Friday, September 25, 2009


I'm posting the Magic Number as 163 -- the number every team will starts with in 2010-- because Detroit's win last night eliminated the White Sox from the post-season.  I learned this by reading Mark Gonzalez's story online in The Trib today.  The usual formula for elimination numbers (163 -  82 Tiger wins - 80 Sox losses) yields an elimination number of 1.  That's also what is showing as the Sox elimination number.  And it made superficial sense: If the Sox won all nine of their remaining games and the Tigers lost all ten of theirs, both teams would wind up with 82-80 records.  

So I e-mailed Mark and pointed out what I believed was his math mistake.  He politely explained that if the Tigers lose all the rest of their games, that means the Twins would have to win their four games against Detroit, giving Minnesota 83 wins and the division crown.  (If I remember correctly, something like this happened in 2005 when the Sox were playing the Indians down the stretch and there was a Magic Number glitch.)

I should have figured this out myself.  After all, this is the White Sox Magic Number Update.  Maybe I'm just too depressed by this season to think straight.  But thanks to Mark Gonzalez for setting me straight and for doing it in a classy way.  Go Sox in 2010!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


If the White Sox wanted to know what they were supposed to do at the end of the season, all they had to do was look at the team occupying the visitors' dugout yesterday. Ten games ago, the White Sox were a half game ahead of the Twins and only five games behind the Tigers. Since then, the Sox have gone 2-8, while the Twins have posted a 9-1 record. Minnesota showed what teams with heart do when their backs are to the wall; the Sox, well ….

Let's not dwell on the more immediate bad news, which is that the Twins swept the Sox last night, winning the final game of the season series 8-6, and Mark Buehrle stunk the joint up again (3.1 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 1 BB). Let's celebrate Jermaine Dye -- one of the team's best players over the last five seasons, until the All-Star break this year -- finally having a good game. J.D. poked two home runs, bringing his total for the year to 27, drove in four runs, and was 3 for 4 on the night. Throw in Alexei Ramirez (3 for 5), and you have more than half of the Sox's runs and hits for the game.

The real good news is that this season is almost over. The Sox are now nine games back with nine left to play. Their elimination number -- or Tragic Number, as some call it -- is now down to two, on its way to 163 (for 2010). Go Sox! Finish the season!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Another day, another loss. This time the White Sox fell to the Twins 8-6. The script was a little different though in that the offense showed up.

Alex Rios hit his 16th home run of the season, Gordon Beckham his 13th, and Paul Konerko hit 28th, and Becks (2 for 4)and Paulie (3 for 4) had multihit games, but that wasn't enough. (Jermaine Dye didn't play, meaning his batting average since the All-Star break remains at .168. It's sad to see such a big contributor to the Sox success over the past five years go out on such a bad streak.)

John Danks had a rough six innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits and three walks, while striking out only two. The loss was Danks's 10th of the season to go along with his 12 wins. He's got to be looking forward to next year too.  And that goes for Bobby Jenks as well.  Big Bobby pulled a calf muscle and is done for the year.  He may or may not be back in 2010, depending on whether the Sox decide to pony up what it will take to keep the arbitration-eligible Jenks.

The Sox fell to 8.0 games behind the Tigers and now have an elimination number of 4. Basically, they're a dead team walking. Go Sox -- get the season over with.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


7-11.  No, we're not referring to the convenience store that paid the White Sox to start home games at 7:11 pm.  We're talking about being 7 games behind Detroit with 11 left to play.  The Sox have an elimination number of 6 and a Magic Number of 20, never a good combination.  But most fans are ready for this season to be over, and it seems like the team is too.

The only bright spot in yesterday's 7-0 loss to the Twins was rookie pitcher Daniel Hudson.  In five innings, he gave up one earned run (three total) on four hits and four walks.  Look for Hudson to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation next year.

We weren't that eager for the season to end on July 23.  That was the day Mark Buehrle threw his perfect game, and it was the last time the Sox were in first place.  Since then, the team has been a disappointing 23-33.  That's no way to win the division, and there's no way the Sox win the division.  This year. 

For some reason, I'm strangely optimistic about next season.  Having four starters who've gotten it done in the past and some decent options for the fifth spot makes me think the Sox could have a decent year once they get this stinker behind them.  Jermaine Dye won't be around to see it, but the rest of the core probably will.  A healthy Carlos Quentin, who plays like he did in 2008, a fresh start for Alex Rios that returns him to All-Star form, another year under the belts of Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, and a hopefully healthy Chris Getz all make me look forward to 2010.  Maybe it's just the desire to stop thinking about 2009, but so be it.  Go Sox!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Before they faced the White Sox this weekend, the Royals had the worst record in the American League. Playing on the road, their winning percentage was even lower than their overall record. But none of that mattered, as KC took the first and last game of the three-game series at the Cell.
One thing worth mentioning -- and there aren't many -- is that Jake Peavy pitched on Saturday and pitched well enough to earn the win. He reports no abnormal pain, so maybe we'll see his Cy Young Award-winning form next year.
A healthy Peavy, joined by Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks is a darn good start on a top-notch rotation. And believe it or not, Freddy Garcia has pitched well enough to be given a shot at the fifth spot. Garcia went eight innings on Sunday and gave up only two runs. It was his sixth straight Quality Start, and it appears that Don Cooper has figured out what Freddy needs to do and has got him doing it.
If it's not Freddy, it might be Daniel Hudson, who is starting Monday's game against the Twins at the Cell. Hudson has had a meteoric rise through the Sox farm system, going a combined 14-5 at ClassA Kannapolis, Class A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham, and Triple-A Charlotte. That's like pitching for the cycle.
And the reason we're focusing on next year is that 2009 is almost officially over. The Sox have an elimination number of 7 and trail Detroit by 6.5 games. They're four games under .500, which means they have to go 9-3 to have a winning record this year (or have a lot of rainouts that don't get made up). Given that nine of their remaining games are agains the Twins (3) and Tigers (6), it doesn't seem likely. Even if the Sox do go 9-3, the Tigers just need to post a 4-9 record to eliminate the Good Guys. So it's not quite wait till next year just yet, but it's in the rear-view mirror and gaining on them. Go Sox!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


"Slip sliding away, slip sliding away. You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away." Yes, it's time again to quote Paul Simon. After Tuesday, when the White Sox got nearer their destination by cutting Detroit's lead to 5.5 games, they were slip sliding away yesterday, by losing to Seattle 4-1 and falling 6.5 games behind the Tigers. The Sox now have an elimination number of 11 compared to a Magic Number of 24.
And they may be short-handed down the stretch. Gavin Floyd, yesterday's starter, left the game after three innings with a sore left hip, and there's talk of shutting him down for the season. So just when they get Jake Peavy ready to pitch (against KC on Saturday), Floyd drops out of the rotation. Wait till next year talk is rampant.
Floyd was hurting while he was in the game, and his stats show it. He gave up three runs and four hits in his three innings. D.J. Carrasco, who's been pretty valuable this season taking over for Sox starters who leave early, gave up the Mariners' final run, and a cast of characters from the bullpen shut the M's down the rest of the way.
Rookie of the Year candidate Gordon Beckham accounted for the only Sox run with a homer. Jermaine Dye, who had been in an 0 for 20 slump, and Alex Rios, who was working on a 1-20 drought, each had two hits for the Sox. Four others got hits, but it's not worth talking about.
One thing we should mention is that David Aardsma picked up his 35th save and lowered his ERA to 2.09. Why couldn't he have pitched like that when he was a member of the Sox? Speaking of being a member of the team, Bartolo Colon isn't. The Sox released him yesterday, with Ozzie saying he just wouldn't get with the rehab program designed for him. No big loss there. Go Sox!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


They're not dead yet, folks. The White Sox refused to die last night after trailing the Mariners in Seattle 3-0. A.J. Pierzynski singled with two out in the seventh inning to plate the tying and go-ahead runs. A.J. was 3 for 5 on the night and was joined by Scott Podsednik (2 for 4), Paul Konerko (2 for 3 plus a walk), Chris Getz (2 for 4), and Alexei Ramirez (3 for 4 while batting ninth) in racking up a multi-hit game.
Freddy Garcia, who looked like a desperation acquisition, contributed his fifth Quality Start in a row. Freddy's line of 6 IP, 3 R, 7 H wasn't great, but it was good enough to give the Sox a chance to win. And for a change, the bullpen didn't squander the opportunity. Octavio Dotel (0.2 IP) and Matt Thornton (1.1 IP) gave up no runs to earn holds, while Bobby Jenks (1.0 IP) shut out the M's to pick up his 29th save.
Speaking of pitching, Jake Peavy will make his White Sox debut on Saturday against the Royals at the Cell. Think the Sox are holding him back while on the road so they can sell more tickets at home? Anyway, Jake says he's not 100% but he's ready to go. We'll see in three days.
The win, combined with the Tigers' loss, leaves the Sox 5.5 games behind Detroit (and 1.0 games back of Minnesota) in the Central Division race. The Good Guys have six games left against the Tigers, but there's very little margin for error, as Detroit's Magic Number vis-a-vis the Sox is down to 13. The Tigers do have a nine-game road trip coming up after they play the next two games with the Royals at home. They're an outstanding 47-25 at Comerica Park, but a lousy 30-42 away from the Motor City, where they'll play three each at Minnesota, Cleveland, and the Cell. The Sox, in turn, play two more in Seattle and then come home -- where they're 40-32 -- to play three games each against the Royals (28-42 on the road), Twins (31-40), and Tigers. In the words of Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber, "So you're telling me there's a chance .... Yeah." Go Sox!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The White Sox failed to make hay while the sun shined. With Detroit mired in a losing streak until Sunday, the Sox could have picked up significant ground upon the Central Division leader. But they didn't -- losing two of three to the Angels. The first place Tigers hold a 6.0 game lead over the back-in third place Sox and the handwriting is on the wall. Any combination of Tiger wins and Sox losses that adds up to 14 will eliminate the Sox from the Division title. By contrast, the Sox have a Magic Number of 26 over Detroit.
The sad thing is that the Sox could have done some damage in the post-season. The Good Guys held their own against the likely contenders other than Detroit: the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. But it doesn't appear that we'll find out how they would have fared. It's still not mathematically over, but the harsh reality is that the last best chance slipped away this weekend.
We'll keep counting the Magic Number for the rest of the season, because that's what we do and because our attachment to the Sox is one of emotion, not logic. But our heads tell us it's time to stick a fork in the Sox. One last hurrah, which we'll score as one for the heart. Go Sox!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Let's talk about A.J. Pierzynski for a minute. Last night, he hit a walk-off double to drive in Alexei Ramirez in the 13th inning at the Cell, giving the White Sox a 4-3 win over the Athletics. The player we used to hate when he was on the Twins (and the player his teammates hated when he was on the Giants) is having a hell of a season. Besides playing with fire in his belly -- something the Sox could use more of -- he's batting .314, good for seventh best in the American League. And he's durable, closing in on 1000 innings caught for the eighth consecutive season. Just 24.1 more innings behind the plate and he'll join Jason Kendall as the only catchers to have reached a 1000 in each year since 2002. A tip of the cap to A.J.
Speaking of a tip of the cap, Freddy Garcia deserves one. He gave the Sox a Quality Start last night, tossing six innings of five-hit, two-run ball. He'd have picked up the win if Tony Pena hadn't blown the save by allowing the A's a run in the eighth inning. Picking up Pena looks better and better each time he takes the mound, doesn't it?
But that one run wouldn't have mattered if the Sox had hit with runners in scoring position. Last night, they were 1 for 16 in that situation. Not exactly the way to get it done, which explains why the Sox aren't getting it done most days.
The odd thing is against whom they're not getting it done. Even with last night's win over Oakland, the Sox have only a 26-33 record against the five teams in the A.L. with less than a .500 record. They have only an 8-7 advantage over the Royals and Indians, the two worst teams in the Central. They're 1-7 when playing the Blue Jays, 4-5 with the O's, and 5-7 versus the A's. (Ever notice how many people pronounce "versus" as if it were the word "verse"?) Not beating up on the teams that stink is a sure way to stink yourself.
The Tigers lost, so their lead over the Sox is back to 6.5 games, but their Magic Number over the Good Guys is down to 17. The Sox have two chances to take the Central: slim and none, and slim is packing his bags. But as Bluto Blutarski told us, "It's not over until we say it's over!" Go Sox!

Monday, September 7, 2009


The White Sox took three out of four from the Red Sox over the Labor Day weekend, doing unto Boston what Boston did to them at Fenway from August 24-27. I'm afraid it's too little too late. Even with the recent surge, the White Sox still trail the Tigers by 7.5 games, and Detroit has a Magic Number of 18 vis-a-vis the Sox. That means that if the Tigers play .500 ball over their last 26 games, the Sox will have to go 19-4 in their remaining 23 games to tie Detroit at 88-74. We pretty much know 19-4 isn't going to happen -- not for most teams and especially not for a team that's still a game under .500 for the season.
But what about sweeping the Tigers? That'll work, won't it? Not really -- for two reasons. First, a sweep closes the gap by only 6 games, not the 7.5 by which the Sox currently trail Detroit. So, that's not enough. Second, the odds of the Sox sweeping the Tigers are so small as to be non-existent. Using the Bill James Log5 method of estimating the likelihood that a team with a .496 winning percentage like the Sox will defeat one with a .555 percentage like the Tigers in a single game yields a 44.5% chance. Taking that likelihood to the sixth power to roughly approximate a 6-game sweep gives you a less than 1% chance to pull it off.
The moral of the story is don't give up, but don't be crazy about it. The chance of the Sox catching lightning in a bottle can only be described as remote, but it sure would be sweet.
By the way, we had a great time in Chicagoland over the weekend celebrating grandson Evan's first birthday. Especially the smash cake that the bakery gives the birthday child who's turning one, to go along with the real cake that you buy. It functions just like it sounds. One year olds like to smash things and the cake made a good target. His other grandparents gave him a Red Sox knit hat. I'd been refraining from loading the little guy up with Sox stuff, but the game is on now. Go Evan! Go Sox!

Friday, September 4, 2009


Only yesterday, we were lamenting the fact that Jake Peavy wasn't available to pitch against the Cubs in the makeup of the game that got washed out in Wrigley Field. But Carlos Torres's performance Wednesday afternoon has us asking "Jake, who?" Torres, a September call-up from Triple-A Charlotte, was masterly yesterday, shutting out the Cubs while allowing five hits and no walks, and posting six whiffs. Matt Thornton and D.J. Carrasco each pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the rookie's first Major League win and set him up for a beer shower in the clubhouse after the game.
The White Sox tallied five runs on thirteen hits, with five players having multi-hit games: Pods had three, and Becks, A.J., Q, and Missile notched two each. (If you don't know who those guys are, why are you reading this?) The Sox were also the beneficiary of an Alfonso Soriano three-base error on a ball that A.J. says would have been scored a triple anywhere but Wrigley. One sour note: Pods continues to run the team out of innings, getting caught between second and third on a Gordon Beckham grounder, and then not continuing the run-down long enough to allow Beckham to reach second safely. The baseball gods giveth; the baseball gods taketh away.
The win gives the Sox the season series against the Cubs, 4-2, and the all-time lead at 37-35. That total doesn't count the 1906 World Series, which was won of course by the Sox. No gain on the Tigers, however, so the Good Guys remain 7.0 games back in the division "race." Detroit's Magic Number over the Sox is down to 22, and things don't look good, though a sweep of the six games left against the Tigers would cut the Sox Magic Number by 12 and tighten things up considerably. But that's almost what it's going to take. First things first. The Red Sox, who just took 3 out of 4 from the Sox, come to town. Yours truly will be in the area for grandson Evan's first birthday, but I doubt I'll be able to make it to the Cell for any of the games. They'll just have to win without me. Go Sox!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


So with the White Sox trailing the Twins 2-0 in the top of the ninth with nobody on and Gordon Beckham behind in the count 0-2, it was time for White Sox radio play-by-play guy Ed Farmer to trot out his patented "they're down to their last strike" expression. That's always bothered me, because if Beckham doesn't make an out, there are more strikes to come. But I get Farmio's point: Things look bleak. Especially when the Sox are playing in the Metrodome, where they've lost 11 of their last 13 games and 19 of their last 24. When they're facing uber-closer Joe Nathan, who had a lifetime 1.39 ERA against them. When they've scored only four runs in the prior 26 innings this series and have lost five games in a row.
That's where and when the Sox proved me right and Farmer wrong. Becks worked the count to 3-2 before blasting a Nathan pitch over the left-field wall to cut the lead to 2-1. Next batter Paul Konerko had two more strikes on him before going yard on another 3-2 pitch from Nathan to tie the game. The rattled reliever then walked Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin and was replaced by Matt Guerrier. Alexei Ramirez stroked a single to score Dye, and a wild pitch plated Q to give the Sox a 4-2 lead.
Of course, anyone who follows the Sox expected the Twins to come back in the bottom of the ninth, but Bobby Jenks shut them out to pick up his 28th save. D.J. Carrasco got the win (5-1 on the year) and even Scott Linebrink and Randy Williams managed to avoid giving up a run. Hard-luck Mark Buehrle pitched well enough to win -- 6.0 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 1 BB (intentional) -- but instead remained without a W since his perfect game.
The win in the Good Guys' last ever game at the Metrodome brought their record to 89-114 since the House of Horrors opened in 1982 and allowed them to remain 7.0 games behind the Tigers. They're still alive in the A.L. Central race, but barely. Detroit's Magic Number vis-a-vis the Sox is 23. Sure the Sox have six games left against them, but anything less than 5-1 will pretty much be curtains, and even that might not be enough. There's plenty of work to be done before that. Today's game is the make-up against the Cubs at Wrigley and we've got Carlos Torres up from Triple-A Charlotte on the bump. Where's Jake Peavy when you need him? Go Sox!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


163. That's the Magic Number for every team at the start of the season. Since the White Sox have given up on 2009, we will too and start looking to next year. Don't take our word for this year being finished. Just look at what the Sox did yesterday.
They traded Jim Thome and cash to the Dodgers for Class A infielder Justin Fuller. So maybe he's a hot prospect, right? Unlikely. Hot prospects have made it past Class A by the time they're 26, like Fuller is. Maybe Kenny Williams was just trying to give Thome, one of the best people in the game, a chance to play in a World Series. And maybe he hopes to re-sign Thome next year at a bargain salary. After all, Thome won't get to 600 home runs -- a stated goal of his -- as a pinch-hitter, which is what he's likely to be in L.A. Sox fans can only hope.
Jose Contreras also said goodbye to the Pale Hose yesterday after being traded to the Rockies. No Way Jose, plus cash for Triple-A pitcher Brandon Hynick. At least Hynick is a prospect, although not necessarily a hot one. The 24-year old sinkerballer was the Rockies' minor league pitcher of the year in 2007 according to Baseball America, but this year, he's 10-9, with a 3.34 ERA while pitching in the thin air of Colorado Springs. Let's wait and see.
Oh, yeah. The Sox lost last night to the Twins in the Metrodome. Only two more games left there and then that curse will be done. Hopefully, Minnesota's new home won't be as unkind to the Good Guys.
The real Magic Number is still 39 and the team is still 6.0 games behind the Tigers. But it doesn't really matter does it? We may get interested again if the Sox actually start to play ball, but to paraphrase Hawk Harrelson, this season is ovah! Go Sox in 2010!