During this last week of summer, I am on vacation with my family in Southern Jersey, about an hour and a half outside of Philly. As I expected, in my three days here so far, I have seen my share of red (and even some old-school maroon). However, I’ve been seeing a few other colors too. In what has been the extent of my scientific activity this summer, I’ve kept track of the number of people of seen wearing MLB gear. The results, three days into my seven-day vacation, are as follows:
1 Red Sox
1 White Sox (Okay, okay, it’s me. Gotta represent!)
I’ll be keeping this tally all week. I don’t doubt that I’ll see at least 100 Phillies fans by week’s end. If I was keeping track of football teams, I’m sure I would be able to confirm that I’ll see 100 Eagles fans as well.
So, I can tell you all about the doings of Halladay and
Rollins and all the rest, but I’m a bit fuzzy about my boys. I do know that last night, a dazzling and still rare display of offense was put on for show. 10-0 against the often-potent Rangers? I can live with that. I also know that Carlos Quentin has joined A.J. Pierzynski and Philip Humber among the ranks of the injured. Though Q isn’t expected to hit the DL, this is really a bad time for the injury bug to bite the Sox. With the Tigers sweep of the Indians, it looks like we might actually be able to move into second.
All right, so I know that it’s a bit pathetic to be ecstatic when your team reaches .500, and I know that this is not the first time this season that the White Sox have reached that mark (and then promptly slipped below it). But this .500 feels special for a number of reasons:
~The Sox are now only three games behind Detroit in the Central race.
~We have beaten the aforementioned Tigers 4 of the last 6 times we’ve played them.
~We have gone 8-4 since the All-Star Break.
~In those 8 wins, we have scored 36 runs, which averages to 4-5 runs a game. (I am aware that there are some teams who have been surpassing this mark on a nightly basis for the entire season. Unfortunately that team has not been the White Sox.)
I’m happy. I’m content. I’m sad that I’m leaving on Sunday and won’t get to see any of the games against the Yankees. But right now that doesn’t matter. Back at .500 and it feels so gooooood… See? I’m making up bad song lyrics, I’m so thrilled!
There’s another reason to be happy on the South Side. The Phillies, thought to be seeking our boy Carlos Quentin, have acquired Astros’ big-hitting outfielder Hunter Pence. Hopefully, that eliminates their need for Q, which means that he can stay with us and help us STAY ABOVE .500!!!
Can you tell I’m excited this morning?
As I had mentioned in my last post, Edwin Jackson has been rumored to be going places come the trade deadline, with the White Sox reportedly shopping him in exchange for a third baseman. Well, maybe E-Jax took the rumors to heart, as today he delivered one of his finest performances of the season, a complete-game, 101-pitch shutout of the Tigers. I don’t totally renege on my stance that I wouldn’t be sorry to see him go, but if he could pitch like this more often…well, now you’re talking.
More importantly, Jackson’s brilliance couldn’t have come at a better time. Two games after the All-Star break, and the White Sox are two wins richer. Considering that last week we couldn’t even beat the cellar-dweller Royals, it’s nice to see signs that the team’s ineptitude against the division rivals might come to a close. I know, I know, it’s just two games, but 13 runs over two games versus the mighty Tigers? That’s as good a sign as any. (Unfortunately, Justin Verlander is also on my fantasy baseball team. Last night’s performance coupled with Bartolo Colon’s implosion against the Blue Jays has my team’s ERA for the week sitting at an ugly 9.00.)
Today, both the Sox and Tigers donned throwback uniforms in tribute to the Negro Leagues. My first thought upon seeing the baggy blue pinstripes was that these are positively hideous, but it is always kind of cool to see a team honor those before them. Here are some pictures courtesy of the Chicago Tribune. Decide for yourself.
So, it’s no secret that the White Sox have had a less-than-stellar season so far. However, Alexei Ramirez was recently awarded the AL Player of the Week title for the week of May 16-22. This is the third time a White Sox player (the other two being Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko) has won the award this season, which is only eight weeks old. So, in the eight weeks that this award has been given, a White Sock has been the recipient about 38% of the time.
Granted, the Player of the Week distinction kind of reeks of cheap, yay-little-first-grader-you-get-a-gold-star-ness, but still. If a Pale Hose has been the best in the American League for 38% of the season, we have to be doing something right.
I’m going to open this by disclosing that I am not a big fan of either Quentin or Jackson.
Quentin, in my opinion, had one good year in ’08, and has hardly been able to contribute much to the team besides power since. I tend to view him as one of the more overrated players on the Sox squad. As for Jackson, my initial reaction to the trade for him was, “Why?” and I still have not been able to warm to him. What he showed us last season was decent, but not enough to convince me he was better than the younger and cheaper arm of Dan Hudson.
But it seems that Quentin and Jackson aim to change the minds of skeptics like me. Already with an AL Player of the Week award in his hand, Q is leading the ChiSox hitters in almost every category, with his .458 batting average 5th among major league players with a minimum of 15 at-bats. Jackson must know how much I love strikeouts, as he leads MLB with 20 K’s. John Danks has the second-most K’s on the White Sox. He has struck out…eight batters.
I’m liking the look of these 4-2 Sox, even though it is very very early. I wish MLB.com still had that tool where you could see where your team was this time last season, because I would love to compare. All I remember is that we got off to an abysmal start…I guess I prefer not to remember the rest.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading these past few months! I made the Leaders’ List for the first time at No. 47, and am honored to have that kind of readership. I’m really glad to be an active part of the MLBlogs community 🙂
Finally, the long and torturous offseason is about to come to an end. We’re in the home stretch now: 19 days until White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch. In honor of this milestone, here are the top 19 reasons I can’t wait for spring training:
19) I live in Connecticut, where there is nearly 5 feet of snow on the ground and it is cold and gray outside. I would like hear news from a place where it is warm and sunny and, best of all, there is not a spot of snow on the ground.
18) I’m curious to see if Gordon Beckham plans on bringing back this stylin’ hairdo:
17) It’s officially time for the White Sox and Don Cooper to come face-to-face and either work it out or part their separate ways. It’s clear Don Cooper wishes he was with the Yankees right now, and it’s also clear that the front office is being petty towards him by communicating with him only via text-message. Both sides need to meet, and that will happen in Arizona.
16) Hoping Mark Buehrle will roll up the ball park in his killing-the-ozone-one-mile-at-a-time truck.
15) Is this the year Jordan Danks shows us something special and earns a roster spot? Always hoping to see the younger Danks roaming the Cell’s outfield…maybe my wish will come true this year.
14) I get to see Chris Sale throw again, and be reminded why he is our future ace.
13) Our big free-agent signing, Adam Dunn, is at long last unveiled, ready to show us that we finally have a stable, powerful, and productive DH.
12) The post-Bobby Jenks era in the bullpen will commence, and the race for the closer spot will begin. Will favorite Matt Thornton emerge with the role? Maybe hot-shot Chris Sale? Or even a dark horse, like Jesse Crain? The competition should be great to watch.
11) It’s always fun to see what color AJ Pierzynski’s hair currently is.
10) Can Jake Peavy return to form after his unprecedented shoulder surgery? That question will finally be answered for curious fans like myself.
9) I’m waiting waiting waiting for Mark Teahen to be removed from the hot corner, and will relish the moment when prospect Brett Morel earns the spot.
8) This year will be the year when Carlos Quentin revisits the MVP-caliber self he was in ’08. I just know it. The road back starts NOW.
7) Finally, I can start watching ESPN again. I don’t mind football, but I want some baseball news sprinkled in there. Otherwise, I start doing homework and actually become productive. And that simply cannot do.
6) I can also begin wearing my ChiSox apparel once again in places other than gym class. I don’t like wearing my Mark Buehrle shirt if I know there’s no game it will bring him luck in.
5) Spring training always coincides with the beginning of second semester. I’m halfway through the school year. Baseball reminds me that I’m almost there, that summer will come soon enough.
4) With the dawn of each new season comes hope. Hope that the ChiSox will not disappoint me this time. We will go 162-0 and win the World Series and watch those Twinkies cry themselves to sleep at night in last place. At least, that’s what I can hope for.
3) As teams take shape, I can make predictions for the season…and maybe this year, one will actually be right.
2) We all know that spring training will not end without a word from Oney Guillen and his Twitter feed. He’s not done yet. There’s always someone to bash.
1) And of course, where there’s Oney’s mouth, there’s the man who gave him that voice in the first place.