And This Is Where It Ends

In case it wasn’t obvious by my lack of posting, this blog had been unofficially abandoned. The way the White Sox season ended pretty much sucked the fandom out of me, and if there was nothing positive to write, I didn’t want to write at all. Then, once this blog’s namesake left the team for the Marlins, I knew it was time to end this blog. It was a wonderful six months, but I didn’t want to do it anymore. Simple as that.

I always felt bad about not “officially” ending this blog. I sort of left it out to dry, with no conclusion, no farewell. My last post wasn’t even about a current White Sock, for crying out loud. But, I couldn’t think of any way to end it that would be fitting? Ozzie’s leaving? I didn’t want my last post to be an angry rant. The hiring of Robin Ventura? Didn’t know much about the guy. What was there to say, other than that the Wizard had fallen off her broom?

Now, I know how to end this.

My first favorite player, the one who got me into the magic of White Sox baseball, is gone. Mark Buehrle has joined my first manager in Miami. I am happy for Mark that he finally got rewarded the way he deserves, but I know the first chapter in my White Sox fandom is over. The man who made it happen in ’05, who threw a perfect game on my birthday, who made 4 All-Star teams, has ended his run in the Black and White. And therefore, it’s onto a new beginning.

I still love the White Sox. I still love Buehrle. But I know this season, the game will be slightly different. The White Sox are destined for mediocrity. Buehrle will be donning some hideous combination of pastel colors. And me? I will root for both.  You love the uniform, not who’s wearing it. But sometimes, the man who wore the uniform is too special to disown. Thanks, Mark, for all of the South Side memories, and for making me a loyal, lifelong White Sox fan. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my blog this summer. Though it wasn’t lasting, I enjoyed reading your insights on my boys, and still read many of your blogs today. So this is me, a disappointed but hopeful me, signing off. And, as always,

Not the Homecoming I Wanted, But Still One Nonetheless

Jim Thome heading back to Chicago would hardly be a homecoming. Prior to his three and half seasons (was it really only three and a half?!) with the White Sox, he spent 12 seasons with the Indians, far more time than what he spent in the black and white. Still, when hearing that the Sox were pursuing Thome after he was put on waivers, I was excited for what I deemed a homecoming. Remembering how crushed I was when I heard that he had been traded abruptly from the Sox to the Dodgers in late ’09, I was eager to see Thome come back after that heartbreak.

Yet when I heard that Thome was not headed back to Chicago, and instead going to Cleveland, I was not that disappointed. Even though I prefer to think of Thome as our boy, he really does belong to Cleveland. And especially after hitting No. 600, it’s looking more and more like this season might be his last. After giving Cleveland 12 great seasons, it’s time for Jimmy to give them an encore. Best of luck to him.

(Though when I googled pictures of Thome, the first ten results were pictures of him in a White Sox uniform. Sign?)

Seeing Red: Notes from Phillies Country

During this last week of summer, I am on vacation with my family in Southern Jersey, about an hour and a half outside of Philly. As I expected, in my three days here so far, I have seen my share of red (and even some old-school maroon). However, I’ve been seeing a few other colors too. In what has been the extent of my scientific activity this summer, I’ve kept track of the number of people of seen wearing MLB gear. The results, three days into my seven-day vacation, are as follows:
31 Phillies
20 Yankees
5 Mets
4 Pirates
2 Nationals
1 Tigers
1 Red Sox
1 Angels
1 Orioles
1 Rockies
1 White Sox (Okay, okay, it’s me. Gotta represent!)
I’ll be keeping this tally all week. I don’t doubt that I’ll see at least 100 Phillies fans by week’s end. If I was keeping track of football teams, I’m sure I would be able to confirm that I’ll see 100 Eagles fans as well.

So, I can tell you all about the doings of Halladay and
Rollins and all the rest, but I’m a bit fuzzy about my boys. I do know that last night, a dazzling and still rare display of offense was put on for show. 10-0 against the often-potent Rangers? I can live with that. I also know that Carlos Quentin has joined A.J. Pierzynski and Philip Humber among the ranks of the injured. Though Q isn’t expected to hit the DL, this is really a bad time for the injury bug to bite the Sox. With the Tigers sweep of the Indians, it looks like we might actually be able to move into second.

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

And it’s definitely not over.

Despite the enthusiasm of my last post, I still haven’t really been giving the White Sox much thought lately. That sweep at the hands of the Yankees two weeks ago left a sour taste in my mouth, and I officially proclaimed it over. I stopped keeping track of wins and losses and games behind. I would see online that they won, but not bother to check the standings. I thought no winning streak could erase the fact that it was done. Over. See ya next April.

Then, I heard on SportsCenter that A.J. Pierzynski was headed to the DL with a broken wrist. (For the first time in his career, by the way. I find it amazing that a catcher who is used as much as A.J. has never visited the DL before.) “Big blow for the surging Sox,” one of the anchors said. “They’re only 3.5 games behind Detroit.”

Excuse me, WHAT?!

Yes, it’s true. 3.5 games behind first-place Detroit, half a game behind second-place Cleveland, 8-2 in their last ten, and–my holy grail all season–one game over .500. Just when I had given up, just when I started to sink into the label of “bad fan”, my boys have given me yet another reason to believe. This hope may soon be dashed, as so many have this season, but now I know that I’m sticking this out till the end. After all, there’s still 41 to go. Let’s play ball.

(But, seriously, A.J.? Now is not the time to go on the DL for the first time in your career. Best wishes for a speedy speedy SPEEDY recovery.)

$5 Bobbleheads, Plush Pizza, and That Little Thing Called Fun

I’ve been home and with internet access since Saturday, but I’ve been missing from the blogosphere for quite some time. I came home and saw that the White Sox had suffered an agonizing sweep at the hands of the Yankees, and was all ready to write a post lamenting the end of all playoff hopes. Then, whaddya know, they went on a handy five-game win streak. But in between, Ozzie made some snide comments, and the six-man rotation came back, and I was just tired of the White Sox rollercoaster. They were too crazy, too much. I didn’t have anything to say.

So, as I was temporarily distancing myself from baseball, today came along, which was the day of the Mets-Padres game that my dad and I had planned on going to. We drove down there, and my dad talked about how he was excited to finally see Citi Field. I groaned about how I knew none of the Padres and hardly any of the Mets (especially now that Jose Reyes has gone on the DL).

But as my dad has said, Can you really have a bad day at a ballgame? Yeah, he’s right, you can not. Citi Field is an absolutely amazing stadium, very reminiscent of San Francisco’s AT&T Park, in my opinion. We entered through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a huge space dedicating to honoring the man who did so much for baseball. Quotes and pictures were scattered around the pavilion, and at the entrance to the field concourse was a giant #42.



From the rotunda, we entered the Mets’ Hall of Fame and “Museum”, which I personally think is slightly more impressive than the Yankees’ “Museum” (though I still maintain that both are just large rooms with memorabilia in them). Inside was the original  Mr. Met, circa 1962. I thought the current Mr. Met was scary, but the 1962 one was even creepier. Apparently, in 1962, the mascot’s human hands were exposed, and the fine folks at Citi Field decided to, um, recreate them for this display.

(Note: Apparently, this picture is “corrupt” and will not upload. Haha. Mr. Met’s hands scared even my computer.)

After being traumatized by Mr. Met, we checked out our seats along the leftfield line. Pretty snazzy.

The game was about to start in a few minutes, so I headed down to the railing to watch some of the Padres players toss a few balls before first pitch. I didn’t know many of the players I was snapping pictures of, but it’s always cool to be that close to big leaguers.

Aaron Cunningham

Cameron Maybin

Kyle Blanks (left) and Logan Forsythe

But of course, we can’t begin a game without a little rookie hazing. Check out the backpacks sported by the Pads pitchers on their way to the bullpen.

Eric Hamren (left) and unidentified Pads pitcher try the futuristic look.

Alright, now we can start the game. Around the fifth inning, with the Mets up 2-0, I decided to check out the team store and buy myself an obscure bobblehead to add to my collection. I was all set to get one of Daniel Murphy when look what I found…

Yes, ladies and gents, a K-Rod bobblehead! Turns out it was only 5 bucks. The cashier couldn’t get over that price. I, of course, had to have it. I also considered buying this plush pizza, but then realized that that was the stupidest thing I have ever seen in a team store. Just because it has the Mets logo on it doesn’t make it a good souvenir.

By the time I returned back to my seat, with my $5 bobblehead in tow, the Mets were down 3-2, and that’s how the score stayed. Oh well. Maybe because I wasn’t emotionally invested in the result, I really enjoyed watching the game. Nothing like a day at the park to remind me that win or lose, baseball should always be about one thing: fun.

(And plush pizzas, of course. They also sold plush pretzels wearing Mets hats, if that’s what you prefer.)

.495!

Haha, just kidding. The White Sox relinquished their brief hold on .500 last night with an ugly 10-2 loss to the Red Sox. Apparently Brian Bruney thought it’d be really fun to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 10-2 deficit, all in one inning! Thanks, Brian.

As per normal, I don’t know the exact details of Bruney’s apparent implosion, since, as it has been for about 90% of the season, I do not get the game broadcast on TV. Good thing the Yankees are coming into town this weekend. Four glorious games, all streamed into my living room via the YES Network…

Wait, that’s THIS week?!

Guess I’m a hard-luck fan once more. That cheesy segue was my way of telling the blogosphere that I will be on a mission trip with my youth group until late Friday night, which means I will be without TV/cell phone/WiFi/computer/36 innings of White Sox baseball. It’s definitely a series that I’m sorry to miss, especially considering what happened last time the Sox met the Yanks.

Sorry. I could watch that play forever.

Anyways, I’ll be back here on Saturday, hopefully not writing about some sort of pinstripe-coated collapse. Off to a land where no one will mention the White Sox or baseball or the fact that the Indians just got Ubaldo Jimenez and put a significant crimp in the Central race. (Oops, I guess I just did.)

.500!

Even Ozzie can smile today.

All right, so I know that it’s a bit pathetic to be ecstatic when your team reaches .500, and I know that this is not the first time this season that the White Sox have reached that mark (and then promptly slipped below it). But this .500 feels special for a number of reasons:

~The Sox are now only three games behind Detroit in the Central race.
~We have beaten the aforementioned Tigers 4 of the last 6 times we’ve played them.
~We have gone 8-4 since the All-Star Break.
~In those 8 wins, we have scored 36 runs, which averages to 4-5 runs a game. (I am aware that there are some teams who have been surpassing this mark on a nightly basis for the entire season. Unfortunately that team has not been the White Sox.)

I’m happy. I’m content. I’m sad that I’m leaving on Sunday and won’t get to see any of the games against the Yankees. But right now that doesn’t matter. Back at .500 and it feels so gooooood… See? I’m making up bad song lyrics, I’m so thrilled!

***

There’s another reason to be happy on the South Side. The Phillies, thought to be seeking our boy Carlos Quentin, have acquired Astros’ big-hitting outfielder Hunter Pence. Hopefully, that eliminates their need for Q, which means that he can stay with us and help us STAY ABOVE .500!!!

Can you tell I’m excited this morning?

Some Wishes Just Don’t Come True

As expressed in previous posts, I had two wishes for the White Sox going into the trade deadline. One: Don’t deal Edwin Jackson. And two: Get Colby Rasmus. Well, I guess too many people had been making wishes and mine got drowned out. Yesterday afternoon, it was revealed that neither wish would be coming true. Jackson was dealt to the Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher Jason Frasor. I still had hope for Rasmus, until I learned that the only reason the Blue Jays acquired Jackson was so that they could flip him to Cardinals in exchange for Rasmus.

So Edwin Jackson is a Cardinal. Colby Rasmus is a Blue Jay. And Alex Rios is still a White Sock.

*Sigh*

There was one good thing about the Jackson deal though. The horrifically dreadful Mark Teahen and his $5.5 million-a-year contract were also sent north of the border in order to get Frasor. I don’t know much about Frasor, but I do know that I personally would trade Teahen for a bag of peanuts. A .203 batting average and 11 RBIs this season? He’s all yours, Canada.

***

So, after learning that the Sox beat Detroit last night to win the series, I was eager to see what the standings looked like. I scrolled down the White Sox homepage to learn the glorious truth (3.5 games back, 1 game under .500, thankyouverymuch), but next to the standings, I noticed something odd in the ‘Team Leaders’ box.

Hm, I always thought that in order to be a team leader, you had to be, you know, ON THE TEAM. Oh well. It was nice to see a pop of color on the White Sox’ depressingly black-and-white homepage. We’ll miss you, Edwin.

(Until you give up 7 runs in your next start. Then I will pity Cardinals fans.)

EDIT: As of 8:45 p.m., the White Sox don’t have a strikeouts leader at all. Ah, the fun of the trade deadline :)

A Trade Rumor That I Actually Like! Yay!

First off, I would like to thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday! It truly was a great birthday, and I appreciate all your well wishes. I also got a brand new Mark Buehrle shirt, since the one I got for Christmas had been ruined by a bleach stain. Any day I get new Buehrle memorabilia is a good day :)

So, I come back, and to my complete relief, the White Sox did not implode while I was gone! Two games, and two wins, against the division-rival Indians. I see our buddy Edwin Jackson got us the win, with a solid 6-inning, 2-run performance. While E-Jax has shown time and time again that “he has the consistency of a shapeshifter”, his past two starts have shown to me that he does have a legitimate chance to be an exclamation point and not a question mark in the White Sox rotation. Right now, I think it would be a mistake to trade him.

So speaking of trades, I hear that the Sox and the Cardinals are having “accelerated” trade talks, regarding a possible trade of Cards’ centerfielder Colby Rasmus. Center field? Isn’t that the same position that the currently abominable Alex Rios plays? Why, yes, it is! While Rasmus isn’t exactly a superstar, I like his .244 average, .331 OBP, and 37 RBI a lot better than Rios’ .207, .253, and 23 in the same categories. Of course, the natural question is who are the Sox gonna give up? Two names mentioned in the report on the White Sox’ website are *sigh* Edwin Jackson or failed-closer Matt Thornton. I’d much prefer the latter, and would love to Rasmus roaming the Cell’s center field over Rios. But, as with all trade deadline rumors, I guess I have to wait and see.

Looking Back: Remember Wilson Betemit?

More importantly, do you remember his stint as a White Sock? Probably not, because it was pretty un-memorable. The only reason I bring it up now is because I saw that the Tigers have acquired Betemit from the Royals. Turns out that this is actually a desirable acquisition. This season, he has been batting .281. Last season, also with the Royals, he posted a .297 average. I didn’t know he could actually hit. All I remember is that in 2009, he hit .200 with 3 RBI. Thanks, Wilson, for showing us your best stuff while you were with us. Glad that we served as a warm-up on your way to actually being a decent player in KC.

In case you totally do not remember Wilson because his season was THAT horrible, here is a picture to help jog your memory. Note that he wore No. 15, the same number currently worn by one of our latest disappointments, Gordon Beckham.

***

Now, I know on the morning of Saturday, July 23, you will all be visiting this very blog to read a flowering tribute to my boy, Mark Buehrle, on the 2-year anniversary of his perfect game. Unfortunately, you will be sorely disappointed, because I am going to be away this weekend without Internet access. But, I can’t let this momentous date pass without some sort of commemoration…

The catch…

The score…

The best birthday present I could ask for

Too bad he’s not pitching this July 23rd. A perfect game on my sixteenth birthday would be the absolute coolest thing ever in the history of the world. Alas, it’s not meant to be. I’ll be back Sunday night, see y’all then. Hopefully the White Sox won’t implode while I’m gone and oblivious to their shenanigans.

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