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Mismatched Sox: Anger Management

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that a techno remix of Tony’s postgame pressers would be funny. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult a sleep doctor and ask if this blog is right for you.

We feel ya, bro. (C) Pixar and MLB/Chicago White Sox

As the season drifts away from the questionably fire-having 2022 White Sox, there’s a simmering anger burning deep within the loins of White Sox fandom. This loin-warming fury that is building up to frothy rabid wrath from the fans currently has multiple targets. But pitchforks and torches for multiple targets aren’t efficient. Imagine if the villagers went to Castle Frankenstein and were looking for the Baron von Dr., the monster, Igor, a handful of the castle staff, the undertaker who originally buried the corpses, the corpses’ families, and Leury Garcia. Once they found out that not everyone was at the Castle and that Leury was batting third again, there would be in-fighting among the angry mob as to who to go after and Leury would end up getting extended for two more years while the rest of the targets got away scot-free.

So for Sox fans that are building that loinal rage need to agree right here and now at whom to be mad. There’s no point in storming 35th and Shields and then standing there arguing about the culpability of ownership versus Lucas Giolito’s inability to throw back-to-back quality starts.


Speaking of ownership, let’s start with the vitriol towards Jerry Reinsdorf. It can be very easily justified given that since 1981, 41 entire years of Jerry as the Chair-y, the team has had 1 championship and 7 overall playoff appearances. That’s not…great. But then that’s also not entirely uncommon in the MLB. The Dodgers, Yankees, Braves, and a couple of other teams had runs of success where contending was the norm. Ask a Mariners fan how things were pre-Griffey Jr. and post-Griffey Jr.; the four playoff appearances the franchise has had since 1977 are still fewer than Jerry has produced on the South Side. But the narrative is that Mr. Reinsdorf won’t spend enough to woo the top-end talent and win year after year. In reality, payroll is a factor but not a guarantee. The Padres have spent like a kid who stole mom’s credit card and Amazon login, but are presently chasing the wildcard and hoping for their 7th ever playoff appearance as a franchise. And that’s the team that stole Fernando Tatis from Rick Hahn and shocked all the Kenny Williams the Sox have by signing Manny Machado. So spending and letting a GM run free isn’t always a recipe for success as an owner. As fans, the anger towards the Reinsdorf era should be the strange inability to make cold business decisions in favor of never having a former player or employee leave because they are family. The loyalty keeps players around that shouldn’t be, lands the same coaches and brain trust year in and year out, makes saying anything critical of the team a risk, and is the reason Tony is dozing his way to a third-place finish. Jerry Reinsdorf shouldn’t necessarily be the sole target of the fans’ vitriol, but he’s on the list.

On the subject of lists, the Injured List has been littered with White Sox all season. The latest? Tim Anderson and his hand. But at various times the team has been robbed of Lance Lynn, Liam Hendriks, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Yas Grandal, plus a number of relievers and contributors. If there is an actual injury bug, that thing needs to go. Fans could easily dispatch an actual injury bug, though there would be injuries sustained in the process. As there is no actual injury bug, then maybe the Sox training staff should wear the anger. After all, with a sustained run of full health maybe the team isn’t constantly hovering around .500 and is running away with the division. But injuries don’t explain some of the underperformance of hitters on the team. Also, some injuries are freak-like, such as Tim Anderson tearing a ligament on a check swing or Danny Mendick’s knee tearing from a collision. Some were inevitable, like the knees on Yas and Lance that are just giving up the ghost because that’s what joints start doing after 30+ years. The nagging-type things like a pulled hammy are common, but aggravating when the team is suffering multiple injuries at once. No doubt the Sox need to review their training regimens for next year, but it is hard to be mad at the injuries or blame faceless trainers for the Sox woes. That said, if the trainers are truly faceless then Jerry should be applauded for inclusive hiring but seriously, get trainers who can see and speak.

Among the Sox fans’ likely targets for unbridled irritation is a guy that seems to have his eyes closed often and mumbles a lot. Yup. Tony “Legit Hall of Fame Baseball Person” LaRussa. And Tony is a very legit hall of famer. He is one of the best to ever manage a baseball team. But he’s also a guy that looks utterly spent every game. And he makes decisions that seem…off. He makes statements about the game, the players, the clubhouse, and the greater White Sox universe that seem…off. Frankly, the ability to defend the Tony LaRussa experience is starting to wear…off. Fans will bristle at weirdly timed intentional walks and the ever-changing lineup, the maddening overuse of some players and the frustration of watching some players rot, and even decisions like not letting Michael Kopech go longer while chasing a no-no. But then, not all the moves are without some logic, and managers take the heat every year that the team doesn’t win. So getting mad at Tony is as natural as sleeping. But fans chanting for his ouster are as justified as those who, uhhh, well seeing as how firing Tony has become a point of agreement across most of MLB, there’s plenty of justified anger at his continued employment. Rather than anger, maybe some compassion is warranted. This is a once-legendary manager that has clearly lost a step from his heyday. Sometimes grandpa needs the license taken away before things get really bad. Getting mad at a guy for aging and not being what he once was is like screaming at a mirror for not showing a better-looking reflection. Tony deserves the usual anger reserved for the manager, but maybe not all of what fans are feeling. After all, Tony doesn’t have to manage next year. He will if no one in the organization says something.

So that’s Rick Hahn, right? Maybe Kenny Williams? After all, Rick is the brains behind the team and Kenny is the brains behind the Sox’s only World Series team this century. They can, at least by most understandings of an MLB front office, fire the manager and change the roster. There are always rumors that Jerry meddles in their affairs and they can’t fully act on their best-laid plans. But a true set of brains finds a way around that if it is true. Rick Hahn, in particular, is the target of fans’ vitriol and he should be. After suffering through the rebuild, fans were promised a young, hungry team that was going to have sustained success as the team maintained control of the core and would be able to spend money to fill in around them. But the team isn’t all that young, having an average age of just under 30 years old. By contrast, the division-leading Guardians have an average age of 26 years old. The difference? Only one Guardian is 33 or older, that being reliever Bryan Shaw. Meanwhile, the Sox roster has 10 guys that fit that description. Hahn has nothing much immediately ready to help from the minors and the overall farm system is low-rated. The Guardians got here in part by making hard trades of Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger in recent years while having their own prospects come up. The Sox made trades like that after 2016, but that was with a longer-term rebuild in mind. In a year like 2022 when the team might not go anywhere, a trade of one key player for a couple of MLB-ready prospects or controllable MLB players could set the team up for 2023 and beyond. Maybe Rick tried that, but then again maybe not. He expressed frustration at the inability to get anything going at the deadline, but that would mean that he either couldn’t part with players that other teams would give real value to get, or there are no players that Rick can get any real value for. Either way, that’s a big failure on the front office. Of course, beyond the nagging lack of a real 2B option coming into the season, fans were genuinely excited by the team as spring sprung. And there is real talent on the 40-man roster, at least on paper. And while the games themselves are played on paper, Rick’s game is all on paper. Rick Hahn isn’t in uniform and can’t make the team perform up to their potential. He deserves an office full of anger, but there’s no point in being mad at him for the players not playing.

Which brings this around to where the anger should be directed. Every time a Sox player loafs down to first or the team makes a guy with a 1.68 WHIP look like prime Randy Johnson, or a sloppy error opens up floodgates, fans should be seething. Fans will adore a try-hard team of mediocre players, but a hyped-up team of potential stars that play unfocused and sometimes lazy baseball will absolutely earn the fans’ ire. Fans can forgive the aging and relatably-bodied Lance Lynn for having a bum knee and struggling with it, but fighting hard to be better. But an arrogant and totally ineffective Dallas Keuchel should be the fans’ punching bag. To the extent that the Sox, as a whole, resemble Dallas’ attitude and not Lance’s attitude, fans are more than justified in their anger, they are downright entitled to it. But the anger shouldn’t be blanket anger. No sense in being mad at Jimmie Lambert because Lucas Giolito has seemingly regressed towards his 2018 debacle, or booing Seby Zavala each time Yoan Moncada grounds out. It isn’t fairweather fandom to be mad at the team and the players. Anyone who says otherwise probably lollygags. And no one likes a lollygagger.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can recreate the lollygaggers speech from Bull Durham.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry? Andrew Vaughn’s .903 OPS shows how consistent he is in a good way. But, surprise! Yasmani Grandal has a .353 average and a 1.088 OPS over the last week. Yeah. Weird how that slid right on past everyone.

Yas, you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore. Stealthily too.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: Miracle(s) Max(ed)

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that you can only laugh through tears. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult a sad clown and ask if this blog is right for you.

“G’Bye! Have fun storming the playoffs! Think it’ll work? It’ll take a miracle. Bye!!” Photo (C) Buttercup Films/20th Century Fox, Sox logo (c) MLB and Chicago White Sox

Not to be too pessimistic, but the Sox seem to be in the Pit of Despair and having years of fans’ lives sucked away with every series that takes a step forward and a step or two back. They aren’t all dead, which if the team was all dead there is nothing left to do but go through the roster for loose outfielders. They may not even be mostly dead. But they are living to bluff, continually making everyone wonder if this season is a mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich (where the mutton is lean and the tomatoes are ripe…so perky) or if this season needs a miracle pill.

Here are a few miracles to ponder. Chocolate coating makes it go down easier:


THE SAVING TRADE: This would really be a major miracle. This is the opposite of the 1997 White Flag Trade, a trade that turns the team around and sparks a winning campaign. Why is this a miracle? It doesn’t always work. Generally, teams that need to drop 3-4 cards from their 5-card stud hand aren’t going to win any chips. Most effective trades aren’t along the lines of what the Sox would purport to be doing, getting multiple relievers and another starter. In 1997, the Giants did that courtesy of the White Sox and saw Wilson Alvarez and Danny Darwin be fairly pedestrian down the stretch while Roberto Hernandez was good. It led to the Giants losing in the NLDS. Last year, the Sox grabbed a decent veteran reliever on a heater in Ryan Tepera for really nothing much at the moment. Tepera was among the Sox’ most reliable pitchers. By contrast, the splash of getting Craig Kimbrel was a disaster, and Cesar Hernandez was below bleh.

The teams that benefit the most at the trade deadline are one player away from feeling whole. The 2022 Sox are not that. Can Rick Hahn trade his way into a pennant? Inconceivable.

THE BIG WIN STREAK: Waiting. Waaaaiiting. Waiting! Fans have been waiting for the Sox to go on a run of, say, 10 wins in a row to get rid of the .500 stench that has surrounded the season and grab the AL Central lead. Well, on one hand, if you rush a miracle, you get rotten miracles. On the other hand, proverbially Buttercup is marrying Humperdink in little less than half an hour. There’s a lot to do in that timeframe, and the Sox need to get going on any win streak before the Twins or Guardians run away with it. Inconceivable? Hardly. Getting on a winning streak isn’t like getting into a land war in Asia. But this team seems hard pressed to get themselves started, unable to string victories together. Maybe it is time that they admit that they are not left-handed and start trying to win.

THE REVENGE BUSINESS: In “The Princess Bride,” Inigo Montoya spends his life trying to right a wrong, namely the needless death of his father over a matter of ego, basically. He spends his life chasing the memory of a six-fingered man. Jerry Reinsdorf has a little Inigo in him…at a young age in terms of his ownership he saw a Hall of Fame manager sacked over a matter of ego, basically. He’s been chasing his revenge ever since, and finally feels like he can get the six-fingered man, a championship with Tony LaRussa. But in the movie, Inigo found his prey, but still needed multiple feats of superhuman strength, master strategy from a genius tactician, plus a large cloak and a wheelbarrow. It isn’t enough to put Tony in the dugout, as the team is finding out; they still need tactics that seem missing and they need their stars to perform some major feats of strength to succeed. So far, they haven’t shown any signs that they know where to get a cloak and a wheelbarrow.

Will getting Tony to the promised land in a Sox uniform take a miracle? Not inconceivable, but a lot of things have to come together quickly and improbably, and other people might have to take a larger role.

THE FIRE SWAMP: “We won’t survive!” “You’re just saying that because no one ever has.” Metaphorically, the playoffs are a swamp filled with flames, quicksand, and rodents of unusual sizes. And the Sox haven’t survived the past two attempts. They also have never had a third consecutive run into the playoffs in their history.

The metaphor is getting mixed here, but if the past two years were taking on a deadly terror of the swamp, then the question is whether they’ll avoid those and survive the third. The three terrors of the playoffs? The Sox so far have fallen prey to them: watching their pitching fall short, failing to get clutch hits, and having their defense fail at key moments. A third crack at it is also slipping away for this year, but if they can develop a way to dodge the things that have killed them in the past two playoffs, they can live comfortably in The Fire Swamp for some time. And then other teams can visit them if they wish to die.

Will it take a miracle to get into the playoffs, and then win in the playoffs? Not really, but the team is going to need to be vigilant and ready at all times because there’s no room for error. To think, missing the playoffs going into this season was…inconceivable.

When it comes to miracles, there’s reason to believe in them. There’s reason to doubt them. And while rushing a miracle can lead to rotten miracles, they need to hurry. Fans are coming upon the cliffs of insanity awfully quick.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “as you wish”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and would make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts? Andrew Vaughn bracketed the All-Star break with a .324 AVG and .971 OPS, but Dylan Cease. The staff ace has a 0.85 WHIP and 0.00 ERA in his last two starts, with 12 K’s being somewhat muted for him, as he’s now just behind Corbin Burnes for the MLB lead, but still leads the AL in strikeouts. Should have been an All-Star too.

Dylan Cease, you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore. Actually, jeez…he wields both the Mustache of Menace and the Staff of Cork and Kerry…inconceivable.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: The Fall Star Game

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that Savage Steve Holland made suicide attempts funny in the movie “Better Off Dead”. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult something with raisins in it and ask if this blog is right for you. You like raisins.

Play along at home! Who are you throwing under the bus like so many dice? Fall Guy board game (C) Milton Bradley, Sox logo (C) MLB and Chicago White Sox

The Fall Guy. A TV show in the 80s starring Lee Majors as a stuntman who is also a bounty hunter. Cool truck, solid theme song sung by the show’s star. A visit with that show is a throwback to a time when Lee Majors could sing a song about making Burt Reynolds look good and it made sense. It also largely coincided with the first time Tony La Russa managed the Sox. Rumor has it that Hawk Harrelson had a hand in the show ending its run too.

The term “fall guy” is a way of saying “scapegoat.” The guy that takes the fall so that the rest of the gang stays clean. Someone has to have their head roll when things go bad, but that head has to roll in a way that has real impact and can’t just be a low-level wonk. And for the 2022 White Sox, things have gone bad. So bad, in fact, that approaching the All-Star break the biggest news wasn’t Tim Anderson starting, but the announcement to the locker room being met with the excitement usually reserved for having one’s name called at the oral surgeon. The team needed to come out battling against the Guardians, then took two meek losses before the All-Star snubbed Dylan Cease salvaged a game and Lucas Giolito returned from the upside down. The other headline? Whispers. The clubhouse is fractured. No leadership. The divisiveness reserved for the “taste great, less filling” commercials that would have filled time during The Fall Guy or the endless debate over whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

So here the 2022 season stands. Things have gone bad. It is falling apart. And either the whole team needs to fall, or a fall guy is needed. And since Lee Majors is in his 80’s and not doing stunts or bounty hunting, at least in all likelihood, the fall guy for the 2022 Sox needs to be one of them.

Looking at the contributors to this disappointment, there’s gotta be more than a few candidates. Maybe a few heads will roll. Maybe one. Here’s a case for and against each.


The Front Office

Rick Hahn, GM: On one hand, he built the team, and to the extent that there are holes in the lineup or rotation or bullpen, that’s on Rick. On the other hand, rumor has long had it that Tony and Jerry overruled Rick on some moves and capped his ability to bid on certain players.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 50% chance. GMs get fired all the time as a scapegoat, and Rick has his hands dirty here but could be given a chance to finish the job in the second half, or 2023.

Ken(ny) Williams, Exec. VP: On one hand, he has some pull in the team’s operations. On the other hand, he’s been awfully quiet.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 10% chance. Maybe if Hahn gets the boot and they clean house, but Kenny’s been behind the scenes too much to make a statement.

Jerry Reinsdorf, Owner/Chairman: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no he won’t be going anywhere until he’s called to the great beyond.

Chris Getz, Asst. GM: On one hand, he is tasked with player development and the farm system has been less than helpful this year beyond Seby Zavala and Davis Martin; blaming the player development for wrecking the plan seems plausible. On the other hand, the upper minors are a somewhat expected trash bin while there are better prospects down below, so what’s he supposed to do? He develops the players, he doesn’t Getz them.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 40% chance. Could be the type that Getz “reassigned” as a sacrificial lamb to show that the team is doing something.


Coaching Staff

Tony La Russa, Manager: On one hand, he’s the guy that has made the weird choices and lineups, may have lost control of the clubhouse, and is the legit hall of fame baseball person that was supposed to do for the Sox what Joe Maddon was for the Cubs (be better than Ricky Renteria). On the other hand, he’s Jerry’s guy; there’s a chance that he gets to manage out the lost season and then step down under his own steam.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 50% chance. Firing the manager is the layup move in a disappointing season (see the Blue Jays, Phillies, and Angels this year), but Tony has something that most managers don’t in the love of the owner.

Frank Menechino, Hitting Coach: On one hand, the offense has been bad, and early season oddities like Gavin Sheets trying to ground one towards third instead of lifting the ball to right smacks of the hitting coach. On the other hand, injuries and Leury Garcia, so the deck was stacked.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 90% chance. He’s not a beloved former Sox player and an easy scapegoat.

Ethan Katz, Pitching Coach: On one hand, he has been the guy credited with turning around Lucas Giolito and developing Dylan Cease into his current dominance, though Giolito is struggling. On the other hand, the struggling pitchers may be suffering physically more so than mechanically, as Lynn and Kopech might have worse knees than is being discussed while Joe Kelly spent a decent amount of time hurt, and Giolito seems more physically off than whatever he was in 2018. Katz is a coach, not a doctor.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 65% chance. He’s a guy that could be fired easily, but he’s actually helped some guys and may not be able to fix what’s ailing the team.

Miguel Cairo, Bench Coach: On one hand, he could be propping up Tony better and has a big hand in being able to right the ship regardless of Tony. On the other hand, he may be a hologram.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 50% chance. The biggest issue is that firing Cairo might not be enough of a splash because “Bench Coach” isn’t sexy or public enough to satiate fans’ desires for blood.

“Super Joe” McEwing, 3B Coach: On one hand, he has gotten more guys thrown out at home than Tinder. On the other hand, he may be using his mental powers to keep Tony going.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 75% chance. He goes if Tony goes and maybe gets the boot to save Tony.

Daryl Boston, 1B Coach: On one hand, he’s Daryl Boston. On the other hand, he’s Daryl Boston.

IS HE THE FALL GUY? 0% chance. He’s Daryl Boston.

Curt Hasler/Howie Clark/Jerry Narron: These guys are probably safe as their roles are too small to make a difference, but if there’s a culling they’ll be caught in the net.


Pitchers

Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Johnny Cueto, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Davis Martin, Starters: Dallas Keuchel was already sacrificed to the altar of fan disappointment. Cueto, Cease, and Martin have done all that can be expected of them or more. Lynn was hurt and has struggled in his return but has only a small sample to look at. Kopech was nasty at the start and has cooled off but there’s a chance he’s hurt. That leaves Giolitio, who has struggled but without any obvious injuries or changes to his approach. But the Sox aren’t releasing Giolito and a trade now seems like it wouldn’t maximize the return.

ANY FALL GUYS? No, but Lynn, Giolito, and Kopech could all see the IL to protect them.

Liam Hendriks, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez, Jose Ruiz, Tanner Banks, Relievers: There are others, but these are the guys that have been either key players or at the very least, the guys that have been the constants to start the year. Of them, Hendriks, Graveman, Lopez, and to a degree Banks have all been at their best or at least their norms. Kelly was prepackaged with an injury and hasn’t been what his baseball card would say he ought to be. Ruiz has been, well, himself…for whatever that is.

ANY FALL GUYS? Kelly, maybe. But there’s more likely another stay on the IL than a DFA.


Catchers

Yasmani Grandal, Reese McGuire, Seby Zavala: Grandal has been hurt and ineffective, McGuire has been as advertised for better or worse, while Zavala has been solid all around. Hard to lay the blame when a catcher in his 30s has physical issues, or when a guy shows that he is a good defender with an okay stick, or when a fringe prospect puts it together to act like a legit starter.

IS THERE A FALL GUY? No chance. McGuire could be gone just because Zavala took the gig from him, but that’s routine rather than sending a message.


Infielders

Leury Garcia, Josh Harrison, Jake Burger, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Andrew Vaughn, Tim Anderson, Danny Mendick: Lenyn Sosa wasn’t here long enough to matter. TA has been himself at the plate, by and large, but a bit less himself in the field where some spotlight errors were at issue early on. Jose Abreu was cold early but has been on fire of late. Vaughn has been among the team’s best players along with Jake Burger. Mendick was having his best year before getting knocked out in an unfunny comedy of errors. That leaves the big off-season signings and Yoan Moncada. Leury is a favorite of Tony’s and has been in the rough situation of being put in big spots where he was set up to fail, along with getting a huge contract for a utility guy. Harrison was cold early but has been better lately, and was always one of the best gloves on the team. Moncada is in the throes of his second straight down year after the Covid-truncated 2020. His glove is sound but the hitting breakout of 2019 is starting to look like a product of the happy fun ball and less like a breakout.

IS THERE A FALL GUY? Dropping Leury off to another team would send a message, but a trade involving Moncada would shake up the team’s core in a way that could be a wake-up. The problem is maximizing value, but Moncada would make a heck of a fall guy.


Outfielders

Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets, A.J. Pollock: Adam Haseley’s biggest contribution was ruining Danny Mendick, but his departure wouldn’t be impactful enough to be a fall guy. Eloy’s injury has him looking like a man of glass, but in his return, he’s been fine. Engel and Sheets have been off and on effective, with Gavin spending time on the farm. Robert hasn’t been as dominant as projected but has been one of the team’s best. Pollock…a streaky guy who has been streaky, and possibly used improperly. But he was the last piece of the puzzle, improbably acquired from the Dodgers for Craig Kimbrel.

IS THERE A FALL GUY? A.J. might be a guy that gets moved even if the team is somehow still in it at the deadline. His trade wouldn’t have the impact of trading, say, Eloy. But it would be moving a useful veteran off of a supposed contender.


Fall Guys Finale

Tony and the coaching staff would seem to be the obvious choices, but then this team has seemingly become allergic to making an obvious choice. Instead, they could decide to fire Rick and have Kenny or Chris Getz take over the GM role and try and salvage the second half. That seems unlikely too, given that the team values a guy like Rick more than any player. So, if there is the definitive Fall Guy, who is it? A supposed core of the team, a member of the flailing offense, a key guy on the roster…coming soon to a TV near you, The Fall Guy, starring Yoan Moncada.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “the Sox waste another opportunity”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and put down the opposition? Jose Abreu continues to rake after continuing to rake, .375 avg with an OPS of .957, which is just Pito being Pito in the warm months. There, lurking like an oncoming storm, is La Pantera. Luis Robert pounded a 1.043 OPS over a .357 avg. over the past week, a key week at that.

Luis Robert, you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: A Hump Day to Get Over the Hump

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that a double entendre is funny. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult a camel and ask if this blog is right for you.

Get over a different hump, fellas. Photo by John O’Neill, original sans Sox bling (logo (c) M:B and Chicago White Sox).

On a hump day in early July, the White Sox were still a team that some said just needed to get over the hump. They needed a key win, or to get healthy. They needed something that would just get them past the malaise that had been the 2022 season.

If they could just get over the hump. The hump, of course, is a mythical thing. There’s no real hill to climb or bumps in the road to a championship. There’s no actual road. There’s just a string of games, and prior to the 10-inning win over the Twins on July 6, more of those games had been poorly played losses than not. But that hump day win was a change from those earlier losses. Maybe…juuuuuuuuuussst maybe…that mythical hump was hopped over. Here’s how they may have done it.


THE POWER. Home runs were not supposed to be a problem for this team. But, to date, the team had been bad at hitting them. Even after three clutch bombs, the team has 65 homers through 80 games. That’s bottom five in MLB. One player, Jose Abreu, is in double digits with 10. Luis Robert has nine. Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger each have eight. But Yas Grandal has two. Eloy has two in 12 games. Reese McGuire has nada in 46 games. Yoan Moncada has only three and Gavin Sheets has five. The Sox are top five in batting average and over 80 games are just outside the top five in hits, but there’s no power. A team SLG of .380 is bad. In fact, the White Sox as a team are basically Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo. If that name fails to inspire any confidence, well, so have the White Sox. The return of a healthy Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal adds a potential combined 60-homer duo to the lineup, replacing, in particular, a lack of reliable power in Reese McGuire and Seby Zavala, and lesser power in Adam Engel or A.J. Pollock. Does it bode well that Robert and Vaughn joined the parade on the hump day hump hop? Only if they sustain.

THE ‘PEN. There was a curious issue with the Sox through the first ten extra inning affairs. As the home team, they always gave up that top o’ the 10th run. Or a few runs. When they did win, it was either after some give and take in the 10th on, or they were the visitors, and a score at the top led to Liam at the bottom. But Jose Ruiz, faced with a hump to hop, did something smart that had been missing in the prior games, most recently days before against the Twins. Ruiz didn’t give leadoff hitter Jose Miranda anything to hit. That walk, a K, and a double play, and the inning ended. More often than not, that top of the 10th had been a quick base hit, scoring the ghost runner and then either more or shutting it down. And where there was more, like against the Twins when they lit up Joe Kelly, that’s just a loss. But giving up that cheapy in the 10th to the visitors was unneeded, especially when the opponents would do things like intentionally walk a White Sox hitter to set up a double play. Or with the Sox’ base running, maybe even a triple play. Matt Foster getting hit, Kendall Graveman giving up a run both hurt. But overall there needs to be a clutch gene with a bullpen and strategy and going forward that needs to continue. Guys will get knocked around by good teams. But at the end of the game, when time is short and the opportunities to win are short, that’s when the team needs to be smart. Maybe Jose Ruiz got lucky, but hopefully, this hump day hump hop happened not haphazardly.

THE RESILIENCY. After Tim Anderson struck out in the 10th to end the July 4 festivities, he didn’t try and run to first even though the ball had kicked clear of Gary Sanchez. The team looked defeated in both run differential and mental fortitude. But come hump day, there was an energy. The Twins kept charging, but the Sox came back until they finally plated that winning run. There was fortitude. Attitude. No interludes of ineptitude. The Sox didn’t brood. And in the end, they weren’t screwed. Dude. Was that all there for the entirety of the season? Not really, but not entirely no. They had walked a few teams off and had extra inning wins. Not every victory was easy. Tony had talked about the team being together early on and that they cared. But the perception that they didn’t have any resiliency came from moments like TA not running it out, the stupidity of the 8-5 triple play, or the myriad of losses that looked like the team was sleepwalking because their talent was superior. If the talent is there, then the effort must be to blame in a below .500 team.

Either way, the impact of the hump day hump hop is either emergence of the team’s heart where the heart had been missing or validation to the team that their resilience, when tested, can be rewarded instead of another loss being served. Either way, a potential mental kick in the sliding shorts. A heartened hump day hump hop happy happening.

THE HEALTH. So can a back-and-forth walk-off notable for the return of one of the team’s biggest stars and personalities be a catalyst to a winning streak and a return to contention this year? Yes, yes it can. In 2005 the Sox were 35-17 at the end of May, four games up. Frank Thomas came back June 1 and went nuts, and by the end of June, the Sox were 53-24 and 10 games up. So can Eloy coming back on July 6 have the team go from under .500 and in third place to over .500 and pushing for first place? Depends on how often he publicly says hi to his mom in July. The injured list remains crowded for this team, but Eloy’s return seems like the biggest one that the team could ask for. Happy hi mom hump day hump hop health.

There is, gasp, reason for optimism after all. But this is just conjecture that a hard-fought game over the division leader in the midst of a season-defining run can be the catalyst to make a championship run. It could just be a fun game in a lost season. Here’s hoping hump day hump hop holds happiness, however, heed heartbreak’s harbingers.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “Hi Mom”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and give what for to his baseball opponents? Jose Abreu continues to rake, .375 avg with an OPS of 1.006, which is just Pito being Pito in the warm months. However, his gaze of disbelief is either leveled at his team’s brainfarts or at Seby Zavala going bonkers and hitting .500 with an OPS of 1.154 over the last week. Yas who? Bless you.

Seby Zavala, you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: BBQ’ing The Team

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that a 5-year-old on laughing gas is funny. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult a blind periodontist and ask if this blog is right for you.

Festive! You can buy these plates here without the Sox logo (which is (C) MLB and The Chicago White Sox)

It draws near, the Fourth of July (4th of July, July 4th, Independence Day, July 4, and the day your left thumb died all as acceptable variants). The day heralded by the citizens and fans of the U.S. of A. as the day a shiny middle finger was uplifted towards tyranny and a monarch was gut-kicked and had his face jammed into the shoulder of a rapidly sitting bald eagle. That’s right, an eagle gave King George the Stone Cold Stunner. ‘MERICA!!!

That was slightly more intense than required, but nonetheless the 4th of July is marked by pretty explosions, engorging on grilled foods, probably more alcoholic beverages than most would ever admit, and Major League Baseball’s season reaching the halfway point in the schedule. Generally, if a team is good or bad, fans will have the general idea by July 4th as to whether their team is headed anywhere or whether to start thinking about fantasy football and who in their league is Joc Pederson levels of slap-worthy.

For the 2022 White Sox fan, there is some indecision as to whether the team is worth it or not. As most Chicago sports outlets will almost exclusively cover the Bears in the coming weeks and have their twitter handle dedicated to Willson Contreras’ trade status, for the Sox fan there will also be less opportunity for guidance. How a fan consumes their sports teams mirrors how the average stereotypical middle-American consumes their Independence Day. Not the movie Independence Day…that is to be consumed on basic cable. And Will Smith says “EarTH” not “EarFF”. And if Jeff Goldblum can save the planet, any time now good sir. Digression complete. Without further ado:


IF THE WHITE SOX ARE CONSUMED LIKE JULY 4 MEATS: This is where the fan will have the most opportunity to decide their own fate. Generally no one manning a grill has just one thing on the grill. At a minimum, burgers are surrounded by hot dogs with one veggie patty of something mixed in. Sometimes there’s a quesadilla involved. The masters run multiple grills or smokers to produce everything from ribs and chicken to multiple varieties of sausages with that one veggie whathaveyou. The quality and execution vary, but there’s options. Consumers can gorge until meat sweats are indistinguishable from heat sweats, or grab one thing and call it a day, or graze and go back from time to time until there are too many flies to feel comfortable.

For Sox fans, the biggest reward to consuming their favorite team this way is that they’ll end up with a stomach ache, heartburn or an outright heart attack, or still be hungry depending on their choices. But the choices are there. And they’ll either stay for longer than wanted or leave room for more later if things get interesting.

IF THE WHITE SOX ARE CONSUMED LIKE JULY 4 SIDES: Again with the options, but with less staying power and less filling, leaving room for other stuff. With this the Sox fan can leave room for spending time wondering just how ruined Justin Fields is compared to where he would be if the Patriots had drafted him. But the time to consume runs pretty quick and can’t be left unattended for long. The mayo will turn, the lettuce will wilt, the dips will become either soup or crusty, the fruit will effectively disintegrate. Act fast, grab all that’s wanted, move on. No shame. But be prepared to come back around later for sure.

IF THE WHITE SOX ARE CONSUMED LIKE JULY 4 DESSERTS: Sometimes there are other distractions. Sometimes there are other reasons to come late to the party. Sometimes fans need to step away and handle other things. Someone has to get ice, get the keg tapper, clean up after a parade, sleep off a July 3rd bender, play some horseshoes, whatever. There’s always desserts hanging around late in the afternoon. And who doesn’t like a good red, white, and blue cupcake or something frozen on a nice summer evening?

As the sun sets a Sox fan can grab something that’s hopefully sweet and satisfying. The biggest risk? Desserts are sometimes an afterthought and aren’t very good; just a $5 cheap package of something more decorative than substantive. The best is what came earlier. Things get sticky. But this is what the meat eaters and sides swipers will swing back around for to finish off the season. If a fan wants only dessert, they’ll either be there for a hint of what might have been or late to what has been, but either way this shouldn’t be all a fan takes in.

IF THE WHITE SOX ARE CONSUMED LIKE JULY 4 FIREWORKS: Forget the daytime, the action is when it is darkest. Fans in this form of consumption want things to burn. If the professionals aren’t available, the fan will celebrate the day their left thumb died over and over again. It will make that Carlos May hitman jersey pretty accurate, one one hand. But this isn’t as fun a way to be a fan or celebrate the USA as one might think. This is what makes it grand, the ability to look at the brightest flashes and flourishes, or just simply blowing it all to kingdom come. It is pure emotion, and a necessary part of fandom and celebrating the anniversary of needing to drink exclusively from handled cups. But without actual sustenance, without actually taking something internal, the fireworks end quickly and there’s nothing left. Well. Almost.

IF THE WHITE SOX ARE CONSUMED LIKE JULY 4 BEERS: You may have deep regrets when it is over, but beer is always there. And there are those who will stick to a Coke or just water, but those aren’t fans. There’s a level for every fan: the having one or two over the course of the day, a casual fan; the solid streamer (in and out), a solid fan if there ever was one; and then the guy who is passed out by the tree he was peeing on in the corner of the yard behind the shed…your diehards…because he’ll be there to yell at the fireworks later. This is a day when grandpa lets the kids take a sip, or the college kid finally gets to hoist one in the open, or the stoner aunt does a keg stand like outta nowhere. The ability to handle the beer, whether in extreme heat, a thunderstorm, around the kids, with an occasional seltzer (Cubs?) or something harder to take (Bearsss), there is admiration and appreciation across the board. Sox fans will always consume this way, mainly because it makes it easier to watch this team trip over itself like a toddler baton squad in a parade.

So pick your path, Sox fans. The rest of the season is laid out like a backyard BBQ on the most quintessential of summer days. Take it in the way you want, as much or as little. Crack one open. But regardless, remember, this is supposed to be fun. And when it’s over, we can curse the dehydration, random patches of sunburn, mosquito bites, and smoking remnants of the shed (oops), but know that in the dead of winter when the Bears, Bulls, and Hawks have left us tired of eggnog and soup, that we’ll look forward to next July. So enjoy it, however it ends, because there are guaranteed to be explosions along the way and that is always worth a look.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “turn on the fireworks”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and hand out an Independence smiting? Gavin Sheets allegedly returned from AAA Charlotte and pumped out a .368 avg. with a 1.087 OPS, but as “Gavin” is rocking a goatee there is a chance he is really Gavin Sheets’ evil twin. So to be safe let’s give it to Josh Harrison, who was evidently just informed that the season is underway and responded with a week of .455 hitting with a 1.265 OPS.

Josh Harrison, nice to see you and you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: Loose Change

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way that it probably isn’t. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult the voices deep within yourself and ask if this blog is right for you.

Change can be…jarring. (Sunglasses and The Who’s Roger Daltrey screaming).
Photo originally appeared on thecusp.com, Sox Logo (c) MLB and The White Sox

By the end of the June 2022 White Sox vs. Rangers series, it was June 12, 2022. There were calls for Tony to be fired. There were calls for his staff to be fired. There were calls for just a large fire to toss the whole mess into. There were calls for change. Change from top to bottom. If the 2022 Sox were a person, there were calls that would require everything from a haircut and dye, down to a pedicure and that foot shaving thing that people do. Frankly, in a top-to-bottom overhaul shaving comes into play more than one might suspect and in places that shan’t be named in polite company.

After 6 months it should be clear that this is not the space where polite company comes to not shave.

But massive overhauls to the body aside, change came in the form of a 6-3 stretch where the Tigers gave up half of that and the Astros were played competitively before the Blue Jays took a two-game birdbath on the Southside. Change! There was change in the air. Lance Lynn and TA were back. Hitters were hitting! Even those that weren’t hitting. Pitchers were pitching! Even the ones who weren’t pitching. The 2022 White Sox were back, baby!

Back, baby is a stretch, The Sox were…well…they looked good anyway. There’s nothing wrong with a superficial glam up even if there are still some underlying problems. People are shown to be more comfortable around attractive people, according to stats that may not exist but sound right. So why not just enjoy the comfort of how attractive Dylan Cease’s mustache is and how the team winning games looks sexy? Because under the Sox’ new clean clothes and the combed hair lies fungal toenails, shaggy back hair, and, disturbingly, a vestigial tail. With a feather. A very handsome feather, but still.

Hitting remains an issue, where the lineup relies on a few while the rest of the lineup struggles. For a short time, there was little but Jake Burger to rely on. Like all Burgers, eventually, he got a little cold. Jose Abreu appeared to heat up, but in reality, over the winning stretch, he was back to a sub-.200 average and a sub-.500 OPS. AJ Pollock went streaking, then was just caught with his pants down. Meanwhile, TA, Luis Robert, and Josh Harrison came around while Andrew Vaughn, very quietly the Sox’ best hitter all year, moved his game to another level. A great-looking shirt with the buttons askew.

Pitching-wise, the Sox still didn’t string together five straight good starts through that nine-game run. For as much as Johnny Cueto and Dylan Cease remained the best pitchers in the rotation, and Lance Lynn returned to debate meats and sides with Super Joe, Michael Kopech struggled, and Lucas Giolito developed an acute case of the “Kuechels” (a hopefully curable ailment). The bullpen had solid efforts that were followed by terrible results, as has been the case all season. Great looking pants with the fly open.

Also, injuries tooketh and gaveth. Returning Lance Lynn and TA was a great get, but the injury demons took Liam Hendriks, Yoan Moncada, and Aaron Bummer. Thursday saw three exits with leg injuries to Adam Engel, Danny Mendick, and Luis Robert. Two steps forward, a few steps back. Shoes on the wrong feet the whole way.

Pretty much every fan, media person, White Sox employee, and most of their pets agree that the end of June becomes a hugely pivotal moment in the season, where getting back to over .500 and passing either the Guardians or the Twins or both heading into the All-Star game is a key moment for the 2022 White Sox. There is one goldfish belonging to a ticket sales rep that still believes that they can win it with a hot September. But that fish also forgets the Spongebob house in its tank during each lap around the bowl, so grain of salt with Gubbles’ opinions.

A 6-3 run is nice, and stringing together a winning run over nine games is a nice change of pace. But championships require consistency, and having five or six hitters in a deep freeze while three or four guys trade off getting hot in the lineup and having three out of five starters perform each turn isn’t a recipe for sustained success. The Sox fed off a really bad Detroit team and that was followed by suffering a beatdown, giving one back, having a close game, coming out hot and then nearly coughing it up, a clean win, and another whacking suffered. That’s two bad losses in a week where the team was supposed to be turning the page. By comparison, the Guardians and Yankees have had only two losses of 5 runs or more each in the entire month of June.

The White Sox cleaned up a bit and showed up to the parties looking better recently, but they still need to shave some unmentionables, trim their nails, pluck the feather…well maybe leave the feather (it is quite handsome)…but most importantly find some way to be consistent in every game. That would be a real change. Maybe even folding money.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “yowee kazowee”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and hand out a smiting or three? There’s little competition beyond Luis Robert, who looks more like the MVP candidate that was expected this year, and Andrew Vaughn who people are just now noticing is scalding hot. So, Robert’s .440 average with a 1.103 OPS? Vaughn’s .444 average with a 1.093 OPS? Roberts’ 12 RBIs are the deciding factor, because runs hurt the opposition.

La Pantera…you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: Comparative Disasters

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way Sci-Fi franchises make with the funny. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult an omnipotent entity and ask if this blog is right for you.

Oh…the humanity? Photo NASM Archives Division, Sox logo (c) MLB and the Chicago White Sox.

Oh, the humanity. When Cubs fans are on social media trying to figure out if a Cubs team with this much promise ever gave Cubs fans the type of ulcerative aneurysmatic rage organ failure the 2022 White Sox have bestowed upon its fanbase, you know it is bad. There’s presently much talk about who to blame, whether it be Tony La Russa and the myriad of odd decisions and lineups he has gone through, the injury bug (which at this point is more injury Hippo), or just bad performances on a badly constructed team.

Now, sure, there could be other teams out there that have had seasons of great hope and hype on the way in, and just brain-mushingly bad baseball by mid-June. Surely there are teams that have pulled themselves up from a pit of unending despair, and won the World Series. Surely there are tales of redemption and as many tales of nightmares come true. But no one named Shirley is involved in this venture, so instead let’s grab perspective on this season by comparing it to actual disasters.

The scale is 0-10, 0 demonstrating the White Sox 2022 season as being nothing like the disaster and 10 being a spot-on match, baseball to real life. None of this should diminish the loss of life and property by anyone in any real disasters, of course. The 2022 Sox aren’t going to cause untold amounts of death and injury, at least not directly or in a way that will be measured and reported.


DISASTER 1: The Hindenburg, May 6, 1937 – Leaking hydrogen and electrostatic discharge caused an explosion that destroyed the airship known as the Hindenburg. A striking example of everything needing to go just right because the architects of the airship chose something extremely combustible to keep everything afloat. Much like the 2022 White Sox, where if everything was going right, the team would be flying high. But the moment things started to go wrong, it combusted. Oddly, Tony LaRussa was at the Hindenburg Disaster (not because he’s old, but because he’s secretly a time traveler). At the time, he was quoted as saying: “Putting it up there like that, we saw a spark last week that we liked. I welcome second guessing but I stand by my decision.” Comparative Match: 5.5. Things aren’t flaming aground…yet.

DISASTER 2: The Titanic, April 15, 1912 – Failure to see impending doom and failure therefore to avoid it, added with the hubris of believing the ship to be “unsinkable” led to the largest non-combat boat sinking in history. There were inadequate lifeboats and a crew not trained in evacuation. The 2022 Sox appeared to believe they were unsinkable until they started to sink. Is the orchestra playing Na Na Na (Kiss Him Goodbye) on the deck of a sinking ship? Oddly, Tony LaRussa was at the Titanic sinking (not because he’s old, but because he’s secretly a time traveler). At the time, he was quoted as saying: “It doesn’t make sense. Do you know what an iceberg is hitting against ships? .125? I welcome second guessing but I stand by my decision.” Comparative Match: 7.5. The shortsightedness is there, but they aren’t sunk.

DISASTER 3: The Exxon Valdez oil spill, March 24, 1989 – Another maritime misadventure, the Exxon Valdez was an oil tanker traveling through Prince William Sound in Alaska when it ran aground and spilled an unfathomable 10.8 million gallons of crude into the brine. Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. The cause of the accident was a skipper who was questionably derelict in his duties (his widely rumored drinking problem wasn’t proven to be the cause) leaving the rest of his team to go out of control and ground the ship. Basically, Capt. Joseph Hazelwood wasn’t at the helm when the boat needed him, and there were questions about his fitness based on how he managed his crew. For the Sox, unquestionably there are chants and calls and probably murmurs that Tony LaRussa isn’t steering the ship properly and either his staff is failing him or he’s not capable anymore. Oddly, Tony LaRussa was at the oil spill (ignore that he was managing the A’s at the time). At the time, he was quoted as saying: “Is that really a question? Does anyone want to steer that ship at that count? I welcome second guessing but I stand by my decision.” Comparative Match: 9.5. The fact that the ship is out of control and might be grounded is too on the nose.

DISASTER 4: The Burning of Rome, July AD 64 – Legendarily, the great burning of Rome was highlighted by Emperor Nero playing his violin and letting the fire happen, in part to persecute a segment of the population and by rumor to be clearing space for a new palace. In reality, the fire spread in part by its own destructive life and in part with help from people trying actively to prevent the fire from being extinguished. The Sox feel like a team burning, while Jerry Reinsdorf plays the violin and looks forward to using the aftermath to his favor. There does, at times, feel like efforts to save the team have been fought from the inside. Oddly, Tony LaRussa was at the Roman fire (again, not old, just has a Delorean). At the time, he was quoted as saying: “The decision to give Nero a lyre to play was an easy one. If I didn’t I’d have to walk into an aqueduct. People disagree but that is the beauty of Rome. I welcome second guessing but I stand by my decision.” Comparative Match: 6.0. The idea that Jerry doesn’t care or wants the team to burn is mostly a guess and a complaint by fans that seems legit, but ultimately might just be a legend.

DISASTER 5: The Great Chicago Fire, October 8–10, 1871 – Legend has it that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern, starting the barn on fire that lead to the destruction of the vast majority of the City of Chicago. Over 2,112 acres burned with some 17,500 buildings lost. Years before a full rebuild was made (some say that it will never be rebuilt, especially the expressways). While the cow and Catherine O’Leary were scapegoats, the fact is that the city was ill-prepared for the fire and circumstances came together in a very, very bad way. The 2022 Sox have scapegoats a-plenty, from Tony to Rick to the training staff. The fact is that circumstances and fire in the form of injury and underperformance are something the team was ill-prepped to handle. And it is only getting worse. Oddly, Tony LaRussa was at the fire (not because he’s old, but because he’s secretly a time traveler). At the time, he was quoted as saying: “Mr. O’Leury is a valuable…wait, O’Leary? Don’t know O’Leary.” Comparative Match: 9.5. This just better not be a full burn down and rebuild again.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “you walked him with 2 strikes”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and hand out a smiting or three? Jake Burger continued to be more like “Rake” Burger and got engaged, so he deserves some consideration, and was worthy last time. Jose Abreu, however, hit .393 with an OPS of 1.255, and may or may not have been seen drinking Gatorade from the skull of a Detroit Tiger reliever.

Pito…you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


Follow us @SoxInTheBasemnt for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Mismatched Sox: All Good Things…

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way Sci-Fi franchises make with the funny. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult an omnipotent entity and ask if this blog is right for you.

The USS Entersox? Noooo….USS Soxerprise? Better. Screencap (C) Paramount, Sox logo (C) MLB and Chicago White Sox

In 1987 Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the ol’ boob tube and became one of the biggest science fiction TV shows in history. As the show came on the air in September 1987, Sox fans were rightfully looking for something else to do. The team had some young stars in the making, some veterans that were still very capable, and finished under .500 and in 5th place in the AL West. Still reeling from the disaster of Hawk’s GM run, frustration among fans was high. A new version of Star Trek with a bald captain? Sure. Better than debating whether Ken Williams or Daryl Boston was the better young OF. Oof.

By the time “TNG” (as it has since been termed) went off the air in May 1994, Sox fans were riding high on a 1993 playoff run, albeit mad about the ALCS performance. The series finale, titled “All Good Things…”, was a fantastic piece of television for fans of the show. Perhaps Sox fans with Trekker tendencies paid little heed to the denouement of the show that revitalized Sci-Fi TV and grew Star Trek into a franchise that boasts one of the top streaming shows 28 years after its finale.

What in the name of the Klingon Empire does this have to do with the White Sox? “All Good Things…” had a plot wherein Captain Picard, the hero of the show (among several), is sent time traveling back to the pilot episode where he’s just building up his command, and then to a future where he’s old and things have largely fallen apart, and then to the present where he’s supposedly at full strength and surrounded by the best talent and ability he’ll ever have. Over the course of two hours (minus commercials and credits), Picard must solve a mystery about how he destroys all humankind. It is largely summed up by this exchange between bad guy Q and Picard:

Q: I? There you go again, always blaming me for everything. Well this time I’m not your enemy. I’m not the one that causes the annihilation of mankind. You are.
PICARD: Me?
Q: That’s right. You’re doing it right now. You did it before and you’ll do it again.
PICARD: What sort of meaningless doubletalk is this?

Now onto the White Sox. If Rick Hahn is Picard, Q is…the fans probably. The fans aren’t the ones that are causing the 2022 season to be this frustrating, even if the team will lay some of the blame there. Rick is the architect of the team’s success and failure; he’s doing it now, he’s done it before and he’ll do it again. But where the fictional Captain of the Enterprise-D was facing the specter of his actions killing humanity, the very real GM of the Sox is facing his actions killing a fan base. Now, without totally spoiling a 28-year-old show, it has a happy ending but the solution to the issue involves blowing everything and everyone up. Yikes.

Rick did it before. He built this team on draft picks and trades for prospects, attempting to stock a farm system for perpetual competitive teams. At some point, on some level, the point of the exercise was to get a core group of stud players that would carry the team through a multiple-year championship window, followed by the next wave. and so on. He built a pitching staff of Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech as anchors. He built an outfield of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and to a lesser extent Adam Engel, Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets. He had Tim Anderson, he grabbed Yoan Moncada and drafted Jake Burger. He drafted Nick Madrigal. There were talented bodies everywhere.

But there was a problem. We have discovered it in the present but it is bigger in the past, much as the problem for Captain Picard. The talent that Rick brought in? International free agents and trades brought in Cease, Giolito, Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and other prospects that didn’t pan out. Draft picks brought current players Garret Crochet, who is hurt, ex-player and still injured Nick Madrigal, Jake Burger, who has been given few chances, Andrew Vaughn who has just started to emerge and Gavin Sheets, who maybe won’t fully emerge. It hasn’t produced a member of the rotation, and has produced bullpen arms Aaron Bummer and Matt Foster, who have been up and down. Rick’s problem is very much in the past, where he failed to take advantage of the draft to create organizational depth or create stars that the team can ride for years. His best players came from elsewhere. He then promised to spend money, and did well grabbing Yasmani Grandal and great getting Liam Hendriks and Kendall Graveman. He spent on Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel, one of whom has been dogged by injury and the other of whom was a consolation prize for missing Zack Wheeler and has since proven to be ineffective at any price. Leftover cash has been thrown at questionable veterans in Adam Eaton, Craig Kimbrel, Vince Velasquez, Josh Harrison, Joe Kelly and AJ Pollock. Money was spent, but spent on players that were past their prime or never going to have one. For Captain Picard, the problem he faced loomed bigger when he saw it in the past and ultimately destroyed humanity. For Rick, the championship is what could be destroyed by a problem that is bigger in the past but is still very much in the present.

Back in the present, Rick is doing it now. He filled second base with two utility players. As injuries hit, the position players that have filled in are eternal 26th man Danny Mendick and the aforementioned Jake Burger. The team has had the barely-serviceable Bennett Sousa and the now-fading Tanner Banks replacing Garrett Crochet. Johnny Cueto was pulled off the scrap heap and has shimmied his way into the rotation, where previously Vince Velasquez was ok off the scrap heap himself, Dallas Keuchel was a disaster, Jimmie Lambert failed and Davis Martin was rushed to the show for one shining moment. With Tim Anderson now hurt and joining Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert on the IL, the offense is crippled. Jake Burger is hitting better than Yoan Moncada, but his glove puts him in the DH spot and he can’t help with the replacement of TA. That DH spot is already filled by Gavin Sheets, who is also the 4th OF with Vaughn, Pollack and Adam Engel as starters. Yolbert Sanchez is hitting well in AAA, so maybe there’s hope.

But hope isn’t the sure thing that the Sox need. Right now, the Sox should be at their best, their top ability on display. But ineffective play and injuries have left the team scuffling for answers, with ever-changing lineups and every pitching decision looming huge. Much like Rick, for Captain Jean-Luc Picard the present offered very little by way of answers but instead was just the point at which he had had the immediate concern. The problem may have been discovered in the present, and is bigger when viewed through the lens of the past, but it is the future that paradoxically could be the biggest issue.

For Captain Picard, the future was a frustrating mix of being confused, being accused of incompetence, not having the benefit of the resources he had in the past. For Rick, that seems like a very real possibility. If the team fails to win a World Series this year or next year, the team starts falling apart from there. Jose Abreu could be done after this year. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, AJ Pollock, Yasmani Grandal and Adam Engel will be free agents after the 2023 season. Liam Hendriks could be a free agent. After that, Hendriks definitely is a free agent and joined by Lance Lynn, Tim Anderson, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, and Leury Garcia after 2024 and Kopech, Cease, Moncada, Jimenez and Vaughn shortly thereafter.

If the team fails to win it in 2022 and/or 2023, Rick will certainly act confused and may not understand why it didn’t happen. He will be accused of being incompetent. And will he be given the resources he had once? After selling the team on ditching the Ken Williams model of always trying to compete and often being in second place (wait a MINUTE!), Rick had the team suffer low attendance and interest during the rebuild, spent money that was thrown away on Dallas Keuchel, and if they fail to win was also somewhat wasted on Hendriks, Pollock, Grandal, Lynn and to a lesser extent guys like Garcia, Harrison, Graveman and Kelly. How much of a leash will Hahn be given? Will he be able to offer market rates to Giolito and Anderson? Will he be allowed to make real free agent overtures to replace the aging veterans that are coming off the books? In the show, Picard realizes in the future that he has created the problem by taking the same action in the past, present and again in the future, even though in the future everyone says taking the same action serves no purpose and won’t accomplish anything. Come 2025, when the rotation will be Kopech and Cease in their last years and three TBD’s, the bullpen will be anyone’s guess, and the position player core will have long since either become the stars they are expected to be or have settled into something less, it will feel a lot like 2016. Hahn won’t likely be allowed to take a team that has some star veterans and too many holes to fill and leverage the veteran stars for the future. He might not be given the money to spend on stars to fill holes. He did it before, he’s doing it now, but if he does it again he could destroy it all.

Picard was faced with his dilemma and through the magic of “Treknobabble”, essentially quasi-technical-scientifical nonsense that only works in sci-fi, everything blows up around Picard. Q uses more sci-fi suspension of disbelief to make everything all right and hammer home the lesson. Now armed with a lesson learned and a new appreciation for thinking outside the lines, he and his crew move on to a bright, limitless future that in reality amounted to one really great movie, two mediocre movies, one clunker and another series that underwhelmed. For Rick, he won’t have the benefit of sci-fi magic. But he may need to blow it up to save it.

Not literally, of course, but figuratively. With the Sox treading water and hoping to get healthy, it bears watching over the next month or so whether the window is closing on this season and possibly the rebuild. If the 2022 season is sunk by injuries and/or some ineffective play, then maybe blowing things up around him makes sense. If the team fails to win it all, then maybe blowing things up around him makes sense. To the extent that the fans are Q, and Rick is Picard, then if he learns the lesson we can save him and return this thing to normal rabid fandom and Rick can go on to a bright and limitless future that hopefully has a little more success than one great one, two mediocre ones, a clunker and two underwhelming seasons with a TBD.

The frustration for fans is that there won’t be a neatly wrapped up happy ending to this season in two hours (minus credits and commercials, but possibly with bonus scenes added). Instead it’ll be maddening extra-innings games and wondering why A.J. Pierzynski sees that Matt Foster should be in the game instead of Johnny Cueto but Tony doesn’t. It’ll be wondering who will get hurt next and what the walking wounded will be able to do upon their return. It’ll be more lineup shenanigans. It’ll be an endless supply of Leury Garcia at-bats. It will be a mess. But after two months (minus cred – uhh… no just two months) there will be a real sense of clarity.

It is true that all good things come to an end, but the end isn’t necessarily here. Keep watching, it might be worth the gamble. To quote the good Captain: “So. Five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky’s the limit”.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry refers not just to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game and otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “dude”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and smite while the smitins’ good? Jose Abreu hit .412 with an OPS 1.289, which is pretty smitey. But Jake Burger won two ballgames, once on one of his two homers this week and the other on a walk off single while the Cubs were lined up in a can-can line between third and second bases. Plus he finally got to play 2B, so dreams do come true when shin-deep in the blood and viscera of thine enemies.

Jake Burger…you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


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Featured Image: White Sox / Twitter

Mismatched Sox: Graduation Speechification

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way SNL was funny in the early 80’s. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.comnor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult the bottom of your next beer and ask if this blog is right for you.

Mortarboard available at Walmart, but with a year instead of a Sox Logo.

Ah, that time of year when the youth and ambitious amongst us matriculate to whatever awaits them in the future. Inevitably that is disappointment for most of them, some brutally and unfairly so, some rather mildly. But for that moment, when they sit in a robe and a weird square hat with a jaunty tassel, there’s hope. Unabashed hope. Hope running naked and free through a grocery store.

So to offer some words to the Sox Fan graduating class of whatever year this is, here is a graduation speech that should probably never be given.


(throat clearing and cliched mic feedback)

Well we finally made it. This is the last time we’ll all be together because, although this may be hard to believe, there are actually more Sox fans than seats in Guaranteed Rate Field. And even though, like the prom or the first day of virtual learning, there are potential moments that can bring us together, the fact is that between traffic and public transit, they’ll never get all the Sox fans to the parade in the 45-minute break between curfews in the loop. So look to your left, and to your right. Appreciate that they are currently not saying that Kendall Graveman will put them in the grave….maaan. Repeatedly.

It is important as you look to the future that you not get too caught up in the past. Especially when the last 40 years of that past has all of six really good years, one great year, and one year that we’ve collectively agreed would have been great had the year actually finished. Frankly, talking about the past will only help if you take the failures of the past to avoid failures in the future. When, again, the last 40 years encompasses 32 years of questionable choices there’s a lot to process. The human brain has only so much processing power, and if you’re also a Bears fan there’s also a limited capacity for suffering. Anyone who drinks Malort for anything other than cash on the table can attest to the level of insanity that trying to make sense of it all can lead to.

No, the mistakes of the past can live in the past. Unless they create weird situations where one of the most quoted and beloved figures in team history fired the current legit hall of fame manager when he was the GM for some reason. Or where a starting pitcher with a giant beard and shockingly myopic view of his current abilities both proves the current GM right that the money will be spent while proving that the ownership is cheap. Mostly, the mistakes of the past are only to gauge the age of the person in the seats next to you or prove that they aren’t a Yankees fan that was born and grew up in Park Ridge.

So look to the future. But look at the immediate future because the long view is super dark and depressing and probably can’t reasonably include sports fandom. But the immediate future is yours for the grabbing. You can be and do anything that you put your mind towards. But it will take keeping your eyes open and your head on a swivel. Opportunity favors those who know what they want and take great strides to get it, those who are always watching for the moment and are therefore ready to grab it, sometimes sacrificing and sometimes even leaping in before they’re ready. That is what it will take to both succeed in life and get a pretzel-wrapped brat or any park food that isn’t a hotdog or nachos.

And, for Sox fandom the future is indeed bright. The team is full of young stars, even though there only two guys under 25 on the team and 10 guys over 30. But there’s no limit to what the team can accomplish. Just try not to get caught up in what the crowd wants you to care about. Because as a group, Sox fans are always an angry mob in search of an all-night pitchfork and torch store. Try and rise above the wave, because the wave is played out. Cheer for the player that is struggling the most, because your encouragement might be contagious. And if your encouragement catches on, that player will gain the superpower of a fan cult favorite, and be DFA’d or traded to the Twins because Sox ownership senses fun and if it isn’t marketable it must go. But that is the way of the MLB. Still, if we try really hard maybe we can pretend to like Dallas Keuchel enough to see him inexplicably traded for the next Blake Rutherford. Use your fandom for good. For your fandom is your power.

And that, graduates, is what your struggle will be, to gain power. Power will be the thing that you fight for. Not power in the sense that the Sox never seem to actually develop power hitters notwithstanding Frank Thomas, but power in the sense that that you’ll have the leverage and control to get the things you want. That, friends, is a fleeting thing. Because even if you score a 300 level ticket, and that 300-level ticket gets accepted on the 100 level, the parking staff will send you to the loop in order to go south and you still won’t get a pretzel-wrapped brat. But maybe you’ll land in the 500 level and find happiness. Maybe you’ll be in the 100 level and unable to take the strain of being in the thick of it. Power will elude you, power will entice you, and mostly gaining power will cost either gobs of cash or require that you be exceptionally attractive. If you’re broke and ugly, it’ll be rough.

But for now, for today, as you graduates sit in shapeless and off-puttingly itchy gowns and hats that look like Charlie Brown’s kite, your relative attractiveness and wealth are muted. So like every team except the Pirates at spring training, hope springs eternal that this is your time. And as Sox fans, graduates, this is your time. Especially if you’re over 60 because this really doesn’t feel sustainable at the moment. But this is your time, graduates. Make the most of it, because the crushing grip of reality comes around as often as it feels like Leury Garcia is up with runners in scoring position and two outs.

The wish for you is simple: may life give you opportunities for success, the wisdom and ability to take advantage, and either gobs of cash or exceptionally great looks. Go Sox.


WHO HATH WIELDED THE STAFF OF CORK AND KERRY (this week)?

For the uninitiated, The Staff of Cork and Kerry both refers to the people who work at the premiere place to pregame and post-game or otherwise celebrate Soxdom in the shadow of the ballpark and in Beverly, but it is also a mythical weapon that can smite thine enemies faster than they can say “Ow”.

So which White Sox was worthy enough to wield the Staff of Cork and Kerry and destroy their enemies in fell swoop after fell swoop? A.J. Pollack and TA both hit in the .400’s but Michael Kopech spent Sunday night absolutely owning the Yankees after owning them to the tune of 13 straight in his prior start. All in all, 27 straight outs against the Yankees is pretty nasty. Michael Kopech…you have successfully wielded this mighty weapon of lore.


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Featured Image: White Sox / Twitter

Mismatched Sox: Putting A Finger On It

A note for those of you reading: Mismatched Sox is a weekly blog hastily thrown together by Sox in the Basement Co-Host Ed Siebert and is written to present you with White Sox and baseball thoughts in a manner that, frankly, thinks it is funny in the way an error by the right fielder causing a broadcaster to say “you’ve gotta be s****ing me” can be funny. While there will be facts here that will be factual, the opinions and other nonsense are neither reflective of anyone at SoxInTheBasement.com nor believed or intended to cause any harm, but consult a rideshare driver while he’s angrily arguing on his phone and ask if this blog is right for you.

Credit: NBC Sports Chicago Broadcast

Tim Anderson, in a moment of frustration, gave a bunch of Clevelanders (who were being Guardian-ed at the time) the finger. The middle one that carries the connotation of something the finger giver would like to do to the finger givee. And, in a moment of understanding that the well-Guardian-ed Clevelanders were not well-intentioned and likely overstepped, the MLB powers that be decided that TA’s money would suffice to keep his middle digit holstered in the future. After all, taking him off the field would prevent fans from voicing displeasure at him in person. Whether the fans were Guardian-ed or not.

The news of the suspension being dropped was buried by another bad loss in a season of bad losses, where Josh Naylor was made to look like Shohei Ohtani mixed with an in-his-prime Ultimate Warrior. The next day it was wondered whether the effusive celebration by Naylor on what should be the best night of his career (2 bombs, 8 RBIs, tying and winning the game) was a middle finger at the White Sox. It wasn’t really any more of a gesture towards the Sox than a 24-year-old having a big night, but could it have been a spark? Could that have finally been the thing that brought the team to life?


There have been attempts here, there and everywhere to troubleshoot the White Sox after an uneven and at times frustrating start to a season where the team was supposed to be trying to take the next step into the ALCS, World Series, and a parade through the city that somehow will raise taxes and where the buses would be forced to go the opposite way they needed to in leaving the ballpark.

There are physical issues to be sure. It isn’t a far mental run to see where Lance Lynn having seven starts instead of two by Jimmy Lambert and maybe a few less by a scuffling Dallas Keuchel might have the Sox closer to the Twins and a division lead. Garrett Crochet may have bailed out the Sox in a few losses. If A.J. Pollock and Josh Harrison avoid some nagging veteran injuries the team might be better off. If Andrew Vaughn had been able to play more than half the teams’ games or Eloy wasn’t down again the team might have scraped together a couple of more wins. But then again, none of the injured players left such a gaping hole that the team shouldn’t have been able to overcome it.

Then there is the MLB-wide depression of offense. Players can’t hit the ball as it is currently made and handled, leading to theories that the league is manipulating the use of humidors to make national broadcasts more exciting. Averages are down, power is down. That’s unfortunate for a team that was relying on an offense built on power. Notably absent from the profile of each of the White Sox hitters are the ability to play small ball. The league is built on exit velocity and launch angle, and the Sox have seen their fair share of warning track flyouts. But where the Guardians, by example, have players like Myles Straw, Owen Miller and Steven Kwan who rely on line drives and getting on base, the Sox lack any of those guys. Luis Robert should hit for a high average, and have a high on base percentage; Yasmani Grandal will take his walks. But by and large, even the slappiest of hitters in the Sox lineup are basically to the 2022 White Sox what Juan Uribe was to the 2005 Sox. Not a power hitter, not a Nick Madrigal/Scotty Pods on-base guy, but someone that hits for decent power and decent average and can occasionally get a hit in moments where situational baseball is called for. Generally known as “professional hitters”, the Sox are littered with them in the form of A.J. Pollack, Josh Harrison, Leury Garcia, Adam Engel, Jake Burger, Reese McGuire at his upper limits, Jose Abreu in his current decline, and Andrew Vaughn in his current point of ascension. Yas Grandal and Gavin Sheets profile as three true outcome sluggers, Eloy Jimenez profiles as an elite slugger at his best, while Yoan Moncada is either closer to Eloy, Luis Robert light, or just another professional bat. Only Robert is a guy that profiles as something greater. So when guys with power that need fly balls to hit the wall or clear it suddenly have those balls die at or before the track, their usefulness dies with it. Offense seems primed to return based on the usual variables, namely the weather nationwide and the hitters getting the rust off. Gavin Sheets going yard twice in two games instead of grounding away from the shift feels like a good sign. A.J. Pollack getting one over the wall and not being an automatic out feels like a good sign. But the fact that the Sox seemingly can’t survive without extra base hits feels like an omen for things that can bite you in the playoffs.

The one thing that has gone right for the most part is the pitching. Dallas Keuchel aside, no one is getting lit up regularly except for Aaron Bummer, who was evidently playing through a bad knee. And Bummer’s knee could explain his struggles in the same manner as Lance Lynn struggled last year when his knee started up. Lynn’s delivery became inconsistent to the point of leaving pitches where they ought not be left, and Bummer was largely doing the same thing. But Keuchel has no such ailment, he’s unfortunately caught in a phase that some pitchers go through. He doesn’t have the same arm and same stuff, the margin for error is thin as the supply chain of pretzel-wrapped bratwurst. That’s quite thin. Some players emerge from this transition and recreate themselves. Famously in MLB history guys like Frank Tanana and Jamie Moyer were lefties that became extreme soft-tossers and extended their careers. Johnny Cueto is a guy that wasn’t the craft and guile guy he is now, he once was a guy with “electric stuff” albeit tame by today’s standards. However, there are far more instances of pitchers simply losing it and never really rediscovering the old magic. Meanwhile, Dylan Cease has emerged as an ace, Lucas Giolito has been largely as advertised, Michael Kopech leads all starters in ERA, and Vince Velasquez has been pleasantly serviceable. The bullpen has been an issue at times, but mainly issues with Liam Hendriks that popped up last year with giving up home runs, which with a closer are always at inopportune moments. Generally, the games that have been lost by the bullpen were more or less games that could have been salvaged by the offense, had it been available that day. Sadly, much like the McFlurry machines, the offense has been unavailable when most wanted.

But there is one thing that maybe, just maybe seems off right now from the team that hit the field the last two seasons. In 2020 the kids came up and were having fun beating expectations. They were the team on the rise, the team that got beat by the A’s but so impressed their all-star closer that he made it a point to join them the next year. In 2021 the team was sure of itself; they were coming to prove that the weird 2020 truncated season wasn’t a fluke. The team rallied and fought and believed that they were going to win. The high point of the season, emotionally, was TA’s walk off in the field of dreams game (which featured Liam giving up an untimely homer). That resilience, that arrival, defined the team. In 2005, a joke at a bar turned into Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” becoming a rallying song behind a team that if nothing else always believed it could and would win any given game. In 2006, the team never felt like it had that confidence. In 1983 the White Sox were Winning Ugly, and there was nothing stopping that train. In 1984 the team never regained that beautiful ugly feeling. The Southside Hitmen, the Go-Go Sox…none of those teams were followed by another team with a rallying cry and an attitude to match. This year, as the usual offensive tricks were literally dampened by baseballs in humidors and a lousy spring weather-wise and contractually delayed start-wise, as injuries hit…the team pressed and pushed and made errors but stayed mostly together. Tony talked about the team caring and not coming unglued, even as Dallas ran his mouth against his own team and the losses piled up. But in the middle of all that, TA gave into frustration and gave a one-finger salute to a fan base who’s favorite player might be a Charlie Sheen character. And as the team took a breath and went on a winning streak, that fan base’s maybe next favorite player showed up the White Sox on a night that things looked to be coming together. There was no retaliation. There was no fighting. Was there spirit? Was there an attitude?

The next night the Guardians were simply put down. Lucas Giolito simply ran threw the Guardians’ lineup, allowing an inconsequential home run to Naylor. There was no dramatics, no anger, no showing up the Guardians. Just a routine victory for a team that expected routine victories to be so plentiful that they were, frankly, routine.


So what is left to diagnose this season is whether that calm is the rallying cry, or if this team is merely going through the motions? Keep Calm and Carry On is a message once used to quell panic during a war, and then became something people wore on a shirt to advertise their love of IPAs and wine. And while the Sox marketing team will always have a slogan, and while as fans we could hold Musker…uhhh…Twitter polls about the team’s rallying cry, these things happen organically.

So while this team might have trouble finding that identity and rallying cry, it is possible that they found the turning point of the season. In 2000 it was a dramatic fight with the Tigers; most seasons that point is something unnoticed by fans. Last year it was a combo of Liam Hendriks bringing in a medium to rid the clubhouse of bad energy followed by Dallas Keuchel using his bullpen day to cover for Carlos Rodon and his stomach flu to grab a win over the Proto-Guardians. In 2005 it was a cover band at a bar with a 23-year-old campy pop/rock song that was all of number 73 on Billboard’s 1982 Hot 100. If history repeats, that’ll be “My Love is Your Love” (Whitney Houston). Maybe they can make it #72 in 1999…”Happily Ever After”.


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