What hath been done may indeed be undone. Unretired backup SS Omar Vizquel has managed to seal a deal to wear the retired-in-1984 uniform number 11 of Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, the White Sox’ most decorated at the position. Arrangements were made necessary by Vizquel’s traditional #13 having already been taken at the Sox by a shortstop with front office connections. Calls to the Venezuelan consulate to confirm the complicated deal between countrymen was brokered by golf detractor/Presidente Hugo Chavez went unreturned. Helpfully recorded by the NSA, but unreturned.
Vizquel has worn 13, but in Chicago, that number belongs to manager Ozzie Guillen. And he wasn’t about to relinquish it.
“Ever since I signed with the White Sox, the first thing Ozzie Guillen said (was): ‘You can forget about 13, that’s going to be my number,”‘ Vizquel said. “He knows that’s my number and I really would love to wear it. But I think what Ozzie Guillen has done for the Chicago White Sox, winning them a championship and all the years that he played there, No. 13 already has a name. … As long as a Venezuelan is wearing it, I’m pretty happy with it.”
As much as we would all prefer on Super Sunday to contemplate – in excruciating detail – the birth canal of Tim Tebow’s mother, and as much as the CBS network would help us in this when not airing moronic entreaties for the jiggliest web hosting company in Arizona, powerhouse feminist and discrimination attorney Gloria Allred has insouciantly put the Tebow family’s claims up on the table and into the stirrups to begin a procedure of her own.
Days after representing Shaq’s girlfriend in a lawsuit concerning his alleged harassment, the plucky counselor has announced she smells something fishy about the Tebow family’s claim that religious bravery on Ma Tebow’s part against the medical establishment is solely to credit for Tim’s existence. For one thing, abortion has been flatly illegal in the country of his birth since 1930. So has the under-center snap, but that’s a different kettle of fish controversy.
In her exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com Allred slams the ad and CBS’s decision to air it, pointing out factual inconsistencies with Pam’s story. One glaring one is the fact that the act of abortion is totally illegal in the majority Catholic country of the Philippines – under all circumstances including rape and incest, and even without a provision in the circumstance that the mother’s life is in danger. The law has been in effect since 1930.
Allred says she believes it an impossible scenario to believe that Philippino doctors would of ever suggested abortion as a viable option for Tebow in the first place. And when you learn that physicians and midwives who perform abortions in the Philippines face six years in prison, and may have their licenses suspended or revoked, and that women who receive abortions – no matter the reason – may be punished with imprisonment for two to six years, it’s easy to see why.
Cigar-chomping inveterate White Sox fan and Sun-Times sports columnist Bill Gleason passed away today at the age of 87. Gleason’s profile on the groundbreaking Sportswriters On TV show in the 80s and 90s was typically obscured by the blue haze of his cigar smoke, his newsboy caps and his quasi-Carayesque eyeglasses. Along with Rick Telander, Bill Jauss and late Ben Bentley, Gleason held forth on all things athletic and midwestern, puncturing the air with his stogie even as he fouled it.
This 1991 clip of the Sportswriters show commemorating Comiskey Park in its last days is a fair remembrance of Bill, even if it is regrettably bracketed by the truly execrable music and singing of one Steve Dahl, a transplanted California DJ whose badly advised Disco Demolition promotion at Comiskey is discussed. So long, Bill.
Phyllis Schlafly: Not happy with Win-Loss, either.
In a fascinating bit of hot stove nerdery, Nick Steiner at Hardball Times uncovers a new possible weakness in the ERA statistic in an innovative, defense-independent way. Long story short, he took AJ Burnett’s ten best 2009 outings (average outing: 1.06) and ten worst (average outing: 9.13) then looked at his stuff, location and pitch selection and found that AJ throws just about exactly the same when he’s getting shelled as when he’s dealing.
In his 10 best starts, he averaged a Game Score of 70.9. In his 10 worst starts, he averaged a Game Score of 31.9. More intuitively, his ERA was 1.06 in his good starts compared to 9.13 in his bad starts… quite the difference.
I then grabbed all of the PITCHf/x information on those two groups of starts. In case you are unfamiliar with it, PITCHf/x is a ball- tracking technology powered by SportVision, which measures certain key characteristics of each pitched ball, including speed, spin deflection (movement) and location. After manually classifying Burnett’s pitches game-by-game (yes this was a pain), I was ready to look at the data.
My agenda was simple. I wanted to see, using the intrinsic qualities of each pitch, exactly how differently he pitched in his best and worst starts of the season. I looked at three variables: stuff, location and approach.
…[I] found no meaningful differences in terms of what he threw, the velocity/movement of his pitches, where he threw them and when he threw them. I think I’ve established that there was practically no difference in how he pitched in his good starts compared to his bad starts.
Sometimes it’s not so bad when mommy and daddy fight. The fallout from the divorce battle between L.A. Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt is paying dividends on the South Side with today’s painless acquistion of OF Juan Pierre for two minor league hurlers. Arriving with Pierre is a check made out to the Sox for $10.5 million, the remainder of his $18.5M contract after payouts of $3M in ’10 and $5M in ’11. Some call it the unloading of an overpaid backup, others wonder if manipulation of the McCourt’s marital assets net value isn’t the real story. As WSCR’s Steve Stone put it “The toughest part of the deal was figuring out if Frank or Jamie was sending the cash.”
Pierre’s stand-in performance for the suspended Manny last season along with his league-leading bunts and respectable career .301/.348/.372 suggests the Sox have done well in finding a lead-off hitter whose mastery of the basepaths is a clear improvement over that of Scott Podsednik.
White Sox fans who are confused about the unfamiliar batter strategy called bunting can pick up a copy of the informational pamphlet Hey, Why Didn’t He Swing? at all US Cellular outlets beginning in April.
Putz is 23-19 with a 3.24 ERA, 103 saves and 356 strikeouts covering 337 career relief appearances. Stepping into the setup role left open by Octavio Dotel, Putz, along with longtime friend Matt Thornton figures to give Ozzie plenty of options for lead protection, freeing up Scott Linebrink for exclusive work turning trailing games into blowouts. Spake Kenny Williams:
“Obviously, Bobby [Jenks] is the closer, and then we have Matt Thornton, who can do a little bit of both, and now you have J.J. who also can do that, and everyone else fills in behind them,” Williams said. “With the starters we have, starting in the sixth or seventh inning through the ninth, we have guys who can close games out.
“From the top of the rotation now through the end of the bullpen, we are as strong as we’ve ever been,” Williams said.
Jenks, who saw his full-season save percentage hit a career-low 83% in 2009 last found himself in these pages as the subject of Ozzie’s not-veiled-at-all musings concerning weight loss. With so much closing talent in the pen, Jenks should be wary that the next time he enjoys the delicious aroma of roast goose it isn’t his own.
It’s football season at US Cellular. Lethargy has settled in. The scent of Jim Thome’s butch wax has long since dissipated from the locker room. Mark Buehrle’s post-perfect-game season lay in perfect ruins. Scott Linebrink is learning how to look for jobs on Craigslist, Jose Contreras has been pawned off on mountain rustics, the search for Bartolo Colon has been called off, and Bobby Jenks has been shut down for the year after injury to his calf. 2009 is so over, I can’t even bring myself to extract the Bobby / veal joke from the above.
The veteran is trying to survive, trying to show that he’s not washed up at 35. And realistically, he now knows that this is his last homestand on the team he won a World Series with.
“I’m not concerned about that,” Dye said about his fate now being all but sealed. “Whatever happens is going to happen. At this point you just want to try and get into a somewhat of a little bit of a groove before the season is over. Go into the offseason and see what happens.
“I’ve never struggled like this before, never had a whole half that has been nothing. Over the course of a career, I think that’s pretty good. The five years I’ve been here I’ve had five pretty good years, and it just so happened that I struggled here at the end, we were fighting to get into the playoffs, and it’s just the way it is.”
The struggling Dye was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday, unable to change the .168 second half he’s had with just five homers and 19 RBI. A second half he has no explanation for.
“I have no clue,” Dye said. “I put in the work and sometimes it doesn’t work out. There’s nothing wrong with the mechanics. When you struggle, the pitches you should hit you foul off. The pitches you take normally when you feel good they’re balls, they’re strikes now. When you struggle everything goes wrong. This second half it just didn’t happen.”
Somewhere in the bowels of University of Chicago, – perhaps down the hallway from where Milton Friedman’s skull is ritually bathed in the blood of infants – Nate Silver and the PECOTA crew are getting an early jump sharpening their knives for the inevitable prediction of doom for the 2010 Pale Hose. Last half of ’09 notwithstanding, I bet a Dyeless lineup only justifies the doomsaying, if Alex Rios at this years’s numbers is supposed to pick up the slack.
For the second time in as many Augusts, the spectacle of RHP Jose Contreras visiting the first base area has failed to inspire. Last season, it was a race to the bag (helped not a bit by the feckless, motionless Nick Swisher at 1B) that caused Contreras’ achilles to snap, ending his season and keeping the Twins very much in contention into the post-season.
Monday, Contreras’s chug down the line landed him not on a stretcher, but the bullpen. After loading the bases in the 3rd by beaning Youklis with 2 outs, Contreras got Big Papi to issue a weak grounder down the line. Normally cause for celebration, Jose instead bobbled it, allowing Alex Gonzales to score, kicking off a 6 unearned run inning. Chisox blown opportunities to answer were marked by Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios popups. By evening’s end, Contreras would be demoted to the pen and the White Sox would lead the AL in unearned runs with 63. The Tigers victory in Anaheim put the Pale Hose 3.5 games back, making Tuesday’s tilt if not a must-win, something close to it.
Yesterday came the hammer blow. More blown scoring opportunities laced Sweaty Freddy Garcia’s decent 6 1/3 inning effort before it was handed to the resolutely terrible Scott Linebrink (7.73 since ASB), causing anguished foreheads to meet beer-moistened bar tops from Greektown to Joliet. Ass long as he’s durr, I how to bring him out, explained Ozzie after it was too late. Linebrink gave up a Jason Bay monster-clearing bomb and RBI hits to Ellsbury and Martinez to put the game and probably the division out of reach for good.
The division because Detroit’s mediocrity took a Southern California holiday in their Jarrod Washburn-led 5-3 win, putting the Pale Hose back 4.5 games and making Sox fans wonder why Detroit’s west coast import arm wasn’t languishing in AAA like ours was. Did Jake Peavy answer this question by stopping a line drive with his throwing elbow in his third rehab start in Charlotte? Will we have all winter to think about Clayton Richard, for whom the troubled Cy Young winner was traded – and his record of 4-0 since that deal?
(On behalf of the blogging b-team at CSTB, let me extend our deepest sorrows for the terrible loss of GC’s Austin home last night. Be it out of some esoteric notion of anguish management, or just a desperate attempt to bottle up all emotion, let me observe that with last night’s fire, we may add one more uncanny similarity between the life of Mr.Cosloy and the main character in the new HBO series “Hung”. May GC’s path away from disaster be more straightforward.)
Alex Rios: Can You Play Four Fielders?
When a Seattle cop wrote White Sox GM Kenny Williams a $56 ticket outside of Safeco field Monday night, it wasn’t for reckless acquisition of outfielders, which goes to show that Chicago cops aren’t the only ones who turn a blind eye to injustice. Williams, who had just hours prior picked up Toronto RF Alex Rios on waivers was cited instead for jaywalking. This despite his throwing a scare into incumbent Sox RF Jermaine Dye and causing not a little scratching of black-capped scalps back home. The Tribune’s Mark Gonzales:
In acquiring Alex Rios, the White Sox acquired a right fielder who is seven years younger than Dye — who can become a free agent — and signed through 2014.
“It’s exciting, confusing,” said Dye, who shares a $12 million mutual option with the Sox for 2010 with a $1 million buyout.
Dye welcomes the arrival of Rios in the Sox’s quest to push toward a playoff berth. But at the same time, he wonders if the Sox, who have committed $62.7 million to nine players for 2010 and took on $115.7 million in salaries for Jake Peavy and Rios in the last 11 days, will keep him in their plans.
“You got a bunch of guys that are making a ton of money that are going to be free agents, so maybe that’s something that will help out with distributing some of the money that they just brought on,” Dye said Monday. “I hope it doesn’t. I’ve always wanted to finish my career here.”
Dye, 35, is third among AL players with 58 homers since 2008. He could move to first or serve as the DH in 2010, which also is the final year of Paul Konerko’s contract.
Sitting JD in the AL Central campaign is unimaginable, and Scott Podsednik has been golden all year, which leaves non-superstar Carlos Quentin as the odd man out in left. That almost certainly puts Pods in left and Rios in center with questionable wheels – also known as the very recepie that cost the Sox enough games last season to force a tiebreaker. Back then, the creaking sounds in CF came from the legs of Ken Griffey, Jr., a deal that Sox faithful accepted as just one more item checked off of Kenny’s “bucket list”. But this time around, the dollars are real, long-term and with the arrival of Jake Peavy add up to (way) more than what the Sox pocketed by dealing Javy Vazquez.
Can a habitual jaywalker avoid getting run over by Detroit wheels?
So you’re the defending champs of the AL Central. But your postseason bid was ended by the AL pennant winners – and they’re in town for a four-game home stand.
In all of baseball, the Rays are first in walks, third in OBP and third in runs scored. Nonetheless, you take two out of the first three games against them, and if not for the rare misstep of your beloved mayonnaise-stained closer, you would have swept those.
The early season was grim. You’ve only been over .500 for a couple of weeks. Your ace is coming up for the 4th and final game of the series. If you win, and the Mariners beat the Tigers, you’re tied for the division lead for the first time since May 1st.
Today’s home plate ump, Eric Cooper, is the one who was on plate duty in April 2007, the last time Mark Buehrle threw a 2-hour 3-minute no-no against Texas.
a) put the same Buehrle/Pierzynski battery out there that took you to the World Series in 2005?
b) send your backup receiver Ramon Castro to catch his first Mark Buehrle game?
You probably answered a). See, that’s why you’re you and Ozzie Guillen is Ozzie Guillen. You might not have let the 18th perfect game in MLB history happen.
The Josh Fields grand slam in the 2nd off a Scott Kazimir (L 4-6 6IP, 5H, 5ER, 3BB 5K) fastball only hinted to the 28,036 weekday attendance just what lay in store.
The Buehrle / Castro axis kept fastballs largely off the menu, presenting a baroque assortment of sliders, changes and hooks that had Bartlett, Upton, and Kapler so off-balance they were one-handedly hacking at whatever they could see by the 7th. Carl Crawford, .480 lifetime against Buehrle (W, 11-3, 9IP, 0H, 6K, 0BB) was pitched into contact three times with changes following sliders – all for naught. If they weren’t weak dribblers or line shots right to Beckham, they were safely in Castro’s glove batter after batter.
The gutsy performance produced plenty of contact but not a single tough play- until the 9th inning.
Ozzie pulled Scott Podsednik for Dewayne Wise in center, and Buehrle faced Gabe Kapler. Rays skipper Joe Maddon never put on the bunt. Kapler fouled off a couple before he sent a dead inside heater deep to left center.
28,036 hearts stopped. One heart didn’t.
Wise got on his fresh legs and charged for the wall. He was taxed. His neck was craned. But had the look and he had the jump. At the Billy Pierce portrait the backup fielder ran out of ballpark at full stride. Kapler’s hit was headed over the yellow line. Gravity would no longer do.
The leap and stretch was the culmination of a career, and a callback of sorts. Wise had been on duty for baseball’s last perfect game, Randy Johnson’s 2004 outing in Atlanta, when Wise had been a Brave. The timing was impeccable. Kapler’s bomb disappeared in Wise’s mitt as the defenseman sailed into the wall at full speed. The collision and the landing jarred the ball loose, and Wise juggled it as he tumbled to the ground. And held it.
Hawk Harrelson’s TV booth screams were reportedly so loud as to be audible through the next-door radio booth microphones. Indeed, the folksy announcer was stunned right into a rare stretch of plain, comprehensible English, proclaiming the catch “One of the greatest I have ever seen in fifty years of this game.”
A swinging punchout of Michael Hernandez and a 6-3 dribbler from Jason Bartlett sealed the deal. Mark Buehrle had handed in the first White Sox perfect game since Charles Robinson in 1922 — and his second 2-hour 3-minute no hitter in three seasons.
A 3-run shot by Paul Konerko behind Gavin Floyd’s seven solid frames (W, 8-6, 7 IP 3H 7K 2BB 3) took a David Price floater to left in the third, ending the Sox offense for the evening before a sold-out Monday night at the Cell. The return of Carlos Quentin (1 for 4) from an May foot injury demonstrated the intense outfielder’s preference for camping on the plate — Q is still tied for third in AL in HBP despite being out for two months – He still constantly fouls straight back and will need a better look to resume contributing.
AJ Pierzynski gunned down two runners and Scotty Podsednik went 3 for 3, sporting a remarkably refined stroke at the plate that promises traction in the Sox’s campaign to be the kings of a very small AL Central hill. The Sox are a single game behind the idle Tigers and 4 over .500 at 48-44.
When your starter allows 11 runs, it’s usually safe to assume 1) the phone line to the bullpen has fallen victim to a backhoe and 2) parking lot traffic won’t be at its peak at the 9th inning. But if history’s taught us anything, it’s that when the Twins are involved, the improbable outcome can never be ruled out. Despite A’s starter Gio Gonzales’ 2.2 inauspicious innings and 11 ERs, Oakland mounted the greatest comeback in their history to defeat Burl Ives and company 14-13. The 27-run 39-hit extravaganza ended on a bang-bang play in the 9th. A Michael Wuertz wild pitch got past Kurt Suzuki who grabbed it on a carom and got it back to Wuertz at the plate to tag out an incredulous Michael Cuddyer and drop the Twins to 2.5 back in the division. Reports of a low moaning sound resuming from former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman’s home could not be confirmed at press time.
Typically, South Side Polish parades clear the street before proceeding, but Grand Marshal AJ Pierzynski would have none of it yesterday after Gordon Beckham’s walk-off single. The delirious receiver spearheaded a celebratory procession to second base that put the young infielder on his heels. In his moment the kid showed less resolve than the groom at the wedding I was attending, but to be fair, the betrothed did not have to contend with the vision of a hulking, armored Pole bearing down at full speed.
But enough about the bridesmaids. As tends to happen with the Crosstown tilts, Game 2, Electric Boogaloo was a wild affair of eight lead changes, questionable defense, and excitement aplenty. Mark Buehrle (5.2 IP 6H 5R 3BB 3K) kept a lid on the Cubs until Beckham’s throwing error in the 3rd put Andres Blacno in scoring position, followed by another bad throw by Alexei Ramirez that allowed Bradley to reach. A Buehrle balk in the 5th set up the tying run to come in on a Soriano sac fly.
But the bottom of the frame had Ryan Dempster (5IP 8H 5R 3BB 2K) heading for the showers after giving up a bomb to Scott Podsednik, a sigle to Ramirez, a walk to Thome, hitting Konerko and a 2-run single to AJ.
The North Siders came right back with their own 3-run inning in the 6th, ending Buehrle’s day with a walk and a single, promoting Ozzie to call upon DJ Carrasco, who promptly gave up a two-run double to Soriano, who scored on the subsequent single by Theriot.
To answer yet again, Dewayne Wise stretched out a triple when he sent an errant Aaron Heilman heater over Fukudome’s head, scoring on one of Podsednik’s 4-for-5 PAs and tying it back up. As I traveled to Hickory Hills in solid traffic on the Stevenson, I wondered if these extraordinary proceedings had mustered any excitement from Joe Buck. I glumly read the Bush ’04 bumper stcker in front of me, knowing I would never know.
One more run apeiece in the 8th and it was time to head to the banquet hall. So I missed Beckham’s single, I missed the celebration, and I missed the happy outcome of Bobby Jenks (W 2-2) second win. However, in his honor, I did eat an extra piece of chicken.
Proving that the shortest distance between two run totals is Scott Linebrink, Ozzie Guillen frittered away a 4-run lead in the 8th, entrusting the top-notch performance of Gavin Floyd (7IP 4H 1ER 3BB 2K) to the above- mentioned righty reliever instead of the southpaw Matt Thornton. Tellingly, camera angles into the Sox dugout showed Pitching coach Don Cooper visibly sweating at the prospect of Liney coming in to make it a save situation. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine Thornton (who was possibly preoccupied with Wrigley bullpen rat abatement) serving dead fastballs into the stands at quite the same clip as his colleague, nor getting as far behind in the count against the sleepy Cubs bats.
Back to back bombs to Derreck Lee and Geovany Soto followed a Chris Getz bad-hop error, erased the Sox lead, sent Linebrink to the showers and set up a Soriano floater to drive in Reed Johnson for the win, evening the Crosstown record to 34-34.
From the first inning’s Alexei Ramirez homer to left to the Bobby Jenks vs. Milton Bradley faceoff in the 9th that left Mr. Absent-Minded twisting on the end of a 1-2 hook, Game “2″ (Game 1 being rained out an rescheduled for September 10th) of Crosstown ’09 was a sight to behold.
Unfortunately, I could personally behold only two innings of it due to work constraints. I did manage to check in to see Big Bobby’s aforementioned punchout of Bradley and could not help but smile as Cub Nation glumly streamed for the exits with one out, down a mere three runs with the heart of their order coming up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bobby displace that many people at one time outside an Old Country Buffet.
In stark contrast to the sad faces in the lanes of the northbound Edens expressway, Ozzie’s chipper demeanor remained undented all day, starting with an encounter with a Wrigley t-shirt vendor. Having had many months to think of a replacement for last year’s Humanitas award-winning “Horry Kow” Fukudome paean, Cub Nation idly looked out the bay window of its Lake Forest manse and noticed that lawn mowers have nameless, Ozzie-like people attached to them. (I’ve got some friends in merchandising, so if next year anybody wants to run with my Cubbie-blue Klan hood, complete with lil’ red “C” on the front, drop me a line.)
Guillen cheerfully purchased a shirt, and then cheerfully pounded Ryan Dempster (L, 4-4, 6IP 4H 3R, 6BB 4K) with a smallball assault while Johnny Danks turned in a magnificent no-walks 9K outing (W, 5-5, 7IP, 5H 1R, 9K 0BB), getting out of jams in the 3rd and 4th.
œI puke every time I go there. I™m just being honest.
œIf the Cubs fans don™t like the way I talk about Wrigley Field ¦ I don™t say anything about their fans, but Wrigley Field? They have to respect my opinion because that™s the way I feel. A lot of great people are working there, the clubhouse people working there “ I wish they had a better clubhouse, but besides that, it™s exciting when the game starts. Of course it™s exciting because that™s one of the best, it™s always crowded. But besides that, it™s terrible.™™
In which the Sun-Times’s sporting scribe joins the Tribune’s John Kass on the list of Chicago journos most likely to find their cars in a city auto pound by way of tweaking the 11th Ward Democratic organization’s most august personage, Richard Daley II, into shades of purple.
The politics of pay-for-play and skimming and old-fashioned, suspender-snapping, cigar-chomping, big-bellied ”Where’s mine?” clout is so vibrant and alive and grotesquely arrogant here in Chicago that it is very nearly a breathing, slime-dripping creature worthy of a Star Wars-style nuclear assault.
There there must be ramifications for being blatantly corrupt and/or stupid.
There must be.
Put on a sporting display for the world in 2016?
Sorry, all you business and political big shots who are trying to ram this Olympics-are-good-for-you thing down the citizens’ throats.
You blew it.
You didn’t change your appetites, your sloth, your animal dumbness.
Why, just a month ago, Michael Scott, the president of the Chicago Public Schools board, sent an e-mail to all the city’s school principals telling them to raise the Chicago 2016 Olympic flag and start promoting Mayor Daley’s pet project.
Think that’s unbiased?
Think there might not be, uh, ”problems” for reluctant or skeptical principals?
I myself will be expecting some kind of tax auditing or car-booting or camera-surveillance for my rebellious views, or, who knows — leg-breakers? — to help me ”understand” the benefits of the Games to our town.
Mayor Daley’s Chicago regime is a joke that plays like an old whoopee cushion.
We won’t even bring up the fact former governor ”Hot Rod” Blagojevich was once an instrumental part of Chicago’s 2016 Games bid. If there was more clown greasepaint that his family could put on, it would need a face the size of a billboard to do it.
Former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich is on a reality TV show — because her gerbil-cheeked, heavily-indicted husband was forbidden by the law to be on it — eating bugs and being humiliated and semi-tortured for cash.
No stranger to the cigar-smoke-filled backroom himself, Telander’s 1994 thoughts on the unsustainability of the Gin Blossoms, Nirvana and Darryl Strawberry can be found here.
The stepped-up offerings of ascendant bullpen refugee LHP Clayton Richard (W, 2-0 7IP 6H 2ER 7K 1BB) kept the Royals runless until the 7th, making good use of Mark Buehrle-like pacing and agressive 3-2 curveballs. While exactly the kind of stuff needed to plug the Contreras-sized hole in the rotation, much of it was wasted by the 6th, as the Sox had piled up an 11-0 lead.
Uncharacteristically, the run of runs had less to do with power than manufacture. Beyond a Jermaine Dye solo shot in the first, no homers figured in the deluge and the dismal RISP effectivenes of the Sox got a serious boost with a string of base hits, adding up to 17 before the night was up. RHP Brian Bannister (L, 4-2, 5IP, 9H, 7R 4K 1BB) lasted long enough to fall behind by 6, only to bring out the hapless Sidney Ponson, whose 1/3 inning produced 4 earned runs by way of singles and doubles to Konerko, Anderson, Ramirez and Fields. Kyle Farnsworth gave up two more before Dewayne Wise was lulled to sleep by the lack of home runs, forgot the outs and was run down.
Following the blowout, Kenny Williams announced a strange deal with the Mets, trading mild-throwing, walk-prone RHP reliever Lance Broadway (16IP, 19H 10R, 1.75 WHIP) for backup C Ramon Castro and $2 Mil in cash, leaving backup catcher Corky Miller designated for assignment. Life goes on, Corky, life goes on. I’ll leave it to GC to plot what role Broadway will fill at Death Valley East, but I’ll guess that Castro will do three things for the Sox: 1) ruin the week of behemoth bridesmaid Birmingam C Tyler Flowers 2) gun down about as many runners as AJ and Miller and 3) momentarily confuse and frighten Alexei Ramirez with his last name.
CSTB will be undergoing maintenance / server migration today, so site availability will be sporadic. If all goes well, this will not last more than a period of hours as all changes shake out in the wash.
Cross fingers, – or if you’re Octavio Dotel, maybe you should ask for another hug from the President for good luck.
These pale blue pages don’t serve their half-dozen readers by magic, you know. No, there’s a whole latticework of software and hardware dedicated to properly spraying the bits into your eyeholes, and sometimes, well, software gets old and it needs to be fixed.
Today, I upgraded CSTB to the modern version of WordPress (2.7.1) in order to prepare for its coming migration. Contributors, be aware of the new interface and enjoy the far less sucky experience.
So far I see only one glitch: the posts are being divided by day on the front page, which I bet I can make go away pretty quick – at least as quick as I made Schwartz’s posts go away. Kidding.
Throw a comment up here if you spot anything else weird.
Today on 35th Street has been brought to you by the number 4.
4 is the number of White Sox opening days Jim Thome has hit a homer, breaking his own team record today when he sent an errant Kyle Farnsworth heater into center field to take the lead 4-2 in the 8th. Some, observing 2009′s first Thome-trot around the bases likened his form to a guy moving a refrigerator by himself. Others, a couch. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that power may play a role in the Chisox season.
4 is the number of strikeouts reliever Octavio Dotel delivered in the 7th inning. The customary three Ks weren’t enough since Pierzinski’s dropped third strike allowed Olivo to reach. Nonetheless, OD persevered against Aviles mere seconds later. The binary hurler’s magnificent inning will need to be cherished like a family snapshot when he senselessly gives up his next two jacks, which is penciled in for…oh, probably Friday.
4 is the number of times Dewayne Wise failed to reach, suggesting that as a leadoff hitter, he makes a pretty good center fielder. Also, Carlos Quentin went Q for 4. While no panic buttons are yet being pressed about Wise, Ozzie’s intent to platoon the leadoff slot with Brian Anderson already looked pretty grim. More outings like this hopefully means Alexei Ramirez in the leadoff spot, protecting those 100+ extra at-bats from rampant whiffery.
And 4 is the number of opening days since the last Chicago baseball championship. Three ringless seasons – it’s a shame really. What if, one day, Chicago got a second ball club to pitch in with the work hunting down the laurels? Well, a guy can dream.
It’s notable enough that Mark Cowley’s piece on the enigmatic Carlos Quentin in today’s Sun-Times features numerous quotes from the normally tight-lipped Jermaine Dye. After all, if you collected the combined published utterances of the World Series MVP and laid them end to end, you’d barely get halfway across 35th Street. Outside of yelling at Orlando Cabrera for SB attempts on Dye’s 3-1 counts, it’s tough to picture JD jawing it up in the dugout – or anywhere – last year.
So how much of a cipher must Carlos Quentin be for Jermaine Dye to blow half his 2009 season quotes on Q’s odd behavior? Apparently, they teach cipherin’ at Stanford:
The latest hope resides on the South Side. He is 26 years old and has GQ looks, a Stanford education and a lethal bat.
Yes, White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is the next big thing.
One problem: He wants nothing to do with it.
Quentin is by no means gruff with the media or teammates. He has friends on the team — outfielder Brian Anderson and third baseman Josh Fields, to name a few. But to do a story about Quentin, well, shoot up the Novocain and start pulling. There’s a lot of ”reaching potential” and ”striving to get better” talk.
As far as getting beyond that and understanding the man? Good luck.
”Uh, I’m trying to do it in one word,” fellow outfielder Jermaine Dye said when asked to describe Quentin. ”I would say a great guy who can be strange and sometimes doesn’t know how to control his emotions. But he’s a great player, no doubt. He’s had success now, and he wants to build off of it, wants to do more. But strange. He’s a strange guy. ‘Strange’ is the word.”
With the hours he spends in the batting cage and doing dry swings, Quentin seems to be chasing perfection in a game where perfection is impossible to achieve. Once he begins his routine of swings, forget about talking to him. That goes for everyone.
”He’s extremely, extremely normal, but when it comes to baseball, he’s really — how can I describe it? — he’s really anal about giving himself the best chance possible to compete,” Anderson said. ”He doesn’t like feeling vulnerable at anything. He’s the type of guy that goes 3-for-4 with a home run and two doubles, but a guy jammed him on the last at-bat, so he’ll go in the batting cage and work on that pitch. It’s a pride thing with him, which is good.”
(Above: Nate Silver and crew take a break after shipping Baseball Prospectus ’09)
I’m the last one to doubt the statistical prowess of Nate Silver. To run the table as he did predicting the ’08 presidential election results really says volumes about his proven ability to accurately predict a future by examining the past. What’s more, I want to point out how much I personally appreciate the decision he made to share his number-crunching gifts with the worlds of politics and baseball, thereby depriving the Wall Street pig-pen of one more enabler.
All that said, it seems there’s a ghost in the machine. Silver’s Baseball Prospectus has published its 2009 edition, and its PECOTA team forecasts call for rain on the South Side once again. The system has has sold short the Sox three out of the last four seasons, but this year is truly inexplicable. PECOTA puts the division champ White Sox dead last in an AL Central that just hasn’t improved appreciably.
Silver knows it’s been tougher to figure out the White Sox than a presidential election. PECOTA badly missed predicting the 2005 World Champs, forecasting a mere 80 wins. Next, BP shorted the Sox in ’06 before nailing their performance in ’07 – a year everthing went horribly wrong.
Last season, the Sox again whipped PECOTA’s projections and contributed significantly to the system’s first historical increase in average error predicting team wins. On average, PECOTA now blows its forecasts by an averge of 8.5 wins, ending a steady trend toward increasing accuracy with a rude blemish.
“Everybody pick us for theer o four so I tink we doin pooty goo” offered Ozzie on last year’s expectations. Pooty goo is right. The Sox came out on top despite the loss of Scott Linebrink, the dismal months of Paul Konerko and Ken Griffey PAs, the cracked wrist and failed MVP bid of Carlos Quentin, the achilles tear of Jose Contreras and the mental desertion of Javy Vazquez in September. To drag all that into the postseason was, yes, pooty goddamn goo. While the Sox can’t do worse than PECOTA predicts, what’s likely to happen in ’09?
Going in, this spring looks worse for the Pale Hose than last year. The loss of Vazquez to Atlanta and Contreras for at least half the season has not been compensated. The dicey proposition to cast Bartolo Colon in the fourth slot and and allow a competition for fifth probably means trouble early on. It puts new pressure on Buehrle, Danks and Floyd to go deep and might lose the Sox quite a few games if the weeks drag on. Average outings become a luxury for the starters the team can ill afford as the bottom either heals or learns.
But last place? Quentin, Ramirez, Dye, Thome and Pierzynski are bats that more than easily match the local pitching. Konerko may decide to play a full season, you never know. Getz, Anderson, Viciedo – the kids are (probably) alright.
Last place? Who are these giants in the AL Central, anyway?
Cleveland? I wouldn’t want to face Carl Pavano or Kerry Wood in a sulking contest, but this team is at least one CC Sabbathia short of where it was last spring, and Sizemore’s average is deflating faster than the Dow Jones. I don’t see the threat.
Detroit? Sure, Jim Leyland can croon like Sam Cooke when he’s taking the Motown studio tour, but where’s his pitching? A healthy Zumaya and a restored Verlander is only the beginning of what they’re going to need to dominate.
The Royals? The White Sox are supposed to finish behind the Royals? Not unless they’ve cloned Zack Greinke, recalled Mark Grudzielanek and given Esteban German the same surgery they gave Charlie Gordon in Flowers For Algernon.
Minnesota? Okay, Joe Crede will help –but probably only for the two months his repaired back will survive him flinging himself onto the Metrodome concrete. Mauer’s alarmingly unhealthy, which means nobody setting the table for Morneau, which means lots of pressure on an underwhelming rotation that unfortunately for them, is still forced to play away games.
The AL Central will probably come down to 5 or 6 games difference between first and fourth place. Truth be told, the Tigers are probably the team with the most pent-up demand for wins and I see them putting in a far better effort this year. Sox win 88, take the division, and Clint Eastwood takes Best Director in 2010 for The Human Factor. Book it.