2013 Chicago Baseball Wrap-Up

Baseball in Chicago in 2013 was a thing that happened.  It was a thing in the most distasteful sense of the word.  It was as an embarrassing thing you didn’t tell your friends about at parties.  An ugly thing living in the basement that the bug guy had to spray for.\n\nNow it’s all over, pharm for sale mercifully.\n\nThe Cubs and White Sox combined for a record of 129 wins and 195 losses.  Players and team personnel made honest efforts, I guess.  Other than that, the best thing we can say about this season is that no one was fatally injured.\n\nThe White Sox hoped to compete in 2013 by wringing out one more productive campaign from a few key veterans and projecting contributions from some young players who had yet to prove much in the big leagues.\n\nInstead the team was a post-apocalyptic nightmare—overtaken by fire, flanked by smoke plumes, with a ruptured piping system spraying primordial radioactive gook from the bowels of the earth from Bridgeport to Bronzeville.  Charged with subduing the flames was a crew of stopgap White Sox players with boy band names: Conor, Dylan, Jordan, Josh, two Tylers, and a Casper.  They were as ineffective as FEMA after a hurricane.\n\nThough credit needs to be given to White Sox pitchers, they performed well for the most part, including a brilliant season from Chris Sale, one of the game’s great young talents.  Mainly, the problem in 2013 was that the White Sox were playing with half a team.  Our Pale Hose were last in the American League in runs scored and second to last in baseball.\n\nAfter a sputtering start, the Cubs jettisoned payroll before the trade deadline (again) and then crash landed at Clark and Addison like a Bill Swerski Superfan having a heart attack strapped to a hang glider.  In August and September the Cubs played 55 games and lost 38 of them.\n\nFollowing a finish like that, fitted-capped heads are going to roll.  And the ever-stubbled manager Dale Sveum has been meat-axed accordingly.\n\nSo long Dale, we hardly knew how ye’s surname was pronounced.\n\nThis wasn’t supposed to be a banner year for Cubs baseball but a season of progress for youngsters around whom future banner-year teams would be built.  Unseemly numbers from Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney aside, this was accomplished by and large, considering also the development of some high-profile minor league players.\n\nAnd any season the Cubs are able to get rid of Alfonso Soriano (who was traded on July 26) should be considered a success.  Paying thirty-seven-year-old Soriano $18 million annually to play left field for the Cubs in their current form is about as useless as ketchup on a hot dog, or ketchup on a skyscraper for that matter.\n\nThere were some fond farewells at the conclusion of this season worth mentioning.\n\nLongtime White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko exited an otherwise meaningless final game at U.S. Cellular Field to enthusiastic applause.  Odds are against Konerko returning to the Sox next year; he’s a free agent contemplating retirement.\n\nI’ll always have the indelible memory of Konerko knocking a first-pitch fastball into the seats for a grand slam in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, which I watched at a bar called Puffer’s at 3356 S. Halsted St.  That establishment is gone now because nearby Sox Park is like a weed sucking the life force from all things beautiful and nourishing that surround it.\n\nSpeaking of ballparks, 2013 marked the end of Wrigley Field as we know it.  Ownership is going to make it into a theme park sponsored by the City of Chicago.  Spilling out all over Sheffield Avenue will be elephants dressed like Andy Frain ushers and small bears on unicycles juggling baseballs while balancing bats on their snouts.  If that sounds more like a circus than a theme park, how about this: a rollercoaster called ‘69 Cubs that takes you 400 feet in the air before dropping you sixty stories into a giant hole in the ground?\n\nAnd years from now, when people are screaming for their lives whilst taking the plunge, all hopped up on Cubbie nostalgia and Budweiser, will they be thinking about baseball in 2013?\n\nNo.  Not one of them.\n\nBecause besides people like that suffering from low levels of brain function, this Chicago baseball season was utterly forgettable, with only this forgettable wrap-up post to prove it ever happened.\n\nThis post will appear also at The Third City.\n\n 

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