Cubs fans were already crabby and edgy because the team missed the playoffs the last two seasons after being just five outs away from the 2003 World Series.
But to have the added insult of the hated White Sox winning a World Series?
|The Cubs didn't get Rafael Furcal, so the shortstop will be young Ronny Cedeno. (Getty Images)|
The Sox's magical ride through the playoffs had many diehard Cubs fans steaming last October. The fact their team won only 79 games and finished in fourth place in the National League Central -- behind lowly Milwaukee -- made it even more difficult to bear.
So it's no surprise that when general manager Jim Hendry and manager Dusty Baker met with thousands of fans during a forum at the Cubs Convention in mid-January, there weren't a whole lot of "atta boys" heaped upon them.
One fan told the pair off.
"The White Sox were world champions and I was sick to my stomach," he said. "I could see (Sox general manager) Kenny (Williams) and (manager) Ozzie (Guillen) sitting there smoking cigars with their feet up on the chair laughing at us, laughing at you guys and laughing at the North Side."
One woman was a little less caustic. But she had been holding onto a newspaper article in which White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said his team was "the second team no more" in Chicago. She begged Baker and Hendry to "bring us a winner."
|Matt Murton, who has only slightly more experience than Cedeno, could start in left. (Getty Images)|
"The Sox were the best team in baseball and they deserved to win -- I'm happy for them," Hendry said. "But whether the Sox won the World Series or not, we won 79 games last year and that's not acceptable."
So what Hendry set out to do during the offseason was address his team's 2005 deficiencies.
He signed middle relievers Bob Howry and Scott Eyre, traded for center fielder/leadoff man Juan Pierre, signed right fielder Jacque Jones and picked up free-agent pitcher Wade Miller, who is coming off shoulder surgery and won't be ready until May at the earliest.
Most of that was met with a collective yawn in Chicago in the wake of the White Sox bringing in Jim Thome.