Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 Central Division Champions

We started the Magic Number countdown at 163 and it took 162 regularly scheduled games plus one tiebreaker to get it down to zero, but that's exactly what the White Sox did Monday night by beating the Minnesota Twins 1-0. John Danks, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Jim Thome were the stars of the game. Danks, pitching on short rest for the first time, threw eight innings of shutout ball, giving up only two hits. Junior made a two-hop throw that A.J. Pierzynski fielded on the short hop and blocked the plate to nail Michael Cudduyer. Thome blasted his 34th home run of the season and 541st of his career 461 feet to the deepest part of the park in center field to provide the winning margin. That's the short version. Here's the inning-by-inning synopsis.

  • Pregame: There's a trivia question that says the day before and after the All-Star Game are the only days of the year when no MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL game is scheduled. Well, but for this tiebreaker, the same would have been true on Tuesday.... Monday night, Peter Gammons and John Kruk on Baseball Tonight both picked the Sox to win.... The Sox called for a "blackout," asking the fans to wear black -- and a full house complied-- but why didn't the Sox wear their black unis?

  • 1st inning: Denard Span walked and was ready to steal when Alexi Casilla hit a rocket to Juan Uribe, who threw to first to double off Span.... Danks struck out Joe Mauer, who was 8 for 12 against him before this game.... Orlando Cabrera got the Sox off to a good start with a line single to left, but ran his way into a double play, confirming our view that he's not a good baserunner.

  • 2nd inning: Danks sets the Twins down 1-2-3, including a strikeout of Justin Morneau.... Thome drew a walk. Paul Konerko just missed getting all of one, hitting a sky-high ball to the warning track. Junior struck out and Alexei Ramirez walked but was stranded along with Thome when A.J. grounded out to short.

  • 3rd inning: Danks walked Nick Punto but had no trouble otherwise.... The Sox went down 1-2-3 in their half of the inning.... Dick Stockton mentioned that the Sox and Cubs had not both made the post-season since the 1906 World Series, which the Cubs won. Cubs? C'mon, Dick, don't take away our bragging rights. The Sox won that Series as every Chicagoan knows.

  • 4th inning: Another 1-2-3 inning for Danks, this time on only nine pitches.... In between innings, I checked on the radio broadcast, and Steve Stone was back in the booth. Not exactly Sandy Koufax in the World Series, but Stone left early the night before because of Rosh Hashanah.... Jermaine Dye singled to left, and Thome had a great chance to move him along with the shift on -- why doesn't he just lay a bunt down the third base line? He didn't and wound up striking out. Konerko grounded into what should have been a DP, but the throw was high and Paulie was safe after hustling down to first. Griffey fouled out, causing me to wonder why it was that we traded for him.

  • 5th inning: Cudduyer doubled down the line, Delmon Young's fly ball to center moved him to third, and Brendan Harris's pop fly to center led to Griffey's great throw home. Now, I'm feeling bad for having questioned him last inning.... The Sox did nothing in their half of the inning.

  • 6th inning: After two outs, Danks walked Span again and looked like he was off. Boy, did I get that one wrong, as he came up big, striking out Casilla.... Again, nothing from the Sox.

  • 7th inning: Mauer tries to bunt his way on, but A.J. throws him out on a close play. Harold Reynolds, doing the game for TBS, pointed out that A.J.'s throw almost hit his catcher's mask that he had flipped off -- no, not that kind of flipped off. Danks deflected the next ball to Cabrera, who made a good play to nail Morneau at first. The Twins lasted only six pitches.... In the Sox seventh, Thome hit his bomb to center, which turned out to be the only run of the game. After Junior doubled, Brian Anderson pinch ran for him and stayed in to play center in the eighth. After an intentional walk to Ramirez, the Twins brought in Jose Majares, who retired A.J. and Uribe.

  • 8th inning: Young flied out to right. Harris singled to left and Matt Tolbert ran for him and stayed in the game to play third. Nick Punto hit into a 6-4-3 double play, featuring a nifty jump in the air pivot by Ramirez. Cabrera and Wise went down without a fight, and after ace closer Joe Nathan came in a bit earlier than usual, Dye singled to left. Thome flied out to left-center to end the threat.

  • 9th inning: Bobby Jenks came in to finish off the game, and Nick Swisher replaced Paulie at first.... Jason Kubel, pinch hitting for Gomez struck out on five pitches. Span grounded sharply to the just-inserted Swisher. Wonder if Konerko would have made the play. Another of Ozzie's moves worked out as B.A. made a diving catch in center to end the game.
Now, it's on to Tampa to play the Rays on Thursday afternoon. The fourth different opponent in five days. The Magic Number for the A.L.D.S. is 6. Go Sox!

Monday, September 29, 2008


The White Sox are on the verge of doing something that we suspect no team has done before -- playing four different teams in the space of five days. Cleveland on Sunday, Detroit on Monday, Minnesota on Tuesday, and if they beat the Twins, Tampa Bay on Thursday.
That's right. In case you were living in a cave, the Sox rallied to trounce the Tigers, 8-2, in the final regular season game -- a makeup of the September 13 game that was washed out by the single largest rainfall ever recorded in Chicago. Monday's game saw a little rain of its own. Actually, more than a little. Enough to delay the start of the game three hours and four minutes. But it was worth the wait.
Gavin Floyd, pitching on short rest (we should have a macro made of that phrase, we've been using it so much lately) gamely threw 118 pitches over six innings, allowing two runs -- only one of them earned -- while striking out eight Tigers. He pitched himself into and then out of a jam in the fifth inning, allowing a run to score on three hits, but shutting down Detroit after they had men on first and third with no outs. Floyd did throw wildly to first an inning later, which led to an unearned run that gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead, but wild pitches by Detroit's bullpen and Alexei Ramirez's fourth grand slam of the year allowed Gavin to improve his record to 17-8. The grand salami set a rookie record -- not so fast in handing that Rookie of the Year award to Evan Longoria -- and a White Sox team record with 12 in one season.
John Danks, pitching on short rest (where's that macro when we need it), will pitch the tiebreaker against Nick Blackburn of the Twins. The whole season comes down to one game. It's still win or go home, but at least the Sox are at home. They've beaten the Twins seven times in nine games at the Cell this season, so its almost as lopsided as the Twins' advantage over the Sox in the Metrodome. Let's hope that continues for one more game. Go Sox!
Tuesday is also the end of the line for Super Sox Fan, Les Reiter, who is calling it quits at CNA on September 30. We wish him the best in his Golden Years and hope that the Sox give him a nice retirement present. We hear that CNA will be retiring his desk code. Go Les!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


It's win or go home. After pulling off a 5-1 victory over Cleveland on Sunday, the Sox are in a sudden-death situation. They need to win their makeup game with the Tigers on Monday afternoon at the Cell to force a tie with the Twins. If that happens, then Minnesota invades for a one-game, winner-take-all playoff game on Tuesday at the Cell for the Central Division crown. The division winner gets a day off before traveling to Tampa for Thursday's opener of the American League Division Series with the Rays.
So how did we get here? Well, the Sox tanked on Friday and Saturday, hitting well but getting no pitching. Meanwhile, the Royals were playing spoiler at the Metrodome, unexpectedly winning on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was a different story for both contenders. The Twinkies blanked KC, and Mark Buehrle provided the pitching that had been lacking lately. (Fortunately for Buehrle, the Tribe scratched ace Cliff Lee, Sunday's scheduled starter. Lee finished 19 games over .500 for a team that subtracting his record was 19 games under .500. Nice break for Buehrle and the Sox.)
Buehrle, pitching on three days rest again, threw 111 pitches over seven innings (he threw 121 in his last start against Minnesota), yielding nine hits, but only one run. Buehrle erased five of those base runners with four double plays and a pickoff of Franklin Gutierrez. Matt Thornton and Bobby Jenks finished up, and for a change, the relievers shut down the opposition.
Paul Konerko hit his fourth home run of the Cleveland series and his 22nd of the season to tie the game at 1-1 in the second. Juan Uribe drove in a run on an error, Orlando Cabrera had one on a sac fly, and Jermaine Dye, who broke out of his recent slump over the weekend, plated a pair of teammates with a single to provde the other four runs.
Now the Sox face old friend Freddy Garcia, who gets the start for Detroit on Monday. The Update still likes the fact that the Tigers figured they'd be golfing by now and may not want to play this game. Jim Leyland is saying all the right things about wanting to be a spoiler, but he couldn't get the Bengals to play all year long, so why start now. (The Tigers will be spoilers even if they lose -- spoiling the Twins chances to win the division without a playoff on Tuesday.) It's up to Gavin Floyd, who will be pitching on three days rest again -- it didn't work well the last time -- to keep the season alive for the Sox. And not to get ahead of ourselves, but if the Sox manage to beat the Tigers and then the Twins, they will hold the distinction of playing four different teams in the space of five days. Go Sox!

Friday, September 26, 2008


I don't want to write about it, and you don't want to read about it, so let's keep this brief. The White Sox blew it last night. They had a 6-1 lead and let the Twins come back to win 7-6. Ozzie resorted to desperation tactics -- bringing Bobby Jenks in to protect a lead in the eighth inning and keeping him out there to pitch until he gave up the winning run in the tenth -- but it still didn't work. Gavin Floyd wasn't great, but he still should have walked away with the win, leaving with a 6-4 lead. There was some offense for a change, but the song remains the same. Three games in Minnesota. Three losses.
Speaking of songs, some Paul Simon lyrics keep running through my head: "You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away." That's exactly what the Sox have been doing since they got close to their "destination." Now they essentially need to win the rest of their games -- three with the Tribe and a makeup with the Tigers, if necessary. Sure, the Twins could lose some, but who wants to bet on KC (admittedly hot lately; 8-2 in their last 10 games) winning in the Metrodome? The Good Guys are 6-0 against Cleveland in the Cell this season, so they've got a shot, but in Sunday's game, they've got to face Cliff Lee. Quite simply, Lee's been the best pitcher in the game this season -- 22-3, with a 2.54 ERA, while pitching for a team that is 20 games below .500 without his record.
But first things first. Tonight the Sox have got to beat Scott Lewis, who is 3-0, 1.42. John Danks (11-8, 3.20) gets the call, and he's pitched well of late. But after that, it's TBA going for us, which may mean Vazquez and Buehrle on three days rest again. The loss of Jose Contreras has really come back to bite us. But it is what it is. If the Sox don't make the postseason, it'll be because they don't deserve to be there. As Paul Simon said: "God only knows. God makes his plan. The information's unavailable to the mortal man." Go Sox! Just win, baby!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The Magic Number remains at 5 as the White Sox lost the opener of a three-game set against the Twins in the Metrodome, 9-3. Javier Vazquez came up "little," or whatever the opposite of coming up big is, giving up five runs in only four innings on the mound. Good thing Javy got four days rest this time or he might have really pitched poorly. But Javy wasn't alone in stinking up the joint. Clayton Richard gave up two runs in two innings of relief, and Boone Logan topped (or bottomed?) that, allowing two runs in only one-third of an inning out of the bullpen. The Sox hitters fared no better, accumulating only six hits. The offense was so anemic, it didn't even leave that many men on base (4) because it didn't get that many men on base to begin with.
Let's face it. The Sox are not going to win many games when they score just three runs. As a matter of fact, they've won only 10 games all year when scoring three or fewer in a game -- none when they score zero (obviously) or one (not obvious, but not very surprising); four games when they score two runs; and six when they score three. The win totals shoot up when they score four or more: four runs, 11 wins; five runs, seven wins; six runs, 18 wins; seven runs, nine wins; eight runs, six wins; nine runs, eight wins; ten runs, six wins; 11 runs, three wins; 12 runs, one win; 13 runs, five wins; 15 runs, one win; and 16 runs, one win. That makes 17 times they have won a game with 10 or more runs -- what it would have taken to beat the Twins last night -- they just didn't come close last night. You may have noticed that the Sox have not won a game by scoring 14 runs in a game all season. Let's hope they fill in that blank in their record tonight or tomorrow.
Speaking of tonight and tomorrow, the Sox have the pitching edge in won-loss records and ERAs. They need to take advantage of that. The Good Guys still have a 1.5 game lead and the Twins Magic Number is 8, compared to our 5. We predicted the Sox would win one of these three games and ultimately win the division by beating Detroit on the day after the regular season ends for everyone else, so things are still on track for that.
Speaking of Magic Numbers, the Sox aren't the only one whose Magic Number is 5. Les Reiter has five more days of work left before he retires from CNA. (For those of you who thought Les retired a long time ago, well ....) Les and Bob Koza were the first recipients of The Update back on May 3, 2005, when it just an email. The Magic Number that day was down to 134 after the Sox won and the Twins lost. And we all know what happened that season. Let's hope that's an omen for tonight and the post-season. Go Sox! Go Les!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


As The Update predicted, the White Sox took two out of three from the Royals over the weekend. (By the way, Mike and Mike were yukking it up over Rays' manager, Joe Maddon, using the term "meat loaf" to mean taking two outta three; loyal readers know we've been using that term for years.) The Twins won one another from Tampa Bay (they also won on Thursday). So the Magic Number is down to five, and the lead is at 2.5 games.
And now the fun begins. The Sox and Twins face off in the Metrodome on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We need to win at least one, which is no easy feat. The Sox are 1-5 in Minnesota for the season, and historically have sucked there. At least, all of the Sox pitchers will be going on the normal four days rest. The pitching matchups are Javier Vazquez (12-14; 4.32 ERA) vs. Scott Baker (9-4; 3.69); Mark Buehrle (14-11; 3.87) vs. Nick Blackburn (10-10; 4.15); and Gavin Floyd (16-8;3.84) vs. Kevin Slowey (12-11; 3.85). The numbers suggest the Sox have the edge in the last two games, but we're sticking with our earlier prediction that the Twins meat loaf the Sox (take that, Joe Maddon).
That means the Sox will head back to the Cell with a 1.5 game lead and a Magic Number of 3 and will have three games to get those wins against the Tribe, against whom they've amassed a 6-0 record at home, or in the makeup game with the Tigers at home, if necessary. (Should it come to that, we like facing a team that has nothing to play for and thought it was done for the season.) Minnesota meanwhile will entertain the Royals, whom we still predict will get swept. It would be great if KC could do to them what it did to us -- win at least one game. This is all too close for comfort. Go Sox!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We predicted that the White Sox would win only one game in the four game series with the Yankees, but we had no idea that they'd be this bad in the losses. Last night, they jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but proceeded to give it right back with poor pitching and defense that their anemic attack could not overcome. It all added up to a 9-2 shellacking in their last game ever at Yankee Stadium.
Ozzie's plan to have Javier Vazquez pitch on three days rest in order to set up the rotation for the series against the Twins unraveled quickly. Sox fans can only hope that the same thing doesn't happen to Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd, who also are starting on short rest in the series at KC. (The Royals, by the way, have won seven in a row, so our prediction of taking two out of three is in jeopardy.) The off day next Monday will put everyone back on a normal schedule, at least until the Cleveland series.
Minnesota, on the other hand, scored five runs in the ninth to steal a win against Tampa Bay, who is normally invincible at home. (Why isn't "vincible" a word?) We forecast them winning one game versus the Rays, so let's hope that was it. By winning, the Twins cut the lead to 1.5 games and left the Magic Number at 9. The Good Guys need to turn things around. Go Sox!

The White Sox haven't won a game all year when they score only one run, and last night was no exception. They fell to the Yankees, 5-1, wasting a good pitching performance by Clayton Richard. The rookie lasted 6.2 innings and gave up only two runs, the second of which scored on a wild pitch by reliever Mike MacDougal. Scott Linebrink, whom Ozzie has installed as the eighth inning setup man, yielded three runs in his inning of relief, giving up home runs to Johnny Damon and A-Rod. The bullpen continues to be a weak link, although the truth is the Sox aren't going to win when the offense goes to sleep like it did last night.
Good thing Cleveland's offense was awake. It rallied to overtake the Twins and complete the sweep. Minnesota's loss chops the Magic Number to 9 and preserves the Sox's 2.5 game lead in the Central Division.
Tonight, Javier Vazquez, pitching on three days rest, faces Mike Mussina as the Sox make their final appearance ever in Yankee Stadium. The Update predicted only one victory for this series, and while we'd happily be proven wrong, we don't think it's going to happen. Fortunately, the Twins head down to Tampa to square off against the Rays, who are in their own dogfight for a division crown. That's a tough place for a visiting team to win. Let's hope it continues to be that way and that the Rays take at least two out of three. Go Rays! Go Sox!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


For the ninth time this season, Gavin Floyd notched a win following a White Sox loss. Floyd earned his 16th win (against only seven losses) by throwing seven innings of two-run ball, yielding nine hits and no walks, and striking out four in a 6-2 victory over the Yankees. The key play was a fifth-inning, 12-pitch, bases-loaded strikeout of Jason Giambi, who had narrowly missed a grand slam a few pitches earlier. Matt Thornton and Bobby Jenks (again pitching in a non-save situation) preserved the win with an inning each of scoreless relief.
The offense was in high gear, with every starter except Jerry Owens garnering a hit. Juan Uribe had three (increasing his batting average to .258), Paul Konerko contributed two (raising his average to .247), and Alexei Ramirez smashed his 18th home run. All told, the Sox had 12 hits and improved their winning percentage when outhitting the opposition to .827 and when scoring more than three runs to .815.
While all this was going on in Yankee Stadium -- by the way, last night, Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig for most hits ever in that park -- the Twins lost a wild one in Cleveland. After trailing by seven runs, they came back to take a 9-8 lead in the eighth inning. The Indians rallied in the bottom half of the frame to tie it up and won it in the 11th on a three-run walkoff home run off Joe Nathan, the first game-ending homer he's ever given up.
Minnesota's loss and the Good Guys' win reduced the Magic Number to 10 and increased the division lead to 2.5 games. The Twinkies face Cliff Lee tonight, so the Tribe has a good shot at helping the Sox out again. We, on the other hand, have Clayton Richard pitching, so we may need the help. At least Ozzie has set up his rotation so that Vazquez, Buehrle, and Floyd will face the Twins in Minnesota next week. Go Sox!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The White Sox failed to take advantage of a Quality Start by Mark Buehrle last night, when the bullpen gave up two runs to the Yankees in a 4-2 loss. It's a story we're becoming all too familiar with. Starter pitches well, or at least well enough, and relievers pour gasoline on the fire. The Sox were able to get away with it twice on Sunday, but it caught up to them yesterday in the Bronx. The only good news is that Minnesota lost again, to the Indians in Cleveland, so the Magic Number drops to 12 and the lead stays at 1.5 games.
So how's this thing going to wind up? Our crystal ball says the Sox win one in New York, two in KC, one in Minnesota, and two at home against the Indians. The Twins will win one at Cleveland and one in Tampa, and take two from the Sox and sweep the Royals at home. That leaves both teams with 89 wins, so the Sox will be forced to make up the rainout with Detroit. And they'll win it to avoid having to play the Twins in a playoff. Let's hope the baseball gods agree. Go Sox!

Monday, September 15, 2008


First things first. The cute little guy on the left is the reason The Update hasn't published in a while. Evan Winsor Hadden was born on September 8, 2008, and his grandmother and I took off for Chicago to visit him and his parents. We've been totally preoccupied ever since, and everyday things, like writing about the White Sox, have taken a back seat. But now, we're back and resuming our normal lives, so let's talk Sox.

After being rained out on Friday and Saturday, the Sox swept a doubleheader from the Tigers on Sunday. They tried to give both games away, but couldn't quite manage it. In the opener, Javier Vazquez pitched a beauty, blanking Detroit for 7.2 innings. Bobby Jenks came in to mop up a 4-0 game in the ninth, but wound up giving up two runs on a home run. Jenks doesn't pitch well with a lead like that, and Sunday was no exception. Once the margin shrunk to 4-2, he bore down and closed out the Bengals. In the nightcap, the Sox jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the bullpen gave away all of it -- the last four runs on a grand slam -- and pinch-hitter DeWayne Wise smacked a grand slam of his own to put the Good Guys back on top, 11-7.

The win, combined with Minnesota's loss to the recently hapless Orioles -- the last good ball they played was against the Sox -- cut the Magic Number to 13 and increased our division lead to 1.5 games. The Sox are scheduled to play four in New York starting tonight -- we say scheduled because the record rains that drenched Chicago over the weekend have moved East -- then three in KC, before taking on the Twins in the Metrodome (where the Sox are 1-6 this year). We finish the season by entertaining the Indians at the Cell, and then there's that little matter of making up the rained out game with Detroit. Hopefully, it won' t be necessary -- for a good reason. The Piranhas meanwhile play three at Cleveland and then four at Tampa Bay before the Sox visit them. They finish up with three at home against KC. So we have pretty similar schedules: we each play three against the Indians, the Royals, and each other, and our four games at New York are nicely countered by their four in Tampa -- plus our make up Detroit. Buckle your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Go Sox!

Friday, September 5, 2008

22 (7*)

Thank you, Blue Jays, but if you don't mind, we're going to stop rooting for you now. The Jays finished off their sweep of the Twins yesterday, causing Minnesota to fall 1.5 games behind the White Sox and the Magic Number to drop to 22. Now, both the Sox and Twinkies head home, where they have outstanding records. The task facing the Good Guys is more daunting than the one confronting the Piranhas. We're up against the Angels, who have the best road record in baseball at 42-26. They play the Tigers, who are 31-38 away from Comerica.
It's up to Mark Buehrle (11-11, 4.12 ERA) tonight to get us off to a good start, and you have to like the pitching matchup. The Halos trot out spot starter Dustin Moseley, who is 1-3 with a 7.15 ERA. On Saturday, it's pretty even, with Gavin Floyd (15-6, 3.61) facing off with John Lackey (11-3, 3.10). The only good news there is that Lackey was John Lackluster in his last start, absorbing a rare loss in which he lasted just five innings and gave up nine hits. Sunday clearly favors the Angels. Joe Saunders (14-7, 3.69) takes the mound against our spot starter, Clayton Richard (2-3, 3.69). The Sox will probably need a lot of runs to win that one. At least we're at the Cell, where we hit well and our record is 46-22. Go Sox!
*seven days until our future grandson's due date

Thursday, September 4, 2008

23 (8*)

Now, that's more like it. The White Sox finally put together good pitching and timely hitting to avoid the sweep in Cleveland.
Javier Vazquez contributed a Quality Start, scattering five hits over six innings and allowing only two runs. The secret to his success? The same as in real estate: location, location, location. Vazquez threw 74 strikes in his 108 pitches, whiffing five and walking only one.
The usual suspects from the bullpen -- Octavio Dotel, Matt Thornton, and Bobby Jenks -- blanked the Indians in three innings of relief. Jenks worked hard for his 28th save, pitching 1.2 innings. As Sox fans know, Big Bobby normally tosses only the ninth inning, but given the importance of yesterday's game, Ozzie threw caution to the wind (it was only 1 mph from left to right) and brought his closer in to work out of a first-and-third, no-out jam in the eighth. Jenks threw two pitches, the second resulting in an inning-ending double play. After giving up a hit in the ninth, Jenks induced another double play and posted a strikeout to end the game. All told, Jenks threw only 10 pitches, eight of them strikes, and won't be called on to pitch today since the team has the day off.
At bat, every Sox starter except for Juan Uribe and Toby Hall got a hit. And after going two games without the long ball, the Sox hit two. Nick Swisher yanked his 23rd home run to left field in the fifth inning. Alexei Ramirez followed suit one inning later, blasting his 16th homer, a two-run shot over the scoreboard in left. The two dingers pushed the Sox across the 200 mark (201) for the season, the first team in the majors to cross that threshold.
The Sox won without Joe Crede (throbbing in lower back), Ken Griffey Jr. (tightness in lower back), and Carlos Quentin (sore right forearm). Q is not expected back until the Toronto series next week at the earliest, but maybe he'll surprise us. Who knows when Crede will play again? And who cares if Junior does? The Update is still not a fan of that trade. One bright note on the injury front: Scott Linebrink did warm up in the bullpen, although he was not called upon to pitch.
With the 4-2 win and Minnesota's 5-4 extra-inning loss to Toronto, the Sox regained a one game lead on the Twins and cut their Magic Number to 23. The Sox are off today, while the Twinkies finish up with the Blue Jays. Go Sox! Go Jays!
*8 days left until our future grandson's due date. Daughter-in-law Kate is hanging in there, but is more than ready to be a Mom.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

25 (9*)

A lackluster performance deserves a lackluster column. Sox lose again, as do the Twins. They're still tied for first with identical records, but they've fallen another game behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race -- four games back.
Joe Crede tweaked his back while making a play in the field and he's experiencing stiffness. So Crede's out. Look for Juan Uribe, who filled in admirably for Crede during the latter's time on the DL, to take over third. Josh Fields is back with the Sox now that the rosters have expanded, so he's a possibility, but Ozzie doesn't like his defense. We'd guess Crede will not be with the Sox in 2009. Jerry Reinsdorf is not going to want to pay what Boras will demand to sign him, let alone pay that for a guy who's health is suspect. Someone out there will take a chance on Crede's getting better. Of course, if he goes, he'll recover and be an All-Star; if by some miracle he stays, he'll be on the D.L.
Sorry this seems so gloomy, but this is supposed to be the soft part of the schedule, and the Good Guys are not taking advantage of it. We need to clinch before the series with Minnesota. No one wants to have to win up there. So snap out of it and fast. Go Sox!
*nine days until our grandson's due date.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

26 (10*)

With 25 games left to play, the White Sox and the Twins have identical 77-60 records. Both teams trail the Red Sox by 3.0 games in the Wild Card race. So who's got the easier road to the Central Division title? The Update says it's the Twinkies.
The Sox have a dozen games left on the road, where they've played to a 31-38 record and .449 winning percentage. They play at Cleveland twice, New York four times, and KC and Minnesota three times each. The Royals are the only team in that group that has a losing record at home. The weighted-average home winning percentage of their opponents is .550. Using the Bill James Log5 method of calculating the chances of winning a single game between a .449 team and a .550 team, the Sox have about a 40% chance of winning that game. Of course, that's for a single game and probably isn't very useful for looking at 12 games, but it will allow us to compare numbers with the Piranhas.
The Twins, who have a slightly better road record of 31-37 (.456), play three games each at Toronto, Baltimore, and Cleveland, and four games at Tampa Bay. Baltimore barely has a winning record at home, but the Rays have the Major's best home record (52-19). The weighted-average home winning percentage of the Twins' opponents is .597, or 47 points higher than the Good Guys'. Their Log5 number is about 36%, or 4% less than the number for the Sox.
At the Cell, the Sox are 46-22 (.676). They entertain the Angels, Tigers, and Indians for three games each and the Blue Jays for four. The weighted-average road winning percentage of these teams is .532 -- skewed higher by the Halos' otherworldly .615 percentage. A rough Log5 number for the Sox in the "average" game is 64%.
In the Metrodome, the Twins are almost as good as the Sox are at home, 46-23 (.667). They play the Tigers and White Sox three games each, but get six chances to beat up on the abysmal Royals (.411). The weighted-average road winning percentage of the Twins' visitors is .431, a full 100 points lower than the Sox's guests. The Log5 number is about 74%, 10% higher than that for the Sox.
So it looks like the Sox have a somewhat easier road schedule, but the Twins have a much easier home schedule. The most important part is likely to be that three-game series in Minnesota on September 23-26. We're not giving up, but we'd feel a whole lot better if it were in Chicago. Go Sox!
* 10 days left until our grandson's due date. Daughter-in-law Kate was having contractions last Saturday and was told to come in to Evanston Hospital, but it proved to be a false call. Kate, Jeff, and their family and friends can't wait, but obviously will have to.