Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jerry Saves Faces, Paulie Saves Himself the Trouble of Moving

Let’s talk numbers.
14. That’s Paul Konerko, and he was just signed to a 3-year, $37.5 million dollar contract with the Sox.
2020. No joke, that is when the ramifications of this contract are over. Paul will only get $6.5 in his last year with the team (2013, and will get the remainder of his salary in $1-million-per-year installments).
34. How old Konerko is now.
37. How old Konerko will be when his contract will be up.
0. That’s the number of pitchers KW has brought into the bullpen this offseason, while the number he booted was 3. Jenks, Putz, and Linebrink are all gone. Love them or hate them, they were spots in the bullpen, and even at their worst, they could at least eat innings, and at their best… well, they were pretty good.

Now, I know this makes it seem as though I think this deal is a bust. And, to be honest, I feel like I am increasingly disappointed in the way turned out. I am torn between how much I genuinely liked Paulie as a guy, hitter, and first baseman and the fact that he’s in the twilight of his career, a cash vacuum, and unable to pitch.

It almost seems like the Sox had to make this move to save face after boasting about how they wanted and would get Paulie. Now, who's to say what's going on backstage, but... when the press is reporting that Jerry Reinsdorf himself got involved, it seems a bit like tattling to your parents. I have some very negative feelings about how this whole business was handled.

But, in the spirit of things, I say, Welcome Back Paulie! May you steal many bases, hit more home runs than anyone on the team (Hmm… this could easily turn bad), and have as great a year as 2010. Long play the King!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Told You So...

Welcome to the "I told you so" page, winter meetings edition. After my last post, Kenny talked about making sure that Konerko fit into the White Sox budget, that the money was there, and that Konerko was his top priority. Now, I've said before that if we spend all the money Konerko will want to make, are we going to be left with much? Here's where I was scratching my head every time Kenny Williams talked:

1. Williams said both Dunn and Pierzynski were moving some of their salaries into the back years to set aside more money for Konerko today. Unless payroll is estimated to decrease drastically, this would mean a one-year contract for Konerko, who I understand wants a multi-year deal. This won't work.

2. KW didn't just talk: he talked a lot! I mean, these people seem to have a very minimum understanding of bargaining. "We are so desperate to have you! We are doing everything to have you! We have all this money available JUST. FOR. YOU!" Wouldn't your response also be, "Okay, then I will take $74 million dollars a year for the next 40 years, please"?

3. Why Konerko? For the same reason that the Sox didn't want to sign Jim Thome last year, I would think there would be just as many reasons not to sign Paulie this year. The list of free agents going into 2011 seems to be massive. I would be just as sorry as the next person to see Paulie go, but I'm not willing to promise him my first born child to avoid it.

And now we are all surprised talks are slowing down and Kenny is a lot less optimistic. Color me shocked!

In related, "I told you so" news, Scott Boras is boasting that Joe Crede is ready to try baseball out again. Sadly, Crede has been the boy who cried wolf a bit too many times in terms of his back, so I don't think many would bite. However... how's that for a cheap Konerko alternative with an added bonus: It would make me a whole hell of a lot less grumpy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can We Afford to Afford Konerko?

Let’s talk Dunn: I’ve been watching CSN today and trying to see what everyone has to say about this. And for once, instead of praise, I heard my kind of talk: money talk. Now, obviously, no one knows too much about the money situation because the White Sox aren’t a publicly traded company. But here’s what we do know. The White Sox have enough money to pay $56 million over 4 years to Adam Dunn- that’s as much as Mark Buehrle is making, and about 14 times as much as Jim Thome made with the Twins last year. A.J. PIerzynski just agreed to a 2-year, $8 million deal. Combined with some stats courtesy of baseball-reference and some intense work in excel, here is what I have so far:

The White Sox are liable for $96 million in player salaries so far in 2011. Plus or minus a few minor leaguer salaries (which are about half a mill a pop), so let’s just round it up to $100 million. The Sox spent $113 million on player salaries last year, according to Forbes magazine. That was roughly 58% of total revenues. By my calculations, based on trends over the last few years, revenue is supposed to increase by about 8.7% next year. If we assume the Sox are willing to spend the same proportion this year, that would mean about $123 million on player salaries this year. That leaves another $23 million in the budget. There’s also the issue of Juan Pierre, and the only data I found for him is that his former team is still paying for $3.5 mill of his salary. This year he made $7, so assuming that stands… that’ll add another $3.5 to the payroll, leaving the Sox with $20 million.

In case you lost me so far, all these numbers are based on estimates, but I am projecting that the Sox organization has another $20 million to spend on salaries. Of course, assuming my total estimates are correct, and revenues continue to increase as planned. Also, assuming the Sox don’t pick up any more stragglers like Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, and the likes of major disappointment to people with brains everywhere, Tony Pena.

The more I think about this large sum of money, the less it seems. The Sox need another closer, some more solid power in the bullpen, and maybe someone on the bench. The more I think of how much back up the Sox need in the bullpen and perhaps on the bench, the less I want Konerko to be resigned. Jenks was making almost $6 mill this year. We’ll need at least that much if we pick up another free agent closer. If we pay Konerko the $14 million he was paid this year, there’s your budget. Yet Kenny claims he is actively pursuing Paulie, as approved by Jerry Reinsdorf.

And while you all are wrestling with the idea of “Who will play first base, Adam Dunn or Paul Konerko?” I am playing with the numbers, wishing I could see a financial statement. Can we afford Paulie? Yes. Can we afford to have Paulie and still have solidity everywhere else? I’m reluctant to agree.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Marky Mark Goes Solo

It was the winter of 2010, 5 years after the happiest summer of the decade. Chicago was still glowing from a victorious win by its hockey team, but still wiping tears after yet another barren summer. Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, and Bobby Jenks sat in front of a campfire, telling scary stories. Being traded to the Cubs, having to face Tim Lincecum for every at-bat every day for the rest of their career, having to wear a pink uniform. But none was as scary as the tale told by a man on the other end of the phone line. "You're going solo, Buehrle," announced Jerry Reinsdorf. "I'm disbanding the 2005 band. I hope you know all the songs."

It seems that aside from Mark Buehrle, the remainder of the 2005 gang is gone. Of the gang, the one with the best fighting chance of returning is probably Freddy. It seems the Sox are uninterested in entering in a drawn-out, multimillion dollar contract with the rest. Especially not Konerko and A.J. And who can blame them? Sure, Konerko's year was so stellar he deserved a spot at the All-Star game, but at 34, he's in the twilight of his career. Weren't we begging for his release in 2008? As for A.J., well, I just hope Tyler Flowers is ready. I haven't seen much of him, so that worries me. Almost as much as the fact that Donny Lucy isn't on the 40-man roster.

But the real issue is that the Sox find themselves with a real P.R. problem. Konerko, Pierzynski, Jenks are all staples. They are all the go-to names when thinking of the White Sox. So who will be the face of the organization once they are gone? The obvious answer seems Gordon Beckham, since he was the farm system's golden child, but we are nevertheless filled with a void in our hearts that can only be filled by another World Series trophy. Or the addition of some big names in exchange for releasing some others. What will the advertising campaign be like this year? Who will replace Konerko as captain? Where exactly is Joe Crede? Will Alexei ever weight more than 86 lbs? These questions and more will be answered on the next episode of... SOAP!

And just so we're clear, I think the new gray uniforms look even worse than the old ones. And no one likes the gray anyway. They're so bleak. What is this, the Great Depression?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fire Sale! Everyone Must Go! Great Deals Here!

If you are a White Sox fan, read the following paragraph. If not, skip it to the next one! It’ll be real good! It has recently come to my attention that Brent Morell was named (unofficially, perhaps, as of now) the White Sox’ new third baseman. While I have mixed feelings on this issue, there is another that springs to mind when thinking about this issue. What of Mark Teahen? To be honest, the only realistic solution is that the Sox pay him $4 million for him to play with the Charlotte Knights. You may say, “there’s always someone stupid enough. They might take him on and even give him an extension and a raise.” If you were a fan of say, the Oakland Athletics, or the Royals, you’d be right. Those idiots are the Sox. But on the totem pole of dumb decisions… well, it doesn’t get any dumber than that. Who would buy this crap?

In just 77 games, Teahen picked up 25 RBI!!! 25! That’s almost one point courtesy of Mark Teahen for every 3 games he plays! He also stole 3 bases! That’s exactly 300% more than Paul Konerko stole in 2009! 300%! That’s a big number! And you just can’t argue with numbers! Especially if I make them bold, underlined, or a really big font. He also had 89 bases this year! That’s like 22 home runs! How many home runs did he actually hit? Well, that’s just irrelevant! I just said it was like 22! NUMBERS! His batting average was .290 and his on base percentage was a decent .357! Yes, that was in 2006 and with the Royals, not the Sox, but again, IRRELEVANT! I mean… if you’re to compare him with the world’s greatest third baseman, Josh Fields, well, then Mark Teahen looks even better! You know how many stolen bases HE had? 0! How many RBI? 6! Some third baseman, right? Look at Teahen! It’s all NUMBERS! You know what else is a big number? 100%! Yes, that’s his fielding percentage! I mean, for a third baseman, that’s REALLLLL good! Better than Joe Crede. And by that, I mean better than when Joe Crede played the OF, 1B, and DH! And for just $4 million dollars, you can have him! That’s SOOO much less than Alex Rodriguez, how can you say no? YOU CAN’T SAY NO!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

There's Not Place Like The Cell

I have always had a deep respect for coach Quenneville. I don’t know, maybe it’s because he wears a suit, or because his English is definitely English, but there’s something about his that makes me really want to listen to what he has to say. It’s definitely either something that demands respect or a really cool mustache. I’ll figure it out by the end of hockey season. So with one winning coach in town, eyes shift to the city’s losing coaches. The Cubs’ head of operations has fled town, the Bears’ coach is… I don’t really know, but Ozzie… well, he’s a bit quieter than he was a few months ago.

Rumor has it, Ozzie was running his mouth around town saying he wants an extension with enough money to last him 13 lifetimes. He’s got at least 8 left if he continues to fight paws-up, like a cat! This really seems like the wrong time for Ozzie to be making his case. After all, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz has come off a year with so much talent that fell so, so short of the mark, that fingers would be amiss to point at anyone by Ozzie. It seemed that rather than give gifts, Ozzie has taken them away.

Brains: You, scarecrow, I’ll miss most of all! Brainiac Carlos Quentin had enough college education and focus to hit 36 home runs (with 100 RBI) in 130 games in 2008 before a season-ending injury. Think of what Carlos could do in the coming years! Well, clearly, he was encouraged to give up his somber ways enough that he loosened up and lost his mind altogether. Bad base-running and boneheaded calls to steal bases (I don’t see anyone asking Paul Konerko to steal a base!) caused Carlos to get injured again and again. And his batting average took quite a toll. Although Quentin contributed with RBIs this year, it was clear that he is not the same Carlos we saw in 2008.

Home: All Nick Swisher wanted was to go home. And his wish was granted. The follicle-loving Swisher was sent to the Yanks in exchange for something like Jayson Nix and Wilson Betemit. Basically, for nothing. And to make matters worse, Swisher started to produce for the Yankees. Might something have to do with the way he was managed in Chicago?

Courage: The Sox played bravely against the Yankees, the Red Sox, and … well, pretty much everyone, especially this year. Except the Twins. If Ozzie is responsible for naming the Twins the Piranhas, he should also give the Sox a nickname. The guppies? The Yellow-Bellied Sox? Anything that implies that the Sox’ overall fortitude decreases tenfold when faced with the fearful Twins, who folded-again- in the ALDS after just 3 games against the Yanks.

Heart: Perhaps Ozzie’s biggest problem was his heart. He took turns caring too much and taking things too personally and then making decisions that were all business (such as not signing Jim Thome despite being a lovable guy, not bringing back Joe Crede, etc.). Perhaps Ozzie’s biggest mistake was not knowing he had a heart- much like the Tin Man. He acted as though rational, but really did answer to some sort of emotion. I guess that’s why they call it sentiMENTAL. Get it? Get it? Well, I tried.

I will tell you this: I don’t expect Ozzie to jump ship to the Cubs or every do something as disgraceful as Lou Piniella, abandoning the burning ship. Plus, I DO believe Ozzie is competent enough not to let the ship burn quite so hot.

As for the future, I can’t know if they’ll sign Ozzie again or not. But I will say this: It’s far more likely to see a future without KW than a future without Ozzie.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ground Lost, Time Running Out

The Sox bit the big one again in today's televised battle against the Kansas City Royals. Paul Konerko's solo home run was just about the only good thing about today's game.

And I can't help but wonder if Ozzie is to blame. Jim from the Sox machine talked about Ozzie's choice to leave starters in long past what has come to be a typical pitch count. Edwin Jackson's last outing, for example, consisted of 128 pitches. I assume this would take its toll on the pitcher who has been almost unstopable otherwise since joining the White Sox. Then again, perhaps he has just run out of the steam that came with the excitement of leaving the sinking ship known to the baseball world as the D-Backs.

Is it praise-worthy that Ozzie defied the new norms and stuck with a good thing? Or does it show that he is careless with the health of his pitchers and thinks little of consequences?

That last question confuses me because often times, Ozzie throws games away by making stupid choices like putting in Tony Pena and other times he'll do anything to win this one game (Well, to be honest, other than the Edwin Jackson incident, I can't think of another time he's done this...)

Ground was lost against the Twins once again today, with a series coming up where the two face off. It seems improbable that the Sox will gain any ground by then, and even more improbable that the Sox will overtake the Twins in the standings. But one can hope.

A sweep of the Twins could do wonders. Another spectacular winning streak would also be nice. But what will really happen? We'll have to adopt the Cubs' slogan. There's always next year. How odious it sounds. Can't Obama do something about this?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Plenty of Baseball To Be Played

I would be a moron if I believed that. The Sox are on their last leg in every way possible. Nothing short of a miracle will repair the 6-game deficit that the Sox find themselves in. Perhaps a loss-less stretch until the very end of the season will be enough. But is that possible with the state of the Sox at present?

Gordon Beckham’s hand is injured, Paul Konerko’s back is giving him a hard time, and now Bobby Jenks was diagnosed with “ulnar neuritis.” In case you’re not a doctor, that basically means discomfort in the nerve known as your “funny bone”, meaning pain in your little and ring fingers and possible weakness. Good thing you don’t need fingers as a pitcher.

And now, on to the starting pitchers. Gavin Floyd seemed to have reached the end of his rope. He gave up 6 runs on 13 singles today. Freddy Garcia had to get an epidural and may start on Sunday, but in his last outing he didn’t even make it 3 innings.

The only way I can describe this situation is by comparing it to the 70-year-old pregnant woman. It’s just wrong. While the Sox have the ability, they can’t pull it together. (On the flip side, the 70-year-old pregnant woman doesn’t have the natural ability, but somehow she did it.)

BUT instead of tying a boulder necktie on and jumping into the river, let’s look at what we have to live for.
The first reason is Chris Sale. Sure, his success is probably due in part to the fact that he’s faced batters only once. But, there’s also the fact that his fastball has reached 99 mph, that he has a complete repertoire of successful pitches at just 21 years old, only a few months after being drafted, after only a limited time with Coop.

The second is that after this painful month is over, Jake Peavy will be back and we have as much of a chance as we did this year to not be screw-ups. And if that’s not enough, we have two more years of Mark Teahen. Oh, wait. Reasons NOT to jump off a bridge… Scratch that last one.

No, let’s not! Let’s look at this terrific deal. Mark Teahen had a 3-year, $14 million contract with the White Sox. That’s infinity times higher than Joe Crede’s salary (Because there’s nothing you can multiply $0 by to get to FOURTEEN MILLION.), and he’s making about 10 times more this year than Josh Fields (who made about $422,000 this year). The only net gain or loss from that fortunate trade was Chris Getz. God, we’re lucky…

Sorry about the sporadic posts. Night school isn't the best way to keep up with baseball. Thankfully, there's not much more baseball to be analyzed this year.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Does Manny Mean For Sox Players?

I briefly touched on the Manny trade yesterday- kind of a generic story about what I hoped Manny would do for the team. What I failed to do was analyze his impact on his teammates.

For once, this isn’t a question about “Who will be sent back to Charlotte?” (The answer seems like it would have been Brent Lillibridge) As rosters expand this week, no one needs to be moved, but according to an article on the White Sox front page, this move essentially benches Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Says the article, Jones will be a defensive replacement (in what world is Jones superior to ANYONE as a defensive replacement?) and Kotsay will be just a back-up first baseman. Worse yet, is the prospect for Mark Teahen. The only position he is adequate for is DH, and…. Well, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, that spot is taken.

Is Manny actually superior to any of these guys? Let’s make some projections happen. This chart predicts how these men would fare over 300 at-bats (Why 300? I don’t know, it just seemed like a nice round number. It’s just so we’re not comparing apples to porcupines.)

Current AVG
Manny Ramirez
Andruw Jones
Mark Kotsay
Mark Teahen
Brent Lillibridge

Overall, Manny’s projected numbers seem to be better than everyone’s. The only questionable one is Brent Lillibridge who has had the smallest sample size of at-bats by a large margin.

Honestly, I would rather Ozzie choose two of these yoo-hoos and send them to Charlotte and literally bring every single pitcher down there and see what we can do for the bullpen. Perhaps that is the magic of the Manny trade: the ability to get rid of the many DHs and bring in as many young arms as the cell can hold. It’s brilliant, Kenny. Really, you are a ninja.

If, on the other hand, the plan was to add Manny, but keep Jones, Kotsay, Teahen AND Lillibridge on the roster… well, he’s doing a great job of wasting Jerry Reinsdorf’s money.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Here's To Manny (Wins)

It’s almost 100% official: Manny Ramirez is coming to the White Sox. I’ve abstained because… well, with Kenny, you can’t ever think that a rumor is true. After all, he is the trade ninja. But, for once, Kenny delivered just as was rumored: The Manny Ramirez is heading to Chicago.
It was interesting watching this story develop, because KW and Ozzie were both tight-lipped and outspoken about the possibility. Ozzie has implied that he could handle Manny better than his former managers. Kenny never confirmed nor denied it, but later in the process hinted they may be looking at other players. Alas, the trade happened as foretold.
Of course, there is still a chance that The Manny Ramirez is the second coming of The Ken Griffey Junior- at a time when he is but a shadow of his former self. In the wake of injuries, steroid-use scandals, and after being labeled a clubhouse cancer, there is an undeniable downside to Manny as well as the potential for greatness.
This potential for greatness has me picturing his dreadlocks running the bases to the tune of fireworks, and the Sox winning every game by a touchdown! Of course, we’re going to need about 3 touchdowns’ worth of points to win with our bullpen in such a tattered state, but that’s a different story.
That, indeed, is a very, very, very sad story.  Thornton and Putz are both condemned to the DL due to various ailments. Scott Linebrink is also suffering from an ailment, but if anyone knew what that was, we’d be looking for a cure instead of sending him to the mound.  I predict a new campaign with black and white ribbons as the symbol and many, many telethons. “Pitch for the cure” or something. There must be something that keeps him from producing consistently, if ever. What’ worse is that I can’t bring myself to hate him more than I hate Tony Pena.
For more, we’ll have to stay tuned and watch him play. Let’s hope for the best!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Man With The World on His Shoulders

Because these last couple of games are unworthy of anyone’s patience and attention, I’ve decided to use today’s post as a sort of walk down memory lane. A “Where are they now?” for the recently departed players of the team. So, where are they now?

Jermaine Dye is the easiest: he’s sitting at home on his couch. Or perhaps he and Joe Crede are touring with Journey, singing backup.

Jayson Nix was claimed by the Indians earlier this year after being designated for assignment. After batting a deplorable .163 with the Sox, Jayson went on to hit .264 for the Indians. Quite an improvement. Plus, this time around he had one more hit (37) than SO (36)! Conclusion? Not a big loss.

D.J. Carrasco, a man I would have traded Tony Pena’s soul for, moved over to the National League. He posted a mediocre 3.88 ERA in 45 games with the Pirates, then moved to the Diamondbacks, where further atrophied to 5.63. Overall, on the year, he has a 4.10 ERA and 57 holds. Comparatively, in 2009 with the Sox, his ERA was 3.76 with 103 holds (although, he had 30 more innings under his belt, so when the numbers are reduced proportionally, he should still be at 70 holds on the year). Seems the choice here was a good one, unless he, like I assumed of our own Edwin Jackson, was suffering from a case of “being on a horrible team.”

Scott Podsednik, who I was more than upset to let go played for the Royals, then Dodgers this year. I often compared him to Juan Pierre this year. Pierre is leading the majors with 47 stolen bases, while Scott has 34. Still, Podsednik is hitting a much better .308 with a slightly better .354 OBP and 49 RBI over Pierre’s .273/.345/31. Pierre has turned out to be a pretty good player for the Sox as of late, but I’d still rather have Scotty. I guess this one’s a toss-up.

Finally, there’s Jim Thome. After hitting .249 with the Sox the previous year, Thome went on to hit .273 for the Twins this year. He’s had 17 HR so far. HOWEVER, his first half numbers looked a little different. He was hitting .255 with only 10 HR in 61 games. Recently, he’s had 7 in the last 20 and he’s hitting .313 with a .423 OBP. His numbers are even better against the Sox, with an overall .387 BA and .459 OBP. As for a conclusion on this one… well, I don’t have one. I loved Thome as a player, but he was often frustrating in terms of productivity. Do I wish we had another slugger on the team? Sure. But should it have been Jim Thome just so he wouldn’t be single-handedly making Sox fans cry every night as part of the Twins organization? That I can’t be sure about.

Overall, I think Kenny hasn’t made as many mistakes as I’d like to accuse him of making this past off-season. Has he lost his magic touch? Well, to some extent, I’ve been beginning to doubt him ever since the Griffey trade. But is our entire season doomed because of the simple decision not to pick up Jim Thome once again? Absolutely not. The failures of our season are not Jim Thome’s fault. Surely, he's not the nail in the coffin deciding that the Sox are 5 games behind the Twins. It is the Sox’ fault for not winning with the talent they do have.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Twins-Sox Game 1: An Illustrated Story

The Sox took on the Twins. The ending was so tragic, it left me speechless. Instead of a post, here is the illustrated story of last night's game:

First inning: John Danks sleeps, Sox put out batting cage machine on the mound instead. Machine throws slow-pitch baseballs...

Paul Konerko starts to put the Sox on the board
Hawk Drunkely talks about Danks being a Mongoose
Danks chooses to wake up and perform

Young punches AJ right in the face and misses home plate by about 6 feet.
Alexei's heroics get the Sox the lead
In a situation similar to 2008's game 163, Thome hits a walk-off homer. This time, for the wrong team.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cherry Garcia

This loss could be blamed on many. Should it be Freddy Garcia for giving up 5 runs in 5 innings? Could it be JJ Putz who gave up 3 runs in the 8th, 2 earned? Could it be Tony Pena for giving up 4 runs in the 9th? Could it be Andruw Jones and his terrible defensive day in Center Field? I’ll tell you this much: It wasn’t the offense’s fault.

The clock seemed to be ticking in slow-motion. Between Freddy, Galarraga, and plenty of base runners, the game lasted 3:31. The score swung back and forth, but was mostly tipped in the direction of the Tigers. It was 5-1. Then the Sox took a 7-5 lead. The Tigers came back and won the game 13-8.

The fans booed during this game. But they did not boo enough. There were boos that deserved to be directed at JJ Putz for giving up the lead the same way he gave the game up yesterday. There were boos that Andruw Jones deserved when he played some iffy center field, then simply dropped a ball from his glove. And of course, the cherry on top of the cake, Tony Pena. But, then again, isn’t he always the cherry on top of a loss?

The bottom line is that the Sox are in terrible shape. And they are heading to Minnesota for a 3-game series. And while the offense has been fine, the pitchers seem to be back in the form they were in in April or May. Freddy is what I predicted: growing fatigued as the season rolls on. The bullpen is losing it, too. Putz is starting to look rickety at a time when Jenks is being considered for the DL.

Let’s focus on the positives if for just one paragraph. Chris Sale looks fairly decent. I don’t think he should be a permanent in the arm in the bullpen just yet, but it’s good to know that our farm system does occasionally run into talent. Hawk Harrelson was out for the day due to a family illness. Oddly enough, they didn’t bother to find Steve Stone a counterpart. He was at it solo. It was extremely awkward at first to hear a one-sided conversation during a sports commentary situation. As I tweeted, the situation grew on me. It was like being home alone when you have a big family. It was peaceful, it was free of references to Hawk’s career, and there were no cookies. It should have been a good game.