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Sox all alone atop AL drought list
10/28/2004 4:22 PM ET
CHICAGO -- "The Boston Red Sox win the World Series."

It's a phrase that New Englanders have waited almost nine decades to hear. Even when it came to pass late Wednesday night on Edgar Renteria's ground ball to Keith Foulke to close out the four-game sweep in St. Louis, those faithful Boston fans probably had to say the sentence out loud 15 or 16 times just to make sure it was true.

Boston's victory did more than end the third-longest championship drought in sports history and break the vaunted "Curse of the Bambino." It officially left both Chicago clubs atop the list of the longest quests for a World Series win.

Even prior to Boston's eight straight victories in the 2004 postseason, the Red Sox had only waited 86 years since their last World Series title in 1918, when they beat the Cubs in six games. Of course, the Cubs top the list, having last won a championship in 1908. The White Sox complete the Chicago-sweep of the top two spots on the list.

By virtue of an 83-79 injury-plagued, second-place finish in the American League Central, the South Sider's title absence reached 87 years. Those numbers add up to an amazing 183 combined seasons without a World Series title in Chicago.

"It really is unbelievable," said legendary White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce, who was part of the staff during the team's last World Series' appearance in 1959. "You would think one team would just have enough luck to win once during that time."

The club's last World Series victory came in 1917, when Red Faber won three games in a six-game decision over the New York Giants. The team returned to the World Series in 1919, with the Cincinnati Reds winning five of the eight games to claim the title.

The 1919 appearance came to be known as "The Black Sox" scandal, after eight members of the White Sox were charged with conspiring to fix the outcome of the World Series. However, where curses are concerned, the White Sox have long been overlooked for the Cubs' Billy Goat and the great Bambino.

Meanwhile, the South Siders have made just one World Series appearance since that fateful 1919 controversy. But fans and members of the organization alike don't buy into any sort of outside forces controlling the club's fate.

"I don't want to speak for our fans, but it's not perceived as a curse by our organization," said White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert. "As [general manager] Kenny [Williams] said publicly, 1917 is a heck of a long time ago and 1959 was a long time ago.

"Within the front office, it's what drives us. I'm sure it drove the Red Sox, too. So certainly, it's not something we don't pay attention to. It's why we show up."

Talking to focus groups filled with White Sox fans is one of the many responsibilities as part of Reifert's job. During those discussions, Reifert never got the impression that some sort of curse was on the minds of the fans.

Reifert pointed out that the 1920 White Sox team was terrific and that there were some very good teams in the 60's -- just not as good as the New York Yankees. White Sox fans focus more on these potential reasons for shortcomings.

"I'm not going out there to see other teams have the fun I want to have with our fans and organization. I couldn't even pass by the television without getting [upset]."
-- White Sox GM Ken Williams, on not attending this season's World Series

There's no "Jerry Dybzinski Curse" from 1983, or curse of the injured pitchers that resulted in a three-game sweep by Seattle in 2000. That's not to say that these strong supporters aren't frustrated by the team's lack of championships, however.

"One of the big differences between Cubs and Sox fans is that Cubs fans wear futility as a badge of honor and White Sox fans are ashamed of it," said Adam Holtz, 35, who has been a White Sox fan for the past 25 years.

Holtz acknowledged that the Cubs are currently a big story because of their stellar 2003 season followed by the hype for 2004 that was brought about by strong offseason additions. That attention leads to the White Sox fans feeling like "second-class citizens" from time to time in Chicago, according to Holtz.

Even in struggles, that feeling of exclusion came through during the World Series when the Cubs were linked to the Red Sox.

"It's definitely strange to hear the national media talk about the Red Sox and Cubs in the same breathe and leave the White Sox out of it," Holtz said. "But at same time, both teams were close to a World Series last year so it makes some sense.

"In a strange way, having the Red Sox win might be good for the White Sox because they will be out from the Red Sox shadow. Now, it will make the White Sox situation more unique."

Unique is not exactly what the White Sox organization is shooting for at this moment. In fact, they would gladly leave the Cubs alone atop baseball's drought list for a title in 2005.

It's what drives the White Sox, even if it was glossed over during the Red Sox's memorable postseason run. It's a drive for success that kept general manager Williams from attending the World Series in person.

"For what reason?" Williams responded when asked if he made the trip to Boston or St. Louis. "I'm not going out there to see other teams have the fun I want to have with our fans and organization. I couldn't even pass by the television without getting [upset]."

"If the Red Sox winning means it's now our turn, we will take it," added Reifert with a laugh. "We just want to win."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.