Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Card Not Playing With Full Deck

Cards pitcher Steve Kline takes things too far by wishing Mark Prior "takes a line drive to the forehead". (thanks to redbird nation for the link) I guess this is in response to Prior hoping the Astros beat St. Louis even if it meant the Cubs losing ground in the playoff race. Say what you want about Prior's priorities, but he wasn't wishing bodily harm on anyone. Kline's comments brings a great rivalry down to the depths usually inhabited by fans like the sloth.

The AP story leaves it up in the air as to whether Kline was joking, but anyone who sees the clip will know he was serious. It sounds like he's a bit razzled by the fact the Cards will have to face Prior and his golden arm for about, um, 15 more seasons.

Monday, September 29, 2003

AP Errors

There were two errors in the ESPN article (from the AP) I linked to below. First it states that the White Sox were heavy favorites to win the Central Division this year. I think I saw the Twins picked to win as much as I did the Sox.

The bigger error states that the Sox lost 10 of 15 after being swept by the Twins. Now first off, they only had 10 games after the sweep, of which they finished 6-4. If you include the sweep, they were 6-7 in their last 13. They had won the two precediing games, so in their last 15 they were 8-7. So I'm not sure what time frame they are using, but I can't come up with 5-10 anywhere.

Now these errors are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But I often find similar ones when I read articles about subjects I am somewhat familiar with (baseball, bourbon and - well that's about it). It makes you wonder what they get wrong on the subjects for which you don't have good base of knowlkedge.

UPDATE: ESPN now is now stating that the Sox lost 10 out of their last 15 on ESPN News.


The Bears open up the new Soldier Field tonight against the Packers. The Packers haven't looked that great so you would think the Bears would have a chance. But the Bears have managed about 320 yards of total offense in two games, so it looks like 0-3 tonight.

But what do I know? My football picks aren't going very well. I've picked 8 upsets in the last 3 weeks, and have gone 0-8! And there were upsets to be had yesterday. I'm heading towards last place of the baseball bloggers pool. To check out the standing just click on the football picks link on the right.


Well the White Sox made it official today. Jerry Manuel is gone.

I'm relieved but not happy. Sure Manuel underachieved, and yes, he was a poor bench coach. But he was a very likable person. And his even temperemant should have been just what a veteran team would need to reach the postseason. But in the end it had to be this way. The Sox failed to build off their 2000 success and its time to start a new chapter.

I'll try to get to a post season wrap-up in the next couple of days.

Friday, September 26, 2003

My Take

Well, there certainly were a lot of responses from Twins fans to the question “Why I Hate the Sox?” As a concerned Sox fan, I think its important we understand “Why They Hate Us.”

1.) First off, the Sox seem to be hated for both being overrated and for not living up too expectations. Somewhat contradictory, but I’ll go with it nonetheless. Tim G. states that 85% of the reason why he hates the Sox is the way the media covers and promotes them. Well, no doubt many people believed the Sox were the better team. So yes, the local media did expect the Sox to beat the Twins. However, this was a notion shared by many across the country. Even Aaron Gleeman stated less than a month ago, that yes, the Sox were better than the Twins. So if the local media “expects” the Sox to win, deal with it.

As for national media bias, that’s a joke. Maybe the Sox get a few more highlights because they hit a lot of home runs, but I’ve spent many a night waiting ‘til midnight trying to catch a 15 second clip of the Sox on Baseball Tonight.

2.) A lot of people believe the Sox don’t give enough respect to the Twins. Well that’s a bunch of BS. Every time a Sox player was asked about the Twins this year, everyone gave your standard "the Twins are a great ballclub but we think were the better team." Blah. Blah, Blah. What do you expect? I think I would hate the Sox if I heard someone say, “yeah those Twins are a lot better than us”. So the respect issue was valid in 2001, 2002, but the respect argument was a non-issue this year.

3.) Another ridiculous line of argument was about the Sox style of play. The Sox don’t play defense? Well then why do they have a better zone rating and range factor than the Twins – for the last 3 years. Now I know these numbers don’t tell the whole story, but its certainly some evidence that the “White Sox don’t play defense” argument is nothing more than a myth. Folks, 2000 is over and you need to move on.

As for ERA, the Sox have finished ranked 8th, 8th and 4th in th AL the last 3 years, while the Twins have ranked 7th, 6th and 7th. Not that much of a difference.

And it’s true the Sox are a home run hitting ball club. But Mags and Frank manage to do a bit more than hit home runs. It’s not like they have 5 Sosas up there striking out 150 times a year.

4.) I forget that some Sox telecasts go out nationally on WGN. You may find Hawk annoying, but you have to admit his Hawkisms are catchy. I find myself shouting “put on the board” and “he gone” during games. So while he’s a lot of fun for Sox fans, I do see how he can be seen as obnoxious by other teams.

Now this is taking too long so I’ll just tackle some choice quotes:

The best line is from Anthony Fox, “Were gonna outwork and out-heart them every year”. Please, don't get all mushy one me. Look, the Twins play with great chemistry, but I would hate to my faith in out-hearting other teams. It’s funny that Twins fans get mad when people believe other teams are better, but they themselves think they get by on “intangibles”. The Twins are a talented bunch. They are not great at anything, but above average at everything. For the last two years, this has been good enough to win the central.

Again from Fox on how the Sox try to outclub teams “And one year they did. Barely.” Well I don’t know about barely. They had a comfortable lead all year in 2000 and pretty much put the division away by sweeping 7 games in mid-summer on the road vs. Cleveland and NY. And sweep doesn’t tell the whole story, they pummeled them.

“Frank Thomas is the Randy Moss of baseball”. No, I think Moss is definitely in a class by himself. Be proud Minnesota! And really, I think Frank gets a bad wrap. He’s not much of a leader, but his hitting more than makes up for it. And at $6m next year, quite a bargain.

"If we were able to spend $150 million or $130 million, we'd win every year, too," Thomas said.

..."Money doesn't guarantee you'll have big performances down the stretch when it counts," [Derek] Jeter said. "You can have all the money in the world and it doesn't matter if you don't have people who are going to play well. That's an easy out. Money, money, money. Go ask him why Minnesota is where they are."

Look, what Thomas said is true. If you spend $150 million you probably will have the best team. It’s great the Twins, A’s, and yes, the Sox can compete on smaller budgets, but that doesn’t make Thomas’ statement any less true. And maybe, as Seth says, Jeter is a classy player. But he sounds like the #ss*ole to me in that exchange.

“jose valentin. there's something truly creepy about his moustache. it's
not a bad moustache (see tom prince), it just bugs me. don't know why.
can't explain it. “ e-mail from Kirk Beller.

On that we are in total agreement.

Again from Beller: “this is just me talking, but your gm is a joke. i've hated every one of his trades. most of all, i hate the attitude that throwing money at veteran
players and dealing for the same type of guys, rather than developing talent
from within is the best way to build a club. that just reeks of
yankee-style team building, which is exactly counter to how the twins have
put together their team. his trade-for-the-sake-of-making-a-trade theory on
running a franchise--beatiful. i cheer every time i hear that the sox have
made a deal, because i know that it will make them worse in the long run. “

Look, not all of William's trades have been bad. And your mistaken in your belief that he has thrown money at veterans, they were mostly paid for by other teams. The Ritchie trade turned out horrible. But the Colon trade was a steal. He didn’t quite perform up to expectations, but he was close. He pitched a lot of innings and won some big games down the strecth.

Bottom line, I don’t see a lot of reasons to be hating the Sox. I will give you the disrespect issue from a couple of years ago and Hawk now. But it sounds like this stuff is deeper than that and goes further back. I think those uniforms (silver and black), marketing (good guys wear black), and "hate the big city-itis" also plays a role. But mostly, I think it's a good old fashioned rivalry. The Twins have come out on top the last two years, but please quit acting like your the '27 Yankees. Your maybe the fourth best team in the AL, probably 5th best, with the Sox right behind you. Lets keep things in perspective.

Finally, e-mailer Kirk Beller also asked if I might state some reasons why I hated the Twins. Well, I don’t hate the Twins. I don’t exactly like them, but I’d rather see them win than the Indians. And I would like to see them beat the Yanks. I hate the Yankees.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Twins Fans Speak

Earlier this week I wondered why the White Sox generate so much hostility. Well, Seth Stohs asked his readers to answer that very question. Today he posted their responses.

You will be hard pressed to find anything of substance, although it looks like a main complaint is in fact, Hawk Harrelson. I'll try to post a full response tomorrow morning. Some of the softballs tossed my way make it just too hard to resist adding my comments to the debate.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Congratulations to Esteban Loaiza, who won his 20th game of the year today against the Yankees. His starts against the Twins probably dropped him out of the running for the Cy Young award, but he still had a great year.

Like most fans, I was disappointed in his two losses against the Twins (not to mention the last outing vs. KC). But the Sox have gone 22-11 in games he started, meaning without him that would probably under .500. In the first half of the year the Sox would have been well over 10 games back without his superb pitching.
One Band Wagon I Won't Be Jumping On
Right now the Astros are down 1-0 to the Giants in the 7th. If the Astros end up losing, the Cubs can pretty much nail down the Central with a win tonight. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Baker is starting Estes (ERA 6.19). Now the Cubs still have a good shot at winning since they are playing the Reds. But at this point I think starting anyone over Estes is a good idea. He has allowed opponents a 312 BA and 476 Slug %. On top of that, he allowed 16.3 men on base per 9 innings for the year.

In any event, it looks like 3 wins out of the next five will at least give the Cubs a tie in the division at year end.

UPDATE: Pinch hitter, and ex-Cub, Jose Vizcaino drove in two runs. Score now 2-1.

Saint Father Smyth

The media continues to drop the ball on this one. But then again, they pretty much drop the ball on everything. For those of you who aren’t aware of this story, Father Smyth is the head of Maryville Academy, a child services organization run by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Now the governor has decided to close down the main Maryville campus because of rapes, drug abuse and attempted suicides. You would think we could all get behind the governor making sure these children are removed from this dangerous place. But you would be wrong!

Father Smyth obviously is a very powerful figure in Chicago and has used this power in some very despicable ways. First he accused Gov. Blago of not caring for these children they way he cares for his own children. Why else would the guv send his daughter to a private school in Chicago rather than a public school in Springfield. Now, I’m not sure what the governor’s daughter has to do with this situation, but the fact Father Smyth dragged her into this is pathetic.

But the big hit job came yesterday. Michael Sneed is our local gossip hound and probably the dullest in the nation. In her column yesterday she “passed along” a rumor that the Governor wants to close down Maryville so Cardinal George can sell the campus to pay off defendants in the priest sexual abuse lawsuits. Wow, that’s some crazy conspiracy - but where’s the evidence? Of course there is none. It’s just an outrageous slander. What kind of journalistic prostitute would write this stuff.

And Father Smyth must know where all the bones are buried because there is no end of politicians willing to defend him. Mayor Daley is said to be furious. Public Guardian Patrick Murphy says that Father Smyth loves children so much he took too many in and that caused all the problems. OK, pop quiz. Do you think Father Smyth took in too may kids because A.) he loves them so much or B.) he receives state aid for every kid in the facility. Hell, every new kid is money in the bank for Maryville as the fixed costs of running the place are much greater than the added costs of taking in one more kid.

But the best line came from former Illinois Department of Children and Family Services chief Greg Coler, who said, "This whole thing is a crime. The children should not be removed from Maryville, which is like shipping a kid from the Four Seasons hotel to a Motel 6.” I’ve never stayed at a Four Seasons, but if rape, drug abuse and suicides are rampant there, maybe it should be closed down too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

New Topics
Sox won in extra innings last night. Well, a big WHOOP-DE-DOO to them! They fight off elimination for an extra day.

As the regular season winds down it looks like I’ll have to focus on the "Chicago Sports" part of the blog title. I can’t wait to start looking in depth at the Bears. I’m just drooling over the possibilities.

“Hey, did you catch that quarterback draw that went for 3 yards? Man, that was unexpected.”


“Man did those Bears did a great job shutting down Moss and Culpepper. All they had to do was let Minnesota run for 200 yards. That's strategy my friend.”

I guess I can always jump on the Huskie bandwagon. But I’ll think I’ll wait one more week.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Say What
Ben Jacobs covers all the bases with respect to Peter Gammons latest column at the Universal blog. He also takes a whack at Jayson Stark's latest.
Sox Hatin'
I guess winning the division isn’t enough for some people. I think a Sox fan must of ran over his dog or something.

I never really understood why the White Sox generate so much hostility. Last week, in about his tenth post in a row dancing on the Sox's grave, Gleeman made comments about how cocky and arrogant the Sox were. I guess he’s talking about Ray Durham’s comments – last year. Uh, well, he’s no longer on the team. Or maybe he’s mad because Billy Koch said the Twins got some lucky bounces last season. Hardly cocky and arrogant stuff.

Anyway, I went to the game Friday night and had a good time. The Sox won, and its fun to watch them play when their hitting well. As for this club being cocky and arrogant, that’s not a very apt description. Konerko’s a good guy. Magglio says less than ten words a season. Lee seems to have a good time playing. Thomas can be difficult, but I’ve never seen him disrespect other teams. Manuel’s nickname is “Gandhi” for crying out loud.

As far as I can remember, Valentin is the only player to make any type of arrogant statement this year, after sweeping the Royals in KC. If anything, the Sox lacked confidence against the Twins and were too deferential. I think they could of used some arrogance.

So where does the hostility come from? Is Hawk that annoying? I guess I’ll stick with my dog theory.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Twins Geek V. Rogers
Yesterday, Twins Geek wrote about each managers strategy in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game:

"In the fifth inning last night, the Twins were beating Jon Garland and the Sox 3-0 and were threatening again. They had runners on 1st and 2nd with two outs. Garland looked tired. The left-handed Kelly Wunsch and the right-handed Scott Sullivan were warmed up in the bullpen. And designated hitter Jacque Jones strode to the plate.

And Jerry Manuel didn't bring in his left-handed reliever.

But it gets stranger still. After swinging and missing twice, Jones fisted a ball into left to score a run. Again, there are runners on 1st and 2nd, and the left-handed Corey Koskie came up to bat.

And Jerry Manuel did bring in his left-handed reliever.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that Jerry Manuel would rather see Jacque Jones bat against a tiring right-handed Garland than see Matt LeCroy bat against a left-handed Kelly Wunsch (ERA 2.04). Or maybe even against a right-handed Scott Sullivan."

So it sounds like Twins Geek doesn't have a problem with Manuel, only with Gardenhire playing Jones.

But Phil Rogers had this to say:

"But according to those who talk to them privately, Gardenhire and others in the Twins' organization consider Manuel's job security the best thing to happen to them since the Cleveland Indians downsized.

Whether on television or in person, they often shake their heads about Manuel's maneuvering. The one that had them talking Wednesday was Manuel bringing in lefty Kelly Wunsch to face Koskie, one batter after Jones, another left-handed hitter, had delivered a run-scoring single."

Who's right? Well, I have to diasgree with both. I think Jacque Jones brings a lot to the Twins lineup. He has good speed and decent power. He's stikes out a lot, but has better numbers against righties than LeCroy.

With that said, Rogers is also wrong. I don't think Manuel is a good manager, but I have no problem with letting Garland pitch to Jones in that situation. Garland was pitching on something like six days rest, and was not even at 80 pitches. He shouldn't have been that tired. Now, as it turns out Jones singles and the Twins go up 4-0. Then it was time to go get Garland out of there.

I also believe, that if Koskie and Jones were reversed in the order, the exact same scenario would have played out. Maybe it wasn't the right strategy, but hardly an example of incompetence.
Friday Football Picks
The football picks are up over at SethSpeaks. It looks like I’m all alone with the Bills and Raiders. If they both come through I might be able to move into second place.

Last week’s record: 9-7
Year to date: 20-12
Look Familiar
While Frank will take most of the heat for not producing, Magglio is just as guilty. Take a look at their numbers for this series (sorry about the tables):

Ordonez 11 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .273
Thomas 12 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .083

Their numbers in the 2000 LDS:

Ordonez 11 2 0 0 1 0 2 1 1 .182
Thomas 9 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 .000

Ugly stuff.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Only a Flesh Wound!
Yesterday, SethSpeaks.net sent quite a few people over to get the White Sox fan’s perspective on this series. At least that’s what he said. It’s more likely he was sending Twins fans over to enjoy my misery.

But I have to admit, I don’t feel all that bad. Sure I can’t watch the games because they are making me sick, but I would rather go down head to head than because the Twins beat Detroit seven straight times.

From the innings I have been able sit through, this is what I’ve taken from the games. The Twins haven’t pitched that well. I think the Sox are just choking. There were certainly pitches to hit last night and the offense didn’t come through. This offense has gone through some very bad stretches this year so this isn’t all that surprising. But with that said, Twins pitchers have been given a ridiculous strike zone. I’m talking an extra inch all around. It’s a lot harder to bat 0-1, 0-2 than it is 1-0, 2-0.

So that’s my perspective. Now go celebrate with Mr. Gleeman. I did find some humor in his post yesterday. He ended it with “How do you like them apples”. I had a friend who said that all the time in junior high (87-88) and I always thought it was funny. Even then it sounded like something people would have said in the 50’s, like “How do you like them apples, daddio!”. Anyway, if they used that line in Good Will Hunting, make that reason number 101 that I’m glad I never saw the movie.

Now please, no e-mails saying “you got to watch that movie, it’s so good.” People told me the same thing about Titanic, and I’m still pissed I wasted three hours of my life on that movie. I would have walked out half way through, but after investing an hour of my time in the movie, you better believe I was going to get the satisfaction of seeing that boat sink and watching someone die.

So I learned my lesson - trust your instincts when it comes to picking movies to watch. And my instincts tell me that Matt Damon sucks. And that Ben Affleck really sucks. And any movie they are in together will suck at a standard exponentially higher than their own individual suckiness. So put it on the board - I will never watch Good Will Hunting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

But I’m not Dead!
The Sox aren’t dead yet, but the obituaries are being prepared. There's not much to say about last night’s game. Loaiza, the Sox ace, pitched like crapfor the second start in a row. But since he’s even being ripped on our local Fox morning show, I don’t see the need to pile on. So I’ll just move on. I’ll just watch these final two games and see how things play out. Of course if the Sox start losing these games, I'll pop the X-Files DVD back in and watch an episode like I did in the 4th inning last night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Baseball Journalism
Last week I commented on a post from Ben Jacobs at the Universal Blog who thought Carlos Lee was having a disappointing season compared to last year. I agreed that it wasn’t a breakout season for Lee, but thought it was good nonetheless.

Anyway, Jacobs wrote that he was sure most journalists and even players probably thought that this was a breakout season for Lee, just because his average, HRs and RBIs were up this year. Well he nailed this one, as there were articles in both papers today about Lee having a breakthrough season. The Trib article touts him as a possible future MVP candidate, while the Sun-Times says he is having a Frank or Mags type season. Lets take a look at their numbers for this year.

Ordonez 2003 OBP/Slug/OPS - 388/561/949
Thomas 2003 OBP/Slug/OPS - 387/556/942
Lee 2003 OBP/Slug/OPS - 337/517/849

Not quite. I don’t think Lee will ever have a Magglio or Thomas type season.
Big Games
Tonight is a rematch of last Thursday's game. Loaiza had one bad inning as the Sox lost their biggest game of the year. Let's hope we don't have a repeat performance.

On paper, the Sox have a small edge in starting pitching in all three games.

Game 1 - Radke vs. Loaiza
Game 2 - Rogers vs. Garland
Game 3 - Lohse vs. Colon

Radke and and Lohse have been pitching well for the Twins lately, but I still like Loaiza and Colon in games 1 & 3. Rogers is certainly capable of good games, but with the way the Sox hit lefties, I also have to go with Garland in Game 2.

Offensively, I would have to say both teams are about even. They do different things well, but end up averaging about the same amount of runs per game.

Relief pitching definitely goes to the Twins. The Sox have improved in that area, but the Twins have been unhittable lately with Hawkins and Guardado in the late innings.

So what do the Sox need to do to win this series? Score early and hold the lead. The Sox have not been able to mount large combacks this year, and were unable to score more than 1 run when down in games 3 & 4 last week. Coming back aginst the Twins bullpen is even more difficult. So the starters will need to get the job done if the Sox want to see first place again.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Down to the Wire
After the Sox lost their last two games to the Twins and their first to the BoSox, I was afraid the pennant drive was about to unravel early. But after two impressive wins against Boston, the White Sox have shown that they are in the race to stay.

What will it take to make the playoffs? Well, there are 4 series left and they need to win each one. They don’t need to sweep them, just win them. That will leave them at 9-4 and also give the Twins two losses. If the Twins can go 9-1 against Detroit & Cleveland they would still end up on top. But I don’t think that will happen. And if it does, it will at least be good to know the Twins earned their way into October.

The biggest hurdle for the Sox will be trying to win on the day their fifth pitcher starts. Danny Wright just had a disastrous start Friday night against Boston and I would hesitate to start him again. For the year he has a 6.31 ERA as a starter and 3.24 ERA as a reliever. Wright has proven himself to be an effective relief pitcher and poor starter.

If the Sox drop Wright down to the pen, they still need to find a fifth starter for two games, as today is their last day off. There has been some talk of going to a 4 man rotation which I don’t think makes sense. These players have been pitching on four days rest their entire professional lives. To alter their routine with 13 games to go in the season, tied atop the standings, just doesn’t seem rational. So what do you do? I would start Schoeneweis. He has also had trouble in a starting role which is why Anaheim moved him to the bullpen. But he at least has a few years experience, and if he gets in trouble, Wright can come in for long relief. I know this isn’t a great option, but what else is there?

Friday, September 12, 2003

Friday Football Picks
The picks for Week 2 are up over at SethSpeaks.net. I'm currently in second place. This week the Bears have the privilege of getting pasted on national TV. I like to be optimistic but I don't see how the Bears can win. They have a weak defensive line and bad cornerbacks, not a good combination. And dare I say, their middle linebacker is a tad bit overrated. Now, I love Urlacher, and I'm glad he's on my team. But he's not great a shaking off blockers. So without a good defensive line in front of him, its harder for the Bears to exploit his athletecism. That said, there is only one other middle linebacker who I think is better and that's Ray Lewis.

They are equally inept on offense. I didn't want the Bears to sign Kordell Stewart (I had hoped the Bears would have tried to sign Griese). But after they signed him I hoped for the best. But last week he stunk. Maybe it's not all his fault. He does have a moron for an offensive coordinator.

Last weeks record: 11-5
Year to date: 11-5
In an earlier post, I blamed Manuel for calling for a bunt, down 4-1, with runners on 1st & 2nd, and no outs. Well, it turns out Alomar bunted on his own. So my apologies for blaming Manuel. And after Alomar failed to catch a relay throw that may have cost 2 runs, my argument in favor of Alomar's defensive skills is also starting to look rather foolish.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Advantage Twins
Well, everything is even again with 16 games left. But while the Sox have a much harder schedule, there are a few bright spots:

1. The Sox do not face Pedro this weekend.
2. The Sox will most likely miss Johan next week unless Gardenhire decides to hold him back for the Sox series.
3. The Sox have Monday off, so they will not need to pitch Wright against Minnesota.
4. Minnesota is only 5-8 against Cleveland this year.

So while the Sox blew a big opportunity today, there is still a lot of baseball yet to be played.
Manuel Thinks Small
Last night, with the Sox down 3-1, Manuel had Jose Valentin sacrifice runners over to 2nd and 3rd. Now this put the tying runner on second with one out so it’s a defensible position. Personally I would have liked to see Jose swing away.

But today the Sox are down 4-1 with runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs and again Manuel has R. Alomar sacrifice. The Sox don’t need two runs they need three. So Manuel takes an out away and decreases the chances for a big inning (and they don’t score at all). Anyway, I thought the strength of the White Sox was hitting home runs, not situational hitting. Let’em swing away!

UPDATE: Alomar bunted on his own (see above).
Must Win
Before I talk briefly about last nights game, I would like to thank all those who work to make this country the place it is and strive to bring freedom to others less fortunate than ourselves.

It's been strange two years. Things have gone pretty much back to normal, but normal is not what it was before 9/11/01. And for the many who criticize our current administration I believe it is important that they put forth an alternate vision of how the Middle East should be transformed. This region is the source of many of the worlds problems and must be dealt with in some fashion.

On to baseball.

It’s hard to be upset with last nights loss. This was the one game that Minnesota should have won and they did. But still, the Sox did waste a good opportunity to score in the 7th and they were able hit some balls hard in the first couple of innings off Santana. Oh well.

It looks like the Twins got a make up call in the fifth. On Tuesday they had a runner thrown out at third who was clearly safe. Last night that had a runner called safe at first who was clearly out. This was the start of their two run fifth inning and turned out to be a very important play. The Twins jumped ahead 2-0 in a pitchers duel and didn’t look back.

If the Sox win today I’m sure I’ll post my thoughts going into this weekends Boston series. If they lose I’ll probably post my football picks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

It seems that a lot more people are taking in interest in the Sox lately. First, just as I was about to do a lengthy post on the Sox offense since the break, Aaron Gleeman inaugurates his new website on that very topic. Of course his analysis was much more in depth and better written than anything I was going put together, but still, I don’t care how painful it becomes for him to write about his Twins, writing about how great the Sox are is my job!

At least Ben Jacobs at Universal Blog has the decency to criticize a White Sox player and give me something to write about. Jacobs actually calls Carlos Lee’s season a disappointment after his sabermetric friendly numbers from last year. Lee actually has about the same OPS this year, but it’s made up of a lower OBP and higher Slugging %. Now, OBP is considered the more important of the two numbers by many, so by this standard he is having a worse year.

Now I would like to make a couple of points here. First, I do sympathize with this line of reasoning as I too have been waiting for Lee to have a breakthrough season. However, the 2002 season was the year I stopped expecting one. Sure his numbers were good last year, but I was hoping for an Ordonez type year. So after last year, I figured Lee would continue to put up numbers close to what he did in his first 4 seasons, and this year he has. And if you look at his numbers they are pretty impressive, 292/336/505, 28 HR, 32 2B, 100 RBI. I would hesitate to call those disappointing unless your name is Rodriguez or Bonds. He has also gone from from one stolen base last year to 17 this year and has continued to improve in the field. Overall, I would have to say Lee is a better player this year than last.

Now one possible reason why his walks may have dropped, which accounts for his overall dropoff in numbers, is that he has batted second in over a third of his games this year. He’s probably seeing a lot more pitches to hit this year with a rejuvenated Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez batting behind him. This would account for his lower walk totals and increase in hits. This can not be proven in any way, but it makes logical sense to me.

Now I would like to make one final point about OBP and slugging. OBP counts a walk is the same as a single. But we know this is not the case. You can’t drive in a runner from second with a walk, advance a runner from first to third, or score a runner from third unless the bases are loaded. A single also brings the possibility of a defensive error into play. A batter that has a .400 OBP on 20 singles and 20 walks in 100 TPA, is a better offensive player that a batter with a .400 OBP on 40 walks in 100 TPA, but OPB wouldn’t reflect it. Only slugging % would reflect the difference. Now if Lee traded about 20 singles for 40 walks, he would have about the same numbers this year as he did last year. In essence, for every point his OPB went up his slugging % would go down the same. Now this may in fact be a good trade-off, but exactly how good? One point of OBP can't be worth that much more than one point slugging. How about 30 singles for 40 walks? OBP would be lower but OPS higher. Is that a good trade-off?
Two Down, Two To Go
I don’t have much to say about last night’s game other than it was very hard sitting through that ninth inning. They won and that’s all that matters today.

The pressure was on the Sox to win the first two games of this series. Now that pressure is squarely on the back of Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins. This is the one game in the series that they are supposed to win. If the Sox can pull out a win tonight, they’ll be in a great position to sweep with Loaiza pitching tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Paulie! Paulie!
Paul Konerko is probably my favorite White Sox player. I’m not sure why. He’s not the best hitter on the club, although he is good. I guess its because he seems to be a straight shooter. And maybe its because I could probably beat him in a foot race. For whatever reason, it made it harder for me to watch him struggle earlier in the year. Well, struggle, might not be the best word. He just sucked. And even though he’s been a fan favorite the last couple of years the boos started coming in June.

Coming into this year, Paulie had career numbers of .282/.344/.477. Not superstar numbers, but good enough to enjoy a nice long career playing baseball. His monthly numbers to start the year:

Mar/April .230/.299/.368
May .181/.261/.241
June .098/.174/.098

Through June, he only had 11 extra base hits in 208 AB. He hit bottom on July 8th when his season numbers were .183/.254/.274. But then something changed. Since the All Star break, Paulie has returned to form. His monthly numbers since:

July .342/.372/.671
Aug .301/.371/.548
Sep .500/.571/1.000 (5 games)

Since July 1, he has had 26 extra base hits 187 AB and brought his season numbers up to a respectable .256/.321/.441. Not exactly good, but no longer the subject of what’s wrong with Paulie stories.

Now this leads me to my first e-mail question. Paulie has been red hot over the last 11 games hitting over .500 with 6 home runs and 16 RBIs (going into last night). But he had been 1 for 27 lifetime against Lohse. So my question is, do you sit Paulie and put in the left handed Daubach, or do you hope Paulie can break through against Lohse during a hot streak? Let me know what you think.
1 Down, 3 To Go
The Sox pulled out the first game 5-2. They scored all 5 runs with two outs in the first. Some good hitting was on display, but there were also a few bad pitches. Two pitches stand out. With one out and the bases empty, Lohse threw a breaking ball to C. Lee that was low but over the plate. Carlos lined it down the line just foul. Now you and I might say to ourselves, “El Caballo just nailed that pitch, we better not throw that again.” But I guess Pierzynski and Lohse said to themselves, “El Caballo just nailed that pitch. He would never expect us to throw that again.” So Lee gets the same pitch, nails it again, but this time keeps it fair for a two bagger.

The second questionable pitch was to Miguel Olivo with the score 3-0 and the bases loaded. Lohse let go a fastball straight down the middle of the plate that Olivo smashed for a two run double. Now Olivo hits breaking balls like Serrano from the movie Major League. I’m sure the Twins were hesitant to throw breaking balls after Lohse had already walked two and with the bases loaded. But I would still only throw junk to Olivo until there were two balls in the count. He smashed the fastball, the only pitch he has shown the ablity to hit, on a 1-1 count.

After the first, Lohse pitched very well. But five runs were enough as Colon went the distance. Colon didn’t have his best stuff and had to walk a tightrope a few times. The Twins did have runners on 2nd & 3rd with no outs in the 7th. But Colon snagged a liner back to the mound, struck out Manischewitz and got LaCroix to pop out on a high fastball.

Monday, September 08, 2003

A Two Team Race
On July 14th I received the following e-mail from my brother (a Cubs fan):

"This town sucks baseball-wise. Both teams. My only hope is Dusty. I suspect 3 games out is nothing new to Dusty. Still, the talent is questionable. They need to add a bat or two, but I'm not hopeful now that Lowell is off the market. I wouldn't put too much confidence in the Sox either. Do the math. Assume KC only goes .500 the rest of the way (and I think they will probably play a little, not much, but a little bit better than .500). 41-27. Not likely given their performance to date. Not a pretty picture."

I responded that I didn't think KC would play .500 ball. But I did give KC a 50% chance of winning the division. I thought there was 25% chance the Sox would catch them and a 25% chance the Twins would catch them. I thought I was going out on a limb with those odds. I don't care what time a year it is, a 7 game lead looks big. But it turns out that both teams caught the Royals. It didn't even take that long as the Sox made up 7 by games Friday, August 1st. The Royals fought back for a short time but now it looks like they are done for good, 3 games back of both the Sox and Twins. Their records since the break:

Twins 32-17
Sox 31-17
Royals 22-28

At this point it looks like the Royals will end up right at .500, which I think they would have been happy about at the start of the season. But right now I'm sure it stings.
East Coast Bias
ESPN recently had a few articles on whether East Coast Bias actually exists. Of course, as a sign of the times, they had a couple of writers take the extreme on each side.

Well, I would like to add some anecdoctal evidence to the argument. Every time I watch Baseball Tonight I have to wait for 3/4 of the program to go by to catch highlights of the AL Central. Now this may be the most exciting race in baseball, but before they show anything I have to sit through the Phils, Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees, Roy Halladay before they move over to the Giants, A's, Seattle, Cardinals, Cubs & Astros and finally the Sox and Twins.

Then yesterday, while watching the bottom line* on ESPN News, during the middle of football highlights, they decided to show the highlights of one ball game. Care to guess which one? Yankees-Bosox.

The Twins and White Sox start a four game series tonight that might decide the AL Central. We'll see if this fact makes its way East.

* waiting for baseball scores on Saturday and Sunday during football season is like watching the departure/arrival screens at the airport. I haven't even heard of half the colleges they put up. Why doesn't ESPN just put two tickers on the bottom?

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Money Time
I have been waiting for this series for a long time. Well, at least a couple of weeks. The matchup for Monday is Colon v. Lohse. Colon hasn’t pitched against the Twins this year, while the Sox have teed off on Lohse. They’ve scored 12 runs in 15.2 IP in three games this year. And in the words of Hawk Harrelson, they’ve had 19 hits off him and 13 have stayed in the park.

I like the pitching matchups for the series. For all of Manuel’s faults, he did a nice job of setting up the rotation. No doubt about it, this is the biggest series on the South Side in three years.

I also think the Sox have the mental edge going into the series. The Twins owned the Sox in 2001 and 2002. But the Sox are 7-5 against the Twins this year and won the last 5 out of 6.
Da Bears
It looks like it will be a long season for the Bears. I stopped watching a few minutes into the third quarter. Has someone started a fire John Shoop website yet? At least I didn't pick'em to win.

I think the Bears might be as bad as 2-14, which means I'll need to find something to do on Sundays this fall.

Friday, September 05, 2003

I've started this webpage less than a week ago, so it was a thrill to see one my posts commented on at Baseballblogspot (note: I'm not the idiot who is waiting for Koch to come off the DL). Aaron Gleeman's site was one of the first baseball blogs I came across, and even though he writes a lot about the Twins, it became a daily read. So it was less than thrilling that he basically said he wasn't buying my b.s on Alomar. But he did pay me a nice compliment, "which, aside from the team it covers, is a very good blog". So I got that going for me.

I can't argue with anything he wrote. The numbers are not on my side. But Twins fans will get a good look at Alomar as the Sox and Twins play 7 times in 11 days starting Monday. And I'll be happy that I won't have to look at Jimenez.
Well, the Cubs had to win at least three against the Cards and they did one better. I can't say they were well played games, but the last four were close and exciting. The Cubs were able to come out on top because of a few clutch hits. The Sox lost two to Boston because they didn't get any.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Texas Hold-Em
A great article from Baseball Prosepectus comparing Texas Hold-Em and baseball (via Baseball News Blog). One pet peeve: completely unnecessary compliment of Billy Beane half way through the article. One, I don't think Beane has actually made any late season moves that are out of the ordinary, and two, I'm tired of reading the praises for Billy Beane and his Beanie Babies in Boston and Toronto. I appreciate what he has brought to the game, but enough already.
NFL Picks

Last year's record: very bad
This year's record: perfect so far

Last year I participated in a pick-em pool with the inlaws for the first time and made the worst showing in that pool's history. So what do I do this year? Join two pools. I am also participating in a friendly pool of baseball bloggers over at SethSpeaks.net. I thought I had made some questionable picks, but I seemed to be in the mainstream with the other baseball bloggers. I hope that this is a good omen of better luck this year in the money pool.

WAS over NYJ
SF over Bears
NYG over STL
BUF over NE
PIT over BAL
CAR over JAX
MIA over HOU
IND over CLE
DEN over CIN
ARI over DET
GB over MIN
KC over SD
DAL over ATL
SEA over NO
TEN over OAK
PHI over TB

AFC Champ - IND
NFC Champ - PHI
Super Bowl - PHI
MVP - McNabb
ROY- Charles Rogers

Yes, he was calling out La Russa, shouting at him and motioning as if to say, "Meet me behind Murphy's Bleachers after the game, sucker!'' - Jay Mariotti, Sun Times

I can't stand Mariotti, but I thought this line was funny. I don't know if Mariotti meant it to be. I mean, we know Mariotti doesn't talk like this. And I know Baker doesn't either. I mean, who says "sucker"?
Back To Square One

The Sox are now tied with Minnesota with 23 games left. Minnesota has a much easier schedule but the teams have to play each other 7 more times starting on Monday. But before we look ahead, a quick review of last night's forgettable game.

Both teams wasted scoring opportunities. I don't want to relive each opportunity wasted, so I'll just name names. Ordonez, Lee and Everett all failed with a runner on third and less than two outs. One hit blows the game open.

All Chicago third base coaches named Kim(m) should be fired. When you can tell on TV that the guy won't be able to score from first, you should be able notice the same with the play right in front of you.

Where would Minnesota be if they still had Ortiz?

Finally, is Nomar always this bad in the field? He didn't have an error, but he did have trouble on three ground balls. All were makeable plays, two to his right and one to the left. He did throw out Rowand at home in the ninth, but other than that, he looked awful.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003


Minnesota scored two with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5. The Twins have come back in a number of games the past couple of weeks and don't look like they are going to make things easy for the Sox. Next week's series should be fun to watch.
On Deck

Buehrle goes against Lowe tonight. Buerhle has pitched once against the BoSox this year and only gave up one one on four hits in 8 IP. That win bumped his record up to 3-10 and started his turnaround. The Sox might have a chance to pick up a game tonight, as Minnesota is down 4-0 to Anaheim as I write this.

It would be nice to go into next Mondays four game series with the Twins up at least two games. If the Sox can take 3 of 4 it would give them a much needed cushion before Minnesota has a chance to beat up on some cupcakes. As for KC, I still don't think they have much of a chance. Of course, I thought that all year. But I don't see how they can continue to win (although they haven't won much since the break) with their horrible starting pitching. I mean, how bad can your pitching be when a guy who clears waivers is automatically your ace?
September Baseball

A strange thing happened yesterday. Important baseball games were played on both sides of the city in the month of September. Both of last nights games were close and the remote received a good workout.

The Cubs were robbed of a bases loaded double that would have at least tied the game. I'm sure everyone saw the replay on ESPN, so enough about them. The Sox scored only one run in their game, wasting 2 out of their 3 leadoff doubles and a gem by Colon. Big Frank probably cost the Sox a run in the third with another baserunning mistake. With the bases loaded, Everett hit a high pop that looked like it was going to be caught but landed in short right field. Somehow Mags made it to second but the Red Sox were able to force Frank out at third. These are things that usually slip under the radar during September in Chicago. Not this year.

Update: John Kass also notices the strange September. ESPN too.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Big Frank A Yank?

It seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the year but there is a small chance that the Big Hurt could be on another ballclub next season. While his numbers are still below his career averages, he has again become one of the top hitters in the league.

Frank has a unique contract that gives options to both him and the club each year. For example, Frank can exercise an option to stay with the Sox next year for $6 million. If he doesn’t exercise his option, the club can exercise their own option to keep him for $8 million. If Frank exercises all his options, he is guaranteed at least 27.5 million over 3 years ($6m, $8m, $10m + $3.5m buyout in year 4).

Now it would be in Frank’s interest to accept anything over $27.5m, especially since if the Sox want to keep him his guaranteed money will increase by $2 million in the first year. The question is, would any team out there offer him a contract in the range of $10m per year for 3 years. Well, looking at the DH stats for the year, it sure does look like the Yanks might be interested. Clemen’s retirement will free up some extra money for the Yankees and I’m sure Steinbrenner would enjoy turning the screws on Reinsdorf.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Mariotti Is An Idiot

Manuel, too, can count himself fortunate to be saved by Loaiza after his nonsensical rotation decisions last week. He basically cost the Sox back-to-back losses...

I know a lot of people like to complain about their local columnists. But I would have to nominate Jay Mariotti as the biggest ass of the bunch. He can't even get through a pedestrian column touting Loaiza for the Cy Young without making two or three ridiculous statements.

Look, I criticized Manuel's decision to start Cotts against the Yanks, but how did that make Buerhle lose to the Tigers? I would place that blame on Buerhle, not the manager. Its just a stupid statement and par for the course fo Mariotti.
Take A Breather
The Sox have the day off before a short series against Boston. The Sox catch a break and face Burkett & Lowe. A two game sweep would be a nice way to start the week.

The Cubs start their biggest series of the year today, a five game set against the Cards. 3 out of 5 is a must. That was a rough ending to yesterdays game. If the ball is a few more inches down the line the Cubs win. I feel bad that I was happy when the right fielder caught it. Oh well, I'll try not to lose any sleep over it.