Colin O'Brien, Vince Incopero and Maroney are chums from Elmhurst College, living in the west suburbs of Chicago. They had front-row seats to watch Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Rays. Not at U.S. Cellular Field, but in front of a big screen at a sports bar a half-hour away.
They joined about 20 other Sox fans, watching Tampa Bay go up, 1-0, in the first, 2-0 in the third and 4-0 in the fourth before downing Chicago, 6-2. The South Siders put up a fight, winning Game 3 to avoid a sweep, something their North Side counterparts couldn't do against the Dodgers.
"It's still disheartening," said Incopero, 26. "It's got to be just as bad as it was sitting on the other side of town."
They differed while looking back on the White Sox season.
"If you make the playoffs, it's successful," Maroney said. "If we had Carlos [Quentin], I think it'd be a different ballgame."
On one hand, the White Sox were fortunate just to play in October. They lost both of their All-Stars, Joe Crede and Quentin, to injuries late in the season. After everyone else stopped playing, Chicago needed wins against Detroit and Minnesota last week just to secure a postseason berth. But once you get there, you want to go farther.
"It's not a successful season if you don't win the World Series," said O'Brien, 21, of Lisle.
The frustration mounted as Game 4 wore on. An offense that came up with so many big hits the last six months couldn't solve the Rays' No. 4 starter. The bar exploded when Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko homered to cut the deficit to three runs in separate innings. The excitement was short-lived, however, as the Rays answered both times.
"The Rays are good, they do everything, and they do it quite well," Incopero said. "They're kind of like the Twins."
Rather than go on about the AL East champions, they turned to offseason talk. The first issue, they agreed, is to get starter Javier Vazquez straightened out. The right-hander didn't make it through five innings in his final four starts and was torched for six runs in 4 1/3 in Game 1 of the ALDS. They're likely stuck with Vazquez. He's under contract for next season, but hitters Crede and Ken Griffey Jr. await free agency.
"You've got to get rid of Crede, he's got too many problems," said O'Brien, referring to the third baseman's troublesome back. "Get rid of Griffey. I don't care about his Hall of Fame name. He's a .250 hitter now. If you let [Brian] Anderson play all year [in center field], I think he can come up huge."
Looking back, they conceded a Cubs-Sox World Series was unrealistic given the talent on the other playoff teams. Instead, Chicago hosted a disappointing total of four postseason games.
"We might see an all-L.A. World Series," O'Brien said.