There is some debate about who originally said, “The opera ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings,” but Wikipedia — and if you can’t trust Wikipedia, who can you trust? — says it was a Texas Tech football coach in the ’70s who first uttered the now-immortal phrase, and the San Antonio Spurs announcer who made it famous just picked it up from him. Either way, it came from Texas, which is odd since it’s hard to believe any Texan said “opera” without putting “horse” first.
Baseball fans, of course, mistakenly assume they were the words of the immortal baseball bard, Professor Berra, but the esteemed Yogi actually said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” — which is an absolute truth if ever there was one.
Except for maybe now.
The stout soprano is the one who has it right this time. Also the blubbery belter, the avoirdupois-laden alto, the portly performer, the hefty hummer — well, you no doubt get the point, especially if you watched Wednesday’s game against Cleveland and began hearing Wagnerian arias crash through your brain.
Did you perhaps feel it was unfair for the White Sox season to land with a thud in extra innings on Tuesday night? Then Wednesday night’s 8-2 shellacking, which wasn’t nearly that close, should make you feel better. Good old White Sox-dom of crummy defense (with the exception of Elvis Andrus, who arrived to late to have the organizational incompetence drilled in yet), being totally outhustled, remarkable pitch-count inefficiency ... it all came right out there for everyone to see, together with a total lifelessness that had seemingly disappeared from the Sox clubhouse and dugout along with the Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person.
Speaking of the HOFBP, even national media, in the form of The Athletic, for one, are saying he should do the right thing, act with class, and announce he’s retiring again, claiming medical reasons if he likes. Of course, getting an arrogant jerk to do the right thing is unlikely, so be ready for an offseason of will-he-won’t-he that will screw up the 2023 season, too.
(The Athletic article also said the health issue that led to the wonderful chance to be rid of the HOFBP, at least for a while, was that his pacemaker was on the fritz. Leave it to the White Sox and their incredible disdain for their fans to never have mentioned that earlier. Or that he even had a pacemaker. If the house is ever cleaned — let us pray — the PR department should get shoved out along with the rest of the front office.)
Now, those of you of the incredibly optimistic variety may say that the chubby chanteuse may have begun her chanting, but the opera ain’t completely over until she finishes.
Fair enough. Let us, as Verdi would have said, crunch some numbers.
The Guardians are now 82-67. The White Sox are 76-73. Should they end up tied for AAAL Central lead, the tie goes to Cleveland for winning the season series.
That means that if the Guardians just go 6-7 the rest of the way — and remember they finish with six at home against the Royals — the Sox would have to go 13-0 to win the division.
Yes, Cleveland’s magic number is already down to seven. Not bad for a team that didn’t really plan to be competitive this year, but just give some young guys playing time to adjust to the majors.
If we call each game a toss-up — yes, I know, there are three with Detroit in there, but there also three with San Diego, and before any of that, the White Sox have to get by a rerun of Leave it to Bieber on Thursday — the chances of going 13-0 are 1 in 8,192. Not quite in getting struck by lightning territory, but still a bit of a long shot.
Before Wednesday’s debacle, the three prediction pros — FanGraphs, PECOTA, and Five Thirty Eight — each had the Sox with about a 3% chance to win the division, and about the same chance at a Wild Card, given the stuttering of the Rays lately. Five Thirty Eight updates immediately after every game, and the updated chance at a division crown was less than 1%, though still a 4% overall playoff shot. FanGraphs updated quickly as well, with a 0.8% division shot, 2.7% total.
The computers may not know all, but they know a lot. Sure, garbage in, garbage out, but the garbage in this season has been the whole White Sox organization.
Better to dream of changes that could come by next year than hallucinate about this one. But, hey — see that glass over there, the one with what looks like a tiny droplet in the bottom?
Maybe that’s not 8,191/8,192nds empty. Maybe it’s 1/8,192nd full.