Thursday, September 30, 2010

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

The White Sox and Twins are dead even in the standings -- if you don't count the games they played against each other.  Yep, subtract those 13 Minnesota wins and five Sox wins from the two teams' totals and they both wind up at 80-60.

They got there in different ways.  The Twinkies are 34-20 against the rest of the A.L. Central, while the Sox failed to make hay against the three worst teams in the division, posting a 25-26 record with three to play against the Tribe.  The records against the A.L. West are virtually the same: 24-12 for the Piranhas and 24-13 for the Good Guys.  The Sox, who have one game left with Boston, are 16-18 versus the A.L. East, while the Twins, who have four to play against Toronto, are 14-18.  The category where the Sox shine is interleague play, with a Majors' best 15-3 mark, compared to Minnesota's 8-10 losing record.

But at the end of the day, it all comes back to those 18 games against the Twins.  Splitting the season series would have left the two teams tied right now.  A 10-8 margin for the Chisox would have the Good Guys up by 2.0 games with four left to play.  But that didn't happen, and Minnesota is going to the postseason and the Sox are going home.

They did clinch second place in the division yesterday by beating the Bosox while Detroit was dropping a pair to the Indians.  The Sox have the sixth best record in the league and the 11th best in the Majors, with a theoretical chance to improve to fourth best and seventh best, respectively.

By the way, back on July 13, I predicted that the Sox would finish with an 88-74 record.  Three more wins and they make me look prescient.  Go Sox! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


163.  That's the Magic Number for the White Sox in 2011, which is the only Magic Number they have now that they've been eliminated from the 2010 Central Division race.  The Twins became the first team to clinch a division title this year, thanks to their win and the Sox's eighth  loss in a row, 7-2 to the A's.  (Technically, the Sox have not yet been eliminated from the Wild Card, and have a Magic Number of 23 over the Rays with 12 games left to play.  But a priest has been called in to administer the last rites to those chances, as the Rays have a Magic Number of 2 for eliminating the Pale Hose in that "race.")

It's been a strange season.  The Good Guys started out poorly and then got white hot -- 25-5 -- before the All-Star break.  They hung on to first place for a while and made it interesting until the Twins started playing better than any other team in baseball.  And then the Sox went into the tank.  It was probably too much to hope that the Good Guys could pull it out, given what is essentially a flawed team. 

Blame Ozzie for that.  He got the players he wanted and didn't win with them.  We suspect he and Kenny will both be back, but it's unclear what the roster will look like on Opening Day next season.  (It should be balmy in Cleveland -- where the Sox open 2011 -- in late March.)  Some familiar faces are almost sure to be gone -- hopefully Paul Konerko is not one of them -- and it'll be interesting to watch the deconstruction/reconstruction of the team.

Anyway, since the purpose of this blog is to count down the Magic Number for the Sox, and there's no counting to do until next year, the posts will be infrequent from here on out.  Thanks for reading and Go Sox in 2011!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It looks like the Twins not only swept the White Sox last week in Chicago, but stole their mojo.  The Sox haven't won a game since the Twins invaded the Cell, losing their seventh in a row last night.  Gavin Floyd left the game after seven pitches due to tightness in his arm.  The entire team seems to be suffering from tightness around the collar, as in choking.  Not to win the division is one thing, but a seven-game losing streak when the season is on the line is another.  The Sox are now in real danger of falling behind Detroit, which trails the Pale Hose by three games.

The Good Guys' Magic Number over the Tigers is 10, their Magic Number over the Cubs is 3, and their elimination number by the Twins is 2.  The Sox need some wins and need them soon.  Go Sox!

Monday, September 20, 2010


How 'bout those Bears?  2-0, baby. 

Oh, wait, this is supposed to be about the White Sox. 

Okay.  The Tigers just swept them over the weekend to extend the Good Guys' losing streak to six games.  (No one in his right mind wants to read about these three losses, and I'm not writing about them just to satisfy the desires of a bunch of crazy people.)  The Magic Number for the Twins is down to 4. 

We need to be worried about the Sox finishing ahead of Detroit.  Unless they snap out of this funk, the Tigers could pass them by.  The Magic Number for eliminating the boys from the Motor City is 10.  Let's get that taken care of. 

First things first, though.  The South Siders have a Magic Number of 3 relative to the Cubs.  Eliminate them, then move on to Detroit.  Go Sox!

Friday, September 17, 2010

26 (still)

Well, at least the White Sox didn't lose 9-3 again, instead falling to the Twins by an 8-5 margin.  The Sox came into this series needing a sweep of Minnesota to keep their slim hopes of the post-season alive, but found themselves on the other end of the broom.  They're now 9.0 games behind the Central Division leaders with only 16 games to play.  If the Twins play just .500 ball from here on out, the Sox can't catch them even by winning out.  In other words, even Bluto Blutarsky says it's over.

Paul Konerko doesn't share that belief.  Last night, Twins starter Carl Pavano plunked Paulie between the mouth and nose -- not sure how an object the size of a baseball could hit that area and miss the mouth and nose, but that's what the Trib said.  Next time up, Konerko slugged his 37th home run of the season.  Kenny Williams, are you watching this?  Sign the guy to an extension.  By the way, Mark Buehrle defended his teammate by bopping Michael Cuddyer first chance he got.

Meanwhile, Manny Ramirez still hasn't stroked an extra-base hit or driven in any runs since joining the Sox.  That was certainly $4 million well spent and obviously a much better investment than say re-signing Jim Thome would have been.  Thome has driven in 57 runs, hit 23 homers, 16 doubles, and even two triples, batted .283, in only 258 at bats -- all for the bargain-basement salary of $1.5 million.  And don't even mention Andruw Jones or Mark Kotsay.

Final note: On Saturday, the Sox will be honoring Nancy Faust, who has been the organist since 1970.  Charter Update subscriber Bob Koza and I once sat directly in front of her and enjoyed chatting with Nancy during the game.  The ballpark experience won't be the same without her.  To Nancy, we say "Na na na na. Na na na na.  Hey, Hey.  Goodbye!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Different night, same result.  Literally.  It was a second consecutive 9-3 loss to to the Twins.  If it happens again today, the hockey-mad fans will probably throw their hats on the rink, er, field.  What this means is the White Sox are now 8.0 games behind with only 17 to play.  Minnesota's Magic Number is 10.  Even if the Sox win all 17 games, the Twins need only go 10-7, a significant drop-off from their current pace, to clinch the A.L. Central.  Hopefully, the Good Guys will finish strong to build for next year, but what the 2011 squad is going to look like is a mystery.  Do the Sox re-sign Paul Konerko?  I hope so.  Omar Vizquel?  Probably not.  What about Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, Mark Teahen?  Some of those guys we're stuck with barring a trade or an outright release.  This will be an interesting offseason.  Wish it were going to be an interesting post-season.  Oh, well.  The NHL starts soon.  Go Hawks!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


If the White Sox were as good against the Twins as the Twins are against them, the Sox would be leading the Twinkies by 5.0 games.  Flip that 5-11 record the Good Guys have against Minnesota to 11-5 and the Sox are 85-59, while the Twinks are 80-64.  So when the story of this season is written, the central (no pun intended) theme is this: The two teams are pretty much the same against the rest of baseball (75-53 for Minnesota; 74-54 for Chicago), but the Twins are going to win the Central Division because they've been able to beat up on the Sox.

Last night was the Twins-Sox in a nutshell.  The Sox fell behind 2-0, tied it at 2-2, even went ahead 3-2, but eventually allowed Minnesota to come back, and wound up losing 9-3.  The details aren't important -- although both Paul Konerko and Manny Ramirez fanned with the bases loaded to kill a potential rally in the seventh that likely would have put the Sox back on top.  What matters now is the result, which was more of the same.  The Sox can't afford to tank against the Twins and still expect to win the division.  And with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox being as good as they are now, failing to win the Central means watching the postseason from the sidelines. 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you'd probably figured that out already.  Go Sox!

Monday, September 13, 2010


It's all about the numbers at this point.  The White Sox and Twins each has 19 games left to play, three of which are head to head in the Cell starting tomorrow night.  Since the Sox trail the Twins by 6.0 games, even a sweep -- a tall order -- will leave the Good Guys three games back of Minnesota with only 16 left after that.  The Twinkies' Magic Number is 14, so even if they go 9-10, the Sox need to go 15-4 -- a very tall order --  for a tie.  John Danks faces off against Francisco Liriano in game one, and we're not looking past that.

The weekend did show resilience by the Sox.  In the two games they won against the Royals, the Pale Hose came from behind by scoring three runs in the eighth inning on Friday to pull out a 4-3 victory, and overcame a 6-0 first-inning deficit to win 12-6 on Sunday.  A.J. Pierzynski struck the big blow -- a two-run double -- in the first game, and Paul Konerko mashed two taters (giving him 36 on the year) and drove in five runs while Andruw Jones hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the finale.

The Sox are beat up physically.  Freddy Garcia's back continues to plague him and forced Lucas Harrell to make an emergency start on Sunday -- not a good one either, as he gave up those six runs in the first inning.  Bobby Jenks is still day to day, meaning that rookie Chris Sale has been serving as the closer.  Not exactly the recipe for going 15-4.

The good news is that it's September, and the Sox are still in contention -- if just barely.  We've had more to cheer about in 2010 than I expected.  And in the words of a famous Chicagoan, "It's not over till we say it's over.  Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"  Go Animal House!  Go Sox!

Friday, September 10, 2010


I was out for Rosh Hashanah, so no post yesterday.   I wish I still celebrated both days of the holiday because I don't feel like writing one today.  The White Sox lost to the Tigers on Thursday to fall 6.0 games behind the Twins.  Minnesota is on a six-game winning streak and busily trimming its Magic Number, which now stands at 17. 

A few days ago, it looked like the margin between the two teams would be 3.5 games when the Sox face the Twinkies next week, with a chance -- albeit a small one -- of a sweep to cut the deficit down to a half game.  Now, the Sox may need that sweep just to close the gap to 3.0 games.

The Silver Lining:  The Good Guys are back at the Cell starting tonight to face the Royals.  We're 11 games over .500 at home, while KC is 19 games under .500 on the road.  Minnesota is at Cleveland, and the Twins are only one game better than break even on the road, and the Tribe is "only" 10 games under .500 at home.  I say "only" because the hapless Indians are 16 games under away from the shores of Lake Erie.

With all that in mind, it's time to switch sign-offs since anything less isn't going to get it done: Just win, baby!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

29 Sox; 20 Twins

It had to happen. The White Sox weren’t going to go undefeated over their last 32 games. But that doesn’t make it any easier to take. Especially when the Twins continue to win.

Yep, the Good Guys lost to the Tigers last night – big time. As in 9-1. As in we wound up with the scrubinis playing at the end of the game: Brent Lillibridge at second, Alejandro De Aza at DH, Brent Morel at third, Tyler Flowers catching, and Dayan Viciedo pinch-hitting. Paul Konerko (stiff back) and Gordon Beckham (injured hand) didn’t play at all, and Freddy Garcia came out of the game with a stiff back after two innings. (I didn’t realize back stiffness was contagious; maybe Ozzie should have quarantined Paulie.) Manny Ramirez took a beating, getting hit by pitches twice. All in all, it was a game to forget.

The loss combined with Minnesota’s win drops the Sox to 4.5 games back with just 24 games remaining. Our Magic Number remains at 29. Theirs drops to 20. Plus, we’ve got John Danks pitching on three days rest instead of his usual four. On top of that, we find out that Rahm Emanuel, who is a Cubs fan, may run for mayor.

Happy New Year to all to whom that applies. Go Sox!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Here’s your weekend wrap-up: A sweep of Boston at Fenway for the first time in forever. Seven wins in a row, all on the road, since Manny arrived. Seventeen games over .500 for the first time this season. And the White Sox are still 3.5 games behind the Twins, who are just as hot and have a Magic Number of 22.

Friday’s game was rained out by hurricane-related rains, so the Sox and the Red Sox played a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. The Good Sox won both games 3-1 as John Danks and Gavin Floyd delivered clutch pitching performances. Because of the rainout, Danks will be forced to pitch on three days rest. The last time he did that was in the tie-breaker game against Minnesota in 2008, when he threw a shutout. Let’s hope for a similar result.

Sunday, the Pale Hose came from behind twice, scoring four runs in the ninth inning off Bosox ace reliever, Jonathan Papelbon, to pull out a 7-5 win. The Sox won their fourth game of the season when trailing after seven innings – something they’d done only once a couple of weeks ago. (I missed most of the game because of my grandson Evan’s second birthday party – his actual birthday is tomorrow – but it was worth it.  Of course, the Sox victory added to the festive occasion.)

On Labor Day, the White Sox did it again, this time against the Tigers in Detroit. For the third time over the weekend, they pounded out 13 hits, missing only in game two on Saturday. For the second time, they came from behind to win, this time in extra innings, 5-4. For the first time in his career, Chris Sale, who was pitching in college when the season started, picked up the win, throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief, and was rewarded with a shaving cream pie. And for the 13th game in a row, A.J. Pierzynski hit safely, driving in three runs, including the game winner.

So where does all this leave the Sox? Aside from the three games that they and the Twins play each other next week at the Cell, the two teams have some common foes. Both teams play KC at home (Sox three times, Twins twice), Cleveland at home for three games, and the Tigers in Detroit for three games. Both teams play Oakland three games, thought the Sox do it on the road, while Minnesota does it at home. We’ve got three with the Tigers and four with Boston at home and three with the Angels on the road. They’ve got four with Toronto at home and three each with the Indians and Royals on the road. On balance, it looks like we’ve got the harder schedule, in terms of whom we play and where we play them, but the best thing that can happen is a sweep of the Twinkies at the Cell. For those of you saying, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, remember, the fans’ performance won’t suffer by looking down the road at the schedule. It’s the team that can’t do that. Go Sox!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Manny did it again. Just by standing in the on-deck circle, he struck such fear into the heart of Indians’ pitcher Justin Germano that he served up a fat one to Paul Konerko, who deposited it in the seats for his 33rd home run of the season. The three-run shot by Paulie wasn’t the only blast of the day for the Good Guys – Alex Rios (20th) and Alexei Ramirez (16th) also ripped four-baggers, reaping the benefit of Manny just being in the same lineup.

The Sox were trailing 4-1 at one point and posted their second straight win (6-4)when trailing after seven innings. As noted in the prior post, their record in that situation (no, not The Situation from Jersey Shore and soon to be Dancing With The Stars) was a feeble 1-48 before yesterday’s game. The Pale Hose are now 35-7 when getting multiple home runs in the game.

But back to Manny, whom we are contractually bound to mention in every other paragraph. Aside from influencing the pitches that others were receiving, he grounded out to short, struck out looking, fisted a duck snort single to right center, and was hit by a pitch. That means he’s batting .333, has a .500 on-base percentage, and a .500 slugging percentage – clear Hall of Fame numbers. But wait, there’s that drug thing, isn’t there?

Freddy Garcia left the game early with stiffness in his back. Not good, but let’s hope it doesn’t affect his next start, which should come against his personal patsies, the Detroit Tigers. By the way, Chris Sale picked up the first save of his career (in his first save opportunity) by pitching a scoreless ninth. Sale didn’t exactly sail through it, walking two and striking out two, including the last out of the game. I guess the Tribe really was down to its last strike.

Today’s win means that the Sox have a winning record in September (1-0), which they didn’t have in April (9-14), May (13-14), or August (13-15), but did in June (18-9) and July (18-8).

The win also completes the much-needed sweep and shrinks the Magic Number to 34 and Minnesota’s lead to 3.5 games. If the Tigers can beat the Twins tonight, those numbers will drop to 33 and 3.0. A three-game deficit can be made up in a three-game series, which is all we have remaining with the Twinkies. Hey, let’s just keep winning for a while longer and go into that series with a lead, not a deficit. Go Sox!

Manny Ramirez won the game for the White Sox last night just by warming up in the on-deck circle. Well, not quite. But according to Ozzie Guillen, A.J. Pierzynski saw better pitches to hit just because Manny – complete with dreadlocks – was looming. Whether that’s true or not, A.J. powered his seventh home run of the season deep into the right field seats, scoring Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin, both of whom had walked, and breaking a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning. The Indians put a scare into Sox fans everywhere by pulling to within a run in the ninth, but left the tie run on base to give the Good Guys a 4-3 win.

Edwin Jackson picked up his third win since coming over from Arizona, throwing 8.2 innings of seven hit three run ball. Jackson struck out 11 to reach double-digit Ks for his third game in a row. Jackson’s ERA over his five starts is a sparkling 1.47, so that trade is turning out all right. Ozzie gave Jackson a chance to complete the game, but E.J. couldn’t quite pull it off. After 129 pitches, he yielded to Bobby Jenks, who promptly allowed an inherited runner to score, but got the last out on a bouncer back to the mound. (Speaking of last, I’m tired of announcers saying that a team is down to its last strike. Cleveland’s radio guys said that last night, but it wasn’t true -- the batter got a hit and the next batter had three more strikes to use up -- and it never is for sure. You can only know the “last” strike in hindsight, so don’t say it beforehand.)

The Sox actually pulled off a rare feat for them by winning a game in which they were trailing after seven innings (1-0) for only the second time in 50 games. The team did post its 57th win (against only 25 losses) when getting a quality start -- the second most quality starts in baseball behind the Oakland A’s. They also won their 54th game (against 35 losses) when hitting a home run.

The win cut the Magic Number to 35, but it didn’t get the Sox any closer to Minnesota, as the Twins rallied late to beat the Tigers. The Pale Hose are 4.0 games behind with 30 left to play. Still doable, but the Twinkies need to start losing some games and we need to keep winning. Go Sox!