Ah, NY traffic. Getting to the Stadium yesterday for the Yanks-ChiSox game wasn’t a picnic, with lots of rush-hour traffic on the Deegan. Getting home wasn’t exactly fun either, since the Yankees traffic directors force you to spend an extended amount of time in a not-so-nice part of the Bronx before finally hitting the highway back home.
But I don’t care. The ChiSox got a win! And, more excitingly, the bullpen did not cough it up!
Humber was fantastic, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning. I was hoping that he would maintain the no-no into the ninth, so that Ozzie could not take him out and we would not have to go to *gasp* the bullpen. (I have absolutely ZERO faith in our bullpen at this point, and I know that’s bad. I can’t wish for an October run and bash the oh-so-crucial bullpen at the same time.) But Humber gave up a hit to A-Rod in the seventh, so to start the eighth, out trotted Chris Sale. He did not blow it, to my relief.
Then came Sergio Santos…
Granderson-A-Rod-Teixiera, a 2-0 ChiSox lead, and a crazy Stadium crowd in the bottom of the ninth. My heart was pounding as it was, and then Granderson hit a leadoff single. I buried my head in my sweatshirt, and looked up just in time to see Granderson steal second. The crowd went nuts, and since they were so loud that no one could hear me, I yelled “NOOOOOO!!!!” I could see it now…a two-run shot by A-Rod…out trots Thornton…a solo walk-off shot by Teixeira…my imagination went nuts. But no! Three more quick outs! A win! A win! A win!
Then we got to sit for 45 minutes in traffic immeshed in the dark Bronx streets not completely sure where we were going. But once we got onto a well-lit highway, I forgot about that. Because…
WHITE SOX WON!!
Tonight’s first pitch is in less than 5 minutes. Let’s do it again, boys.
So, at long last, White Sox pitchers and catchers have reported to Camelback Ranch, and already, one of the biggest questions heading into spring training has been answered. Chris Sale, our top prospect, will not be moving into the rotation to cover for Jake Peavy. I for one, am relieved. I am completely and totally convinced that the flashes of brilliance Sale showed us last season were no fluke, and I get very excited just thinking about him as our shut-down closer in a few years. The thought of moving him into the rotation made me think of what happened to this guy.
We all know how that story started…and how it’s unfolding. Not what I want to see. And note how skinny Joba was in this picture, taken three years ago. Now look at him. If Sale ever shows up to camp like that, I might start bawling.
And of course, you can not start spring training without an Ozzie-ism. When asked who would start in place of Peavy while he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, he said, “Right now, I don’t know. We have a couple names, but I forgot the names.” Oh, Ozzie. When you say something like that, I’m reminded just how much I’ve missed you.
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.
Or maybe not. But either way, it’s still very exciting. Tonight at 9 PM eastern time, MLB Network will be counting down the top 50 prospects from around the league. I’ve made a point of watching this show for the past two years for two reasons. 1) By this point, I am usually desperate for some sort of baseball talk that doesn’t involve discussion of washed-up free agents (Hi, Andruw Jones. How ya doing?), and 2) I enjoy watching games during the season and discovering that I’ve actually HEARD of these guys before. I went to a Giants game at AT&T Park last June, and when Madison Bumgarner came up to pinch-hit, I was the only one in my family who knew something about him other than the fact that his name was sort of funny.
But of course, it’s not Giants prospects I want to see on the screen tonight. I want to see White Sox prospects and marvel at how bright our future is, and then I want to see Twins prospects and grumble about the competition facing us. Looking at MLB.com’s top 10 prospect lists by position, it appears that neither team has top prospects at catcher, right hand pitcher, first, second, or short. The Twinkies have the No. 5 third baseman Miguel Sano, who is apparently a “physical specimen” with “above-average raw power and excellent bat speed.” Well, I certaintly wouldn’t want to have a specimen on my team. Specimens remind me of something like this:
The other two top Twinkie prospects are described somewhat less biologically. No. 5 outfielder Aaron Hicks has “a chance to be one of those five-tool types”, and No. 9 outfielder Ben Revere “is making a career out of proving people wrong” due to his small size. Ooh, goody, another Dustin Pedroia type. Lord knows how much I love “I’m short, so I can be arrogant” attitude.
Our prospects, on the other hand, are much more solid. No. 6 LHP Chris Sale (who we all know and love already) “should be able to handle the opportunity to join the White Sox rotation soon without any real difficulty” and No. 3 third baseman Brett Morel might “land the job at hot corner by Opening Day.” That would be lovely. The less time this guy spends fielding, the better.
We have no specimens. We have no guys who merely have chances or who feel the need to prove people wrong every minute. No, our top prospects are tough, developed, and most importantly, ready. Here’s to their success this season!