Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your 2008 AL Central Divison Champs, the White Sox

It took 163 games, but only one home run to decide the faith of the 2008 American League Central.

Who saw John Danks' brilliant performance coming? He took a no-hitter into the 5th, and pitched 8 full, scoreless innings with just 2 hits for the White Sox in a high-pressure situation. J.D. did it all on 3 days' rest, and finished off the regular season with the lowest ERA of all White Sox Starters.

Bobby Jenks came in the 9th to keep the score 1-0. A strikeout and a groundout had the Sox one out away from the Division win. All it took was a diving catch by defensive substitution Brian Anderson to end the game! SOX WIN!

Jim Thome scored the only run on a solo home run- a dead-center, monster shot over the head of Carlos Gomez. Although the Sox couldn't capitalize on all other hits and walks, thanks to some flawless pitching, it was enough to keep the Sox in the lead.

Just as the White Sox planned it. They won the division. They sent the Twinkies home with their tails between their legs despite strong outings by both Blackburn and Nathan.

Yes, just like we planned it. [Pale Hose 8's Juan Uribe]

Hitting the Ball in Outer Space

It has been rumored that Carlos Quentin’s superhero powers come from a very strong alliance of other superheroes. The nature of his birth has recently been discovered. In the most potent high-five in history, Superman and Chuck Norris’s energies collided and, much like the big bang, creation occurred. From the explosion of their high five were born Quentin and his fraternal twin Alexei Ramirez. Of this explosion, there is rumored to be a third brother, Gavin Floyd, whose powers are so great, he can only be unleashed every 5 days (4, if he has to go on short rest).

Needless to say, I haven’t slept since the Sunday before we started our series against Minnesota. For the first time in over a week, I couldn’t sleep last night because I was excited. During the past 15 hours (If I was to guesstimate), I was followed by White Sox talk wherever I went. “He pitched on 3 days’ rest. Isn’t that crazy?” “His fourth Grand Slam! That’s a rookie record!” It’s been a crazy ride so far, and yesterday just summed it all up nicely.

First, there was Gavin Floyd. I really have no words for how much respect I have for him. Honestly, I don’t want to put the jinx on him, but he had another one of those Gavin Floyd days. He had one earned run for the night, allowing 2 to cross home plate over 6 innings, and striking out 8. There was a moment in the 6th where he airmailed a ball he bobbled on a swinging bunt when a runner scored. He was so upset with himself I thought we (Gavin & I both) would fall over. Ozzie came to the mound. I was thinking he would pull him because there’s no way he would compose himself after that. I think my heart was still palpitating from that play well into the night. Gavin must’ve said something along the lines of, “Everyone chillax, I got this!” he got a “keep going” pat from Ozzie and he, in fact, got it together. He threw 118 pitches over 6 innings on 3 days’ rest. When does MVP talk start about this guy?

Well, how about when he picks up his 17th win? With a little help from Alexei, Gavin did just that in the most important game so far. And by a little help, I mean, Alexei Ramirez hit his 4th grand slam of the season. [Off the same bullpen that gave "The Rock" Wise a grand slam just a few weeks ago.] Gotta love that little guy! Hopefully, his fiery kablam-o will give the Sox enough momentum to juggernaut their way through a last do or die game against the Twinkies. I have a feeling that a Sox win will boost Twinkie/Champagne sales in the Chicagoland area. Diehard Sox fans will saturate the Twinkies in champagne and feast on the delicious treat the same way the Sox will devour them tonight, if all goes according to plan. May I remind you that the last time the Twinks came to town, Joe Crede was declared AL co-player of the Week, after homering twice on 2 consecutive days, to make it 5 homers in 3 days, a zillion RBI, went 4-for-4... and overall helped sweep the Twins so that the Sox could pull ahead to something like a 6-game divisional lead. Nothing would make me happier than a second helping of that!

As for the actual odds, we are leaning on John Danks on 3 days rest as a pitcher. We are playing a team whose record (home and away) is identical to ours, and anything could happen. Thankfully, the Sox will take the Twinks on at home, where the stadium is sold out- it was sold out within an hour. The Sox have called for a “blackout,” a game where everyone will show Sox solidarity by wearing all black and will distribute black rally towels to all entering the stadium. The energy should be electric as the Sox attempt to win the AL Central Division.

As for odds and ends, I found this video recently. (EDIT: Props to Jeeves @ Life in the Cell. He found it first.) This pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about Swish. I’ll post it below.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sox Lose Losing Streak

I apologize if you were looking for words of comfort or wisdom in the hard times that we find ourselves in. And I’m not just talking about the economy, I am talking about the state of the Sox. After a few failed tries and several false starts, I decided to give up, for I couldn’t bring myself to update, or write anything that wasn’t saturated in disdain, sarcasm, and mean comments about Joe Cowley. How [Jim] kept the blog going I’ll never know. That’s bravery; reliving the pain of the game in the struggle for a post.

There are plenty of people that have said baseball is fun, and it’s going to be a fun race to the end. Well, I personally don’t believe in the fun of hanging by the skin of your teeth. In fact, it’s been the opposite of fun watching a team that was in first place for so long fail to capture at least one key victory. To give Kenny Williams’s psychic credit, I remember that even awhile ago, Joe Crede was saying it’ll be an interesting race to watch, and the A.L. Central will go down to the wire. As Mark Buehrle said today, everyone thought it would be down to the last few days, not down to the last day. Yet, here we are. The Sox managed to end their 5-game losing streak, and fought against the Indians with a vengeance after failing to capitalize on 2 consecutive Twin losses during the previous days.

Going into tomorrow- the 162nd game of the season, the Sox are trailing Minnesota by a half of a game. If the Sox win tomorrow, they will be tied for first place and will have to face Minnesota, at home, in a one-game, winner-takes-all division showdown. The Sox are down to their last bullet, and they better use it to shoot some big game- of the Detroit species.

As far as pitching goes, tomorrow’s matchup is ironic in that Gavin Floyd and Freddy Garcia were trade for each other. Now, in the ultimate face-off, they will try to out-pitch each other. For the last game against Minnesota, the scheduled pitcher must be Danks, since Javi pitched yesterday (not that he would be the man for the job anyway, after throwing in the towel after 4 innings), Buehrle was on the mound today, and Floyd is scheduled for tomorrow. Surely, we can’t trust this big game in Clayton Richard’s hands. Of course, Danks’s last outing was anything but watchable.

As for odds, I can’t tell you how good they are. I thought the odds were pretty good in that the Sox would take at least one game from Minnesota, but I was sorely mistaken. Sure, it was possible for the Twins to sweep the Sox, but did I think it would happen? Certainly not.

Perhaps this is all a ploy sponsored by Tums, Pepto Bismol, and blood pressure medication to get fans as close to a heart attack as possible in order to gain more revenue. Maybe the Sox are doing this on purpose- just Nick Swisher playing a trick on us (kind of like acquiring Griffey. Or Swish for the matter). There must be an ace (we can only hope Gavin Floyd continues to be an ace) up their sleeves, or they have been losing on purpose. Crede & Quentin aren’t really injured! They’re just trying to surprise us. Yes, yes, the joke will be on us when all of a sudden Boone Logan shows up (maybe with his scary beard) and strikes out the only three guys he faces. Ha-ha, White Sox. Ha ha.

Alright, but, really, let's look on the bright side, so that we can sleep tonight:

PK is on a tear again. He had a little dip- but then again, it's been awhile since the Sox overall won a game, so he's not the only one. The man homered in 3 straight games against the Indians, knee injury, knee shminjury.

JD looks alive again. Maybe all he needed was to spend some quality time in the outfield with Brian Anderson.

We have homefield advantage. As a general rule, the Sox perform better at home. You can't have the homerun without "home."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's Not Over Till It's Over: Sox - Twins Game 2

In case after last night's 3-2 loss [and reduction of our division lead to just 0.5 games] to the Twinkies you pushed the panic button, threw away you Sox jersey, or set afire your signed Paul Konerko baseball card, I’m going to do my best to restore your confidence in the Sox.

After yesterday’s game, you might find it hard- hell, I’m sure I’m going to raise an eyebrow at my own writing, too, but what the heck? Let’s give it a try.

First of all, despite only scoring two runs, yesterday was a very very successful game in terms of clutch hitting. And hitting in general. The Sox got themselves 9 hits and 3 walks, and got many of them with 2 outs. Unfortunately, nothing from Wise and Konerko, or even Dye. The problem was clearly that “The Rock” Wise did all the hitting he could last week, and he’s just running on fumes so he’s been a black hole in the lineup this series. Playing him in the leadoff spot was wildly unsuccessful, so by the time it was OC’s turn or AJ’s turn or even Alexei (all of whom went two for four) to bat, someone had already done them in and there was already one out too many. If there are already 2 outs, a sac fly is just a regular out. But back to my point. Good, solid hitting.

Griffert- despite being as painful as a wisdom tooth removal in CF has been the only one picking up RBIs this series. He has 5, including two homers (last night’s having been a monster blast that even I was impressed by) of the solo persuasion.

Not just that, but Buehrle is still in good shape. After a scary 3 innings or so, he settled down and pitched a total of 7 innings of nothing but outs the rest of the way. And let me tell you what else. Linebrink must be feeling well, because he looked good on the mound.

And, really, the only reason we lost was because that call was totally off and Cabrera DID tag out Carlos Gomez. After all, Carlos Gomez is the fastest man on Earth. Daggunit! Or, at least, if you believe everything the Hawk says.

See? That was plenty of good stuff. And just to make everyone feel better, I’m going to post lots of cheer-up links for you.

For a less worthy, and even amusing recap of Don Guillote’s battles in the Hump Done, there are [Pale Hose 8’s Slowest Defense EVER] [Pale Hose 8’s Put a Fork In ‘Em]. I was more than amused to see a parody of [Ozzie Guillen on MadTV]. The impression was so dead-on, it almost made me forget that I wanted to take his job during this series. And, finally, because it’s appropriate, and just because I miss Joe Crede in the lineup, [Don’t Stop Believin’].

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dome Disaster: Sox - Twins Game 1

You might be asking yourself, “Wow! How did you make it through that whole game?” I still can’t tell you. I was being sent a message: WCIU game. You can’t watch it. Griffey in CF. Twins. But, I put my heart on the line and watched anyway. Well… not “watched” as much as was too paralyzed in horror to turn the game off. You might also read forums (I know. Can’t stay away. Like asking me not to watch Boone Logan pitch. I have to see how he does it this time! What else does he have up his sleeve?) and think, “Well, which one turned out to be the bigger problem? The outfield or the pitching?” If you want a clear answer, it’s “I don’t know.” They both did us in.

First of all, there was Javi. Ozzie grabbed him by the balls, announced to the media that he had none, and he couldn’t pitch in a game that counted. And what did Javi do to prove him wrong? Absolutely nothing. He decided to forget about the “one good game, one bad game” deal he had going and instead go “one good inning, one terrible inning,” with the amount of terrible escalating.

And the outfield was spectubular. Wise and Dye’s effectiveness was, as usual, mediocre minus Griffey’s slack. Griffey tried for a diving catch- with no intents of catching the ball, I’m sure. He just wanted to seem as if he was trying. [I’m sure he’ll be feeling some general soreness tomorrow] He had a better chance of catching it standing up. In fact, if he didn’t dive for that ball, and his name was Brian Anderson instead, I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened at all. Instead, our outfielders combined to allow 2 doubles and a lead-off triple. They must have kept Griffert in the game because Kenny’s psychic told him about the 2-run homer he would have in the 9th. No matter that it still left the Sox 6 runs short, he passed Sammy Sosa! Touche, Kenny Williams. Oh, and there was the RBI GIDP he had in the second inning. Sort of an oxymoron there. Hell, a sacrificed fly would have done. His relentless grounding out to first base and one walk per game do not add value. Put in Jerry Owens if you refuse to let the big-eared one play. But in playing Griffey, you’re really trading strikeout Swisher for groundout Swisher. (Because fly out Swisher doesn’t exist anymore. I’m certain he was told that he wasn’t allowed to hit any more home runs for the rest of the year at the expense of them taking his hair clippers away or something AWESOME like that.) By the 7th inning, I thought there was a misprint on gameday, because there was no way that Griffert was still in CF.

Okay, that’s enough Griffey complaints. There were 6 hits and 3 walks, so everyone else was just as much to blame. The pitcher and my strike zone didn’t match. That little Baker kid pitching for the Twins had the batters’ numbers. And the Twinkies had Javi’s. And Clayton’s. And certainly Boone Logan’s. Not to mention that I had to listen to the Twins’ announcers, who were not aware of the invention of the word “well.” Everything was, “good.” It was certainly good for the Twins’ morale to win 9-2 and shrink the division lead back to 1.5 games.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Royal Finish: Sox - Royals Game 3

There is method behind the madness. All that coddling did Baby Danks some good. He was, once again, paired up with Toby Hall, and for some reason, this is a successful formula for the Sox. He threw 96 pitches over 7 innings and a little bit, and only gave up 4 hits over that span. Paired with a couple of outs from Thornton and a full inning and some change from Jenks, today was just a day of great pitching- even if it was against the Royals. Danks’s pitching wasn’t perfect- he earned a wild pitch and hit a batter, and even picked up a fielding error- but that was just attributed, I think, to the fact that there wasn’t anyone on second base to throw it to. Moving targets are different than throwing at home plate, right Clay Rich. However, he pitched around errors (and there were plenty) and allowed no one to cross the plate.

Much like the beginning of the season, despite great pitching, our hitters weren’t hitting much today, but thankfully, when they did, they did it in succession, so that our fellas actually crossed home plate. “The Rock” Wise caused the first injury of the day (Hey, remember when we broke their second baseman? Grudzielanek still seems to be out), his lead off hit bouncing off the first plate umpire. Had it not, it might have been a double. Either way, Wise made the most of it and bravely ran to third on Dye’s single, then home on a pop up- not a sacrificed fly, by Jim Thome. Thome also lead off the 7th with a walk and scored on a home run by Paul Konerko. The way it bounced off his bat, I thought it was a spectacular pop-up or fly out (much like Dye’s yesterday), but was pleasantly surprised to see it cross the fence. Notably, Toby Hall had a base hit- a rarity, indeed. Swish had a base hit and was thrown out tryin’ to steal 2nd (smart baseball right there), possibly still trying to prove that he’s more valuable than Brian Anderson. Dye had two hits for the day, and I am really hoping his bat heats up for the series against the Twins.

As for the Royals, this was our last meeting with them for the year. I will have fond memories of Billy Butler sweating because he’s much too girthy for his age and job, unpleasant memories of Teahen playing every position in the outfield, of Miguel Olivo trying to punch Carrasco, and dreams about one day adding Alex Gordon to our roster. (Of course, I’m still holding out hope that Joe Crede will find a cure for his back and will return to the Sox with a 10-year contract.)

The Sox will go into their series against the Twins with 2.5 games over the division. Vazquez, Buehrle, and Floyd will be pitching in that series, hoping to give the Sox a victory over the division. On that note, upon reading this, I realized OC may have ended his hitting streak, but he's [the smartest guy on the team].

In other news, Crede was in the dugout today. He hasn’t talked to the press, but Ozzie still says he doesn’t expect Crede to play again this year. My, how far we’ve come this year, going from speculation about his possible trade to a mini media implosion over his back injury.

Homer Sad: Sox - Royals Game 2

The usually Homer-Happy Sox got a taste of their own medicine yesterday. Perhaps I prematurely jinxed Floyd, but before the game even started, my notes weren’t very optimistic. I had said consistency isn’t something this ballclub has, and I didn’t expect Floyd to be perfect on short rest. In fact, I’m sure this is all part of a ploy to make sure he pitches against the Twins. Understandable, he’s the only one that’s given them a chance, and it wasn’t all his fault, but still… Gavin was given all 5 of the runs for the night, a terrible crowd of outfielders, and aside from a 2-run homer, no run support. Quoth Alexei, “You’re welcome.”

It was the outfield that really hurt Floyd- he gave up 3 home runs, sure, but how about the one that was inside the park? I would say that’s the definition of ridiculous. There were four doubles for the night because the runners weren’t cut off early enough. I know Griffey can hustle when he needs to. Apparently, today wasn’t one of those days. And Dye isn’t exactly Grady Sizemore (yeah, I couldn’t come up with a better example), so asking him to cover Right Field and 1/3 of Griffey’s share of CF? Come on now, that just adds up to trouble. And much like I predicted August 2nd-ish, inside-the-park home run(s)! I feel that with 2 positions up for grabs in the OF, Ozzie & CO. roll a pair of dice to determine who they’ll get lucky with tonight. While “The Rock” has the numbers, they don’t match up to his career numbers. While Swish is good at-um… what does Swish do well? Oh, he takes pitches. Sure. Anderson is great running around out there and playing fetch, Owens did something in spring training that earned him a starting position, and Griffey is supposedly great at bat. They can all (Perhaps not Owens) have a big hit for you- occasionally. Kenny Williams must have a psychic on the roster or something- that’s the only thing that can explain… well, about 87.63% of his actions.

As for our hitters, it was easy-out all the way. Ramirez had a 2-run homer to score the only runs of the night and there were some scattered singles for a grand total of 4 hits and 2 walks. What more can you say? Jermayne Dye was 3 inches from hitting a game-tying home run, but it was just a fly out to pain in my side, Teahen. What can I say, Davies was good despite looking like he gained 30 lbs since the last time we saw him.

In terms of the bullpen, they were able to hold the score for once. After keeping Gavin in the game way too long considering he’ll have the Twinkers to face very soon, Ozzie brought out- who else, if not Boone Logan? While he got his only batter to hit a ground ball, he couldn’t get to first fast enough to throw him out. Understandable. When’s the last time he had to field a ball? You can’t tag a guy out if he walked, right? Then MacDougie Howser came on, and held the runners despite an exorbitant amount of hits- including a double. I really thought AJ would knee him in the groin. I was very surprised to see Clay Rich closing in the 8th inning. And, there were no fielding errors for him today. Baby steps.

And in terms of other miscellaneous business, I would like to insist- once again- that IF we have an open spot on third base, can we please pick up Alex Gordon? I just like that kid. I’m sorry. Even when he was at bat against Gavin and hit that home run, I couldn’t really be mad at either of them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back to Big Blasts: Sox - Royals Game 1

I have had the most exhausting week. [I'm pretty sure I have a point, I promise] I got home yesterday, finished up some research before the game, including watching that interview they did with Gavin- gotta love that guy. Anyway, fell asleep, woke up and checked Gameday for our lineup and game time for the Twinkers, only to see they’re playing “TB.” TB? Tuberculosis? I can only hope. To Be [Determined]? Tampa Bay! The Rays! The baseball gods are Sox fans, and I just found this out today?! I did what any normal person waking up from a nap during which he/she dreamed about Ozzie refusing to let Gavin pitch unless he got a haircut, so he/she had to cut his hair him/herself would do: I checked my closet to make sure Gavin wasn’t there, and checked Nick Swisher’s batting average (It’s like pinching yourself, but more painful.) to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I was so excited going into yesterday’s game, I had already put the AL Central title in my pocket and blew a raspberry at the Twins for good.

But, I had counted my chickens prematurely. Darn it, Javi Vazquez for blowing that game early yesterday! I was too frustrated to write about yesterday’s game, so I wasted some perfectly good clever bits I could’ve started my post with. It’s okay, you can still hear about them. First of all, there was the guy who threw first pitch- the oldest living man to have played baseball or something. Or as I like to call him, Jose Contreras’s son! Ba-dum chh! I even came up with a nickname for Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson Wise. [You're welcome!] In case you were looking for anything good about yesterday, OC had 2 hits and PK had a solo homer in the 9th. And was fast enough to avoid a double play. [That sounds made up, doesn’t it?] My biggest gripe was that they brought out H. Ramirez when the turf hit the fan. Shoulda brought out Broadway since they were going to try starting him anyway and they had a lot of time to kill. Once again, I have to insist that he’s not as bad as his numbers say. [Look at me. Defending Broadway, Wassermann, BA. Next thing you know, I’ll be saying Nick Swisher is the best hitter on our ballclub. Alright, that would be an exaggeration.]

That seems like more than enough about yesterday’s game. I was wondering if the Sox were going to go in the game with the same disappointed mentality I had, or if they’re going to try to take advantage of the Royals. [I was also thinking they should give Broadway a start sometime this series since he does well against KC anyway and he held his own against the Yankers yesterday. I’m not a big fan of this short rest business.]

It turns out the Sox decided to take their frustrations out on KC. The Sox pummeled the Royals 9-4, while the Twins lost 11-1 to regain a 2.5 lead of the division. Buehrle was pitching himself a pretty good game, throwing first pitch strikes quite consistently. The only notable troubles came from Teahen’s 3-run homer. Thornton was out in the 7th. He had one earned run, but had an overall good inning with some help from Anderson and Wise. Dotel came in the 8th and, thankfully, had a flawless inning. Linebrink closed. He got the first batter to fly out, but my thoughts were, “Does anyone else see a picture of Boone Logan's terrifying goatee on the back panel?” The next guy had a groundout, and then Cabrera air mailed one just when it shoulda been over. “And this ball game is- nope.” Thankfully, Linebrink looked like he felt good by the time he got to the fourth and last batter, Kila Ka'aihue. [To quote Hawk and DJ, “Try to say his name 5 times fast.” “No.”]

There was also some solid hitting. By Cabrera, especially, who is on an absolute roll this month. He’s hitting .400 in the last 10 games and .377 in September. Dewayne “The Rock” Wise had 2 home runs of the solo persuasion in the 7th and 9th innings. [What I actually wrote in my notes was, “How do you feel about that, Swish? He swings for homers and gets them. Sorry, BA.”] Jim Thome hit his 33rd home run of the year, and JD had his 40th double of the season. Konerko only walked today, but can’t expect him to be the best hitter of every game. And then there was Alexei Ramirez. He only had one hit for the night, but it just happened to be the 3rd grand slam of the year for him. Not too shabby, after being responsible for making it home on a good call by Cox and sliding over the plate, while managing not to touch even a quarter of a centimeter of it. And Nick Swisher had 2 base hits today. 2! And they weren’t doubles, and they weren’t wild swings for the back panel! Amen.

And, in a final paragraph of nonsense and silliness, some notes. Over at Kauffman Stadium, AJ had a pitching change in the middle of his at bat. Who does that? In Tampa, the Minny pitcher had to be changed by the 2nd inning. The replacement? Boof [I kid ya not!] Bonser. Is that short for something? Boofer? Boofbert? Generally, I tune out the Hawkwaroo and Deej because they have a distaste for the English language, but I accidentally caught a bit of their commentary. I accidentally heard them talking about – Reggie Jackson was it? Basically, he was the first “sexy” baseball player. And then proceeded to talk about guys that like to walk naked around the locker room. I’m sure DJ’s going to miss the clever banter and insightful commentary has to offer…

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

8 is the Ugliest Number: Sox - Yankees Game 3

Clayton Richard pitched 6 scoreless inning and did them while being stingier with pitches than my grandma is with her money. I couldn’t have asked for more from him (Except maybe to look less awkward when throwing. Tell me the way he throws (leg up in the air, arm swinging waaaay around) doesn’t freak you out!). Of course, he could have thrown a no-hitter, and that still would have made no difference if the Sox weren’t going to score. The Sox seem to have some sort of issue hitting pitchers they’ve never seen before, even if they are minor league babies, terrible major league rejects, or are homosapiens. Hey, Gardenhire! Are you looking for a pitcher to start against the Sox? Because I’m sure that if I showed up on the mound throwing an 18-inch softball, I could get you a no-hitter. Okay, okay, it wasn’t that bad, but once again, the Sox couldn’t pull together more than one run, and lost 5-1 in game 3 of this series.

The problem wasn’t Richard. He held his own through 6 innings and a third. Then, he walked A. Rod. They should’ve pulled the plug even before that, but I figured, what’s one more out? No big. Ozzie brought in who I hoped would be Dr. K, MacDougie Howser, Mike MacDougal. On a wild pitch, A. Rod scored. The game was tied 1-2 when the inning ended. With [Joba] coming up, and their closer, there wasn’t much hope. I had already started looking for the optimal image of Chuck Norris for this post. The 8th started with no more runs for the Sox, and with Linebrink for the Yanks. He started his abysmal, Dotel-like inning with a base hit and a 2-run homer. There must have been some outs somewhere in the inning, but there was also a solo home run by A. Rod. The score was 5-1 by the time Linebrink worked his way to three outs.

It is worth acknowledging that Richard was great today. Really. Cabrera and Griffert had 2 hits each, with a walk for Griffey. The only RBI was Dye’s. Unfortunately, not much else clicked. Even Paul “Carlos Quentin” Konerko couldn’t do anything but strike out twice. Same with Uribe.

Since that game was cheerful enough to double Prozac sales for those working in the offices on 35th (and many others), let me give you the good news. First of all, the Twins lost yet again, so no harm was done to our 2.5 game lead. More importantly, Carlos Quentin was reevaluated today, and just 16 days after causing a fracture to his wrist, there is already good news. [Hence the picture. Something cheesy, along the lines of "Chuck Norris wears Carlos Quentin pajamas to bed."] The super human’s fracture has set properly. It is not healed yet, but he’s taking steps toward rehab and is scheduled to take dry batting practice (that’s BP without contact with the balls) on Friday at Kaufmann Stadium.

The One About Carlos Quincy

You might be wondering where the update for last night’s game is. Well, it was another game televised by WCIU on one of the two busiest days of the week, so I had to settle for following the game on Gameday every other half hour. But, I did enough research to be able to put my educated two cents in. The Sox won 6-2 over the Yankees (While the Twins lost 12-9 in extra innings) to extend their lead over the division to 2.5 games.

Not surprisingly, Gavin Floyd was great. He had a rough start to the first inning, but recovered and made it 7 full innings (on a career-high 116 pitches) with just 2 runs. He can do it on the road, he can do it against the good teams, hair or no hair… He tallied his 16th win of the year, still the starter with the most wins and least losses. [I hope you enjoy the picture for today. I get endless amusement out of rookie cards for our players.]

Thankfully, Paul Konerko was back and still swinging the bat like it was on fire. He went 2 for 4 with an RBI, and gave Swisher some much-deserved (not because he has been overexerted, mind you) bench time. Swish had himself just 4 hits over the last 10 games- none in the last week. I was starting to think I imagined Ozzie’s quotes from the game, but with the ever-changing online releases, it’s hard to keep up. The closest I could come up with to what I originally saw was this:

Konerko’s return sends slugger Nick Swisher to the bench for at least a game — he came on as a defensive replacement in the eighth and struck out looking in the ninth. Swisher is in a deep slump, hitting .109 (7-for-64) in his 20 games coming in, and Guillen said he has to go with the “hot” player. [Would the hot player be… Brian Anderson? Ouch, Swish. You know you’re sucking when Ozzie would take BA over you.]

“We don’t have Quincy [yeah, this has been in all the papers today. Carlos Quincy, eh? If you have an email for this Howie Rumberg person, don’t hesitate to let him know he botched up the name of one of the season’s superstars.] and Crede in the lineup, everybody’s got to step it up a notch,” Guillen said. “I think he should go back to the basics. … Hopefully that will help him.”

And, speaking of Brian Anderson, Blondie went 1 for 4 with an RBI double and a walk (A walk? From Brian?). You know that’s a bad inning when Anderson and Uribe walk- not to mention you’ve seen everyone in the lineup once.

On the subject of replacements, Uribe is the 2nd coming of J.C. (Joe Crede, that is) for the Sox. He went 3-for-3 tonight with a walk.

As for tonight’s game, I originally thought Lance Broadway would get the start (his picture was on the Sox website for at least an hour, if I was to guesstimate). While he looks great on the mound, that is more attributed to the way he looks in the uniform- not the way he’s throwing the ball. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s a bad pitcher (we haven’t seen enough of him to determine what he’s like at the big league level), and I think his ERA doesn’t tell the whole story, but I am nevertheless weary of seeing our AAA pitchers on the mound in general.

Instead, it’ll be Clay Rich [Clayton Richard, as everyone else calls him] tonight. Once again, I will try to remind myself- and you folks of his first start. I remember seeing potential. Hopefully, him, his big shoulders, and his potential can keep the Sox in the game tonight with a well-located fastball. And maybe a cameo by Toby Hall- we don’t want A.J. to knee him in the groin in case he does give up the ballgame early on. The match up isn't too bad, with the Yankee starting pitcher looking just as-if not less- adequate as our own minor league call ups. To put the cherry on top, the Indians are bringing Lee to the mound against the Twins.

And, speaking of A.J., after continued struggles, he has been moved down in the lineup. Unfortunately, Big Pierogi is only hitting .195 in September. Maybe that has something to do with someone asking him to throw away his at-bats in failed attempts at sacrificed bunts. (Or maybe it’s because he’s having a bad month).

Monday, September 15, 2008

In MacDougal We (Must) Trust: Sox - Yankees Game 1

If there’s one good thing about those rain delays, it’s that they gave Paul Konerko some guilt-free bench time. He’ll be ready to go again tomorrow, according to everyone. Unfortunately for him, what he’s coming to is anything but pretty.

The team we are looking at today is relying on the bat of DeWayne Wise, and cannot rely on its bullpen to hold a score. Yes, the only points scored by the Sox today were on a 2-run homer by Wise. Hope Brian Anderson brought a seat cushion for himself, because it doesn’t look like he’ll be getting any more playing time for quite awhile. I would hope the same is true for Nick Swisher, who is hitting a whopping .154 in September.

But, back to today’s 4-2 loss. We might say the problem is that the Sox couldn’t score more than 2 runs today. And that would be completely true. But there is something to be said about our bullpen. Thankfully, MacDougal could hold his own against the Yanks, otherwise our entire bullpen could be deemed as useless. Ehren Wassermann walked the first man he faced, so after the next batter sacrificed him over to 2nd, he was out of the game. While that wasn’t an optimal situation, the optimal decision was not to bring in Horacio Ramirez. I was willing to bet that Wassermann would have done less damage had he been allowed to finish the inning. (I know, where is all this Wassermann love coming from? I can’t explain it. Wassermann has had 19 runs (17 earned) on 27 hits in 19.1 innings. Ramirez has had 8 runs on 19 hits (all earned) in 10.2 innings with the Sox. While the numbers are pretty similar (Wassermann’s ERA by my calculations is about 8 and Ramirez’s is about 7), at least Wassermann continues to post impressive numbers in AAA, showing potential.)

Over in the outfield, Griffert has really been hustling. Sure, he’s not making plays with the greatest of ease, but he’s making them. He’s not lighting up the pitchers he’s facing, but I guess that as long as he posts numbers that are as good as Anderson’s and better than Swisher’s, what’s Ozzie to do? And speaking of plays in the outfield, Jermayne Dye has had some issues making a play in the 4th. I really enjoyed Buehrle’s reaction, but I did not enjoy that one of the Yanks got a double on what should have been a simple out.

Well, thankfully for the Sox, the Twins’ baseball is just as pitiful as the Sox’. For all those that are looking forward to an “exciting, close finish,” enjoy. This is a long, 4-game series, with a likely cameo by Lance Broadway. There are just 13 games left in the season and just 1.5 games between the Sox and Twins.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kenny Rogers and the Imploding Bullpen: Sox -Tigers Doubleheader

After 3 hours of rain delay (Okay, 2 days and 3 hours), the Sox pulled ahead of the Twins to a 1.5 game division lead, winning both games of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. The Sox, with starting pitchers Javi Vazquez and John Danks won 4-2 and 11-7 in games 1 and 2, respectively.

There isn’t much to be said about the first game of the day. Not a lot of hitting. According to the Hawk, Javi is one of the nastiest pitchers out there. (Yeah, he’s dirty!) Well, he is quite unpleasant to the opposition on a good day such as today. He threw 7+ shutout innings. Picked up his 2000th career strikeout along the way. I mean, 3 hits in 8ish innings paired with 8 K’s? That is GREAT stuff. The Sox scraped together 4 runs. Thankfully, Wise had a great day and Ramirez homered. He seems to be off his cold streak. The real story today, though, was about the exploding bullpens. First there was Bobby Jenks in game one, giving up a 2-run homer after 8 shut-out innings by everyone else. Then Dotel in the 8th inning [of Game 2] (why does this sound familiar) gave up a home run with the bases loaded- er… a grand slam. Thankfully, the Tigers had a ‘pen malfunction as well, and Wise had a 2-out grand slam of his own, pinch hitting for Anderson in the 8th.

In fact, there have been problems with the ‘pen all evening. After 6 shut-out innings, the Sox had taken charge of 40-something Kenny Rogers and were leading 7-0. It seemed safe for Danks to grab a seat (perhaps resting in case he will have to pitch on 3 days’ rest), and Linebrink took over. I kinda wished he was that guy in blue they showed for most of the inning (Yeah, yeah, Zambrano had a no-no. Show me the real game!). Instead, he gave up a 2-run homer at some point. The only man the next pitcher, Boone Logan, had to retire got himself a solo home run. The score was 7-3. DJ Carrasco, who has been running out of gas lately had to leave after putting two men on base. Dotel (also known as Beardless Ozzie) walked the first batter he faced to get the bases loaded, (struck out a guy,) only to allow a game-tying grand slam. Thankfully for the Sox, Matt Thornton can still strike out anyone you’d like on a good day.

In other news, Brian Anderson got a start today. He did a lot of swinging for the fences, had too many low strikes called on him, but got a 2-run homer. Overall more productive than Nick Swisher? I’ll say. Jim Thome and his beard have been doing their best impression of Paul Konerko (He’s still out until Tuesday-ish, in case you were wondering). They also had an RBI base in the 1st and a homer in the 4th. Now, he has 32 for the year- the same as Dye. Who would’ve thought that he had this in him, still? “Not I,” said the Sox. I watched Rogers try to pick Ramirez off 1st base hit in the 4th inning for about ½ an hour. I completely lost track of the game, the batters, and wondered if anyone bothered to tell the Tigers that Ramirez is not the base thief his speed and nickname would suggest. Uribe had an RBI, too. Perhaps the return of the brighter than the sun goatee is good luck. And just random: Sheffield and his jiggly bat drive me crazy! And MacDougal and Wasserman look like twins (not the Minnesota kind) from a distance.

And in case you missed the excitement of the game the past couple of days with all the rain, there was plenty of news and gossip to keep Sox fans’ hearts pumping.

First of all, DJ (Jackson, not Carrasco) won’t be with the Sox next year. The thing is, I always thought better of DJ than Hawk. He’s clearly more intelligent, and he sort of has to make sure Hawk is coherent and such. What would you do if your boss said, “sit back, relax, and strap it down” every day before you started work? You’d let him take care of the crazy and you’d finish the sentences he can’t remember he started.

According to the press, Joe Crede’s locker has apparently been cleaned out- it isn’t even labeled with his name anymore. Something about his agent (“the devil himself,” Scott Boras) talking to the Angels. [Ha, devil talking to the Angels… unintentionally funny] I’ve certainly been very vigilant of the dugout today, looking for any sign of Joe. He certainly seems to be absent. There have been comments thrown around left and right and many have been making speculations like they’ve personally been talking to Joe. I think he knows better than anyone and until there is official word about anything, I’m going to continue with my moratorium on all Crede talk. I respect Crede as a baseball player too much to make speculations (whether negative or positive) about personal situations about him (as much as I’d like to).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Give Your Sox Shirt Off Your Back

If you have digital cable or live in a place that comes with CSN+ standard, I am very jealous of you. I used to be one of you... Sadly, this is the 2nd day in a row that I can’t see the game. I’m thinking I should invest in an MLBtv account. Think of the possibilities! But then again, part of me thinks the season’s almost over, and I’m a day late and a dollar short (or I’d be 20$ short...). In any case, this leaves me with another day during which I can’t report properly on the game. But, on my way home, an idea came to me.

I have to admit, I’m a people watcher. Walking around town, you’re bound to see masses of folks proudly displaying various sports teams logo. There are overwhelmingly many Cub shirts- especially this year, when they’re not big losers, but the ones that catch my eye are, of course, Sox shirts. I didn’t realize it until today, but as someone walks past me, I look over my shoulder to see which player's name they have on the back. And then, without knowing anything about the person, judge them. Don’t you? So, that’s my topic for today. What does your Sox shirt say about you?

You can be noncommittal and wear one of those gray, “2005 World Series Champions” ones. That either means you’re one of those guys that can’t let go of 2005, too manly to proclaim your love for a single player, were a bandwagon fan, too cheap to spring for another one (it's been 3 years, how many washes can you really put it through?) or just proud the Sox won that one. In the same category are the folks that have customized shirt and jerseys.

The serious fans also wear retired jerseys and vintage jerseys. I know those guys would either frown at my endorsement of both Crede and BA or are great for conversation.

There are the folks with Konerko and Pierzynski shirts. These are the most prevalent if I was to guess. If you wear these, you get a nod of approval. The folks that wear Dye shirts usually fall in that category. Serious fans wear Dye shirts. Maybe Behrle or Jenks. But then again, these folks might also be "2005" people.

I see a lot of Quentin and Ramirez shirts. Depending on who wears the shirt, you can determine if you have someone that watches every day and appreciates their contribution this year or a person that is on the bandwagon of whoever does well

Then there are the folks that wear Crede shirts. ½ of them wear them because they’re “2005” guys. And I’m willing to bet that the rest are the ladies- because there’s nothing wrong with hitting a grand slam and looking like a stud at the same time.

And then there are the guys with the Griffey shirts. Half of these are the guys that watched baseball since they were 4 and grew up watching Griffey, and the other ½ are morons that want novelty shirts and don’t realize that Griffert has been causing eye rolls whenever he slumps to the plate.

There are lots of Podsednik shirts floating around. Those that wear them buy them because they’re on super sale (They still had about a million after the World Series or something) or because they’re “2005” guys and gals. Same with Iguchi shirts. If I was to wear a Scotty Pods, it would solely be if I could flaunt it in front of Josh Fields, as if to say, "Go back to wearing 27, you weren't there when we won!"

And the worst offenders: the folks with the Nick Swisher shirts. Those don’t get an eye roll; they get a scoff. Are you a Sox fan? We’re not watching the lovable losers here. We want our team to win. Sure, Nick Swisher is [AWESOME], but he’s quite possibly one of the worst players in all of baseball and having the worst season of his career at the same time. Waste of money, if you ask me. (And maybe ditto with his contract) Maybe you’re a lady and think he’s cute and can’t find an Anderson shirt (And why would they make one? Why own an Anderson shirt? Even if you’re an FOBA, you’re probably smart enough to know you’d be mocked if you ever wore it in public.).

As for me, I’m obviously one of those people with the Crede shirt. Judge me if you wish (who am I to pass judgment on those who judge?), but that is my shirt of choice. (Along with a 2005 World Series shirt and a jersey that I’m sure is the opposite of authentic that has no name on the back. But I don’t wear those.) How ‘bout you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The After Shock: Sox - Blue Jays Game 3

Just a fun fact for you: I no longer have the ability to watch WCIU. Not that anything other than the Sox games is worth watching on that channel (although, I must admit, I used to be a big fan of Street Smarts- In fact, that was my first encounter with Nick Swisher). But, since I can’t report on a game I couldn’t watch, I’ve decided to sort through the shambles of my post from yesterday and reboot. In an organized fashion.

First of all, let’s visit the Paul Konerko issue. He slipped on some wet grass, and his knee buckled, and he was escorted off the field. People were guessing broken cartilage, ligaments, muscles, or bones.In the meantime, our hottest hitter is out of the lineup (Yes, Paul Konerko is our hottest hitter.) and unless we can train Thome or Griffert as first basemen, we’re stuck with Beatnick Swisher on first. And not that he's a bad first baseman, but he's a crummy hitter. In fact, Paul Konerko's injury maybe have been the only thing to save him from some serious bench time. He seemed to have had a lot better luck this year at first base, so I’m hoping he’ll be able to replicate that success- or at least give us the illusion of him being productive. (In retrospect, he was only hitting .220 while starting at 1B, but even that is an improvement from his brilliant numbers. Maybe he seemed so good because BA was picking up the slack for him at bat. [Obvious sarcasm] Since Griffey’s arrival (since that’s our new benchmark for all things involving Konerko and others), he’s hitting a staggering .216. Slow down there, slugger.)

In the meantime, you have Griffert in CF- because, what else can you do? And a big fat gap in LF, which the Legend of Carlos Quentin is rumored to have haunted. The gap can be filled by either Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson, or- the most likely candidate- Dewayne Wise. Jerry Owens was supposed to start with our team anyway, so it would make sense that he would slip right in the role. He’s had some injuries to deal with, but he posted decent numbers in Charlotte. He was hitting .276 with 30 stolen bases. But with the Sox, he hasn’t been able to produce more than a single hit. Dewayne Wise has an impressive batting average, but it is incongruent with his results in previous years. On the bright side, he’s not a slugger (how did he even end up on this team?) and he can steal an occasional base. But he’s not a great outfielder. Is he probably still better than Swish? Probably. Then there’s Brian Anderson. If I was to try to toot the horn on the BAnd wagon, I would say he’s the perfect substitute (not replacement) for Swish. He’s a defensive upgrade, sure, but that’s not what I mean, I mean, BA’s numbers are very similar to Swish’s. He’s had some well-placed homers and a whole lot of strike outs and flyouts. Before anyone put Swish on 1B, I figured that because Swish is a lefty (Well, a “switch hitter.” Whatever), you’re putting lipstick on a pig and calling it something different. Really, he’s BA, but a whole lot louder. Since Konerko’s injury, we found out that he’s a lot more valuable because he’s insurance for Konerko. The problem is that he’s crappy liability insurance. You can pay the other guy but your car still has a dented bumper and your airbag is sticking out over the steering wheel, if you know what I’m sayin’. Try not to take the metaphor too literally.

So, since all our options for the outfield suck, wouldn’t it be nice for the Sox to find another option at first base? Well, Thome used to be a 1B guy. He even used to play 3B many, many years ago (back when baseball tickets used to go for .50 cents and people updated the scoreboard manually- kind of like Wrigley Field). But, his back isn’t okay or something, so he’s not exactly ready to play. The perfect option, to me, seems to be Josh Fields. Everyone talks about his great batting talent (not I), so that’s always an option. He’s too stiff to play a real position, so 1B seems like a good place for him to park. Had Chris Getz not broken his wrist, I’d say he should try first base. Of course, I’m not exactly that’s the job of the “utility infielder,” but I just have taken this inexplicable liking to Getz. I think I was won over by his flashy > .300 AVG in Charlotte. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those guys on our team? Since Alexei started slumping (and AJ and JD), our team AVG is even more embarrassing. I’m sure we have more guys under .270 than any other team. Possibly in the history of baseball.

Tonight’s Game. I followed the game on Gameday, so I can’t give commentary, but there are things I have to report. Mark Buehrle shut out the Jays for 7 innings and some change. He struck out 6 and got out of trouble even though he gave up quite a few hits and a couple of walks. Beatnick Swisher (I’m sure today is a result of him taking a thrashing from Ozzie about striking out with the bat on his shoulder) went down swinging 3 times (Silver Sombrero! Que bueno!) before finally putting the bat on a ball (And I’m sure it was a hit he tried to make into a homer) and was awarded a double. Fortunately, he scored with BA’s single, so the Sox got ahead 6-2 before the last big inning. Dotel can’t stop giving up homers. With one on in the 8th, he gave up a home run to the first man he saw. The Sox still lead 5-2. Bobby Jenks imploded (Like BA, he seems to have a case of rusty butt from being on the bench for so long) gave up 3 runs in the 9th inning of tonight’s game. If it wasn’t for that very clutch single by Brian Anderson (pinch hitting against a lefty for Jerry Owens, who also got himself a hit today), the score may have hung at 5-5 for many innings. [Cue to Ozzie with tail between his legs]

Paul Konerko has good news- just a mild sprain. He wants to be back in the lineup as soon as possible- not as soon as he heals, but as soon as he can endure the discomfort. He’s a champ. I’ve heard as soon as Friday- but then again, I’m still waiting for Joe Crede to be ready to go any day, so I’m optimistic to the point of delusions; don’t listen to me, read the news instead.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sox Double Dip: Sox - Blue Jay Games 1 & 2

If the Twins lost today, the Sox had the potential to be 4 full games ahead of their division. At the very least, 3 games. Instead, we find ourselves only 1 game ahead of the Twins, and in big trouble. So much trouble that I don’t promise this is going to make much sense. Today made no sense.

While I thought that we didn’t have a prayer with Richard pitching in the second game, I fully expected the first game to go well. In fact, the pitching was quite smooth. Well, not smooth, but Javi had shut the Jays down into the 5th. I caught up with the game after about 4 innings of following it on Gameday. Honestly, the live game was not any more exciting. The two pitchers (one of which was Javi) were neck in neck. Both had shut out the other team (the Sox, however were letting that guy get away with a no-hitter) and their pitch counts were within one pitch of each other. The Jays scored a pair and then the bullpen- starting with my most favoritest pitcher of all time, Horacio Ramirez, held down the fort. The first batter Matt Thornton (a waste of an outing, really) faced struck out on 3 pitches, Wasserman continued to let his ERA drop (finally, I don’t feel like a moron for liking him!). But then MacDougal had some issues today. Lots of ball and an earned run on 3 hits amounted to the 3rd point on the board.

The Sox offense, on the other hand, barely made one runner cross the plate. Noteworthy: 2 failed bunts by AJ. They also tried to make Alexei bunt in the 9th. Then there was a stolen base situation where Alexei could have gotten to third, but he wasn’t given interference (even though the 2nd baseman – or was it the short stop- was on top of him). Good grief, who’s managing this game? My favorite hitter, Beatnick Swisher struck out twice. He’s been doing a whole lot of looking lately. Either he’s swinging for the fences or staring as the balls fall down the middle. There really was a whole lot of nothing.

I figured things were about to get worse in the 2nd game. We had Clay Richard and his big shoulders starting. He started off with a solo home run from the very first batter. But he proceeded to shut out the Jays afterward. The Sox scored two and gave me hope that perhaps this wouldn’t be the disastrous game I thought it would be. That is until things got bad. There were some errors. Clay tried to avoid another fielding error and tried to put a tag on a guy. Long story short? He was safe. Lovely? Yes it was. The crowd was yelling, “Boone!” as Richard exited. Or was it, “BOO”? Yeah, that was probably it. By the time Boone Logan came in to pitch, the game was over, so I telepathically told him that his only job is to keep himself from looking like an ass. And, indeed, Boone Logan did what Russell couldn’t- induced a double play. When did Russell get bad? I have no idea. He must be getting rusty on the bench. On the bright side, Lance Broadway is very pretty. He allowed a solo home run and then finished the 9th inning. At that point, the Sox were trailing 8-2.

But things really went to hell when DJ Carrasco came on. After a mess of bunts, hits, and overall bad baseball, some guy scored but the runner got in a rundown. The man on 3rd was thankfully too stupid to run, but while the runner was running between 2nd and 1st, Paulie collapsed and started grabbing his knee. Paulie had to be carried off the field, Swisher (who had been sitting out because I’m sure Ozzie gave him a spanking for watching pitches fly by; and subsequently swung at 3 balls in his first at bat) was in at first, and I swore loudly and said, “Great! Just when he was doing well at bat!”

In case you lost track, let me remind you of our injuries. Jose Contreras: done for the year. Joe Crede: er… whatever it means for us now that he got an epidural Friday. Carlos Quentin: most likely done for the month. Chris Getz: fractured wrist (yes, him, too!) and likely out for the season. He injured himself on the 31st but they didn’t find the break until today. And now Konerko? Well, if that’s not a curse or at least the worst day in the history of baseball, I don’t know what to call it. No “Hava Nagila” today.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Can't Sweep, Can't Score: Sox - Angels Game 3

The series closer against the Angels ended 3-2 in favor of the Angels. It was a close game in terms of score, but by no means close in terms of the two teams’ approach at the plate.

Everyone’s biggest concern going into this game was John Danks. John Danks is tired, John Danks hasn’t pitched this many inning before, etc. Well, John Danks says he’s not tired- he’s just tired of answering questions about being tired. I happen to agree. I don’t think he’s tired, he just had a run of bad games. I think one of the biggest problems he’s had is pitching with no run support. He pitched through 5 full innings and some change and only gave up 2 runs. He walked 1, and had an impressive 7 strike-outs. Against the Angels and guys like Teixeira, that’s not bad. You get a pat on the back (I can’t bring myself to award anyone pats on the butt).

Let me tell you who doesn’t get a pat on the back! Horacio Ramirez. He got the loss because he was responsible for the last run in the 8th inning, the nail in our coffin. There is absolutely no valid explanation for his insertion in the game. Things could’ve been made worse by Linebrink, but he somehow closed the 9th inning with no additional runs. It’s good to see that he’s alive and well. Despite the fact that Ramirez is still my least favorite pitcher, once again, 3 runs by the Angels? Not a problem.

The problem was the spotty offense. You know you have a problem when the only points on the board are at the hands of Paul Konerko’s solo HR and another off the bat of Toby Hall (His second of the season!). 5 hits and 2 walks were all that the Sox could muster. Konerko had the most hits-2 for the day, including his 3rd home run in 3 consecutive days. OC had a hit and got on bases on an error and Swish was responsible for the first base hit for the Sox in the 2nd.

I didn’t expect much with Fields as DH. He’s not just a terrible third baseman; he’s a terrible hitter. Hitting an impressive .161 with the Sox this year. If you’re going to take Thome out of the game anyway, put in someone that can hit. Just anyone. Honestly. Hell, that’s your chance to see more from Chris Getz without taking out Uribe, Cabrera, or Ramirez (who was just 2 for 14 this series). In fact, instead of keeping an eye on Booger at bat, I spent the time during which the cameras were on him to figure out what was wrong with his face. The problem, in case you were wondering, is that he doesn’t know how to shave the cleft in his chin. And he’s constantly stuck inbetween a beard and a “clean shave,” and he just looks dirty. Maybe he should ask Dirty 30 about some shaving tips; he knows a lot about facial hair (And, like Fields, not much about hitting). If you didn't get a giggle out of that (sorry, I tried), you can see him crash and burn in the most unsuccessful attempt of all time at making his "best friend" Carlos Quentin seem like [he's not too uptight].

I also spent the majority of Brian Anderson’s time at bat (Yes, he finally got a start. And not surprisingly, he was just as successful as everyone else was- not at all) trying to figure out what his appeal was. You see, recently, I was watching a game with a friend. It was around the 8th inning and as I had predicted, they stuck B.A. in center field. I pointed at the T.V. screen, said, “There he is! That’s what I’m talking about!” Now my friend turns to me, and he says, “You’re only saying that because you think he’s cute.” That seems to be a universal opinion among guys. I don’t know about the rest of the ladies and if they feel BA is such a hottie, but it certainly seems to be the consensus among the guys. Is the ears? I think it’s the ears. The rest of the time, I wondered what the purpose of Nancy Faust (the organist extraordinaire of the White Sox) playing “Have Nagila” at random times in the game was. I even took the time to [Wikipedia it] and find out it stands for, “Let’s rejoice!” Yes, let’s rejoice that the Tigers beat the Twins again today, and we still have out 2.5 game lead.

First Place Showdown: Sox -Angels Game 1 & 2

I don’t have the appropriate cable set-up or patience to follow every team in baseball, so when it came to the Angels, all I knew was what I saw previously (The Sox had a 3-4 record against them) and from when I heard the Hawk and DJ say the Angels are arguably one of the best teams in baseball. Well, they’re 16 games ahead of their division, (which may not be saying much, considering who they play) but they have one of the best records in baseball. I thought they would really put up a fight and make it difficult for the Sox. (Especially without Carlos in the lineup!) Fortunately, the Sox understood the importance of these games and extended their lead over the Twins to 2.5 games.

The first game was a great one for the Sox. Friday, the Sox pulled together their offense, pitched like it was their job, and kept the Angels in check for a 10-2 victory. Well, that was nice and all, but I wasn’t ready to get too comfortable just yet.

While we had our ace on the mound (The good Buehrle), the starting pitcher for the Angels, Moseley, was a farm hand- and not exactly a good one. His numbers in AAA were pretty bad, and his numbers in the majors were even worse. If we didn’t blow him out of the water, it would have been a problem. The next pitcher may not be as kind to the Sox, I thought.

There was good news, though. I know I keep saying I don’t want to jinx Konerko, but something needs to be said and the Kaptain really deserves a pat on the back. He’s not just back to the good PK; he is on a tear! Before Saturday’s game, he was hitting .500 in his last 4 games, .438 in his last 10, and .365 in the last 30 days. Now, odds are he won’t be able to keep this up, but the fact that he’s not batting as if he’s under the influence of sedatives is a great sign. Juan Uribe finally caught up to some of those fastballs he’s been chasing, and made two of them (!!) into 2-run homers. JD went 3 for 3 with a walk, Griffey contributed with a 2-RBI single, and Ramirez and Anderson contributed to the run total.

Today’s game wasn’t the train wreck I expected. Floyd didn’t have a great day. He gave up 5 runs, 3 of which were homers. He had a mediocre 4 strikeouts, walked 2, gave up 7 hits. The good news was that he went 7 innings on 102 pitches. (Imagine the same game with Gavin exiting around the 5th. Long story short, the game would have ended a lot sooner- and probably at the hands of Boone Logan.) [This feature] from Beyond the Box Score talked about how lucky Gav was that many of his fly balls weren’t homers. Well, today, they really caught up with him. Jenks gave up a solo shot of his own (the 2nd he gave up this year), but there was plenty of good news from the ‘pen. Dotel struck out 2, gave up no more runs. MacDougal gave up a hit in 1.1 innings, but no runs. Thornton gave up a hit in 2.2 innings, but struck out 3 and gave up no runs, Horacio Ramirez didn’t spoil our game today even though he walked a guy, and Ehren Wasserman faced just one guy a struck him out. You know what this mean… if we have a [John Danks Special] tomorrow, just a warning: the only guys that weren’t used today are Logan, Linebrink, Russell, Carrasco (who is as good as used, considering how often he’s called upon) and the person who is quickly becoming the Brian Anderson of the bullpen (send him in if you’re leading by 13 and you need someone to rest)- Lance Broadway.

I would like to give you a play by play of the brain fart also known as the bottom of the 10th inning. I think the tagline for that painful time in the Sox’ life would be, “How we kicked a gift horse in the mouth.” A.J. almost ground out, but a bad throw planted the ball into the visitors’ dugout and A.J. got to 2nd. J.D. was next and he only got on base because the short stop was just short of catching the ball. Runners on 1st and 3rd, no outs. All they needed was a sac fly and the game would have been over! But, no. Give Thome a K, and send him to the bench. Konerko was next and he was about to groundout around 3rd, but some questionable base running on AJ’s part took him out of scoring position, so Konerko made it to first. Apparently, no one bothered to tell Griffey that there were 2 outs (or he simply doesn’t understand the rules of baseball), because his “sacrificed fly” was 2 outs too late and that was that.

Thankfully, (SOMEHOW) the Sox stayed in the game. Konerko had a home run. So did Swisher. And Thome’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the 15th, his 30th of the year put everyone out of their misery and ended the game. Thankfully, there was enough time for everyone to get at least one hit today. Oh, yeah- except for Josh Fields. [Booger] struck out twice. On the bright side, he looked less confused on 3rd today. He helped turn almost two double plays. Speaking of pinch runners that had no purpose: Jerry Owens got a hit and stole a base today- not before being thrown out at second by a mile, trying to get there on a fly out .

Friday, September 5, 2008

Time To Hit The Panic Button

I've been scared before. Sure, Crede may or may not be out for awhile. Sure, Beatnick Swisher is back to his old self. Sure, John Danks is tired and Buehrle is turning into Vazquez. But all those problems have solutions, are temporary, are not new. What you didn’t see coming is Carlos Quentin.

Carlos Quentin, whose status as possible MVP was much buzzed about as the post-season approached, has been out since Monday. Arm soreness turned into arm and wrist soreness, which turned into [as released today] surgery to insert a screw into his wrist because it is sprained. He will be reevaluated in 2-3 weeks. I kid you not, I was sick to my stomach when I read the release. Well, I suppose we always have B.A. [Sorry. Is it like a Heath Ledger joke? Too soon?]

After being plunked by a pitcher 20 times this season, bruises were expected, but I did not see this coming. (If you did, you are a big jerk for knowing and not doing anything about it! Shame on you! I digress.)

What does this mean for the Sox? Well, if Griffey was healthy, that would’ve meant that Konerko would get to play 1B every day, Swish would be in LF, Dye would be RF. But Griffey (General Soreness, as Jim from Sox Macine rightfully calls him) has been sitting out with back soreness lately. This leaves Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson, and Dewayne Wise, who was recently reinstated from the 15-day D.L. (Already? Hasn’t it only been like… 3 days? I’m sure they hurried him along because of Carlos) Common sense would say more playing time for B.A. Ozzie sense would say put Jerry Owens out there, or better yet, bring back Dewayne Wise, who is as much of an asset to this team as Nick Swisher [eye roll]. More important than playing time for our 5th, 6th, and 7th starters is the absence of a very important hitter in the lineup. What can I say? It’s time to push the panic button and run around like it’s 2007. That or see how it plays out.

If you’re looking for something to distract you from this awful news, check out Life In the Cell’s [Angels Series Preview] and [John Danks analysis] and The Pale Hose 8’s newest comi. [The Angels aren’t coming for Crede]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jim Thome Stands Up To Cancer

Tomorrow, September 5th, Stand Up 2 Cancer's campaign will be nationally televised.

The White Sox's Jim Thome is one of the spokespersons for SU2C.

You can visit [the website] for more information about this great cause.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vazquez Keeps Indians At Bay - Sox - Indians Game 3

You can’t lose ‘em all. Unfortunately, that has been my slogan with the Sox. When we do consistently terrible and drop series left and right, you have to think, “you can’t lose them all.” Indeed, the Sox were not swept by the Indians and pulled off a 4-2 victory. Had they not, and had lost to a pitcher whose record was 2-7… well, that would tell you a lot about what the rest of the season would be like.

It was Javi’s day to pitch. I am very proud of the fact that he has improved from being a Contreras-like pitcher in June (7.48 ERA) to his performance the past few weeks (3.24 ERA in August). He’s been falling apart toward the end of the game, but that’s what the bullpen is for. He’s probably the most consistent in terms of pitch location and he and Floyd both pitch well with several different pitches. He made it through 6 innings, only walked one, struck out 5 and only gave up 2 runs. He wasn’t the problem pitcher. The bullpen was, once again in shambles- long story short, Jenks had to come in and get 5 outs. Really, the game was much more suspenseful than it should have been.

The offensive lineup was interesting today. With Crede (don’t get me started) and Quentin noticeably missing (and Griffey not so noticeably, but he was also on the bench), Ozzie also sat out Jim Thome and A.J. When the big guy isn’t in the lineup, who else are you going to park at DH if not Josh Fields? [eye roll] You know how I feel about Booger. He is too young and too weak of a hitter to be allowed to DH. He had himself a hit and a run today, so he wasn’t a complete waste of space in the lineup. Toby Hall had another one of those Toby Hall days at bat, where he couldn’t come up with anything, but Big Pierogi needs a day off every now and then, so that’s that. Brian Anderson (finally!) got some playing time. It's a miracle that his muscles haven't atrophied and his glove hasn't turned to dust since the last time he had to sweep the cobwebs off his batting helmet. He had the first hit of the game and struck out twice, but that’s more than Jerry Owens did yesterday. Speaking of Jer, [SoxMachine’s Video Tribute] brings a tear to my eye.

Beatnick Swisher (And that’s his name until he proves to me that he’s not that gaping black hole he was in May or even July) got himself a solo home run today. It was the most monstrous home run I’ve seen in a very long time- if not ever. It’s the first contribution he’s made in a long time. In fact, most of his hits (on the rare occasion when he does have a hit) in the last month or so are home runs. He’s either walking (not lately, though… everyone figured out his shpeal) or swinging for the fences. Then there was Alexei’s 2-run homer, which was unbelievable. He pulled a Joe Crede and lifted a ball literally 2 inches from the ground (ok, maybe not literally) and catapulted it over the fence. Just goes to show you, these yoo-hoos can’t win without homers…

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sore Losers: Sox - Indians Game 2

While yesterday’s loss was understandable, today’s was inexcusable. I’ve shrugged off the last few losses, but if I was managing the team, I would line those boys up and give them a (verbal) spanking. Paired with a lot of minor league action, the Sox threw away a game to the Indians. Not even the fact that the Twins lost is enough to make me feel better about today.

Let’s start with John Danks. The Hawk and DJ, the biggest authorities in baseball must have gone on for about 2 innings about how Danks has never pitched this many innings ever. Perhaps I’m ignorant of the plight of pitchers, but so what? This is his second year, so he should be used to working a whole year. I don’t understand why that was made into such a big deal. But, I guess J.D. felt the same way, because he pitched as if he was ready to quit. He made it only 4 innings, and earned himself 4 runs in the process. 2 walks and 8 hits in just 4 innings seem like a lot- even with 3 strike-outs. It seems as if Mark Buehrle jinxed himself and Mini-Me Danks when he spoke about Floyd being the most likely to buckle under pressure. (How wrong he was. Wasn’t Gavin the only one to win against the Twins and BoSox in their most recent road series against the respective teams?) Then Carrasco took over. He had 2 good innings, and in the third, paired up with Dotel and Boone Logan to give up a combined 5 runs before MacDougal came in to save the day- actually, to end the inning; it must have gone on for hours. D.J. needs to work on pitching inside. After 3 consecutive high and inside pitches, I figured he was about to hit the batter. He walked instead, but that seems like a much too common occurrence with D.J.

What was wrong with that picture (aside from J.D. having been coddled and told that it was okay for him to go out there and pitch four abysmal innings) was that when Carrasco got tired (understandably, the man is used more than any guy in the bullpen. Times 3.), Logan and Dotel were warming up. When the game is within reach (the score was 4-3 when Carrasco left), you bring out someone that will be able to hold the score, not the men that are struggling and the little kids from Charlotte. Amirite?

In terms of hitting, there were 7 hits over 9 innings. Four walks. Only 3 runs, and no home runs. 10 were left on base. Konerko had two hits today and Swisher and Uribe brought in a run each, and someone scored on a wild pitch. To be honest, the lineup just didn’t seem like it could work.

I would like to stop my recap right there and move on to some soreness. Why was Crede taken out in the 6th? After drawing a walk, and doing the usual on third (and almost picking up an error), Uribe came in to pinch hit for him. Uribe got a double, and that was fine, but according to Cowley (not that he’s any more reliable than Hawk and DJ), it was due to back tightness. As it turns out, Cowley turned out to be too right, and Crede is now day-to-day. Crede gave a quick interview saying it was just a setback, Guillen expects his season to be over. [sigh] And speaking of back soreness, Griffey was out for the 2nd day due to back soreness. Then there was Carlos Quentin, who was out because of a sore forearm. Swisher played left field, and Jerry Owens played center.

Did anyone check the dugout for Brian Anderson? I’m worried that he might have drowned in his own tears. After he was almost brought out to pinch-hit, he had to sit back down. But the real question, is, “why didn’t he start?” Honestly. This is ridiculous. I’m thinking if Jerry Owens ever gets injured, they’d send Josh Fields out there before B.A. And finally, speaking of Josh “Booger” Fields, he and Lancelot Broadway have been called up from Charlotte today. Them and our new batboy. Did anyone else notice him? They must’ve traded someone good for him.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Knights on the Mound: Sox -Indians Game 1

While the Indians had their ace on the mound- Cliff Lee, whose ERA is barely over 2.00 and had a 19-2 record coming into this game- the White Sox sent out Clayton Richard and his wide shoulders, who spent most of his year holding down the fort in Charlotte. After only 4 innings and some change, during which he allowed 4 runs to cross the plate (including one on ANOTHER fielding error by Clay Rich himself), the reins were passed to the harvest of the farm system, beginning with Ehren Wasserman. He’s spent a considerable amount of time with the Sox, but he’s also been doing a lot of mound time in Charlotte and was recalled because of the expansion of the roster. His efforts saved the 5th inning, but didn’t pan out as well in the 6th inning. Boone Logan, who was recently recalled from –you guessed it- Charlotte ended the 6th inning without allowing any more runs to cross the plate. He started off with 3 balls, but ended with no men on base. MacDougal- a name you might have to search the depths of your memory for- was also back from Charlotte. He completed a scoreless 7th inning, seeming to be a medium between the MacDougal that was too wild and the good MacDougal. Adam Russell (He also spend the majority of the year in Charlotte (25 of the 44 games he was in), but has been with the Sox fairly consistently since being called up) gave up one run in the 8th inning. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough.

The Sox barely scraped together 5 hits over 9 inning. The game started well, with base hits by Cabrera and A.J. to start off the first. But no more hits materialized until the 8th inning, when Paul Konerko had a base hit. Lee only struck out 4 over 9 innings, but in 109 pitches tied up nearly everyone. The Sox were still trailing 5-0 in the 9th when their 4th hit finally materialized. Joe Crede singled, followed by a single by Orlando Cabrera, but they were once again stranded on base. Was it a case of great pitching or the fact that our hitters were no match?

On the bright side:

It wasn’t Boone Logan’s fault. Think about how much damage he could’ve done given the situation he came in (men on 2nd and 3rd, only one out) but he didn’t. Joe Crede got a hit today. When nearly everyone was struggling to muster a hit, Joe Crede, who has been trying to get back to his old self since seeing no action at the plate for a month, got one. He’s had 4 hits and 1 RBI and 2 runs scored since returning from the D. L. on August 25th. Speaking of the D.L., Scott Linebrink is back and will be ready to pitch again as soon as Wednesday.

Bad signs:

Nick Swisher hasn’t had a hit since August 26th. Nor a walk since August 27th. Since the 27th, he has been 0 for 16. He’s been 3 for 35 in his last 10 games. In fact, the herder of awesome wasn’t even supposed to play today; he only had a chance because Ken Griffey, Senior Junior was feeling back tightness today. And, oh yeah, we are once again tied for 1st place with the Twins.