Purgatory Online

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

July 31, 1997.

Who can tell me the significance of this date in baseball history? Anyone? Anyone besides Martin?

On July 31, 1997, the Chicago White Sox consummated what has forever after been called the "white flag trade," essentially surrendering their hopes of winning their division by shipping Danny Darwin, Wilson Alvarez, and Roberto Hernandez to San Francisco in exchange for a mess of minor-league talent. Knuckling under to the Indians, Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf proclaimed that "Anyone who thinks we can catch Cleveland is crazy."

At the time, the White Sox were three and a half games behind the Indians.

I was living in Chicago on July 31, 1997, and won't soon forget the incredulous resignation this announcement provoked among White Sox fans. It was, in its way, as cartoonish as Lucy pulling the football away at the last second, while Charlie Brown yelled "AAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGHHH." And, while the long-term effect of that trade was arguably positive for the Sox, the gut-shot morale of the team ("I didn't know the season ended on August 1," said Robin Ventura) and its fans was painful enough to cause embarrassment to this very day: mention "white flag trade" to a South Sider and you'll likely get a response that contains a phrase that rhymes with "Trucking Harry Minesdorf."

Let's face it, you don't get a whole lot of shots at a World Series. Even if the Yankees didn't hog a quarter of all the championships, making the playoffs is a lightning-in-a-bottle kind of experience. Once you're there, there's still just an average 12.5% chance of winning it all - but there's a chance (offer void in Oakland). So when there's two months left to play, and just three and a half games to make up...well, one can excuse Sox fans for speculating as to the size of Mr. Reinsdorf's testicles, or the connectedness of his head to his fundament.

Now then. I've been away from the blog for awhile (and will be again next week, unfortunately - conference in Boston). What've I missed?