The Chicago White Sox will begin a three game weekend series against the lowly Houston Astros on Friday. As the Sox return to the site of their illustrious World Series championship, the state of the organization is much different from where it was when they were popping bottles of champagne in the visitor’s locker room.
Captain Paul Konerko is the lone member of the 2005 team still donning a White Sox uniform. The championship high that captivated the fan base is wearing away. After a dismal 2007 wiped away most of that feeling, the nostalgic feeling surrounding being fans of World Series champions has subsided over the past nine years, and rightfully so.
Model organizations that pride themselves on winning do not live in the past. Their thirst to always witness a champion makes the fans unruly when their team does not live up to expectations. 2005 was in the past, and it needs to remain in the past. The time is over when Sox fans use 2005 as a safety blanket when arguing with fans of the team up north. Yes, that one season will always be looked on with happiness, but it cannot define the organization.
When Kenny Williams decided to hand over the keys to longtime right-hand man Rick Hahn, the move symbolized a fresh era in White Sox baseball. Gone were the days when the teams always appeared in neutral. Towards the end of Williams’ tenure, he would wheel and deal young talent for rental players. Williams was too focused on building an immediate champion to build off of the new-found excitement that surrounded the team, instead of constructing a team the way he did prior to the 2005 season.
In Chicago, people credit Stan Bowman for the reconstruction of the Chicago Blackhawks, but forget that Dale Tallon was the one that drafted most of the core players that have won two Stanley Cups. The same goes for Williams and the 2005 core. Mark Buehrle, Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand all played vital roles in winning the World Series and were all drafted by Williams’ predecessor Ron Schueler. Konerko and pitcher Jon Garland were both acquired in trades during the Schueler era.
That is not saying that Williams did not have his fingerprints all over the 2005 team. His trades for Scott Podsednik, Juan Uribe, and Jose Contreras, his free agent signings of A.J. Pierzynski, Tadahito Iguchi and Jermaine Dye as well as countless other moves showed that he was a master at his craft. However, some of the most important moves were the ones Williams did not make.
Williams decided to groom Buehrle, Crede, Rowand, Garland and Konerko as they matured in the big leagues instead of dealing them. He believed that if he was patient with his young core and mixed them with other parts that they could achieve the ultimate prize.
After Williams finally reached the pinnacle of success, he abandoned the mentality that got him there and started to deal budding stars for what he considered were pieces that could get the team over the hump. The team kept on falling short time and again while having one of the worst farm systems in the game.
For years, the White Sox organization became a revolving door for aging former All-Stars who were on their last legs. The top of the AL Central changed hands from the Cleveland Indians to the Minnesota Twins to eventually the Detroit Tigers, with the Sox always falling short time and again.
Now in 2014, the current White Sox team is run just like it was back in the early 2000s. Young talent is not being exported out of Chicago, but rather is being groomed to make a lasting impact on the Southside. Hahn has refused to import rental players while jeopardizing the long-term success of the franchise.
On Friday, newly-minted No. 2 starter Jose Quintana will throw off the same mound that Bobby Jenks grabbed Pierzynski. Hopefully one day soon, the White Sox and their fans will once again be able to experience that pandemonium that followed.