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As a fan who's been following the White Sox for more than six decades, I'm a guy who was raised on Friendly Bob Adams and General Finance, the Hamm's Bear from the Land of Sky Blue Waters, and White Owl Cigars, as in "That's a White Owl wallop!"
So you can imagine my surprise at what I found when I visited the men's room on the first-base side of the lower level along about the fourth inning of the Labor Day match-up between Chris Sale and the Tigers' Justin Verlander.
The bathrooms at Wrigley Field receive most of the publicity in this city as far as ballpark men's rooms are concerned. The troughs are world-famous. Or so it seems.
However, as I was stood at that urinal a week ago, the advertisement plastered to the wall above each place was impossible to ignore. I've never paid special attention to these ads in the past. I've always wanted to get back to my seat as quickly as possible. If someone had previously asked me about the products being pitched, I'd have guessed used cars or tickets to future games.
But in this strange, weird White Sox season, I was introduced to Peyronie's disease. A ketchup bottle leaning heavily to the left was difficult to miss.
I walked back to my seat with the knowledge that guys afflicted with Peyronie's - one in 10 between the ages of 40 and 70, according to Ask About The Curve - have some kind of erectile malfunction, not to be confused with ED.
Interested fans can learn all kinds of information at Sox games. I wasn't sure if Detroit's talented shortstop Jose Iglesias came from Venezuela or Cuba. The video board cleared that up for me when he first came to bat (Cuba). The Sox Almanac of past Labor Days disclosed that Gary Peters pitched a complete game to beat Kansas City 4-1 for his 17th victory in 1963, en route to being named Rookie of the Year.
But no way could I have envisioned being introduced to Peyronie's disease at the ballgame. Sitting with my wife, Judy, and sister, Lee, I asked them if they had ever heard of Peyronie's. Two blank stares greeted me, but it took my spouse the better part of maybe ten seconds to Google the illness.
I've become accustomed to the underperforming Sox bullpen, which eventually blew the game in the 11th inning with three walks, a single, and a three-run bomb by Justin Upton off reliever Chris Beck. However, being introduced to a disease that, according to WebMD, "hampers flexibility, causing pain and forcing the penis to bend or arc when erect," was an unexpected revelation disclosed at, of all places, the ballpark. But this, my friends, is just one more indication that we're are experiencing a zany, unpredictable White Sox season.
In an age when even young children watching TV are bombarded by ads for Cialis and Viagra, maybe I shouldn't in the least bit be addled by an invitation to learn more about an erection malfunction while taking a leak at a major league baseball game. Nevertheless, I wonder whether the White Sox ad department sought to sell the urinal ads to, say, Leinenkugel or Coors, which very well could be responsible for a trip to the men's room in the first place.
However, we live in an age where Major League Baseball embraces campaigns for fighting breast cancer and ALS. Its campaign, Stand Up to Cancer, is admirable. So why not Peyronie's disease?
If I was looking for other ways that the game has changed, I had to look no further than the White Sox bullpen, which preserved an unexpected 2-0 win for Miguel Gonzalez last Tuesday. Miggy pitched until one out in the seventh and left with the two-run lead. Then the trio of Dan Jennings, Nate Jones and David Robertson took over, limiting the Tigers to one hit and a couple of walks over the last two-plus innings. This is the way bullpens are supposed to work.
The Sox did it again on Wednesday when Jose Quintana exited in the seventh inning, trailing 4-3. However, his teammates rallied for an inspiring four-run eighth inning, highlighted by a double from Justin Morneau and run-scoring singles from Avisail Garcia, Tyler Saladino and Adam Eaton before Robertson shut down the Tigers in the ninth for his 35th save.
We could be excused for harkening back to last spring when the Sox were 23-10, as they again teased us Friday evening when Kansas City opened a three-game set at The Cell. Carlos Rodon gave up a couple of runs in the first inning, but that was all as the Sox rallied to give him a 5-2 cushion when he departed after the sixth frame. Beck, Jennings, and Tommy Kahnle covered the final three innings, shutting out the Royals on a yield of just one hit.
Sure, the games are more or less meaningless at this point, but consider that Rodon in his last seven starts is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.85. Add him to Sale and Quintana, and the Sox have a Big Three going into 2017. That is, unless Sale and Quintana are traded for prospects this winter.
Of course, our athletes are unaccustomed to euphoria in any form, so after James Shields, of all people, pitched them to a 4-3 advantage after six innings on Saturday, Beck, he of the 7.41 ERA, entered in the seventh inning, facing four hitters, three of whom singled., walked, and doubled as the Royals registered a 6-5 win.
The Sox didn't go quietly as closer Wade Davis was touched for a single by Saladino and a double by Eaton before Melky Cabrera's infield hit scored Saladino. But Davis fanned Jose Abreu and Morneau to stymie any comeback thoughts the Sox might have had.
Sunday was more of the same. Sale pitched another stalwart game, lasting eight innings, striking out 12 and walking just one but yielding solo homers to Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer. Sale would have had to pitch a shutout just to get a no-decision because after Eaton led off the bottom of the first with a base hit - he subsequently got picked off - the Sox didn't get another hit until Eaton led off the ninth against Davis with another single. A walk to Cabrera put the tying runs on base, but Abreu lined out and Davis struck out Morneau to send the 20,000 fans home to watch the Bears on their DVDs.
In his last 10 starts, Sale has a 1-5 record despite 82 strikeouts and just 17 bases on balls in 76 2/3 innings. His ERA in those outings is 2.47. If the guy was pitching for the Red Sox, he might win 30 games. Rumors of his dissatisfaction of pitching for a losing team seem totally believable.
I suspect that Ask The Curve would not have the funds for naming rights to the baseball park that resides on 35th Street. But wouldn't Peyronie's Park sound so much better than Guaranteed Rate Park, slated to be the new name starting November 1st?
Besides, that oversized downward-pointing arrow on Guaranteed's logo would no doubt be replaced by one pointing skyward if the Peyronie's folks had the naming rights. It might be listing left or right, but at least it would be pointing up.
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