Monday, June 30, 2008
And now, I give you the scorers of the game! Thome gets a triple homer (number 523 lifetime!) and a great double, Swisher gets a Grand Slam (his second in four days!), a solo home run, and Dye gets Cabrera home on a single. 9 points in this game, all drawing screams from the fans. Cabrera had a few nice hits in the game and Anderson finally got a hit in the 7th. He’s stopped chasing bad pitches and drew what seemed like his first career walk. (I’m sure it wasn’t, don’t get me wrong, he just chases pitches and missed the ball quite a lot.) I’m really glad they put him in the game two days in a row instead of that little Wise-Anderson-Wise game they’ve been playing with the poor kid.
Gavin Floyd’s pitching today was great overall, but he threw a LOT of balls (and his balls are never "close;" he's either in the box or out in space). Gavin recorded a career-high ten strikeouts today! He’s been doing a great job throwing slower pitches to get lots of swing-misses. He also got in the game and ran to first to assist Swish for a great out!
And now, a paragraph dedicated to Joe Crede. On the field, he stands up straight and makes great picks. But does anyone else feel something’s wrong? I’m not talking about the fact that he made his 16th error of the year today (I KNOW!), or the fact that all he came up with today was a couple of walks. He just seems to have a different attitude. He’s blowing less bubbles, he’s getting less hits, and he hasn’t had a home run in a couple of weeks. The guy didn’t strain his back last week, he sprained his positive attitude. It’s okay, Joe, as long as you’re okay!
I've seen the Indians enough this year to start remembering the players as more than just quick outs. Reading over my notes from the game, I’ve been cracking myself up commenting on the players. About them, I wrote: “I'm sorry, is Sowers 12? 'Cause he sure looks it… But, the little boy can pitch. Note to self: Do not get distracted by Mike Delucci's hotness! Can we get him next year? And Casey Blake, I wanna hate him 'cause he's on the Indians, but he's definitely their Joe Crede.” Cleveland has been doing poorly compared to the other teams in their division, but they sure have a good team. That Peralta guy went 5-5! Hopefully, a loss today gets the Indians' morale down and they put up less of a fight tomorrow when we meet them again.
Oh, yes! The quote of the day! Hawk & DJ were talking about the guys taking a beating, being bruised and scratched from dives and wild pitches, and this gem comes out: "If only we could see a snapshot of their bruised and battered bodies." Yes, if only we could...
And a question for all my readers: Do you think Swish’s hitting has improved because he’s playing a field position where he feels more comfortable and confident or is he just hitting a hot streak?
What can be said about our contenders? According to this MLB.com article, Paul Konerko is in fifth place in his category, second base has no one from our team because Juan Uribe hasn’t played there for more than 2 games in one month and Alexei was not on the ballot at the time, Joe Crede is voted third for third base, but his some 730,000 votes are just a third of the clear winner, Rodriguez of the Yankees. Cabrera and Pierzinski are both fifth in their respective categories, and Jim Thome is third in his with over 820,000 votes and has the most votes of anyone in our club. Neither Dye nor Quentin (despite the write-in vote campaign) break the top 15 in the outfield category.
What does this say about our team and players? Clearly, our team does not have the support it deserves. Because Chicago is a two-team city, while other cities can throw full support behind their single team, Chicago fans are split in a bitter rivalry, cutting chances in half. You might say other cities (Los Angeles and New York, for instance) have more than one team, but they have managed to get their teams in the first place spot. What gives? To that question, I have no answer. Perhaps it is their notoriety or that those cities come together when it comes to representing their city. Perhaps it is just that Sox fans are not passionate enough about their team with their hot-cold streaks.
The good news? The All-Star Game means four days of rest for our clutch players, our struggling hitters, and the exhausted players that are constantly giving their all. Perhaps it would be a good thing to leave the names of White Sox players off the ballot if that means rested and rejuvenated players for the 4-game series against division rivals, the Minnesota Twins.
If you would like the White Sox to represent Chicago in the All-Star Game, click here to vote.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Despite errors in the infield by the Sox, the Cubs' offense isn't strong enough to bring a win to the Cubs! Sox fans were happy to see 4 double plays on the Cubs (two due to quick picks from Crede, one from a quick and precise throw by Nick Swisher, and another off-the-glove, but entirely perfect throw by Alexei Ramirez).
While bitter Cub fans may say we only won because the umps were on our side (and, on quite a few calls, I'd have to agree), the Sox certainly earned their victory. Excellent pitching by Buehrle stumped usual hot-hitter Derek Lee, and Jenks stopped any runs in the 9th inning.
Highlights: TWO unexpected double plays due to catch/throw to second base combinations, Thome hits homer #522, and my favorite part-time player Brian Anderson gets his fourth season home run (impressive for a "bench player"), Quentin gets homer #19 (yes, the man is hot again!), and Buehrle once again gets out of a couple of very sticky situations!
Lowlights: Joe Crede for his first 3 at-bats, and that ball that went right between his legs! (That's what she said!) Still, the man can make a fast catch! Cabrera and Pierzinski couldn't make anything happen at bat (and Alexei if I'm not wrong, but he's so good in the field, it's out of sight and out of mind!).
Final Thoughts: Now that we saw that Swish is quick on his feet on first and Brian Anderson is more than a good vacuum (Have you ever seen a ball get by him? I think not!), but a power hitter, is Konerko in the same position Uribe was? Well, this weekend did a lot for morale, and hopefully that's what it takes for Sox to keep this winning streak going, and to keep Minnesota away from first place. Like SoxMan says, our focus is (or should be) winning in our division!
Coming up: The series at home against the Indians and Oakland (Swisher's former team). Gavin Floyd is on the mound tomorrow!
Jermaine Dye's batting average soared to an impressive club-leading .306, and Ramirez is now batting .300. In a recent blog poll, when asked which struggling player would make a comeback, fans declared Carlos Quentin the winner with 63%, and trusted that Paul Konerko, too, would regain his stride with the remainder of the votes. True to the fans' predictions, Quentin came back with a solo home run, securing the Sox's victory over the Cubs. Dye, Crede, and Ramirez each had two hits recorded for the night, and all but Swisher and Thome had success on base with one hit each. Two stolen bases, Minnesota's loss, and the encouragement of thousands of White Sox fans also helped the Sox extend their American League division lead to 1.5 games. The Sox are on a 3-game winning streak, and are shedding the remains of their losing streak to the Cubs and Rockies.
Don't miss tonight's game, where Buehrle will be on the mound, looking to sweep the Cubs in their last meeting of the year.
Friday, June 27, 2008
So what did you miss? Alexei was out because of his wife having a baby, and Uribe did a fine job filling in for him on second. Calos Quentin seems to be getting back on track, and went 4 for 5 today. Another player having a great day- defensively, at least- was Jermaine Dye. Two great catches: a deep foul off the bat of Derek Lee, and a near homerun at the fence by Fukudome.
Some lowlights: Contreras’s pitching. While he held off any serious damage, his attempts at pitches on the right corner were too far to be even called outside. Out of orbit perhaps? After two walks, my notes said (about Crede): “Making good- no, GREAT saves over and over. Sure as hell can’t rely on Contreras.” Ouch. Maybe I was a little harsh, but I can’t say I understand why Ozzie trusts as much as he does on Contreras. While I “fondly” call Dotel Ozzie’s dad (Come on, you’ve seen the resemblance!), Contreras gets the title of “Grandpa Jose.” I think he’s only 36, but could easily pass for a septuagenarian and get a senior discount for the early bird special. Boone Logan threw a few sloppy pitches, but finished off what Contreras start successfully, and was followed by Dotel and Masset who both finished strongly.
I’ve neglected Cabrera and Pierzinski, who started out solid, but cooled down. Does anyone else feel like A.J. is in an odd place in the lineup? I’m not saying make him a clutch player (and speaking of a clutch player… is there anyone on the team (other than Crede one week every month or so) that can handle the position gracefully?), but he’s more of a hitter than a slugger, and he seemed to get stuck on first or second more often than not. Thome was back after his big National League-induced break, but doesn’t do anything. “Number 24” was also there. Yeah, he’s sharp on third, but he needs to get those quiet shoulders (or whatever he had going before) back before I decide that Alexei, A.J., or Orlando are my favorite players. I’m sure with a threat like that, Joe is sure to get his batting back in shape.
Great game, great comeback, great defense, great offense, great day to be a White Sox fan!
Soxman to the rescue! The masked hero comes to the rescue of Sox fans once again! Feeling down because those Cub fans just won't shut up about that broom they brought out last Sunday? Soxman's rap may help you deal with the stress of dealing with a Cub fan.
Check out the original source over at The Sports Bank, and visit Soxman's official MySpace and enjoy his rap:
"So why would Soxman jump to the front of the pile? Let's just say I owe it to the movie "8 Mile." Yes I'll admit it, that the sweep was vile, and I won't complain that some calls stunk worse than bile. Cubs fans are gloating and show boating, all the while looking for Sox fans to start scapegoating. As they laugh and sing "Hey Chicago What Do You Say?" I Lose Myself, and refuse to play. Cause to try and battle would only give them their way, so use your mind before you jump in the fray. Yes Cubs fans, you won okay? Congratulations…. and yeah have a nice day.
The best team in baseball deserves a high five, and we're also still in first and very much alive. So words of advice, if you want to continue to brag, hang that broom next to our 2005 World Championship Flag. Regardless of what happens, or who is the worst, always remember: WE WON IT FIRST. So we're not bitter or trying to save face, but if you win the gold, it's still SECOND PLACE.
So good luck at going for the silver, we have already won the gold, in a 100 year race, this battle is getting old. So the game is over, try to keep the pace, Sox fans are more focused on the AL Central race. Gloat or "goat" over your three impressive wins, I'm on to worrying about the Tigers, Indians, and Twins."
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Toby Hall seems to jinx the team whenever he steps behind home plate. I think this might be the first time this season I’ve ever seen the Sox win a game while Hall was calling the pitches. He dropped that foul ball, made sloppy throws and catches, and overall made me miss A.J. But, hey, everyone needs a day off every now and then.
Ramirez started out great at bat, and slowed down, but didn’t slow down at all in the field. Danks gets his first career hit, and makes impressive save after impressing save, getting out of four terrifying innings unscathed. As Hawk would say, “MERCY!” They brought out Thorton (who wasn’t as good as yesterday, but did well), Dotel (who usually scares me on the mound, but did alright today), and Jenks brought them home. Quentin didn’t impress me with anything other than his catches, Dye continues to do a lot of nothing in the end of the series, and Anderson continues to chase balls he shouldn’t be chasing. Can Walker please have a talk with him? I really like the guy (especially in the outfield), but he makes it really hard for me to defend him when he comes up empty five times.
I know you were thinking I’d dedicate this entire blog to Crede, his back, his catching, batting, and awesome goatee, but I can’t brag. Joe didn’t accomplish much of anything. His throwing is a definite improvement from Pablo Ozuna, but he had a groundout to third, a double play (or triple play, or something awful like that) where they had about four different things to throw to the basemen: the ball and various pieces of his broken bat, and when they walked Swish to get to him with bases loaded, he got into another mess and quickly ended the inning. He finished up the game by striking out again. But, hey, that’s Joe at bat. He’s cold, then hot, then cold… I’m hoping the temperature changes real soon and Joe starts hitting them out of the park again. Even if he doesn’t get a hot bat again, I’m hoping his streaks don’t become contagious and affect his fielding. Was it me, or did he seem a little disoriented on third?
Coming up: The Cubs series at U.S. Cellular. I might just do a recap at the end; I’m not sure I can handle documenting such an emotional series three days in a row.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
So far, everyone’s come up empty. Pierzinski got on base, but he’s not allowed to brag: he made the bad throw that started the Dodgers going in the first place. Carlos Quentin did nothing over and over again. If he keeps going that way, this new lineup discussion is over, because I’m foreseeing an open spot in left field.
Juan Uribe is pinch hitting, but fouls out, Cabrera pops out, and the pitcher has two outs quickly. Pierzinski is also out in a flash. That brings up pitcher Boone Logan trying to stop any more runs from being put on the scoreboard. Logan gets two quick outs, and DeWitt comes up to bat, Crede’s counterpart, but he strikes out after a full count, leading us to the high-pressure top of the ninth. 0-for-3 Swish is the Sox’s last hope, the crowd gives him a standing ovation, and he flies out after a full count.
You can skip all that stuff I just wrote because the bottom line is that if anyone was an MVP today, it was Stults, and he plays for the other team. (That’s what she said?) So, the Sox give me a glimmer of hope yesterday, and then do nothing? Is it lack of leadership? Is it something Ozzie did? Is it that they miss Konerko? Are they lost without Crede? Is it that Gavin Floyd had to bunt today and it affected their game enormously? (And can you honestly tell me the man couldn’t swing a bat. He’s not Bobby Jenks, I’m sure he can handle a little swing…) So… now we’re probably only .5 games ahead of Minnesota after an embarrassing game. What a great day it was to be a Sox fan…
5 Juan Uribe. Uribe went on the Disabled List in May due to a pulled hamstring and disappeared. After 15 days, the fans were so impressed with his replacement, Alexei Ramirez, that Ozzie and Kenny Williams agreed: Uribe gets to admire the architecture of the dugout from the bench. Uribe is 29, currently batting .215 for the season and .357 for the month, has 3 homers and 17 RBI for the season (mind you, he has only gotten on the field in 9 games since his injury). Although worth mentioning, it seems that Uribe is officially out of the running for any on-field position other than the occasional designated hitter role.
14 Paul Konerko. Paulie is currently on the Disabled List with a pulled oblique. 32-year-old Konerko has been playing with the Sox since 1999, and has certainly paid his dues. Paul’s career average is .278 with a career high of .313, but is struggling more than ever this year, hitting only .215. Can Konerko prove to Guillen and Williams- or more importantly, his devoted and disappointed fans, that he is still deserving of his first base position, or will he have to relinquish his spot to Swish and make room for someone else in center field?
31 Dewayne Wise. Ozzie gave 30-year-old Wise a shot at a starting position in the June 24 game against the Dodgers. Wise gave Dodger and Sox fans a great show, boosting his average to .364 and making great plays in center field. Wise has been pinch running and playing odd jobs on the field this year, and has only has 22 at bats, so it may be too early in the season to determine whether he is a solid enough started, but if yesterday was an indication rather than a fluke, Wise would be a wise choice.
32 Brian Anderson. Only 26, Brian Anderson seemed an early contender for a starter position. He has been often placed in center field, where he has had no errors this season. While the website says Brian has played 49 games, anyone that has been watching knows that for the most part, that means one or two innings per game until Konerko’s injury. Of the other contenders, he is the closest to batting like a starter. His average is .236, he’s had 3 homers, and 11 RBI. With a little bit of coaching from Walker, Brian seems to have the potential to go from occasional slugger to experienced hitter. Plus, why do the Twins get to have Mauer and the Indians can have Sizemore, and we can’t have a young player on our side? Unless, of course, they would rather lose him to a different team that would recognize his abilities and give him more playing time...
38 Pablo Ozuna. Well, I guess he’s batting .293, but he’s only been in 28 games, and has stood in for Crede at third base. As a big fan of Crede (to say the least), I found Ozuna’s performance disappointing, noting imprecise throwing, no impressive saves. Sure, he’s a good pinch runner and makes a mill a year, so I guess they want him to do something more than warm the bench to justify his salary, but I have yet to see anything impressive from Ozuna.
So what’s a manager to do? At least for now, Swisher will be a starter on first, making room for one in center field, while another one of the players may have a chance on third base if Crede is still out because of his back. Once Konerko returns, will he or Swisher be bumped the way Uribe was or will everything return to normal, as if nothing had happened? We are sure to find out in the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
What an outing for Buehrle! The man with the most un-spell-able name in the history of the Sox picks up his 1000th strikeout, has a great bunt, and how about that save he made when Swisher dropped the ball before the third out at the very bottom of the eighth? Yes, he is the MVP of the game!
I would have started the blog with some sad news, but Buehrle was way too hot to let him be overshadowed. Yes, it was a sad day at third base, where Joe Crede was out for the day ‘cause of a sore back. Get better soon, Joe! And I promise, I’m not just saying that because I love the man! I am saying it because I have my issues with Pablo Ozuna. Although he didn’t pick up any errors during this game, I still can’t say his throwing is as on target as Crede’s. At bat, he produced nothing three times, but managed a walk.
Speaking of replacement, Dewayne Wise stepped up in center field today. I expected Anderson, thinking you need someone with a strong arm out there, but I think the only word I can use for their choice to put Wise out there is “flawless.” He was 3 for 4, sent Swish home, and just blew me away. Wise choice, indeed! (That pun was so lame, it was barely a pun. Sorry guys, it was a late game)
Cabrera was another hot hitter today. He went 2 for 5, and he had an amazing play in the seventh, making up for that error they stuck on him. The guy was out, Swisher hit the base, but the call was for the Dodgers. And speaking of Nicholas Thompson Swisher, he finally got a hit in the eighth, and had a sacrificed fly, been playing great first base overall.
Ok, some not so great things. Alexei was great in the outfield- as usual, but not so hot at bat. No offense to Uribe, but I’m hoping they keep him off the field for the rest of the season. Pierzinski started strong, but was only 1 for 5. Carlos Quentin did go 2 for 5, but his performance seemed about as spectacular as this sentence. J. Dye was A.L Player of the Week. Yay for him, but he apparently let it go to his head quickly. Sure, his first time at bat was rough, but he didn’t hit anything else until his home run. Yes, that’s 17 for the year, but are we aiming blindly for homers now?
Overall, I’m glad the Sox stayed on top today, but weren’t particularly strong. Once again, they had a lot of hits but didn’t make all of them into runs. It definitely seemed as if they would rely on the 2-1 lead until someone would hit a home run at the bottom of the 9th as we have seen in so many games. Hopefully, the Sox don’t rely on the pitching as much as they did tonight, and the bats really get cracking tomorrow.
Monday, June 23, 2008
5. Paul Konerko’s oblique injury. Yes, he was struggling before going on the D.L. Yes, he was batting under .200 for awhile, but without Paulie on first base, the Sox aren’t the same. Despite Brian Anderson’s unforgiving defense in Center Field, don’t you find it a bit odd to see Nick Swisher’s number 30 on base, instead of the familiar 14?
4. Carlos Quentin’s overall performance during the month of June. Yes, he was voted May’s clutch player and certainly seemed worthy of the All-Star Game, spurring a surge of write-in votes, but the month of June proved that Carlos had gotten stuck in the clutch position one time too many, having only sixteen hits for the June 3rd- June 23rd period. Have we just been spoiled by his lucky performance or has something happened to our stellar left fielder?
3. The Sox defeated by Tamba Bay. The Sox make such a poor showing in this extended losing streak that Ozzie unleashed his famous, fearsome temper against the entire team. On the bright side, the infamous rant knocked Crede (at least temporarily) back on track, leading to his famous 3-game, 5-home run week where he was voted American League co-player of the week, batting over .600 and reaching 14 home runs altogether.
2. Octavio Dotel throws 12 balls in a row. Yes, that is an embarassing 3 walks with no strikes in between. In one of Dotel’s earliest outings, he disappoints fans with a less than impressive showing. Thankfully, the Sox went on to win the game, but sadly, it wasn’t Dotel’s only bad day.
1. The Cubs-Sox Series, Game 3 at Wrigley Field. Despite 10 hits (that is 2 more than the Cubs had for the night), the Sox only drive in one run in the entire game (in the seventh inning) thanks to Joe Crede.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
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?
So, now that I preached about that, let me tell you how much I can't stand the Cubs-Sox series. There is so much tension, so much negativity, and so much animosity coming into the series, that I can barely watch the game. If the Sox lose, I know I'll be hearing an earful from my friends that are Cubs fans. If the Sox win, the same friends will resent me and I'll hear an earful about Ozzie's temper, how our field sold out for money and instead of a national landmark, it is a shrine to a cellphone company, or about A.J. Pierzinski's ability to take a punch.
This is why I cannot stand the "Crosstown Classic." Even if we win, we lose. If we lose, we keep on losing! Certainly, a Sox win against the Cubs (this year, especially, with their unbelievable winning record) would make me immensely proud and a loss would be immensely devastating, but can you blame me for welcoming the possibility of a tie?
Note that I am aware that so far in the 6-game series, the Sox are 0-2, but I will do a full report on the series between the Sox and Cubs at the very end. I think it might be very frustrating to handle each individual game. In the meantime, feel free to post comments with your thoughts on the series.