In less than two weeks, the White Sox’ season will be over.
For the multitude of Sox fans who have been banging their heads against the wall through all of the fielding errors, baserunning blunders and spastic swings, it will be a time to celebrate.
But for the equally multitudinous Paul Konerko fans, it will be an uneasy time.
Konerko is nearing the end of his 15th season in a White Sox uniform, and the 37-year-old first baseman/designated hitter ranks second to Frank Thomas in franchise history in home runs, RBI and total bases.
Konerko also led the White Sox to the 2005 World Series championship, and his popularity has long been off the charts.
The three big questions are: Will Konerko retire at the end of the season? Will he come back and play for the Sox next year? Will he come back and play for another team next year?
We’ll all find out eventually.
Before Monday night’s game against the Twins, I had a long talk with Konerko. Looking expectedly weary, he said he needs time away from the game before making any decision on his future.
Konerko typically starts getting ready for the next season around Thanksgiving, so look for a decision at some point in November.
If this is Konerko’s last year with the White Sox — his contract is up at the end of the season — it’s an awful way to bow out.
“We’re fighting not to lose 100 games,” Konerko said. “I never thought I would be in that position. Coming into the year, none of us thought we’d be in this position after the way last year went.
“I think we’re all a little bit shellshocked about what’s going on. You still have to find ways to show up and play the game right and have some pride out there with how you go about your business.
“Believe me, these are the toughest games to play because it’s not easy.”
Will Konerko decide to come back next season because he doesn’t want to end his brilliant career on such a sour note? Conversely, will Konerko be so disgusted by this season that retirement is inevitable?
He wasn’t biting on either scenario. “When the time comes to go over it all; everything’s in play,” he said.
As for the present, Konerko admits it has been difficult to show up and play at times during such a down year.
“You go into the season, every team does, with the mindset that we’re going to have fun, we’re going to win games, this is going to be a blast,” Konerko said. “You try to keep it like that as long as you can.
“Unfortunately, going back to early in the season, it turned and we haven’t been able to ever turn it back. I hate to say it becomes a job, you try to keep that from coming into the picture as long as you can.
“At the end of the day, you’re still doing something you wish you could have done as a kid. So you have to frame that into your mind and make it into something … you have to trick yourself. There are days you don’t feel like playing or just don’t get the meaning of it all.
“But these seasons happen. Next year there will probably be some other team that has to deal with this. Every year there seems to be a team or two one in each league, that just, the season won’t let you in. That’s been us.”
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