This has been coming for a while. The White Sox were given the mandate of needing to sweep the Detroit Tigers this weekend to get back to being within arm's length of the division. Eventually the mandate was downgraded to 'win the series' to take into account the Sox obvious defiencies. With an large-scale bullpen meltdown leading to a 9-8 loss after a 7-run lead was blown, the Sox have now failed to meet even the most reasonable standards.
Their 7.5 games out with 26 to play. Time to call it, the patient is starting to smell.
Saturday's affair didn't really count as a telling game of the 2011 season. Tons of runs and bullpen meltdowns wasn't exactly the theme of the year.
But it was appropriate that as a crucial, season-defining September showdown arrived, the White Sox still looked like they needed to finish reading the Competitive Baseball Team handbook. It's been wondered all year long what a fully-functioning White Sox squad would look like. Now it no longer matters.
Maybe this is a relief.
It's obviously a disaster that a team that was built with a '2011 or bust' approach has indeed busted, but this season has been one of the more disappointing campaigns in recent franchise memory, and now we don't need to think about it anymore.
We can think about the future, which certainly has it problems, but I enjoy thinking about Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza far more than I enjoy postulating on how to fix Adam Dunn's swing mid-season or making snarky comments about Alex Rios batting cleanup (Ok, maybe I love doing that).
As a matter of convenience, I'm on vacation in New York this weekend, and don't know when I'll be able to sit down and do the usual weekly recap. So it helps that this is a team that no longer merits being tracked week-to-week, as any progress now is only pertinent to how it affects Opening Day 2012.
That's a pretty empty feeling that will surely be reflected in the attendance for the rest of the season (and my site traffic), but take heart in that it's safe now. The 2011 White Sox can't hurt you anymore.