last place for the first time since 1989. Incidentally, that 1989 team was incredibly bad, but at least there was light at the end of the tunnel. Some kid named Ventura made his debut and another named Thomas would show up in 1990. I can’t say 2014 holds that kind of promise.
The 2013 team has, as of now, been shut out eleven times, equal to all of last year. I don’t think they will approach the Post-World War II record of being shut out 23 times, (1968) but they have a real shot of breaking the twenty-first century mark set in 2009 with 13 shut outs. If they manage 14 (or more!) shutouts they will also be the most shut out White Sox team since the inception of the three division structure. Incidentally, the 1910 team was shut out the most ever, 25 times.
Another offensive low point that is in danger of being eclipsed is the amount of home runs hit by the team. As of now the team sits on 107. There is a really good chance for the White Sox to have their lowest total since the strike shortened seasons of 1994 and 1995, though they did come pretty close in 2011, and the 2013 team, sadly, has less oomph than 2011. To wit, Adam Dunn is the only player with more than 20 home runs. Alejandro De Aza is second with 13. Alejandro De Aza. When the final game is played, I doubt that will still be the case, but I also doubt that anyone behind Alejandro will be able to push by 20 either. The players, especially Konerko, who have been the main providers of power, have been plain woeful. I got a feeling a “so long Paulie” post will be coming sometime in October.
Not only will we probably be saying good-bye to Paulie, we will be saying hello to the first 100-loss season in over 40 years. All it will take is 28 more losses. If I’m confident in any thing about this team, it’s that they can keep losing and for many of us, it will be historic.