Monday, July 30, 2007


The White Sox meat loafed the Blue Jays over the weekend, taking the first two and losing the finale. (It's been so long since the Update has been able to use that phrase that we'd better remind you it means taking two out of three, as in Meat Loaf's song "Two Outta Three Ain't Bad.") Garland and Buehrle pitched beauties and Vazquez was working on one until the wheels fell off in the eighth inning on Sunday. But for Jermaine Dye's home run (could it be his last as a White Sox?), there was no offense to save Javy, and the Jays left town with the win.
Detroit continued to lose, so the Sox picked up two more games on the Tigers and sliced the Magic Number to 71. Detroit's lead is now at 12.5 games. That means the Sox need to average a two-game pick up on the Tigers every nine games to draw even. But even if they do that, the Indians and the Twins are still ahead of them. It's not that it can't be done, it's just so damn hard. Especially when the Sox play 42 of their remaining 57 games against teams with winning records, the worst of which is Minnesota. And even more especially since the Sox seem to be using the rest of the season to determine whether some of their young guys can play.
Danny Richar was promoted from Charlotte to play second base after the Sox made room for him by dumping Tadahito Iguchi for almost nothing. The Phillies had need of a second baseman when Chase Utley went down, but you wouldn't know they were desperate from what they gave up -- Michael Dubee, who has a 4-4 record and 3.88 ERA as a reliever in A ball. Not exactly the steal of the century. We'll have to wait until the non-waiver trading deadline tomorrow to see who else departs. Dye, Vazquez, Jon Garland, and Jose Contreras (although the latter's lousy pitching of late has really reduced his trade value) are all rumored to be on the block. Unlikely the Sox get rid of more than one pitcher, but we all know Kenny likes to deal. Buckle your seat belts until this deadline passes 'cause it could be a wild ride.
A nice touch over the weekend was the warm welcome the Sox fans gave Frank Thomas. The Big Hurt didn't hurt us much, but the Update was actually rooting for him to rip one his last at bat on Sunday when the game appeared out of reach for Our Guys. That would have made the loss a little more enjoyable, but it didn't happen. Off day today, so save the Go Sox for tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2007


We've heard of a walk-off home run, but a walk-off sacrifice bunt? That's what happened last night. Scott Podsednik singled (his second hit of the night, but only the fourth for the team). Josh Fields, who earlier with Pods on first, had -- on his own -- tried bunting him along but failed, laid down a good one that the Tiger pitcher bobbled and then threw away while attempting to nail Fields at first. When the ball got loose, Pods tore around the bases and just beat the throw to the plate with a nice slide. Sox win 4-3!
Jon Danks contributed a quality start -- 6.2 innings, six hits, three runs, two walks, and five Ks. The bullpen -- Wassserman and Jenks -- gave up no hits or runs and Jenks, pitching in a non-save situation, was the beneficiary of the run in the ninth to give him his third W of the season. The lesson to be learned from last night: Speed kills.
The win allowed the Sox to take the series from the Tigers 3-2. It chopped the Magic Number to 76 and Detroit's lead to 14.5 games. It was the first series that the Sox have won at home in more than two months -- a stretch of eight series. it moved the Good Guys to within two games of Baltimore in the imaginary A.L. Worst division, tied with Texas and 1.5 games in front of KC. We still have a shot at an imaginary division title and playoff spot. Go Sox!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Open Letter to My Young Friend Alex
Dear Alex:
I heard that you're having doubts about being a White Sox fan. It's a natural thing to do. We've all had them over the years. But it's something you just have to fight through. You didn't turn your back on the Dragons when they lost in the playoffs this year, did you? And you don't give up on your Mom and Dad if they do something dorky (which I'm sure they do on a daily basis) do you? That's what being part of a team and a family, in other words, loyalty, is all about. You'll be a better person for having stuck with something through thick and thin.
Sure, it seems easy to be a Cubs fan when you live in the North suburbs; I know that from my own personal experience. But trust me, the Cubs will break your heart more than the Sox will. True baseball fans pick a team and stick with it. You've done the first part, now do the second. You've cast your lot with the Sox, so stand up to the Cubs fans around you and be proud of the choice you've made.
Yours in Sox fandom,

The White Sox had their largest single-day reduction in the Magic Number of the season yesterday, by sweeping a day-night doubleheader from the first-place Tigers. The two wins dropped the Magic Number to 78 and allowed the Sox to stay within 14.5 of Detroit and to move ahead of fifth-place KC.
The first game featured a strong performance by Javier Vazquez (eight innings, four hits, three runs, eight Ks) -- his fifth consecutive win in his last five decisions. Javy has not been an Update favorite in the past because of his inability to get through a lineup the third time in a game, but he seems to have solved that problem. So we're jumping on the Javy bandwagon and must give props to Mike Sehr, who defended him when the Update was critical. The opener also included the continued resurrection of Paulie Konerko, who hit his 22nd home run, a dinger by Josh Fields, his seventh, and a 3 for 3 game by Jim Thome.
The nightcap was a different story. Kenny Williams had better hope that Gio Gonzalez is the real deal, because Gavin Floyd, the other pitcher he got in the Freddie Garcia trade, clearly is not. Floyd got clobbered again, but maybe it was another promotion with 7-11 since he gave up seven runs and 11 hits in the 4.2 innings that Ozzie left him in. Surprisingly, the Sox bullpen came through for him, holding the Tigers in check -- no runs, three hits in 4.1 innings -- while the Sox offense overcame a 7-1 lead to win 8-7. Thome continued his hot hand, smashing a three-run homer (his 17th), and Rob Mackowiak went yard with his 6th blast.
Bobby Jenks saved both games, racking up his 27th and 28th saves of the season. That gives him saves in 62.2% of the games the Sox have won, the highest percentage in baseball this year. That may just mean that the Sox aren't good enough to win many games by a lot of runs (non-save situations) or it may just show how valuable Jenks really is. Go Sox!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Things have gone from bad to worse. After dropping three games to the Bosox over the weekend, the White Sox are tied for last place in the division with the Kansas City Royals. How pathethic is that? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Sox were in last place this late in the season was the final day of the 1989 season. The Update doesn't understand. This is not that different of a team from the one that won 90 games last year. True, there have been some trades, but the core of the roster is mostly the same as 2006-- Pierzynski, Konerko, Iguchi, Uribe, Crede (yeah, he's missed a lot of games, but the team wasn't doing that well while he was in there), Podsednik (same), Dye, Thome, Buehrle, Garland, Contreras, Vazquez, and Jenks. Well, maybe the injuries to Pods, Crede, and even Pablo Ozuna have made a big difference, and of course, the bullpen is largely new. Whatever it is, it isn't pretty, and it seems unlikely we'll get to see how this same bunch does next season. Even Ozzie may not be safe.
The Sox are now 15.5 games out of first, with a Magic Number of 82. Far more important at this point is that their elimination number (Detroit's Magic Number vis-a-vis the Sox) is only 51. Even the most cockeyed optimist does not think that the Sox can make a run at the post-season. The question is can they get over .500? They'd have to play .600 ball the rest of the season to reach a winning record, and nothing we've seen to date suggests that they're good enough to win three out of every five games they play. Go Sox!

Friday, July 20, 2007


A one hour and 56 minute rain delay meant that the Update couldn't stay up to watch the end of the White Sox-Red Sox game last night. We went to bed with the Pale Hose leading by two going into the eighth and with no confidence that they'd hang on to win, but that's exactly what they did: Chicago 4, Boston 2. A.J. Pierzynski went 3 for 4 with three RBI, and Paul Konerko lined a ball into the last row of the Green Monster seats for his 21st home run of the season and his 13th in the last 35 games. Javier Vazquez pitched 6.1 innings of two-run ball, was not betrayed by the bullpen, and earned his fourth win in his last four decisions. Matt Thornton allowed one hit, but Ryan Bukvich (we always think Rudy Bukich when we see his name) pitched out the jam, with the help of a fine catch at the wall in deep center by Jerry Owens. Bobby Jenks threw a scoreless, hitless ninth to notch his 26th save.
The Sox win -- their third in their last four games -- cut the Magic Number to 84. Unfortunately, Detroit and Cleveland keep winning, so the Sox remain 15.5 games back of the Tigers, and 13.5 games behind the Tribe for the Wild Card berth. The Sox did stretch their lead in the imaginary A.L. Worst division to a full game over the Orioles, so they've got a good shot at making the imaginary post-season. Imagine that. Go Sox!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


ROI. The White Sox's ROI, or return on investment, in Mark Buehrle figures to pretty high. Last night the lefty won his seventh game of the season by allowing only one run in 6.1 innings (109 pitches) before handing over the ball -- no doubt nervously -- to the bullpen. But this time, the pen came through with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. Matt Thornton needed only four pitches to get two outs. Charlie Haeger flutterballed his way through the last two innings while giving up only a hit and a walk. The offense gave Buehrle a bit more than his usual level of support, led by the red-hot Paul Konerko, who smashed his 20th home run of the season. Konerko, who was having trouble for a long time getting over the .200 mark has raised his average to .270, with a surge since June 1 that would rank him among the league leaders.
Back to Buehrle, though. The Update looked at all of his starts this year to see what went on when he lost or there was no decision. In his five losses, Buehrle gave up two earned runs three times, three earned runs once, and five earned runs one time. In all of those games, he went at least six innings. Even average support at bat and in the field in those games would have meant four more wins. As for the seven games in which he didn't earn a decision, three times he left with the game tied and one time with a four-run lead. Again, more wins left on the table. He's made 15 quality starts, including the last eight in a row. Any question that this guy's a keeper?
The win cuts the Magic Number to 85 and keeps the Sox 14.5 games behind Detroit in the A.L. Central race. In the imaginary A.L. Worst division, the Sox retook first place over Baltimore by a half game. Their Magic Number in that race is 69, Dude! (See Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.) Go Sox!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

86 (Day Two)

The Update is officially disgusted. The White Sox bullpen blew another one last night. Closer Bobby Jenks, who pitches better when he hasn't been in the game the night before, blew his fifth save of the season and his third in the last seven games. Jenks allowed a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to rob Jon Garland of a well-deserved win. Garland threw 122 pitches, the most by a Sox pitcher this season -- a clear indication that Ozzie was afraid to call on a reliever unless he absolutely had to do so. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, another recent call-up from Charlotte, did throw two innings of scoreless relief, although he needed a good catch and throw by Jermaine Dye to keep it that way. You can't blame Oz for bringing in Jenks to pitch the ninth. He's the closer that's on the roster. He just didn't get it done. And Dewon Day didn't either, giving up the winning run in the 11th inning for his first career loss. The way he pitched, it won't be his last -- unless he's permanently sent to the minors. The reasonable offense -- five runs, 10 hits, including three by Jim Thome and a homer by Dye, who's on a tear -- was wasted.
The Update wonders: If we feel this bad, how must the team feel? We know they make millions, but they still have to take all of this to heart and be hurting. It's not that they don't seem to be trying; it's that they don't seem to be that good. Anyway, the Magic Number hasn't changed from yesterday's 86, but the Sox fell another game behind Detroit (14.5) and allowed KC to draw another game closer (1.5 games behind the Sox). The loss also dropped them into second place in the fantasy A.L. Worst division (see yesterday's post), a half-game behind the Orioles. Go Sox!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Boy, that was ugly. The White Sox almost blew a nine-run lead, but hung on to win 11-10 last night in Cleveland. John Danks was sailing along in an 11-2 ball game when he gave up a three-run homer that prompted Ozzie to call in the bullpen. Recent history has taught us that no lead is safe when the Sox relievers enter the game, and yesterday's game tested the limits of that theory. Nick Masset, who was sent down to Charlotte after the game, Matt Thornton, Ryan Bukvich, and Boone Logan couldn't put out the fire and it took Dewon Day and Bobby Jenks (25th save) to nail down what should have been an easy victory. A 15-hit performance by the offense, including a nine-run sixth inning, turned out to be just enough for the win.
Perhaps the Update should not have been surprised. Given Cleveland's MLB-best home record and the White Sox's sub-.500 road record, the Good Guys had only a 27% chance of putting a W on the board (according to the Bill James log5 method of calculating these things). Last night's result improves the chances slightly, but the Indians are still heavy favorites to hand the Sox another defeat. Despite the odds, however, the Sox did win, reducing their Magic Number to 86 and keeping them 13.5 games behind Detroit.
The Update believes there is only one solution to the Sox's problems -- realignment. Instead of playing in a division with heavyweights Detroit and Cleveland and the always-tough Twins, the Sox need to be in a division with the Orioles, Rangers, Royals, and Devil Rays. It might have to be called the A.L. Least or the A.L. Worst, but the Sox would lead Baltimore by 0.5 games, Texas by 1.5, KC by 2.5 and Tampa Bay by 6.0. Bud Selig are you listening? Probably not, so we'd better just close by saying "Go Sox!"

Monday, July 16, 2007


"Slip slidin' away. Slip slidin' away. You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away." Paul Simon must have been talking about the White Sox when he wrote those lyrics. After tuning things around a bit and positioning itself to make some sort of run to get back in the race, the team implodes. The Update doesn't even want to talk about the details -- it's too painful to think about blowing four-run leads in the bottom of the ninth against the lowly Orioles like the Good Guys did on Saturday. The Sox are now 14 games out, with a Magic Number of 87, and heading into Cleveland (the team with the best home record in baseball) for a series they almost have to sweep. Since the Update opened with song lyrics, we'll close with them too. Think Elvis Presley just back from the Army: "It's now or never!"

Friday, July 13, 2007


The only good news about the White Sox's first-half performance is that the team is well rested after the All-Star break. Unlike last year when it seemed like half the team was involved with the game, this season only Bobby Jenks was there -- and he didn't play. Well, the rest seemed to do some good as the Sox offense exploded for nine runs and 15 hits. Every starter except Juan Uribe had at least one base knock and the middle of the order was particularly productive. Nos. 3-5 batters, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and A.J. Pierzyski, each had two hits and an RBI, with Thome cracking his 15th homer of the season and 487th of his career (barring injury, he should make 500 this year; 13 more dingers in 2.5 months is certainly doable). Nos. 6 and 7, Jermaine Dye and Rob Mackowiak, each collected three hits and two RBIs, with Dye popping his 13th homer of the year and finally going into attack mode at the plate.
All of this inured to Jon Garland's benefit. Garland garnered (alliteration, as always, appreciated) his seventh win (against six losses) by throwing seven innings of two-run, eight-hit, two-walk ball. The leaky sieve of a bullpen, however, did its best to fritter away the seven-run lead that Garland handed them. Matt Thornton, one inning, no runs, three Ks, and Jenks, one batter, one pitch, one save (his 24th) are guilty only by association with Dewon Day and Boone Logan, the real culprits. In the ninth, Day gave up four hits in a row and four runs, and Logan gave up two hits and a run, providing the Orioles hope for the game and the rest of the series.
With the win and Detroit's loss, the Sox sliced the Magic Number to 88 and the Tigers' lead to 12 games. The win was the third in a row and the 11th out of the last 16. If the team wins 11 out of the next 16, however, it'll still be two games under .500. To reach that goal by the end of the month, the Sox will have to go 13-5. It may be a tough order to fill because of whom we play -- after the O's, there are the Indians, Red Sox, Tigers, Jays and Yankees. But if the Sox are to make anything of this season, they have to start now. Go Sox!

Sunday, July 8, 2007


So I'm looking at the crawl on ESPN on Friday, and I see Minnesota 20, Chicago 14, and I'm thinking "Damn, the Bears lost, but at least they blocked the extra point on one of the touchdowns." Then I remembered, it's not football season yet, so this must be one offensive (in more ways than one) baseball game. The Sox scored their season high in runs and still lost. What was going on at the Cell? I even checked the wind, and it was blowing in! Then in the nightcap, the Vikings kicked four field goals, er, the Twins scored 12 runs, and shut out the previously potent White Sox. Looks like Gavin Floyd is not the answer after all. But just when I'm prepared for more disaster, the weekend takes a big turn for the better.
Mark Buehrle pitches a masterpiece and the Sox hold the Twins, who scored 32 runs on Friday to one (it's the loneliest number) man crossing the plate. Better yet, the Sox announce that they've reached an agreement extending Buehrle's contract by four years at $14 million per year (say "million" like Dr. Evil does, it sounds better that way) and give him his limited no-trade clause. It's hard to believe that Jerry and Kenny gave in on that, but the Update is glad they did. It was the right thing to do. C'mon, he's durable, eats a lot of innings, and is good to boot. Not many pitchers could be 6-4 with this club behind them. He easily could be 9-3 or even better, with stronger relief pitching. To top off the weekend, Javier Vazquez and the boys tamed the Twins on Sunday. Jav pitched a complete game and Thome and Konerko hit back to back homers.
Now it's on to the All-Star break. The Sox are 13 games back of Detroit, with a Magic Number of 90. The good news is they have 25 games left with the Tigers and the Indians, so there's a chance to catch up. Go Sox!

Friday, July 6, 2007


John Danks has pitched well enough to win several games, but lost them due to lack of run support. Last night, he pitched poorly enough to lose, but cruised to victory on the strength of the White Sox's biggest scoring binge of the season, 11 runs. The entire team contributed, with every starter getting at least one hit. Tadahito Iguchi came within a single of hitting for the cycle, but drew a walk in his final at bat. Jermaine Dye ended a home run drought by bashing his 12th homer of the year. All of this allowed the Sox to salvage a split of the series with the lowly Orioles (of course, we've been pretty "lowly" ourselves) and earn their eighth win in the last 11 games. The Sox remain 12.5 games behind in the A.L. Central race, and now must face the always tough-for-us Minnesota Twins. The Magic Number is at 92, but not dropping fast enough.
On the personnel front, Gavin Floyd is going to start one of the games against the Twinkies this series. Floyd won his last six decisions in Charlotte and has a 7-3 record with 3.10 ERA. He also averages 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings, which means he averages 2.48 whiffs per earned run -- a totally meaningless stat that the Update just dreamed up. Hopefully, Floyd, who was the key man in the trade for Freddy Garcia, will continue his minor league success and justify Kenny Williams faith in him. Kenny says more personnel moves are on the way, and the Update hopes that Mark Buehrle being traded isn't one of them. We strongly believe that Buehrle's home-town discount merits a no-trade clause. Hell, he's going to have one soon anyway if he stays with the Sox. It's not that long before he's a player with 10 years service, the last five with the same team -- the so-called Santo Clause (because Ron Santo was the first player to invoke it to block a trade. He didn't want to leave Chicago and wound up coming to the Sox for a brief tenure). So our tag line today is a little different: Go Sox, sign Buehrle!

Sunday, July 1, 2007


It wasn't another sweep, but it was the next best thing as the White Sox took two out of three from the Royals over the weekend. They dropped the opener as a result of a poor outing by Jose Contreras, while winning the next two on the strength of outstanding starting pitching by John Danks and Jon Garland and scoreless relief pitching, including Bobby Jenks's 21st and 22nd saves. On the offensive side of the ledger, there wasn't a whole lot of good things, but Paul Konerko got back on track with a double and homer in the finale (after going hitless in the first two games).
The Sox are 12.5 games out, but at least the Magic Number continues to drop -- it's now down to 96. The Update has noticed that the Sox and the Tigers (the current Wild Card team) have very similar records against the American League. Against the A.L. East, both teams are one game over .500; against the Central, they're both right at .500; and against the West, Detroit is two games to the good, while the Sox are one game on the plus side. In all, the Tigers would be only a half game ahead of the Good Guys but for Interleague play. In games against the N.L., Detroit is 10 games over the break-even mark, while the Sox are 10 games below water. The Interleague success of the last two seasons is what separates us from the Tigers this year.
Final comment: If Kenny Williams expects to get a home-town discount from Mark Buehrle, he needs to give Buehrle the no-trade clause he wants. Taking less to stay in Chicago means that Buehrle should have some guarantee he's actually going to stay in Chicago. Not that the Update wants to see it happen, but, otherwise, Buehrle should test the free agent market and get full value for his services. Get it done, Kenny. Go Sox!