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Win or Die Trying

(or How I Learned to Love White Sox Playoff Baseball in the Time of COVID)
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Hi, there! I'm Leonard Gore. You might remember me from that one article I wrote, recapping a White Sox walk-off loss in Seattle in the style of a Fraiser Fan Fiction. Yes, it really is that guy who you may not have realized hasn't ... actually ... written anything for the Hit Pen since ...

[vaguely gestures everywhere]

Yeah. 2020 happened. Kobe! Fires! Cities on fire! Atrocities against people of color igniting said fires! And a little-known bug that has caused the most obscene death toll in this country since the future Black Sox failed to win their second consecutive pennant. (Don't forget, Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005 and the 2008 Blackout Game winners also celebrated during the last major recession!)

But I digress. During my exile from the Hit Pen, a brickton of White Sox content came and went. You know the story already: spring training is cancelled thanks to COVID... Opening Day is kaput (I had tickets to see La Pantera's originally scheduled debut, dammit), everybody's in quarantine, every proposed start date passes thanks to Glorious Leader Manfred and Tony "The Toothless Tiger" Clark having the always-enjoyable Billionaires vs. Millionaires dick-measuring contest ... and then finally, a bare-bones, 60-game schedule is slapped together with only regional contests on the slate.

But thanks to the amazingly skillful way the Sox were able to absolutely dominate the Three Stooges of MLB (K.C. is Moe, Detroit is Larry, and sweet lovable Pittsburgh brings up the rear as Shemp ... yeah, get no-hit and you don't deserve the Curly moniker), the South Side 9 built up an amazing record—only to pull a Sideshow Bob and step on Every. Single. Goddam. Rake. as they tumbled into the franchise's first-ever wild card berth. 

And yet. I stayed quiet.

Come Tuesday, after stealing the Bomba Squad's homer mojo (18 and forever counting, fellas!), the White Sox swatted three over the fence and Lucas Giolito almost pulls a perfecto, and the team gets one foot into the ALDS. Then Wednesday, clearly hung over from their winning high, Jeff Smardslqlxezia's trade piece dominates his old squad, only to have Oakland's supposed top-caliber bullpen put Chicago's winning run on the bases in the ninth before pulling off a harder-than-it-had-to-be victory.

So here we go. Thursday. October 1. For the first time in my and literally every White Sox fan's lifetime, your favorite team is in a (channeling that big 2005 Sox Marketing energy) WIN OR DIE TRYING situation.

And I can't ... stay ... quiet ... any ... longer.

So, in what may possibly be the eve of the last White Sox game of 2020, or maybe, hopefully, praying on my kneesily, last game before charting a flight to Dodger Stadium, I am taking this time to make my Sports Illustrated debut, to tell you this:

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The End of the Beginning





Hug a loved one (or if not loved, your most favorite action figure).


This season is not over. We aren't on that field. We can't throw a pitch. We can't swing a bat. But if there can be any possible positivity for the BEST GODDAM FAN BASE IN BASEBALL, we will do our part to make this season stretch more than one day in October.

Go White Sox. 

And when the Robot Umpires are finally installed, I hope Angel Hernandez is the first human to walk the gangplank.