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SportsTuesday: The Ghost of Dusty Baker And Other Notes On The Weekend In Sports

Here it is for the Sox after they won on a balk a half-day after the Cubs lost on a wild pitch Saturday. Win one of the next two games against Kansas City at home and then zero in on four games with the Twins. Win four of six the rest of the week, take your All-Star break and call it a successful first half of the season.

But that won't happen will it? This week has more frustrating .500 baseball written all over it (actually, a split with Minnesota would be a relief after that squad continued it's near decade-long mastery of the Sox the last time the teams faced off). In general, let's just hope for continued relevance for the South Siders. Because as much as I enjoy tracking hockey transactions, baseball is all we've got for a while.

Come on White Sox! Don't suck!

As for the specifics of Monday's game, in particular the lineup employed by the home team . . . having Adam Dunn bat higher than seventh in the order is obviously Dusty Baker-ish. (And Ozzie, how could you put him in the 3-spot last night? Against a lefty starting pitcher?) But that wasn't the most ridiculous aspect of the White Sox lineup on Independence Day.

The manager had third baseman Brent Morel bat second.

You need a guy who has some sort of commitment to getting on base in that spot don't you? A guy who hasn't compiled the ludicrous stat line of three total walks in over 200 at-bats so far this season?

Put Gordon Beckham (.305 OBA) up there for gosh sakes. Or even go with Alex Rios, who has been a miserable failure at the plate this year (.215 batting average) but at least will draw the occasional walk (20 on the year) or maybe even steal a base (6).

Of course, then the White Sox go ahead and win thanks in large part to Dunn's towering home run late in the game. Still, hard to be optimistic about a team that pinch-hits for its first and second hitters in the clutch (which the White Sox did in the bottom of the ninth). Probably not a recipe for long-term success.

Hat Trick
Is there some sort of competition to make baseball caps look as stupid as possible?

For a while there was a rising tide of geniuses busting out those delightful flat-brimmed numbers. Joe Girardi led the Yankees to the World Series title a few years ago but he did so wearing a hat with a brim so big and flat he looked as though his head had been shrunk by a witch doctor.

But that trend seems to have slowed.

On Sunday we were treated to star-spangled numbers with fancy logos on white backgrounds in front above shorter-than-usual brims. What they should have done was complete the look and attach one of those good old propeller blades to the tops. That would have stimulated merchandise sales to new heights for sure.

The Sour Science
In the last few days, the New York Times' website has featured a story about a ringside doctor.

How can there be ringside doctors anymore?

How does the guy not make the same exact statement every time a guy comes back to his corner after a round: "You are causing brain damage to your opponent and he is doing the same to you. By engaging in this activity you are shortening your life span by 15 to 20 years (a guess, sure, but a good guess, although probably on the low side)."

How could it take more than 10 minutes before the doctor says "If you continue to engage in this activity, I will have to resign?"

There was a big heavyweight fight over the weekend in Europe. Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine took on England's David Haye in Germany to unify the titles awarded by the five (five!) major sanctioning bodies currently at work in the sport. Klitschko started the fight well, throwing jabs and . . . wait a minute, you don't care, do you? You don't care in the slightest.

Grunt Stunt
As for tennis, there was Maria Sharapova battling to return to the top of her game (and the game in general) in the women's final at Wimbledon on Saturday. Sharapova (who won this title for the only time way back in 2004) is the most American of the Russian women who have overrun the game in the past decade-plus. She is a beautiful, athletic player with a pleasingly powerful game.

She is also unwatchable.

I suppose I could find a way to overlook the sonic-boom sneeze-like noises (ki-choo!) she emits just about every time she hits the ball if someone could convince me that she has to do that to hit the ball as hard as she can. But that won't happen because it couldn't be more obvious that that crap is gamesmanship, plain and simple.

She got into the habit of making the loudest noises possible as often as possible to try to throw off opponents when she was younger and she simply refuses to stop. Thankfully, the young Czech, Petra Kvitova, out-powered Sharapova in the final for her first major championship. And she did it quietly.


Comments welcome.

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