White Sox and Silver Linings

So the Sox lost a series to the “worst” team in the American League, turned two bases-loaded-no-outs situations into a combined zero runs and disintegrated a lot of early season hope for a lot of people.

So what?

It’s easy to throw your hands up and say 2009 is the new 2002, but when none other than Paul Konerko says not to worry until June 1, you take his word for it. Dude should know, having by now played on squads ranging from abysmal to average to among the greatest ever assembled. Plenty of people – this writer included – will point to the softball offense and rotation whose only short series hope lies in the league introducing the American League Championship Doubleheader and say it’s all over, but those people are missing the point.

It’s too early for the Sox to be terrible; all we know is that they might be terrible and that, all things considered, is a good thing.

This is not to disparage these Sox. They surely have some talent at their disposal, and witness the glorious efforts to date of Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Mark Buehrle et al as proof at least of a still-beating heart. Still, they’ve won but three multi-game series and have been summarily dismissed by every single first-place team they faced. Thing is, one of those first place (Kansas City) teams has since fallen from first place and two others (Detroit, Texas) probably won’t stay there. So who, really, have the Sox lost to?

(Ignore for a moment what happened with Baltimore and Cleveland.)

Six teams have a winning record in the American League right now. Six. So we know most teams are lousy anyway, meaning most of the time the Sox are guilty of nothing more than holding their ground with and against their peers. The difference between the “contending” Angels and “loser” Mariners? Two games against the “mighty” Royals. Even among those six alleged powerhouses of the young season, who can we really take seriously? And just how do we know that anyway?

To put it another way: what does it mean to be a bad team when every team is a bad team?

It’s May. We don’t know everything about this team just yet, and the worst thing that happens is we knew where we stood after 32 games, except the things we know now – shaky rotation, missile launch offense, statistical dominance of the RISPLOB – are the exact same things we knew in February.

May the Good Guys rise to the occasion or, barring that, may the Tigers turn out to be the real thing. Whatever.