Today, I consider myself the saddest person on the face of the earth, to borrow a line from an old Lou Gehrig speech. Even though both Chicago teams made an early exit from this year’s playoffs, a tip of the hat should be extended to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Cubs manager Lou Pinellia for their outstanding contributions to Chicago baseball fans everywhere.
With the Cubs winning a league leading 97 games during the regular season, and the White Sox season being extended by one game and into the playoffs, fans throughout the Windy City were given something to talk about all season long (a rarity in itself) at the watercooler or over lunch during the 182 or 183 game schedule.
Normally a Cubs season theoretically only lasts until the dog days of summer. This year has been a thrill in it’s own right, with the team basically going wire to wire before taking a seat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in yet another first round meltdown.
The White Sox bettered their cross town rivals by extending the regular season after defeating the Tigers in a makeup game and extending the season to play the Minnesota Twins again (for what seemed like the 10th time in a week). The Sox did manage to once again outplay the Cubs by winning at least one game against the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.
Both teams unfortunately have an early start in assessing their squads’ needs for another playoff run next season. The White Sox obviously have less pressure to repeat because after winning it all in 2005, the team is exempt and like every team that has won it all has a free pass for at least two more seasons (although White Sox fans still want to win NOW!!!!!).
Even though the Cubs futility has well surpassed any White Sox exploits the north siders look to have a team that can repeat year after year without any major improvements to the lineup. The only real concern for the Cubs is the Fukodome experiment (that seemed to fail miserably), and the erratic play of Ace (or Joker) Carlos Zambrano who has been on a roller coaster ride since the first day on the mound.
The Key focus should be on resigning Ryan Dempster to an infinite contract in the off season, and making sure that everyone else stands pat for the Cubs for the next several years.
The White Sox are another issue, they need to set their sights on an extension for pitcher John Danks, for as long as he wants to pitch for the South Siders. The next viable contract that the White Sox have to corral is to keep Jermaine Dye happy during the off season. Alexei Ramirez also has to remain in the infield for Ozzie Guillen who did another remarkable job this year.
Ozzie seems to be (and justifiably so) exempt from any firing squad that White Sox management has considered throughout the year because the Sox need him on the bench just as bad as reporters need him in the lockerroom for his one of a kind sound bites that he so willfully offers up during the course of a season.
[tags]chicago white sox, chicago, chicago cubs, baseball, mlb, mlb playoffs[/tags]