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What I Learned From the 2005 White Sox

November 17, 2005

kr’s note: I know that this is
perhaps two weeks late, but I figure I should post it before I forget.
We’ll keep you guys posted on the Taste of Islam idea.

At the risk of being banished from Cubs nation, I have to offer my
sincerest congratulations to the 2005 World Series Champions, the White
Sox of the fair and noble city of Chicago. Despite my preference for
the Cubs, I have to admit that the best team in baseball in 2005 ended
up winning. I’ll also admit that it was fun to see a championship
brought back to Chicago, especially since it had been more than 80
years since we’d seen a baseball championship here. Anyway, as I
reflected on these White Sox, I came up with several things that I
learnt along the way, proving once again that life imitates art, and
that lessons can be found in the most mundane of matters, provided that
people use their inner vision to notice them.

On a side note, I must admit I feel quite stupid for doubting and
hating on the White Sox in an earlier post. Being the fair guy that I
am, I’ll stand up and face the music, admitting that I got owned in the
process. The picture below describes how I feel, o ye of White Sox
nation, so go ahead and enjoy it:

1. Team Chemistry: one of the
most underrated and under-appreciated things in sports and life is the
concept of team chemistry. What exactly is team chemistry? It’s
somewhat difficult to explain in words, but essentially its a group
feeling–an `asabiyyah, if
you will–wherein the various members of the team come together, put
aside their individual egos and selfish goals, and become united for a
common cause. And since everyone is on the same page, they get along
well with another, both on and off the field: each person knows his
role, fulfills it, and trusts the other guy to do his. In short, they
embrace the idea that the team is greater than the sum of the
individuals, and because of this, they’re able to be quite successful.
Compare this to many other teams in the major leagues, such as the Cubs
and Yankees, that are quite replete with talent, but yet can’t seem to
win since they lack team chemistry. In life then, it seems that
whenever we find ourselves in a group situation–family, marriage,
group project, etc–if team chemistry is lacking, then despite the
talents and potential of each person in the group, the group will never
be successful. The Companions, for example, had amazing team chemistry
and because of this were able to overcome every single challenge, from
defeating armies many times their size to conquering their own human
deficiences.

2. You Can’t Just Throw Money at a Problem:
In sports, it’s frequenrly assumed that you can just spend more money,
bring in quality superstars, and make a run at a championship. This is
why every year in April, everyone thinks the Yankees, with their $200
million payroll, will win the World Series. On the opposite end, you
have to spend something, because you can’t have a stingy payroll like
the Devil Rays or Royals and expect any success. Hence, the middle path
of spending–the model espoused by the Qur’an: “And they who when they
spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy, and (keep) between these the
just mean–seems to work in all walks of life as well. The White Sox
had an average payroll (I think it was the 13th highest) and thus spent
enough, but didn’t go overboard. Their emphasis was on players who
would fit into the system and foster team chemistry, instead of flashy
superstars who play for stats and don’t really help their teams win. In
life as well, money should be spent–without hesitation–on certain
things that will be of benefit, instead of spending it simply for the
glamour associated with it.

3. The Fruit of Patience is Always Sweet: This is a play on an urdu
proverb (sabr ka pahal meetha hota hai) that has much meaning when we
consider that the Sox hadn’t won the World Series in 88 years. Yet each
year, along with the Cubs, the team and its fans optimistically hope
that they can win the Series and triumph over everyone else. However,
as success doesn’t come quite often in Chicago, many people doubt and
give up on the team, believing that it will never happen and there’s no
point in being patient. These are the same people that will jump on the
bandwagon when things go well for the team. Yet there are those who
have the patience (sabr) due to their vision (ibsaar) — interesting to
note that both words are comprised of the same letters, suggesting that
those who can truly see are the ones who have patience–and stick with
the team through thick and thin. In life, this is the situation of the
believer, who is constantly surrounded by trials, setbacks and
challenges that test his/her patience. Unfortunately, many give up
their faith, upset with God that He is asking this much from them. Yet,
the fruit of patience is sweet, and for those believers that have
patience (by continuing to worship Allah in all their actions) and not
wavering, the pay off will indeed be sweet. The only difference is that
when the believers’ victory comes, there won’t be any bandwagon… so
it’s to our benefit to jump on right now since there won’t be any time
left in the future. God wants us to wait for however many years we’re
living in this world to enjoy a celebration greater than any World
Series victory.

4. Crazy Managers Make Great Shaykhs:
Ozzie Guillen, the White Sox manager, is… well, to say the least,
kind of a nutcase. The man can’t speak proper English, is erratic,
seemingly makes incomprehensible roster and game decisions, is a jerk
to reporters at times… yet is brilliant and amazingly successful.
There seems to be a method and purpose to his madness. Similarly,
shaykhs and scholars may seem like they have no idea what they’re doing
and that they might have a few screws loose in the head… but most of
them know what they’re doing, and desire good for the general people.
Of course, there are exceptions to crazy coaches being brilliant (such
as John Shoop of the Bears), just like certain scholars… well,
perhaps it’s best to stay away from them. Nevertheless, the difficulty
is finding such a “crazy” yet beneficial shaykh… or even worse,
recognizing him when you do see him.

5. When You Get Your Chance, Make Sure You Shine:
In Game 3 of the World Series, in the top of the 14th inning, little
used and forgotten bench player, Geoff Blum, was given a chance to bat
simply because…. well, the Sox had no more players left since the
game had gone into so many extra innings. This isn’t to say that Blum
wasn’t a good player, it was just that he wasn’t very high on the depth
chart as he had only recently been acquired. Yet with the score tied
5-5 in the 14th inning, Blum was given a chance to bat with 2 outs…
and he knocked out a home run that ended up helping the Sox to win the
game, making him a hero instantaneously, and essentially laying the
foundation for the Game 4 victory as well. In life, every so often
there come moments for us to shine, when the situation demands great
things out of ordinary people. Most people are capable of greatness,
yet it is their own doubt in their abilities and potential that often
hinders them from achieving this. One can only truly do great things if
this doubt is cast aside and when such an opportunity arises, he
eagerly embraces the challenge, puts forth his best effort, and trusts
that Allah will hook him up.

6. Redemption: For many of the
White Sox players on the 2005 roster, they were considered washouts by
their former teams, such as Jose Contreras, Freddy Garcia, etc. Yet
each of these players, in the spirit of #5 above, recognized that they
had an opportunity to prove themselves under different circumstances.
They knew they had what it takes to succeed in the majors, despite what
the critics and others said about them. When they came to the White
Sox, they saw it as an opportunity to redeem themselves, instead of
wallowing about in their misery that they fell from grace. In life as
well, there are times when we get knocked down or put into
circumstances that we might not prefer to be in, immediately at least.
Yet, instead of complaining about the situation and giving up, it is
only when one goes about his/her life with this attitude that they must
redeem themselves–most importantly to Allah–that any real progress
can be made. Especially if one has committed a sin, the spirit of
redemption should motivate us to immediately redeem ourselves in the
eyes of Allah by making repentance, making a firm conviction not to
repeat, and immediately follow up a wrong action with a better and more
righteous one.

7. Don’t Stop Believin’:
Finally, and most importantly, the theme of the 2005 White Sox during
the post season, as per the old school song by Journey, was “Don’t Stop
Believin'”. The White Sox never stopped believing that they could
achieve greatness, despite what everyone else–especially Cubs fans
like me–said about them. They didn’t care, they believed in
themselves, went out their business, and took advantage of
opportunities that came about (people might say Pierzynski was out
against the Angels… but forget that the Sox won only cause the next
hitter drove in the winning run). In life as well, as believers, we can
never stop believin’. I know I mentioned this before, but one should
never stop believin’ that the Promise of God is true… that He sees
our good deeds and will repay us with rewards that we can’t even begin
to imagine. In short, Journey has taught us well:

Don’t stop believin’

Hold on to that feelin’

With that said, I also want to say that I won’t stop believin’ that the
Cubs will, God-willing, one day win the World Series. If only we can
sign Furcal, move Nomar to second, get Johnny Damon to play center,
trade Corey Patterson, get a decent bullpen, get a right fielder like
Brian Giles, possibly get a legitimate starter to replace the phenom
known as Kerry Wood, replace Dusty Baker… and… well, sigh… as you
can see there’s a lot of work to do with the Cubs… faith is the only
thing that can keep Cubs fans going for however long it may take…
however long it may take.

Sigh.

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24 Comments
  1. Excellent post KamKam.  You’ve taken the ideas of Ibn Khaldun and applied them to baseball.  That makes you a pointy eared gray squirrel. 
    I think the white sox were magical enough to bring out people like me, who usually couldn’t care less, into wanting to follow sports and gasp, make me actually watch their games. 
    Plus my attending was pimping me on baseball trivia during the world series time.  That also had something to do with it. 

  2. Anonymous permalink

    you need a woman — stop writing about the sox

  3. Go Cubs

  4. Anonymous permalink

    hahah dudee creepycrawlers numbered??? thats suppose to be a joke!!!!!!…lol i guess i should put that up there….and pshh dontt even compare how guys wouldnt care about that…!!
    p.s: yes, i agree you should feel silly for hating on white sox earlier…but like i said in my post…with time comes knowledge salamss

  5. rooji: after reading your comment, i realized i did do that, didn’t i? hehe, i didn’t realize i was championing Khaldunian economics, but i was… and of course, we know you did hrs of research about baseball to impress your attending so that he would give you a good grade… cause youre a gunner.kareem: got any in mind?

  6. on the subject on “what makes a ballclub win” a good read (even though it is heavy on stats) is Moneyball by Michael Lewis. The logic and research behind it is the genesis for the transformation in the past decade of the Oakland A’s and the Twins into contenders, despite their small-market status…

  7. Anonymous permalink

    that owned picture’s kinda disturbing.off topic, but anyways, i was at a party and these girls were telling me that your recitation is really beautiful masha’allah, and that you sound just like sudais. just thought i’d let you know in case you wanted to boost your ego a lil bit more…just kidding hehe.i know what everyone’s thinking…don’t people have anything better to do than talk about kamran riaz at a party…? geez, talk about sad.

  8. Anonymous permalink

    so interesting…..i like ur comparisons a lot

  9. lol
    “With that said, I also want to say that I won’t stop believin’ that the Cubs will, God-willing, one day win the World Series. If only we can sign Furcal, move Nomar to second, get Johnny Damon to play center, trade Corey Patterson, get a decent bullpen, get a right fielder like Brian Giles, possibly get a legitimate starter to replace the phenom known as Kerry Wood, replace Dusty Baker… and… well, sigh… as you can see there’s a lot of work to do with the Cubs… faith is the only thing that can keep Cubs fans going for however long it may take… however long it may take.”
    how sad, how true =(

  10. i said it b4 and ill say it again…im happy for the sox…annoyed as hell by sox fans. so, heres 1 eprop for the sox.

  11. Anonymous permalink

    haha that kid whos gettin carried away by the po po is crying…haha what a sissy….
    nigger-ul-haq

  12. hm, what to say, what to say. perhaps somethin intelligent. lovely of you to mention the yankees boomin payroll. whiles we’re givin shout-outs to the enemy, lemme extend a holla to the yanks and thank em for throwin green around. i praise caesar, cuz in the last several yrs it seems like every innovation set forth in mlb has been in an effort to combat a bigger and badder yankees ballclub, so i thank em for forcin change. their previous dominance has made a more competitive middle class, forced ppl to sit down and think strategically by like retollin front offices, ditchin dumb baseball lifers, uncloggin scouting bureaucracies, draftin more college players, forsakin overpriced mid-career players, and hirin brainy staticians to see wassup. so my middle-class sox have prevailed, mA, and im glad mlb is gettin smarter. lets see more gems rise outta the rough iA next yearpeace,IJB

  13. Anonymous permalink

    haha

  14. Hehehehehe, the part about the crazy managers = sufi shaikhs was pretty intelligent

  15. “The fruit of patience is always sweet.” I like that. It has a nice ring to it.

  16. Real good post, I liked the connections you gave. Just like any other cubs fan, I say Ameen to your dua that they make it to the World Series one day.

  17. Unfortunatly, I don’t know anything about sox, except that if I wear them too long, they smell.

  18. You are on my iTunes KR…

  19. FAVORITE line of the WHOLE post
    Thursday, November 17, 2005
    keep up the good vork!
    o.O

  20. Anonymous permalink

    HAHAHAHAHA lol o.O…haha good stuff….
    nigger-ul-haq

  21. Anonymous permalink

    point 2. SO glad that u mentioned those damn yankees.

  22. Haha, I like the way you drew the correlations between Islam and sports. JazakAllahu khair for sharing!
    Assalamu alaikum~

  23. oashrafi: i’ll be sure to add Moneyball to my list of books to read if it’s as insightful as you say.ohsofabulous: i’m sorry that you had to sit through that… even I wouldn’t wanna sit through a discussion wherein people laud the so-called good-things about kamran riaz.fazaileamal: keep the faith my friend… things can only get better, right? well, i mean, hypothetically at least..qidas: one eprop for the sox… what about one eprop for me to make it two… jerk.ishiwud: “gems rise out the rough”… wait, you mean let’s see how many people actually get caught for using steroids? =)xpikax: “one” day… indeed.sheikhyaquba: don’t you have any white socks that you like above your other pairs of socks? and i guess the lesson for you, my dear lad, is that just as you’re learning to change and wash your socks frequently, we big people have to change and wash our hearts frequently…. cause if we leave them alone for too long, they start to stink as well.muhi: itunes for?salman: shouldn’t you be like working out 24/7 and getting ready for your wedding instead of commenting on xangas? hehehe, but yes, yankees suck… except for mariano rivera. that guy is a studmuslimbro7861: boo hoo, im so scarred by that comment that i dont think i can ever write another xanga post. for all you and other people that complain about my long posts: i don’t care. no one’s forcing you to visit this site. i get enough people who are actually interested in what i have to say that they’ll read the whole article that writing on this blog is worthwhile. i will not change the length of my posts to cater to people who can’t pay attention for more than 5 minutes.inshallah3021: thanks, ive always found that finding lessons in things that people can relate to is often the best way to get islamic messages across, instead of simply quoting hadith and qur’an.

  24. this is late, but i’m gonna eprop this anyways  just b/c i meant to do so earlier

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