It's hard to gauge who needed the All-Star break more: the disappointing White Sox or their disappointed fan base.

Expectations are everything, and the Sox' big-spending offseason set the bar where chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams like to put it: high enough to have a chance in the American League Central and, when things fall into place, high enough to dream of making 2005 happen all over again.

As Sox fans taking four days to decompress from a frustrating first half know all too well, their team can't seem to beat anybody in its division, let alone the National League champs in October.

The Sox are 8-16 within the division, a low blow for a unit selling itself as part of the Central's ''upper crust.'' The good news is the Sox trail the 49-43 Tigers by only five games.