2012 White Sox = 1969 Cubs?
The 1968 Chicago Cubs went 84-78 but finished 13 games behind the Cardinals for the pennant.
The 2011 Chicago White Sox finished in third place, but did so with a record of 79-83 and 16 games back of the eventual AL runners-up, the Detroit Tigers.
On October 6, 2011, the White Sox hired former player Robin Ventura as their manager, despite the fact that he had no coaching experience at all. General Manager Kenny Williams considered making Paul Konerko player-manager.
It's safe to say expectations were low for the South Siders in 2012.
Only for them to make a run at a postseason birth.
Yet they could not seal the deal as they ended up just like their crosstown rival in what was one of, if not the most, celebrated season in Cubs history in 1969.
The similarities are there. The Cubs had a winning record in 1969 but they really made their mark in 1969.
The White Sox were able to have a winning season.
Both teams were in first place for a good deal of the season.
The 1969 Cubs can claim five Hall of Famers with shortstop/first baseman Ernie Banks, left fielder Billy Williams, third basmean Ron Santo, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins and even though he is not wearing a Cubs hat on his plaque - manager Leo Durocher.
There are players on the 2012 White Sox that are worthy of Hall of Fame discussion. It is unknown if either Adam Dunn or Paul Konerko will make the Hall of Fame but they have some merit and if one or both manage to reach 500 home runs, they will get a good look.
The 1969 Cubs saw their ace, Jenkins, win 21 games and fellow pitcher Bill Hands win 20 games.
The 2012 White Sox saw Chris Sale emerge as a Cy Young contender with him going 17-8 and striking out 15 Rays. Fellow pitcher Jake Peavy also had a very nice season.
Their collapses are both similar and different.
They are similar in the effect that they had a nice lead late in the season that it slipped away from them.
The Cubs were up 17 1/2 games on the Mets in the standings one point in the season.
The White Sox were up three games in the American League Central in the middle of September against the Tigers.
Both teams had a very respectable season with good talent riding on both teams before they fell off at the end.
The Cubs got cold and so did the White Sox. It did not help the latter team that they had a hard time helping their own cause against the Tigers and they were often defeated hands at the spoiler Kansas City Royals.
Yet the White Sox won a makeup game against the Tigers in September and they still could not hold on.
Here is where the collapses are different.
The expectations for the two Chicago teams and the teams they lost to were different.
As mentioned, the Cubs had a winning season the year before, the White Sox did not.
The Mets were a laughing stock. They first began play in 1962 and lost 120 games. In 1968, they finished second-to-last in the National League by one game. They went 73-89 and the Astros, who also joined in 1962 as the Colt 45s, went 72-90.
The Tigers ran away with the American League Central in 2011. They beat the Yankees in the 2011ALDS before bowing out the Rangers in six games. Justin Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown as well as Cy Young and MVP honors.
Yet the 1969 Mets came out of nowhere to win 100 games.
The 2012 Tigers meanwhile had to scratch and claw their way in. They won 88 games and were under .500 as late as early July before Miguel Cabrera won the hitting Triple Crown and carried them to a division title. Not to mention, Verlander just might win his second consecutive AL Cy Young award with Cabrera very likely to win the AL MVP.
Expectations were high when Prince Fielder was signed in the offseason for nine years and over $200 million with the fifth highest payroll in baseball.
Baseball is not played on paper but if it was, the Tigers have bigger names. Cabrera, Fielder, Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Alex Avila, Austin Jackson and Jose Valverde - who was a perfect 49/49 in 2011 but was far from it in 2012.
The Mets had Tom Seaver, who won 25 games and the first of three Cy Youngs in his Hall of Fame career and won the Rookie of the Year Award two years earlier, an award Verlander would eventually win the American League in 2006.
They had Jerry Koosman - a nice pitcher but did not have the star power Seaver did.
They also had Nolan Ryan - but he took off when he was traded to the Angels for Jim Fregosi.
Their lineup had Jerry Grote catching, Ed Kranepool at first base, Ken Boswell at second, Wayne Garrett at third, Bud Harrelson at shortstop with Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda in the outfield.
Like the Tigers, the Mets made a huge trade in the season. Donn Clendenon was traded to the expansion Montreal Expos but refused to report. So he went to the Mets and won the World Series MVP.
Dave Dombrowski went out and brought back Omar Infante and got Anibal Sanchez along with him. The latter whom, has been very valuable to the Tigers. He flirted with a second no-hitter against Cleveland down the stretch and his been very good in the playoffs.
The Mets dominated the postseason. They swept the Braves in the first ever NLCS. They faced the Baltimore Orioles against Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer in addition to manager Earl Weaver and the eventual Co-AL Cy Young winner in Mike Cuellar. This team won 108 games. Seaver might be able to beat them in game one but that is it.
Only the opposite happened and the Mets won in five.
The Tigers faced a red hot A's team that knocked off the Rangers for the AL West. They took a 2-0 lead before falling in game three but sure to win in game four. That was, until Valverde lost the game for them. Verlander came back and shut the A's down in game five.
Then came the Yankees in the ALCS. Fister, Sanchez, Verlander and Scherzer allowed a combined two earned runs through all of that as they swept the team that won 95 games and the best record in the AL.
One team had higher expectations than the other, but both just kept on winning when it mattered.
Whether the Tigers win the World Series in 2012 remains to be seen, but both Chicago teams have experienced heartbreak in similar situations.
The 1969 Cubs at the hands of the Mets and the 2012 White Sox at the hands of the Tigers.