I never thought I would say this, but talk of 2005 evokes mixed emotions. Obviously, 2005 itself is a pure white light of happy memories, and I could feel myself beginning to smile as I talked about it on the podcast last night. But the "10-Year Anniversary," which we just celebrated, unfortunately also makes one think about the ten years that have transpired since. Still, as I watched the Cubs' ascension this year, I was reminded of how fortunate we as White Sox fans were to see our favorite team actually close it out in a great season. Until that last out is actually recorded, one cannot be sure that disaster isn't about to strike. And once it is recorded, it can never be taken away.
As I have mentioned before, my White Sox fandom can be attributed almost entirely to my father. In one respect, it was unfortunate that the White Sox waited until my 18th birthday when I had moved far away from home to win the World Series, meaning I would have to celebrate with my father remotely. But, I remember my joy being filtered primarily through the perspective of my dad's experience. A lifelong White Sox fan, he was born in the 1940s - indeed, he remembered where he was when he found out that the team had traded for Minnie Minoso - and every single year when he blew out the candles on his birthday cake he wished for the White Sox to win the pennant.
So it was that when Konerko squeezed the last out in Houston in 2005, I thought about how lucky I was that I would not have to wait until my 60s to see a White Sox championship. No matter what happened, I was already more fortunate than countless White Sox fans (and fans of the Cubs and Red Sox and others) who had gone an entire lifetime without seeing a title. And I was fortunate enough to be of an age to follow it closely and appreciate it - they didn't win it while I was a toddler.
The decade since 2005 has been hard. We have seen six losing seasons in that time, and we have seen the organization let sentimental favorites - Mark Buehrle, Juan Uribe, Frank Thomas and Jim Thome to name a few - leave the organization and more often than not, their replacements were not an improvement on the field either. We have seen the team hamstring itself with its own bizarre form of stinginess, refusing to spend an extra million or two on the amateur draft while handing out far more to guys like Mark Teahen and Scott Linebrink, and continually claiming to be pushing for the playoffs and falling short against pretty lame competition.
And yet, the expression "Flags Fly Forever" need not be only some cynical rejoinder at the trade deadline. The 2005 White Sox won the World Series - something not every great team gets to do. The 2001 Mariners did not win it and Seattle hasn't come close since. Great players go their entire career without winning a championship - Jeff Bagwell is one of them, courtesy of the White Sox - but Frank Thomas got his that year, even if he only got to play for a brief (but crucial) stretch. That entire season was magical and it can never be taken away.
Sixty-something years of birthday wishes finally came true for my dad, and that is something to celebrate.
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