How can we explain what’s been happening with the White Sox this season? Even though we currently have the third-best record in baseball with the AL Wild Card lead and are coming off a spectacular extra-inning win against the Yankees, there’s an ominous feeling on the South Side of Chicago these days that the Sox are going to fall down hard. There are the obvious changes from last season, from the weaknesses of the starting rotation in general to our recurring Mark Buerhle problem, where our ace from up until a couple months ago appears to have now caught Steve Blass Disease. At the same time, the departure of clubhouse leaders Aaron Rowand and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez might have put a dent into team chemistry.
However, there’s one mega-difference from 2005 that I haven’t heard anyone speak of yet: the absence of the great Steve Perry. There’s nothing unusual about celebrity fans, ranging from Jennifer Garner and her no talent assclown husband with the Red Sox to that kid from “Malcom in the Middle” with the Clippers. What made the Steve Perry situation unique, though, was that he was the equivalent of a trade deadline rent-a-player for the stretch run of the season. Here was a guy that had absolutely no connection to Chicago other than playing a few Journey shows at the Rosemont Horizon back in the ’80s (although bandmate Jonathan Cain is a Chicago native) that ended up being the ultimate bandwagon fan after the White Sox adopted “Don’t Stop Believing” as their theme song. Perry rode this resuscitation of his career to the point where he ended up celebrating with the team in the locker room after clinching their first World Series championship since 1917 along with being a prominent part of the subsequent ticket tape parade.
The average diehard Sox fan, including myself, found all of this particularly disjarring at the time. In fact, we prided ourselves on not being the bandwagon celebrity draw that the Cubs have always been, so it was incredulous to see an aging rock star with no previous association with the City of Chicago, much less the White Sox team, somehow become vaulted to the position of a top Sox fan within the span of a couple of months. Now, however, I recognize that Sox having Steve Perry in the late-summer and fall of 2005 was the equivalent of the Astros grabbing Randy Johnson at the trade deadline in 1998 – the last piece that pushed a team on the cusp of greatness over the top and into the postseason.
I’m not saying that we need the return of Steve Perry for the next few months (although “Any Way You Want It” is a great song while playing golf or for any wedding or bar mitzvah celebration), but there’s certainly a void in the theme song and rent-a-celeb category this season. I’ll take any nominees on this site to fill this crucial spot, with a preference toward lead singers of late-’70s or early-’80s arena rock bands (unless the nominee is the divine intervention named Flavor Flav, who would be an automatic winner). Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it…
(Image from Wikipedia)