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.
And it’s definitely not over.
Despite the enthusiasm of my last post, I still haven’t really been giving the White Sox much thought lately. That sweep at the hands of the Yankees two weeks ago left a sour taste in my mouth, and I officially proclaimed it over. I stopped keeping track of wins and losses and games behind. I would see online that they won, but not bother to check the standings. I thought no winning streak could erase the fact that it was done. Over. See ya next April.
Then, I heard on SportsCenter that A.J. Pierzynski was headed to the DL with a broken wrist. (For the first time in his career, by the way. I find it amazing that a catcher who is used as much as A.J. has never visited the DL before.) “Big blow for the surging Sox,” one of the anchors said. “They’re only 3.5 games behind Detroit.”
Excuse me, WHAT?!
Yes, it’s true. 3.5 games behind first-place Detroit, half a game behind second-place Cleveland, 8-2 in their last ten, and–my holy grail all season–one game over .500. Just when I had given up, just when I started to sink into the label of “bad fan”, my boys have given me yet another reason to believe. This hope may soon be dashed, as so many have this season, but now I know that I’m sticking this out till the end. After all, there’s still 41 to go. Let’s play ball.
(But, seriously, A.J.? Now is not the time to go on the DL for the first time in your career. Best wishes for a speedy speedy SPEEDY recovery.)
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?
More importantly, do you remember his stint as a White Sock? Probably not, because it was pretty un-memorable. The only reason I bring it up now is because I saw that the Tigers have acquired Betemit from the Royals. Turns out that this is actually a desirable acquisition. This season, he has been batting .281. Last season, also with the Royals, he posted a .297 average. I didn’t know he could actually hit. All I remember is that in 2009, he hit .200 with 3 RBI. Thanks, Wilson, for showing us your best stuff while you were with us. Glad that we served as a warm-up on your way to actually being a decent player in KC.
In case you totally do not remember Wilson because his season was THAT horrible, here is a picture to help jog your memory. Note that he wore No. 15, the same number currently worn by one of our latest disappointments, Gordon Beckham.
Now, I know on the morning of Saturday, July 23, you will all be visiting this very blog to read a flowering tribute to my boy, Mark Buehrle, on the 2-year anniversary of his perfect game. Unfortunately, you will be sorely disappointed, because I am going to be away this weekend without Internet access. But, I can’t let this momentous date pass without some sort of commemoration…
Too bad he’s not pitching this July 23rd. A perfect game on my sixteenth birthday would be the absolute coolest thing ever in the history of the world. Alas, it’s not meant to be. I’ll be back Sunday night, see y’all then. Hopefully the White Sox won’t implode while I’m gone and oblivious to their shenanigans.
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.
Well, it’s been a busy couple of days in ChiTown, starting with the fact that Alexei has reportedly signed a four-year extension worth $32.5 million. This makes me very, very happy. I had been skeptical about Alexei for quite some time, but last season, when he won a Silver Slugger and should have won a Gold Glove, he convinced me that he was more than worthy of being our shortstop.
Another tidbit of news is that Freddy Garcia will not be rejoining the ChiSox. Instead, he signed a minor league deal with the Yankees, leaving me to wonder what exactly the Yankees are doing. I realize Freddy won 12 games last year, which isn’t anything to sneeze at, but these are not the Yankees my father introduced me to when I was little. First Bartolo Colon and now Freddy? The Yankees always signed the best, the brightest, and the most worthy. As a member of the ’05 squad, not to mention the pitcher who I saw when my dad took me to my first baseball game, Freddy will always hold a place in my heart, but I think even his most ardent supporters can agree that his best days are most likely well behind him.
I see on the Detroit Free-Press website that The Sporting News picked the ChiSox to edge the Tigers in AL Central this year. Even though it’s still very early, I like the sound of that, especially because the Twins aren’t involved in the equation. This is probably irrational on my part, but I hate the Twins much more than I hate the Tigers. I’m not quite sure why. So if the Twins are the ones to be clawing and scrapping this year, I will be very pleased.
Yet, sadly, I will not be able to see my boys on their march to the division crown. This summer, I will be turning sixteen, and I was planning on making my first pilgrimage to the Cell in honor of this occassion. Unfortunately, I recently learned that that will not be possible for several reasons. One is that my mother hates flying, and is refusing to come with my father and I. Since I will be away on a retreat on my actual birthday, the trip would be my birthday celebration, and I cannot imagine celebrating my 16th without my mom. Secondly, I know that next year, I will want to head out to Chicago to visit Northwestern and the University of Chicago as part of my college search, and it’s probably smarter to pay for the airfare when I absolutely need to go. That’s not to say I’m not disappointed. I’ve been a fan for six years, but I’ve yet to see my guys on their home turf. But I know I’ll get out there someday. For now, I’ll have to settle for their Memorial Day match against the Red Sox at Fenway. I’ll still be their biggest supporter, even if I’m in the wrong part of the country.