July 2009

I Hate Joe Nathan (In a Baseball Context, Of  Course)

Whenever Joe Nathan enters the game against the Sox, history has shown us that it’s time to light the cigar, the way Celtics coach Red Auerbach did after his team had the game in the bag. Prior to last night, Nathan was 3-1 against the Pale Hose in his career with a 1.54 ERA and 17 saves, though my memory tells me we haven’t done THAT well. And, frankly, it doesn’t make me feel any better that the 2009 All-Star also dominates most other teams.

The “Nathan factor” played out again last night despite the Sox attempt to recover from John Danks’ disastrous first inning and the result was a 6-4 loss in the series opener. It was Nathan’s 18th lifetime save against the Pale Hose and his 23rd of the season.
I was hoping we could turn around our recent fortunes in the House that Corey Koskie built, but that first inning, typical Twins baseball, Joe Mauer’s two-out single to score the go-ahead run and Nathan were the keys to the Sox losing their 10th contest in the last 11 games in zip code 55415.
And, for the record, I hate Mauer too.

Off to Twinkieland 55415

Before I address the showdown this weekend in the Twin Cities, I’m going to let my friend, former Indiana U. classmate and long-time Chicago Trib sportswriter Alan (Arch) Sutton, talk about yesterday’s 10-8 slugfest against the Tribe. He was one of the Sox faithful in attendance.

“Too bad Clayton Richard wasn’t on his game. Too many walks and giving up a grand slam to Kelly Shoppach? Our beloved just couldn’t come back from the 9-2 deficit. And to make matters worse, ex-Cub Kerry Wood finished the game for the Indians.

“Still I got the impression that the Sox–much like in the recent past–are never out of a game. Beckham, for the first time in a while, didn’t come through. And Paulie didn’t have a great day. But Getz (4-for-4), AJ and Scotty Pods were solid enough. Don’t be fooled by Alexei’s 0-for-5…he hit the ball on the button a few times. It was just one of those days.

“In the whole scheme of things, I’d take winning the rest of our 3-game series 2-1. I believe that’s what the Sox did well in 2005.”

And now a word from Ozzie, who also looked at the loss in a positive way (courtesy of Scott Merkin’s story on MLB.com): “It was interesting what kind of character, what kind of people we have in the clubhouse…We battled back, we fought. Maybe a couple of weeks ago, the game was over before the second inning. They should feel proud the way they played today. Everybody in that room should feel good about themselves.”

Let’s think positive

Let’s be honest, we’re all nervous about this weekend, playing in one of our personal house of horrors (Oakland being the other one). But we’re due in Minny and I’m hopeful. The game is about pitching and with Danks, Floyd and Buehrle plus the added youth and speed and the fact we’re playing well right now, two out of three isn’t out of the question. That would be terrific leading into the All-Star game. We just have to remember that the M & M boys aren’t the only Twin troublemakers. There are a host of others who have given us problems (yeah, you, Punto) and that guy Crede will have extra incentive.

Kudos to the Sox

It hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves, but the White Sox involvement in the Double Duty Classic is one of the truly terrific initiatives in the game. It’s a celebration of the history of the Negro Leagues and promotes and helps educate the next generation of inner-city baseball players. This is the second annual and it is an important step to encourage minority athletes to play baseball.

Today, at U.S. Cellular Field, players from across the country will participate in the All-Star showcase along with the White Sox Amateur City Elite travel team. The players will dress in uniforms honoring the Negro Leagues’ East-West All-Star Game. There is also an invitation-only forum that will “discuss topical issues directed at inner-city teens playing in the game.”

Farm Report

*  Bartolo’s back. The hefty one gave up a run, two hits, two walks and struck out one in five innings as he was credited with the win in Charlotte’s 7-1 victory over Norfolk last night.

*  With a 2-for-3 performance last evening, Tyler Flowers improved his average to .301 in Birmingham’s 7-3 win over Mississippi.

I Slept Very Well Last Night

A Jose Contreras gem, a three-hit, three-RBI performance by Jermaine Dye and a 5-1 victory gives a guy a chance to get some sleep. And how about that great effort by Alexei on the key double play in the 7th?

Oh yeah, and Jermaine’s not an All-Star? What a joke.

Notes from Pale Hose Nation:

* With the whereabouts of Bartolo Colon an uncertainty, who better than Ozzie to put it into perspective (courtesy of White Sox Bits by Mark Gonzales in today’s Chicago Tribune).

“I worry about Colon because Colon was a big-time Michael Jackson fan,” Guillen said. “He might (watch) the TV and cry all day long. Maybe he is in L.A. at the funeral, because I can’t find him. When he gets to Charlotte, Oney (Guillen’s son) will call me to say he’s there. Nobody knows how big of a Jackson fan Colon was. I’m serious. He might be depressed for a little bit.”

* I’m sure many of you can identify with me that it’s difficult to listen to many of the out-of-town announcers on DirecTV or digital cable. Sure, they’re biased, but that’s to be expected. I’ve heard a great deal from non-Sox fans about Hawk’s homerism. But there is no excuse for being uninformed and snarky, which many of them are. The one exception to the rule is Rick Manning, the former Tribe outfielder and current TV color commentator for the Indians. He gives credit where credit is due to the opponents and simply knows what he’s talking about. I never turn the sound down on a Cleveland telecast.

* I’m happy to report that stud backstop Tyler Flowers went 2 for 3 with a double in Birmingham’s 3-1 win over Mississippi last night. He’s hitting .296.

* Rick Bozich, Hall of Fame sports columnist with the Louisville Courier-Journal and huge Sox fan, poses this question: Which Sox player has been most important to turning the season around? We both agree it’s Pods. What do you think?

* Another Sox fanatic offers this: Gordon Beckham has 18 RBI in his first 30 major league games. That’s a 97 RBI pace prorated over 162 games–in spite of his slow start. I think all of us agree he’s special.

Let’s go to the Twinkiedome with a sweep under our belts.

Thoughts for a Wednesday morning

Some things to think about…

* Very good win for the Sox last night as my fears of a Tribe uprising have subsided for another day. But that Choo is a killer.

* With the national media narrowing the bulk of their coverage to the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies and Cubs, much of MLB nation has definitely not focused on the addition of Gordon Beckham to the Sox lineup after only 59 games in the minor leagues. If the powers that be were paying attention, he’d be a SportsCenter staple. Such is life in the world of the Pale Hose.

* Sox No. 1 draft pick Jared Mitchell, the College World Series MVP out of LSU, is close to signing and apparently on his way to Kannapolis. It’s going to be a lot of fun following this guy as he attempts to reach Chicago in Beckham-like fashion. Probably too much to ask for, but who knows? After watching him in Omaha, he certainly looks the part and would be a real energizer at the top of the lineup.

* In Kenny Williams we trust, but I was very surprised Brandon Allen was traded, especially since he’d just been promoted to Charlotte. I was convinced Allen would join Beckham, Tyler Flowers, Jordan Danks, Dayan Viciedo, Chris Getz and others in the new era of Sox baseball.

That said, newest addition Tony Pena (not the Royals shortstop or the Yankees first base coach) has the potential to strengthen the bullpen. He also can provide insurance if KW decides to swing a deal for Dotel or Linebrink. Just saying.

Looking for another “W” tonight.

Fear the Tribe

Sox vs. Indians, July 7, 8, 9

I know, I know, the Indians are in last place–17 games under .500 and 11 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers in the AL Central. But they make me nervous.

It would seem that the pitching matchups are in our favor this week (or at least even), but the Tribe will be looking for revenge after last week’s sweep in Cleveland and a lineup with Sizemore,  Martinez and Choo is always dangerous.

With the Twins at the Twinkiedome looming this weekend, we need to take advantage of the lowly Indians. Let’s hope we can do it.

Frank-ly Speaking, The Perfect Scenario

Frank Thomas, the greatest hitter in White Sox history, has been mending fences with the team as he’s on the verge of ending his 19-year major league career. It was a remarkable career (if it is indeed over) in which he compiled a .301 lifetime batting average, 521 home runs, 1704 RBI, a .419 on base percentage, 2 MVPs, a batting title and a World Series ring.

There is little doubt in my mind that Frank will be honored in Cooperstown, hopefully on the first ballot, and his refusal to take PEDs will only accelerate his election. But what can the White Sox do–now that it looks like The Big Hurt is back in the good graces of the ballclub– to honor the franchise’s premier slugger? Here’s a thought. And if I know the Sox marketing whizzes they are thinking of something similar.

The White Sox should activate Frank when the rosters expand in September so he ends his career where he began. There should also be a Frank Thomas Day, a day in which he sees his No. 35 retired, with plans in the future to add his likeness to the left field wall and to erect a statue alongside the other Sox legends.

Whatever problems the Sox have had with Frank and he has had with them should be put aside in the name of history. Frank Thomas’s monumental impact on the South Side should be celebrated–and sooner than later.

Jermaine got (Pale) Hosed

Deserving candidates get overlooked every July for All-Star recognition. This year is no exception with Jermaine Dye not making the cut. The hope here is that the injured Josh Hamilton or another outfielder won’t be able to play in St. Louis and Jermaine will be selected.

A guy can hope.

Sox All-Stars

Guessing Buehrle and Dye. Doubt Sox will get
a third All-Star, but hoping for Paulie.

Six in a row

As a White Sox fan who always looks at the glass half-full, I’m seeing things coming together. What heartens me most are the turnarounds of Beckham and Getz. They are becoming quality major leaguers before our very eyes. And, of course, the spectacular pitching of late.

So our guys have won six in a row, but everything I read and hear from the national media has nothing to do with the Sox being contenders. But that’s an old, old story. They prefer the tired old clips of Ozzie’s press conferences, ignoring the fact that he’s an outstanding manager. Has anybody in the media ever commented on his skill as a skipper? Shame on them.

Looking forward to beating Greinke tonight and continuing the streak.