Without a horse in the race, White Sox fans are watching the 2012 playoffs with far less emotion than they would preferred, prior to a September collapse. Some folks have a National League team, or a team that there grandfather always loved, the team their spouse roots for or whatever organization plays in the city they now reside. Then some of us are rooting for players. There are a million reasons to like a player, or to not like a player, but one that many of us have in common is former White Sox.
Day 1: Wild Card Game
Not much doin’ on the White Sox front for the two teams playing for the right to get into a full playoff series. No representatives in the Cardinals-Braves Game (please correct me if I’m wrong) saves me from having to get into the intricacies of the infield-fly rule, which is handled with more aplomb than I could likely muster here, or here. The Orioles-Rangers game, though, that has a couple ties.
Just a single tie on the player front, a guy that has the backing of fan bases from every team he’s ever played for, in the running for baseball’s nicest guy: Jim Thome. There are a lot of extra Orioles fans for the next week as Jim Thome is in what is in all probability his final search for a World Championship. Thome went 1 for 3 in the play-in game with a walk and a strike out, leaving no marks that proved essential to the Orioles victory. But the Orioles were victorious, which brings us to the other tie.
The Texas Rangers spent nearly every day of the season in first place. They started the season with a victory against the White Sox and were tied for first with the Angels. Splitting the next two, they dropped to second place while the Mariners had their brief moment in the sun. A day later they defeated Seattle and were in first place again, this time to stay. Mostly.
By the end of April they were up 6.5 games and through September the closest anybody got to them was 3 games. Conversely, the White Sox, whose fans are understandably hard on the team and how their season ended, never had a lead greater than 3.5 games, a lead enjoyed twice in July and one game in June. Enough feeling better about ourselves, back to the Rangers; on September 15, the Texas lead dropped to 2 games for the first time since the beginning of the season. They bounced back, though. On the 19th they had it back up to 4, and on the 24th they had a 5 game lead. On Thursday, September 27th they defeated the Oakland Athletics, the very team that would ultimately catch them, allowing them to sit on a comfortable 4 game lead with 6 remaining in the season. Problem being they lost 5 of those, 3 of which came against Oakland. The final game’s lost cost them the division lead they had enjoyed for nearly 6 full months and relegated them to a play-in game against the Orioles, yadda yadda yadda, they’ll be watching the rest of the playoffs on television. Now that is a collapse. So, you know, head-up Sox fans.