Thursday, July 27, 2006

72 (Day two)
Enough already with the losing. The Twins completed the sweep of the Sox last night as Mark Buehrle, ace of the staff (apologies to Jose Contreras) and an All-Star, lost again. Not only lost, but lost bad, giving up seven earned runs in 5.1 innings. With the 7-4 win, Minnesota climbed into a tie with the Sox for second in the Central, who are a season-high 8.5 games behind Detroit. Both the Twins and the Sox now trail the Yankees by a half game in the Wild Card chase. I think what makes this harder than it would be otherwise is having been in first place wire-to-wire last year. I knew while it was happening how special 2005 was, but I didn't realize how bad not being there would feel in comparison. It's time for a reversal of fortunes starting tomorrow night against Baltimore and then KC. Build some confidence against the teams with losing records and have it carry over against the big boys. Go Sox!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I'm starting to detect a pattern here. The Sox lost for the 11th time in their last 14 games, this time to the Twins, 4-3. Their starting pitcher was sailing along before giving up a big inning, this time Jose Contreras served up a three-run homer to Jason Bartlett (his first of the season) after tossing 6.1 innings of one-run ball. The Sox jumped out to a lead they couldn't hold for the eighth time in those 11 losses during the slump, this time a 1-0 margin courtesy of Jim Thome's 33rd home run -- Joe Crede added a two-run shot (his 21st) to narrow the gap in the seventh. This feels a whole lot like last August and September, when the team frittered away its big lead to Cleveland. We can only hope that they pull out of this nosedive like they did last season.
The only good news is that Detroit suffered a rare defeat, keeping the Sox 7.5 games back and reducing the Magic Number to 72. Minnesota is now only a game behind the Sox and the Yankees only a half game back in the Wild Card race. Even Toronto is within striking distance, 3.5 games behind the Good Guys. And it's clearly not just a case of the other teams' being hot. (Yes, the apostrophe is correct since "teams" precedes a gerund.) The slump has dropped the Sox below a .600 winning percentage for the first time since April 16, when they were 7-5.
So what's the answer? I don't know, but according to Greenie of Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio, Kenny Williams should do nothing, and ESPN baseball guy Buster Olney agrees. Greenie says that the only thing that's going to help the Sox is for Mark Buehrle to pitch like Mark Buehrle can and for Jose Contreras and the rest of the starters to do the same thing. Soriano won't help (although one factor I hadn't considered in my calculations is that the team that loses him to free agency gets "a first round pick and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds for him" per Tom Boswell in the Washington Post). Judging from a comment I received yesterday from Mike Sehr telling me to get a grip, Mr. Sehr agrees with Greenie too. Maybe the radio show should be Mike & Mike & Mike in the Morning. Go Sox!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

73 (Day Two)

We discussed this last Thursday. Javier Vazquez cannot get through the batting order the third time. So why let him pitch you out of the game? Ozzie had Neal Cotts warming up in the pen at the start of the sixth, but he didn' t pull the trigger and yank Vazquez. Some (including me in the past) have said it would destroy his confidence to pull him in that situation. Well, allowing him to blow leads game after game is going to do the same thing. How about one time, preserving a win for the guy -- and the team -- by bringing in a reliever? History shows you're going to need one anyway, so it's not a question of saving arms in the bullpen. Maybe Oz will figure this one out before it's too late.
The Tigers won -- of course -- so while the Magic Number stays the same as a result of the 7-4 loss to the Twins, the Sox fall a game farther behind Detroit in the race for the A.L. Central Division crown. Worse yet, we're only 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees and two games ahead of the Twins for the Wild Card. The Sox are still playing better than .600 ball, but just barely. It's time to right the ship.
Recent acquisitions Sandy Alomar and Mike MacDougal are not the answer. Alfonso Soriano might be, if the question is how do you jump start the White Sox bats? But where does Fonzie play and whom do you trade to get him? He's barely a left fielder, let alone a center fielder, and he's not even that good a second basemen. Plus he's either gone or incredibly expensive to sign after the season. If Kenny can trade for him and lock him up for the future, this might work. But the real key is the players going the other direction. The Washington Post quotes Kenny as saying that McCarthy the White Sox starters aren't going anywhere -- well, the latter is certainly true if you're talking about their performance lately, except for Jon Garland. Remember last year when we were thinking about which starter was going to win the Cy Young? This year, it's more like the Sigh Young that they're chasing.
Time to change the tag line. This worked last season during the slump: Just win, baby!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Finally, the Magic Number moved off 75. Detroit's loss to Oakland on Saturday and a White Sox win yesterday combined to cut the Magic Number to 73. The Sox are still 6.5 games behind the Tigers and hearing footsteps of the Twins, who come to the Cell tonight as the hottest team in baseball over the last month or so (29 wins in their last 36 games) and only three games behind the Good Guys. Friday's and Saturday's losses to the Rangers were nothing to write home about, so I won't waste time writing to you about them. Let's focus on yesterday's win over Texas. Jon Garland pitched a masterpiece (8.1 innings of scoreless ball, giving up only six hits and a walk) to win his sixth straight decision. Matt Thornton preserved the shutout in the ninth. The Sox used small ball (a couple of bunts by Ross Gload and two groundout RBIs by Pods) and the long ball (homers by Gooch and Pods) to tally five runs on five hits. The portion of the box score showing runs, hits, and RBIs looked like the start of a TV phone number -- 555. I won't even address Ozzie's tantrum over Garland's not hitting a batter. Been there done that with Sean Tracey. That part of the act is getting not just old, but ancient. C'mon Oz, get some new material.
Guillen was not the only member of management to be active over the weekend though. Kenny Williams reacquired Sandy Alomar -- his third stint with the Sox -- and designated Chris Widger for assignment. That's another member of the 2005 World Series Champions who's no longer on the roster. Kenny has also entered the Alfonso Soriano sweepstakes, where the Sox supposedly are one of four finalists to obtain Soriano's services before the trading deadline. I saw Fonzie in person on Saturday as the Nats beat the Cubs (Nats swept the series -- sweet!) and Soriano had three doubles and a triple in five at bats. He's awesome and I'd love to have him on the Sox, but he's only going to be there for the rest of the season. Word in DC is that he won't sign a new deal without dipping his toe in the free agent waters. I don't want to go back to the days of renting players like the team did when Bill Veeck couldn't afford to pay anyone, but I do want to win this year. I'm undecided, so let me know what you think.
Meanwhile, after all this crappy baseball, the Sox are tied with Boston for the second-best record in the Majors and are in the lead for the Wild Card berth. Minnesota is in town and there's a chance to put some distance between us and them, and we don't have to face Liriano this series. Go Sox!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

75 (Still)

White Sox bats were cold again today, as the Good Guys could muster only one run against Detroit, wasting a good pitching performance by Jose Contreras and three hits by Brian Anderson, who's up to .212 now. The 2-1 loss allows the Tigers to gain another game on the Sox, extending their Central Division lead to a season-high 5.5 games. Our Magic Number, of course, remains the same as it was -- 75. Detroit's Magic Number, by contrast, is a mere 63. So we've got some work to do. Hopefully, there's no place like home as the team returns to the Cell to face Texas and the red-hot Twins. That's it. That's all I've got. These lose-the-lead losses take too much out of me. Go Sox!

So if ESPN's announcers knew it, how come Ozzie didn't? They predicted that Javier Vazquez was going to fall apart the third time through the order, which is precisely what happened last night in the sixth inning. The Tigers, down 2-0 at the time by virtue of Joe Crede and Juan Uribe home runs, scored five runs, including Detroit's first grand slam of the season -- and that was all she wrote. Maybe it overtaxes the bullpen to bring them into the game in the sixth, with a lead, but as ESPN pointed out, opponents hit .228 against Vazquez the first two times through the lineup and .361 thereafter. Maybe before, but definitely once he'd given up one run and had the bases loaded with no one out, I would have given him the rest of the night off. Yes, hindsight is 20-20, but this wasn't hindsight. ESPN was predicting it and I was yelling at Oz to make a move before the Granny. I guess he wasn't watching TV and couldn't hear me.
The loss puts the Sox back where they were before the series started -- 4.5 games behind Detroit. The Magic Number remains at 75. Today's game takes on added importance. We really need to Meat Loaf them and take two out three, not vice versa. (We could have used Frank Thomas last night. The Big Hurt drove in three runs against Baltimore on a single and his 20th homer of the season to lead Oakland to victory in the Vanna White, I'd Like to Buy a Vowel Series -- A's vs. O's.) Jose Contreras throws this afternoon against Kenny Rogers in the rubber game. Go Sox!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Now that's more like it! Jon Garland pitched, and Paul Konerko and Joe Crede powered, the Sox to a 7-1 win over the division-leading Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park last night. Garland, who has been the team's most effective pitcher of late, tossed seven innings of one-run, six-hit, one-walk, five-strikeout baseball to nail down his fifth win in a row and ninth overall (against three losses). Brandon McCarthy and Matt Thornton pitched scoreless relief in the eighth and ninth to close out the win. For those of you who've been asking "Where's the beef?" (flashback to Clara Peller and Wendy's ad campaign or Walter Mondale and his Democratic primary campaign against Gary Hart), the Sox answered with some timely hitting. They were led by Captain Konerko's 22nd and 23rd homers and four RBIs (total 72) and Joe Crede's 18th dinger and two RBI (total 61). The team scored as many runs as they left on base, driving in six of seven runs with two out, and reached double digits in hits (10). Even Brian Anderson got into the act, raising his average above the Mendoza line (.201).

I don't know what Ozzie was thinking, but to me, this was pretty much a must-win game for the Sox, if there can be such a thing in mid-July. It reasserted White Sox dominance over the Tigers, raising their record on the season to 6-1 against the upstarts from the Motor City. It ended the Sox recent slide (1-5 against the Bosox and Yanks). And another loss would have put the team in a dangerous psychological state and left them a season-high 5.5 games back. The win, however, shaved Detroit's lead to 3.5 games and reduced the Magic Number to 75. By the way, watch out for the Twins; they're only six games back of the Sox. Unfortunately for them, having the sixth-best record in all of baseball doesn't mean squat in a division that is home to the two top teams in the game.
Tonight, it's Javier Vazquez vs. Jeremy Bonderman in game two of the Competition at Comerica, the Jewel of July, the Duel of the Division -- you get the idea; it's an important series, worthy of some kind of nickname. Go Sox!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Okay, that's enough of that. The Yankees swept the Sox in the Bronx over the weekend, leaving the Good Guys 4.5 games behind the Tigers and with a Magic Number (thanks to Detroit's first loss of the season to KC yesterday) of 76. The starting pitching was horrible -- 17 earned runs allowed in 17 innings pitched, according to ESPN (I couldn't bear to go back and count them myself). The clutch hitting was equally bad -- Thome, Konerko and Dye were a combined 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, for example. The only good news is that the team still has the second-best record in baseball and has a chance to do something about Detroit's lead starting tomorrow. The Sox invade Comerica Park for the second time this season. The last time we were there, which came when the team had lost four of its last five games, the Sox swept the three-game series and jump-started their season. Let's hope they can do that again. Go Sox!

P.S. A shout-out to my Mom, who celebrated her 80th birthday on Saturday. A party for her and my Dad, who celebrated his 85th earlier this year, brought me back to Chicago, but since there were no games in town, I couldn't work my personal mojo. Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad. We love you.

Friday, July 14, 2006


The Tigers won last night, continuing their dominance over K.C., and stretching their lead over the White Sox to 2.5 games. Detroit's win means the Sox's Magic Number is still 77 since the Sox didn't play yesterday. Tonight, Jose Contreras pitches on his normal four days rest against the Yankees in the Bronx. Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garicia are slated to take the mound on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, both on six days rest. I haven't heard what the rest of the rotation will be, but suspect that Jon Garland will be up next, followed by Javier Vazquez since Garland pitched in relief last Saturday and Vazquez did last Sunday.

The schedule for the remainder of the season doesn't seem to favor either the Sox or the Tigers too much. Based solely on opponents' winning percentages, the Sox's opponents project to win 36.8 of 74 games, while Detroit's project to win 37.6 of 73 games. (That doesn't take into account who their opponents are.) Not much to choose from there. The outcome of the season may well boil down to the 13 games remaining between the two Central Division leaders. But first things first. Beat the Yankees this weekend, and then move on to Detroit and do battle there. Go Sox!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Big Hurt

Regular readers of the Update know that Frank Thomas is my favorite player. So it was a labor of love when I wrote a letter to the editor of Sports Illustrated pointing out that the start of Frank's career matched -- for an even longer period of time -- that of Albert Pujols, whom the magazine was raving about. After SI published the letter, the Big Hurt's representative called me to say that he'd read the letter and was going to send me an autographed baseball in appreciation. Well, the ball just arrived, and Frank didn't just autograph it; he took the time to write the following: "To Chuck Hadden, Thanks for everything, Frank Thomas #35, 93 94 ALMVP." Needless to say, I'm thrilled and feel like it's I who should thank him for everything he's done. We've all enjoyed following his exploits for the past 16 seasons with the Sox and even this year with Oakland.

As I've written before, there's no doubt in my mind that he should wind up in the Hall of Fame. The man has 467 homers and 1511 RBIs and counting. He's got a .305 lifetime batting average, a .425 career on-base percentage, a .566 lifetime slugging percentage, and a .991 career OPS (on-base plus slugging). Frank's won two MVPs and was robbed of a third, he's won four silver slugger awards, and has been an All-Star five times. And no one has ever suggested that his muscles were the laboratory-manufactured kind. In an era of sluggers tainted by steriod allegations, he's been untouched by that scandal. In short, no one has ever done what he's done and not made the Hall of Fame. While I'm in no hurry to see him retire, I'm planning to be in Cooperstown five years later when he gets inducted. Maybe then he'll sign a ball for me that says "Frank Thomas HOF."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Home Field Advantage

Ozzie Guillen has been there, done that. I don't mean managing the A.L. All-Star team over the N.L.'s stars, which he did last night, 3-2. I do mean trailing by one run in the ninth inning, with his team down to its last out and nobody on base, and going on to win. Why it seems like only yesterday that it happened. Actually, it was three days ago that Oz and the White Sox pulled off that feat in the 19-inning marathon over the Red Sox.

The All-Star Game was a cakewalk by comparison, requiring only a regulation nine innings to finish off the Senior Circuit. Paulie Konerko, Chicago's own Cap'n Crunch, had two hits on the night, including the first hit in the ninth inning that got the rally started when the A.L. was on the short end of a 2-1 score. Jermaine Dye had earlier tapped one back to the mound for the first out of the inning, and Jim Thome broke his bat on a ground out in his only plate appearance in the eighth inning. Mark Buehrle and Bobby Jenks were warming up in the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth in case Mariano Rivera needed help -- he didn't -- and A.J. Pierzynski, who caught all 19 innings in the heat on Sunday, was the only A.L. position player not to make it into the game (as Ozzie had forewarned him). Jose Contreras, whom Oz had thought about starting, was scratched from the roster because he had pitched so long on Sunday.

The win secured home field advantage for the American League in the World Series this October, for the third time in the three years that the All-Star Game has been the deciding factor in who hosts the Fall Classic. But the question is whether it really matters. Over those last three World Series, the home team has won seven games and the visiting team has won seven (2-2 last year and the year before, and 3-3 in 2003), which doesn't seem like much of an advantage to me. However, Tom Boswell of the Washington Post notes that the team with the home field advantage has won 17 of the last 20 World Series. By the way, if the old system were in place, this would be the A.L.'s turn to host games 1, 2, 4, and 7 anyway.

In other All-Star Game-related news, Bud Selig and I agree on one thing and disagree on another. Selig said what I said last Sunday: If Manny Ramirez was healthy enough to play the entire series against the Sox, he should have been in Pittsburgh last night. However, according to the Post, the Commish is thinking about "prevent[ing] all-star starting pitchers from starting the final game of the first half." I'm not sure how you enforce it, but I don't like the idea. It's a good idea to try to make the game meaningful, but not at the expense of the regular season. Speaking of which, the Good Guys resume play on Friday against the Yankees, with Contreras likely to start against the Yankees. Go Sox!

Sunday, July 9, 2006


It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was as long as a Dickens novel. Of course I'm talking about the six hour and ninteen minute game that the White Sox won in the nineteenth inning Sunday over the Red Sox. Faced with the possibility of a Red Sox sweep, I invoked my personal mojo to come to the aid of my team. This time, I was collecting on a Father's Day present from son Jeffrey who treated me to the game. Jeff and I started out in the upper deck, one section over from Update reader Mike Sehr and his wife Lisa, but after six innings moved down to join Update reader Judy Deutsch, husband Tom, brother Howard Silverman (of Howard's Wine Cellar, 1244 W. Belmont, the Official Wine Store of the White Sox Magic Number Update), and his son Bradley -- five rows behind the Boston dugout. (See ticket at left.) Who knew we'd be in the good seats more than twice as long as we were in our original seats?

The White Sox clawed their way back from a three-run deficit on the strength of a Tadahito Iguchi homer in the third, a Jim Thome RBI single in the sixth, and a dramatic two-out in the bottom of the ninth, game-tying home run by Jermaine Dye. In the eleventh, Boston pushed across two more to take a 5-3 lead, but in the bottom half of the frame, Dye doubled home Thome, and after a disastrous failure to tag up by Ross Gload, Alex Cintron plated Gload by barely beating the throw to first on Boston's double play attempt. Eight innings later, after Dye made a spectacular catch in right field, Alex Cintron, Rob Mackowiak, and Scottie Pods were on base when Iguchi slapped a single to left for the game winner. Cliff Politte, the last of seven Sox pitchers (including Javier Vazquez) to come on in relief of Jose Contreras whose streak of 17 games without a loss continued, got the win. Boston also used eight pitchers as the two teams pounded out 29 hits (the Sox getting 18 of them) but left 52 men on base.

The game took its toll on the fans as well as the players, with yours truly being decked by son Jeff as they went after a ball that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis threw into the stands. As Jeff jumped up, he inadvertently clipped me in the jaw, resulting in a standing eight count by the referee. But your Update editor never threw in the towel and Jeff wound up with the ball. (See picture at right of Jeff holding his trophy.) I, on the other hand, in addition to being pummelled, kept intact my 50 year streak of never catching a ball at a major league game baseball game. Coincidentally, it was 44 years ago this month (July 1, 1962) that I last touched a ball hit into the stands. I relinquished that ball when the guy next to me spilled his beer all over me, but at least I didn't get clobbered back in 1962.

Anyway, despite having lost the first two games of the series, Sunday's win allowed the Sox to head into the All-Star break trailing the Tigers by only two games and to trim the Magic Number to 77. Tuesday, Ozzie and the seven Sox on the A.L. team secure home field advantage for the Series by winning the All-Star Game, and then the Sox head off to New York to face the Evil Empire, aka, the New York Yankees. Go Sox!

Friday, July 7, 2006


The White Sox must think it's still the Fourth of July. They set off the fireworks at the Cell four times to celebrate home runs -- two by Jim Thome, giving him 29, which is good for a share of the major league lead; one by Jermaine Dye, who with 22 homers is representing the A.L. in the Home Run Derby; and one by A.J. Pierzynski, whom the fans voted onto the All-Star team, giving the Sox seven players on the squad. The four dingers padded the Sox league-leading total (they also lead in runs and RBI) and turned out to be a necessity rather than a luxury as the Sox barely hung on to win, 11-8. Javier Vazquez improved to 9-4, but wasn't sharp, giving up five runs, three of them earned. Neither was Cliff Politte, who permitted three earned runs in 1.2 innings, boosting his league-high ERA to 8.54. Fortunately, Matt Thornton put out the fire that Politte started to earn his first save. Apparently, pitching in both the eighth and ninth innings, on top of his other recent relief stints, must have left Bobby Jenks too tired to pitch last night.

The win allowed the Sox to gain a half game on the idle Tigers, leaving the Good Guys one back of Detroit, who needed the rest after a tough series with Oakland. (Speaking of the A's, Update favorite, Frank Thomas did it again last night, hitting a walkoff homer against the Angels. It was the Big Hurt's 19th. He's hitting one every 11 at bats, which ain't too shabby.) The Sox win also cut their Magic Number to 79 and gave the team some nice momentum heading into the series with Boston. Given the overlap in names, I'm going to have to sign off a little differently the next few days, lest the baseball gods misunderstand what I mean: Go White Sox!

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Hey, guys, come on. Let's have some comments on what has been posted. Someone must have something to say. I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing.

Jon Garland returned to his 2005 form last night, throwing 7.1 innings of one-run, six-hit, no-walk baseball for his eighth win of the season in a 4-2 Sox victory over the Orioles. The O's made it interesting in the late innings though. In the eighth, they had runners on second and third with no outs before Garland got Luis Matos to ground out, Matt Thornton induced Brian Roberts to do the same, and Bobby Jenks finished off the Birds by striking out pinch-hitter Javy Lopez on four pitches -- the first three registering 98 mph and the last one reaching 100 mph. Jenks got himself in trouble in the ninth (maybe because he's not used to coming into the game before then) by allowing a run on three straight hits. But Bad Bobby garnered his league-leading 26th save by striking out the next three batters, using an assortment of breaking balls. Nice to have a wicked curve and slider to go along with his kind of heat. Offensively, the Sox scored early and often, sending 10 men to the plate and tallying four runs (the minimum number of runs you can score with 10 batters in an inning). It's a good thing too, since Baltimore shut out the Good Guys the rest of the way.

With the win, the Sox kept pace with the Tigers, who finally defeated Oakland behind Kenny Rogers who has a 24-4 lifetime record in the A's home stadium -- the third-best career winning percentage at one park in major league history (for a minimum number of games that I forget right now). Detroit's lead remains 1.5 games; the Sox Magic Number shrinks to 80. There's one more game with the Orioles before the Bosox come to town to finish up the pre-All-Star Game part of the season. Let's hope for a better finish than last year when the A's swept a three-game set against the Sox just before the break. Go Sox!

Wednesday, July 5, 2006


Yes Way Jose Contreras notched his 17th consecutive win without a loss (over the last two seasons) yesterday as the Sox trounced the Baltimore Orioles, 13-0. Contreras, reaching 95 mph on his fast ball (or speedball as Bruce Springsteen calls it in "Glory Days"), scattered six hits over 6.2 innings, striking out three and walking none in the process. Neal Cotts and David Riske chipped in 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Contreras received all the offensive support that Freddy Garcia didn't the night before as the Sox racked up 18 hits. Every Sox batter got at least one, including subs Ross Gload and Rob Mackowiak (who replaced Joe Crede after Crede bruised his left heel). The hit parade did not include Tadahito Iguchi, who sat out after spraining his left ankle in a collision with Jermaine Dye on Monday night.

The win, combined with Detroit's extra-inning loss to Oakland (thanks again to Frank Thomas and the rest of the A's) allowed the Sox to climb within 1.5 games of the Tigers and to cut their Magic Number to 81.

By the way, Ozzie must be reading the Updates. According to The Tribune, Guillen expressed the same concern that we had about Garcia's indifference towards potenial base stealers. As Ozzie said: "He has to do a better job of holding the runners ...." Remember, you read it here first. Go Sox!

Tuesday, July 4, 2006


Well, that was pretty ugly. Freddy Garcia looked good only in comparison to Mark Buehrle's debacle the day before. Garcia pitched poorly and received no help either in the field or at the plate. You know it's bad when the Sox have more errors (3) than hits (2). While Freddy has shown he can win even when he receives a minimal offensive contribution (the game where Jim Thome's home run was the only Sox hit of the game), he couldn't do it yesterday the way he was pitching. (By the way, does Freddy even think about holding runners on? It looked like he wasn't looking at the Oriole baserunners.)

It didn't happen yesterday, but outhitting the opposition is an almost automatic indicator of a Sox win, with the team posting a 35-4 mark (.897 winning percentage) when doing so. It's not nearly that lopsided when the other team outhits the Sox -- 23-12, only a .657 percentage -- so it's not like everyone else is doing the same thing. Jumping out to a lead on Dye's home run was a good sign -- they're 45-19 (.703 percentage) when they hit a homer and 31-13 (.705) when they score first -- just not good enough.

The only good news for the day was that the A's beat the Tigers, as Nate Robertson became the first Bengal starter to lose a game since June 7. As a result, the Sox remained 2.5 games behind Detroit and picked up a game on them in the Magic Number department. It's down to 83.

Finally, Ozzie is taking some grief for his All-Star selections, but some of the six Sox players (Contreras, Buehrle, Jenks, Thome, Konerko, and Dye) on the squad were selected by the players, and all of them have legit All-Star credentials. I'm okay with Oz choosing his own guys, and besides, we've been screwed by other managers doing the same thing in the past. It's about time that things evened out a bit. Go Sox!

Monday, July 3, 2006

Why are my posts signed Sherm Lollar?
It goes back to 1956. My uncle, Manny Opper, had a TV show where he conducted funny interviews with Sox and Cubs players. Uncle Manny and Sherm became buddies and my love for the Sox was born. When we won the pennant in 1959, I was on cloud nine. Little did I know that it would take 46 years for that to happen again. Somehow, last year seems to have made it worth the wait.

Why keep track of the Magic Number this early in the season?
In April 2005, The Chicago Tribune online edition published my guest column, which as a joke indicating how great a start the Sox had gotten off to, asked "So what's the White Sox Magic Number?" At the time it was 141. From the time it was published, I started emailing my Sox fan friends Bob and Les updates on the Magic Number. The content expanded to include commentary on the games and the season, and the list of email addressees expanded to include so many that my computer warns me that the Update email might be a worm. (Don't worry, it's not.)

How do you calculate the Magic Number?
It involves very complicated math formulas and computers with industrial-strength capacity so don't try this at home. Remember, I am a trained stunt math whiz. But seriously, folks, you just start with 162 (the number of games), subtract the number of Sox wins, subtract the number of other team losses, and add one (to break the tie). For example, today's number vis-a-vis the Tigers is 84 -- 162 - 53 Sox wins - 26 Tiger losses + 1 = 84.

Why am I asking myself questions that my current Update readers already know the answers to?
On the fanciful notion that someone outside the current addressee list will stumble on the blog while searching for info about the Sox.

The Sox won their third straight Meat Loaf series (Two Outta Three Ain't Bad), beating the Cubs easily on Friday, ripping their hearts out on a ninth-inning, three-run, come-from-behind homer by A.J. on Saturday, and making it interesting but ultimately losing on Sunday. This followed Meat Loafs (or is that Meat Loaves?) over Pittsburgh and Houston in the previous two series, three others in June over Texas, Cleveland, and Detroit, and three others before that over the Cubs, KC, and Toronto.

I'd be happy to Meat Loaf through the rest of the season. Winning two out of every three games would give the Sox 54 more victories for a season total of 107, and no team has ever won that many games and not finished in first place during the regular season. Or, if the Sox just win two out of three in every remaining three-game series (there are 20 left), win the make-up game against the Angels (to give them two wins in the series that was supposed to have been three games but was rained out in the finale), and play .500 ball in the four-game series, they'll win a franchise record 104 games. So winning two outta three truly ain't bad.

The weekend's games leave the Sox 2.5 back of the Tigers, who are actually playing better than two-outta-three ball on the year. The Magic Number is down to 84 over the Tigers and 59 over the Cubs. By the way, this'll be the last mention of the Paper Boys until we get within 10 of eliminating them, or they fire Dusty, or something else noteworthy happens like Wrigley Field being condemned. (To the anonymous Update reader who asked why I call them the Paper Boys, remember the team is owned by the Tribune Company and the name seems demeaning.) It's not a boycott; they're just not Update-worthy.