My good friend Tom Merritt and I made our way to the new Yankee Stadium today in the hope that our Sox could rebound from the embarrassing (Ozzie’s term) loss on Saturday and avoid the sweep.
Let me be honest, I’m in a bad mood. A really bad mood.
I hate to say it, but Robby Cano’s three-run blast in the bottom of the 10th to lift the Yanks over the Sox last night was inevitable. Not the specific details, but the result. That’s the way it is in Sox World these days.
One of my lots in life is to be a White Sox fan living in the New York area. With the region populated mostly by Yankees, Mets and Red Sox fans, I stick out of the crowd–if anyone even notices at all.
To most folks I’m the only White Sox fan they’ve ever met and they frequently add insult to injury by saying they know a lot of Cubs fans (ouch!). But I’ve been here since the mid-1970s and I’m used to all the insults and reactions.
It’s a huge deal for me when my Sox play in New York so I’m looking forward to this weekend’s series. I want so much for them to do well and maybe, just maybe, get some acclaim from the New York fans and media. You know, the chance to walk around the next day with a smile on my face and my head held high. Just like the recent series at the Cell when the South Siders took three out of four from the Yanks.
But the truth is, with their 26 World Series rings, the Yankees look at the Sox as just another team. I can’t help but remember a line from humorist Jean Shepherd, a loyal White Sox booster. He said that when the New Yorkers came to old Comiskey it was a monumental occasion for the Sox and their fans. To the mighty Yankees, they didn’t even know they were in a fight.
So, the Boston series ends with a satisfying 9-5 victory and the road swing continues with the club’s first trip to the new Yankee Stadium. It’ll be Buehrle (11-7, 3.92) vs. Sox nemesis C.C. Sabathia (15-7, 3.59) tonight, TBA for the Sox vs. Sergio Mitre (2-1, 6.82) on Saturday and Garcia (0-1, 6.75) vs. Joba Chamberlain (8-4, 4.34) on Sunday. Keep in mind that it looks like it’s going to be a rainy weekend. Doubleheader anyone?
THE SOX 11-GAME ROAD ODYSSEY SCORECARD: 1-3, BACK TO .500, IN SECOND PLACE 4 GAMES IN BACK OF THE TIGERS AND 1/2 GAME AHEAD OF THE TWINS.
When you’ve dropped below .500 for the first time since the end of June, have lost four in a row, are hitting .221 with runners in scoring position in the last 22 games and can’t count on anyone in the bullpen, you’re going to feel like you’re so low that you have to look up to see down.
Last night, the David Ortiz walk-off homer off of Tony Pena in the bottom of the ninth sunk the Sox, 3-2. Two nights ago, it was Jason Bay’s clout in the eighth off of Scott Linebrink that put Boston in the lead for good.
It was also another night of stranding runners at third. In the first, Konerko was left on base with two outs. In the fifth, Quentin didn’t score with one out as Rios and Ramirez both grounded out and Beckham was left on third in the eighth with two down. Obviously, any of those runs would have made a big difference in the game.
Now on a four-game skid, the Sox only hope in Boston is to salvage the series finale tonight before heading to, gulp, Yankee Stadium to face the game’s best team. Salvaging one game may not seem like much, but if we can make things happen tonight the team’s mindset should be a bit more positive as they play the final seven games of the road trip.
Good News Department: The best news coming out of last night’s game were Floyd’s solid performance and a pair of rarities–a Paulie triple and a Scotty Pods pinch homer.
THE SOX 11-GAME ROAD ODYSSEY SCORECARD: 0-3, TIED WITH TWINS FOR SECOND, 4 1/2 GAMES IN BACK OF THE TIGERS.
No less an authority on winning than future Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells defines performance in the simplest of terms, “You are what your record says you are.”
In other words, no excuses. For instance, if you’re playing at a .500 clip but you think you are better than that, sorry, you’re not–at least at that moment. You are, Parcells believes, your record.
Following last night’s 6-3 loss to the Red Sox, the South Siders are that .500 team (63-63). So, who are we? If you look at our lineup and pitching staff on paper and all the positive signs we’ve seen, you can certainly make a case that we’re good team. But the truth is that because we’ve been close to first in an admittedly weak division, perhaps the perception has been that we’re better than we really are. Remember, you are your record.
Deja vu all over again
Last night in the eighth, with the score tied 3-3, the ’09 Sox offense was played out in microcosm. With Quentin (single) on third and Kotsay, running for Konerko (single), on first with no outs here was a golden opportunity to take lead. But Dye, in a terrible slump since the All-Star break, popped out to short. A.J. struck out and Rios, who hasn’t found himself yet in a Sox uniform, popped out to second. Taking advantage of our blown chance, The Red Sox scored three in the bottom of the frame to seal the deal.
“That’s been our problem all year long,” Ozzie said after the game. “If you watch this ballclub closely, you’ll see we’re really bad with men on third base and less than two out–maybe the worst team in baseball right now.”
We’re back at it tonight, trying to win the next two at Fenway in an effort to split the series. How does Ozzie look at this team’s position?
“Right now, this is a man’s game. I know what I’ve got. I’m still waiting for it to show up.”
Good News Department
Freddy Garcia really stepped up last night, scattering five hits over 6 1/3 with five strikeouts. His outing didn’t translate into a win, but with the pitching staff having its struggles it was nice to see him pitch well. We need him.
SOX 11-GAME ROAD ODYSSEY SCORECARD: 0-2, TIED WITH TWINS FOR SECOND PLACE, 4 1/2 GAMES IN BACK OF THE TIGERS.
The reality is that it was one game and there is no reason the Sox can’t bounce back and succeed on this road trip to hell. But the result of last night’s 12-8 disaster in Boston certainly doesn’t help our collective spirits. It’s just not a good thing when you’re using words like “unwatchable” to describe your team’s play. And The Tigers victory over the Angels to move 3 1/2 games up makes things even worse.
THE SOX 11-GAME ROAD ODYSSEY SCORECARD: 0-1, 3 1/2 GAMES IN BACK OF THE TIGERS.
For those of you who are angry about the Sox losing two of three to last-place Baltimore this weekend, skeptical of their chances of winning the AL Central and scared about what might happen in the next 11 games against the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins and Cubs, join the club.
It’s a well-known fact that A.J. Pierzynski is a human boo magnet. Because of his winning-at-all-costs persona, his swagger and his knack for putting himself in the middle of controversy, he’s a target in almost every ballpark–every ballpark, that is, except the Cell.