Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cubs-White Sox Series Game 1-3

I tend to make fun of teams that play the Sox that have tons of hits but can't make them stick. You look at the scoreboard generally and the other team has 10 hits but 2 home runs, while the sox have 7 hits and 7 home runs. Tonight my own team seems deserving of my ridicule. The Sox have been swept by the Cubs. Sox total runs? 11. Cubs total runs? 22. The rivalry is what keeps the fans going. When the teams wins, finally we can say "We are entitled to walk around Chicago wearing our team's shirt, while you are not!" So, now that we have 10 hits, but one run (Credit must be given to Mr. .275, Joe Crede) while the cubs had 6 or 7 hits that they "made stick," should I be ashamed that the score was settled and I was on the losing side?

Let me take you back to the first game of the series. A clear, blue sky and a slight rain delay if I'm not mistaken. A beautiful home run by Dye, and one by Pierzinski (who is, along with Cabrera, in my opinion, one of the two most consistent players on the team). The Sox lead 3-1. Then the Cubs tie, and no more runs materialize for the Sox, while the Cubs fail to cave under pressure and score a run in the bottom of the 9th. What has happened to Carlos Quentin who was May's clutch player, Mr. 17 Home Runs, Mr. Right Place, Right Time, blah, blah, whatever else it is "The Hawk" yammers about on Comcast Sportsnet. Where did Joe Crede's 5 home runs in three games go? Remember that faithful day when number 30, Nick Swisher hit two home runs in one game? Today, the ESPN scoreboard had 2 outs as soon as he was up to bat in anticipation of his inevitable strikeout. And since when is Alexei Ramirez popping out to left field and hitting into double plays? I have seen literal miracles happen during Sox games this year that I did not expect such a tragic end to the series.

Here we are dealing with a team that depends on streaks, whose morale is contagious. They went into Wrigley with a winning attitude, and were defeated by their own morale. The Sox are nothing, if not a team of capable, talented players. We've seen their winning streaks this year. Their last was 7! Perhaps it is time for the best medicine: a verbal spank from Ozzie. It worked so well after the Tampa "incident" that I think it is time to bring out Ozzie big attitude. That is, unless the Sox would like to give up their leading role in the division. In a short few days, their lead has decreased from 4.5 to 1.5 games.

But for some constructive criticism. What needs to happen is a change in the line-up. I'm not referring to the removal or insertion of other players, I am referring to this: after the Tampa rant, Ozzie said he would change the line-up, and he tweaked the batting order. What always broke my heart was seeing Konerko, Crede, and Swisher in a row. Konerko has been almost consistently struggling this year and Crede, as a general rule, works better when he has a 0-0, 0 count. There's nothing better that watching him blow a bubble whenever he's confident. When he sees Konerko's out, he would almost always go out, and by the time Swish is up, he's thinking "If those two guys can't get past the pitcher, how can I?"

Then Oz did his thing, stuck Konerko far away from Crede, Crede was positioned so that he would be at the begging of halves, and Swisher was elsewhere. Now, you have Swish and Crede one right after the other again. Since Thome wasn't in the series, and Konerko's injury, there are all these "extra" players at the end of the lineup. Here's my suggestion. Have Alexei come in after Pierzinski so that Quentin isn't under pressure. Have Quentin, Thome, then Dye, Someone like Brian Anderson, Swisher, and then Konerko. Maybe make Crede Last. Maybe put him after Dye. Under no circumstances should "sluggers" be after eachother. And all the "one-base-at-a-time" players (I'm talking Ramirez, Cabrera, maybe Wise, or Ozuna, depending on the day and injury) sprinkled in, not clustered at the end.

I am hoping for a turn-around and sweep of the Dodgers, another extended winning streak, and a refreshed morale after their day off tomorrow. I hope the necessary changes are made, and the Sox keep their title as division winners.

What are your suggestions for the team, and where do you think the team went wrong? Is it the batting, the fielding, the pitching, low morale, or a deadly combination of all of the aforementioned?

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