Thursday, September 22, 2005

No Signal



Perhaps there really is a God, and perhaps he is not a vengeful god but rather an understanding god, and perhaps he has a soft spot in his heart for White Sox fans. After all, the satellite feed for the Sox-Indians game on Wednesday night was mysteriously (and, in the end, mercifully) broken and many Sox supporters, their emotions already a twisted tangle of disbelief and panic, were spared what was certainly the low point thus far of a crazy season.

"No signal." That's all I got for much of the game. These words written in the top left corner of a black screen. It was like staring into the void as the universe collapsed into itself and all hell broke loose and there was little to do other than sit in silence and go numb with the feeling that complete helplessness is an endgame of human emotions.

Complete. Helplessness.

No signal. Ah, how prophetic. Those words can adequately sum up the current state of the Sox as they sputter and fade down the stretch and make their tortured fans feel as though they are rapidly falling into a black hole with no apparent end.

8-0. Goddamn. A loss last night would have been bad enough, but 8-0 was a tremendous kick to the balls. White Sox fans everywhere today are moving with noticeable limps and pained grimaces on their sorrowful faces, not to mention the shattered nerves, twisted heart strings, and litany of curses muttered beneath their breath. We're a mess. All of us. No doubt.

I had a feeling the night would end badly early on when the telecast was lost a couple of times for only a few seconds before returning. It was an ominous sign, for sure. Something dark and menacing was brewing on the last night of summer. I had an uneasy feeling in my gut. Something wasn't right. Something was about to break and explode. The ways of the universe were slowly begining to collide into themselves and create havoc and nothingness all at once.

When the Sox sqaundered a promising two-runners-on-and-no-outs situation in the second inning the feeling went from something resembling indigestion to a full-on sharp pain. I could almost feel the air trembling. If air can tremble, I felt it.

Of course, the Sox squandered many similar opportunities the previous two nights only to remain relatively unscathed, but this was different. Something in the air was odd and ominous and growing. The telecast again went on the fritz, this time a little longer, this time the screen a slightly more menacing shade of black, and I glanced around the room unassuredly and tentativeley asked "Who's there? Who are you? Stop toying with me. I'm not scared of you."

But I was. I could feel the doom heading straight at me like a runaway freight train, like a weak Scott Elarton fastball that somehow coerced comically confused Sox hitters into a seemingly endless string of harmless popups. One after another. Again and again.

The telecast eventually went out for good (I think) around the fifth or sixth inning with the score a still manageable 2-0. I switched to the radio telecast but it was only a few moments before Travis Hafner - can this guy just spontaneously combust or something? Seriously? - hit a three-run home run in the seventh to put the Indians up 5-0 and presumably out of reach for a Sox offense dying a slow death on this night. Jon Garland had flirted with disaster earlier in the game only to escape. Not this time. Not with Hafner at the plate and he suddenly swinging a left-handed bat like Barry bonds without the disgusting attitude or the stream of steroids in his veins.

Screw it.

I turned the radio off, made myself something to eat, and switched to ABC to check the season premiere of 'Lost'. My only hope was to have one of those a-miracle-happened-and-I missed-it experiences. And I would have gladly missed it. Gladly.

Alas, no. No miracles on this night.

Of course, by the time I decided to spare myself anymore crippling Sox pain, 'Lost' was ending, meaning I had missed the eagerly-anticipated season premiere of the only show on network television I legitimately follow. Figures. Thanks, Sox. I had not only missed some serious plot lines, but I also missed a sweaty Evangeline Lilly running around on an exotic beach in scant clothing. Oh, my fury had no end by that point. None. Baby, I need TIVO like the Sox need a nice run of wins.

The entire night was, um, lost. It went straight down a dark, mysterious hatch, though if the survivors of Flight 815 went down the mysterious hatch of their sudden island home, and I have no idea if they did, I'm clueless as to what they found. The Cleveland Indians? Hafner with a sinister grin on his face and a bat on his shoulder? Ozzie Guillen with his inpenetrable, cocky, tough guy act broken finally, him with his face in his hands and silently sobbing?

Oh, well. Whatever. Again, I'm trying to stay positive here. There are two ways to look at things:

1) The apocalyptic view: The Sox have sqandered a 15-game lead and now face a tougher schedule than the Indians before the two teams finish the season in Cleveland.

2) The positive view: The Sox have a 2.5-game lead with 12 games to play. Period.

Look, as dark and empty as things seem right now, as dark and empty as thousands of television screens were on Wednesday night, the second view, though surely just meaningless words to many history-hardened Sox fans preparing for the worst, is just as true as any Sox struggles or any Indians hot streak. Had anyone told Sox fans prior to the season that the team would hold a 2.5 game lead on the first morning of autumn, they would have jumped all over the good news. Where else would you want to be but atop the standings late in the season?

So there is no need to give up. Not yet. That would be foolish. I'll relinquish my Sox hopes when they're pried from my cold, dead hands. Nobody has ever said any truer or more powerful words than the late Jimmy Valvano when he bellowed, 'Don't give up! Don't ever give up!"

I love that.

Tonight the kid, Brandon McCarthy, takes the mound against the hated Twins and notorious Sox-killer, Johan Santana. Sure, things look bleek, but a win here would go a long way to restoring some of the good vibes that are virtually nill at this point.

Hey, you can only fall so far down the proverbial hatch before you hit rock bottom. Was last night rock bottom for the Sox? Well, it certainly had that feel, so maybe it was. Getting shutout and beat up in the biggest game of the year is about as low as you can go. The mysterious ways of the universe that blacked out much of the evening also suggested as much. It was an eery and unbearable nightmare all around.

But last night has come and gone. It's over.

There are eleven games to go. The Sox lead by 2.5 games.

These are the only numbers that matter.

Don't give up. Don't ever give up.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jackie Chiles said...

Johan Santana tonight. Prognosis? Bad. Very.

6:16 PM  
Blogger UnknownColumn said...

Jackie,

Fuck the White Sox.

8:43 PM  

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