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White Sox Fri May 16 2008

Winning (and Often Losing) Ugly

We're a quarter of the way through yet another MLB season. At 40 games, the real character of a team begins to take shape. As a fan, you start to learn which hitters will deliver in late-inning situations, which subs might spark the team on any given Tuesday, which relievers you can count on to get the big outs in close games.

Last night's one-run win over the Malibu Angels of Orange County did, in fact, reveal a lot about who the White Sox are--and who they might be--in 2008.

An optimist will look at today's sports page and find the White Sox back at .500 and just 1.5 games out of first place in the as-yet-under-performing AL Central.

This Panglossian fan will note yet another strong performance from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who had three hits, scored the game-winning hit, and keep innings alive with patience and grit at the plate. Or perhaps look to Jim Thome, who drove in that game-winner to deliver his first hit of consequence in a month. Maybe he or she will be enlivened by a bullpen that appears infinitely-better than last season's Pepto-Bismol-fest. With an combined ERA of 3.32, anchored by Jenks, Dotel, and off-season acquisition Scott Linebrink, the White Sox relievers will keep the team in close games.

And, boy, did they need it last night. Fans of a more pessimistic persuasion will look to last night's 2nd inning and see everything that is frustrating about this team. Facing 2005 hero Jon Garland for the first time since the club traded him for Orlando Cabrera in November, the Sox had the bases loaded with no outs. Garland was clearly on the ropes. But who should walk to the plate but Juan Uribe (note: this is one of those players who you never trust, ever). Uribe promptly hits into an UGLY broken-bat fielder's choice, just barely beating out the throw to first. One batter later, the inning is kept alive by a controversial play at second. Pierzynski eventually hits an RBI double and the Sox go up 3-0, but Jim Thome ends the inning with the bases loaded on his umpteenth weak grounder to second. The Sox should have taken a commanding lead and coasted to victory--instead, they had to sweat it out until the 9th.

Then there are the ever-outrageous antics of Ozzie Guillen, who Rick Telander essentially calls a racist in today's Sun-Times. Ozzie is great fun for baseball writers and bloggers. But he risks becoming a major distraction to a team that has struggled with consistency all season. Ozzie, get over yourself, and quit your put-upon rantings. After last season's debacle--and your perpetual nose-thumbing at the press and ownership--you're lucky to still be managing this team.

There are only 122 (!) games to go in this White Sox season. After all the drama thus far has produced just a .500 record, I can't wait to see what happens next.

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Ken GreenAuthor Profile Page / May 16, 2008 11:29 AM

Great column. Love the "Panglossian"!

Andy AngelosAuthor Profile Page / May 16, 2008 12:23 PM

There is now a pool of serious content on Tailgate. Bringing out the competitive spirit...Does nobody cover the Flubs anymore?

Ken GreenAuthor Profile Page / May 16, 2008 2:47 PM

Well, the Flu... er, Cubs are cruising along with no problems so there's not alot to write about, other than the Jim Edmonds thingy. The Sox are a bunch of neuroses who happen to occasionally swing a bat.

Aaron RubensAuthor Profile Page / May 16, 2008 6:20 PM

"... and if you enjoy the philosophers of the Enlightenment then you're going to love Chicago's newest, most literary sports blog, Tailgate."

Cursed you Mandel, I'm going to waste at least 40 minutes in a vain attempt to effectively name-drop Hobbes when Pax eventually interviews Avery Johnson.

Aaron RubensAuthor Profile Page / May 16, 2008 6:21 PM

damn it, I've got to be a better self-editor

Andy AngelosAuthor Profile Page / May 18, 2008 12:23 PM

Aaron -

I am looking for gigs, and I am an experienced "self-editor." What is the hourly wage?

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