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The Ex-Sox Factor

What's the guy doing out there in the first place?!?

That should have been - and probably was - the question that the Yankees were asking after Brent Lillibridge made not one - but two - spectacular, game-saving, once-in-a-lifetime catches to close out the Sox 3-2 win at The Stadium last Tuesday night.

If Lillibridge wasn't the 25th man on the roster leaving spring training, then he was 24th, a baby step ahead of Lastings Milledge, who was gone a week into the season.

Lillibridge, who looks to be about 14 years old - he could have passed for 12 when he initially joined the Sox, but that's what a goatee can do for ya - spent most of the last two seasons in the minors. The advantage of being able to play multiple positions no doubt landed him a job in The Show, enabling him to be in the Big Apple last week.

So it was fortuitous that he was even in New York. Now consider that prior to this season, Lillibridge only played right field in one big league game ever. Then in the top of the ninth, Carlos Quentin again gets hit by a pitch, and Ozzie inserts Lillibridge to run for a guy who has more bruises than rotten apples.

If Quentin had merely popped out, would Ozzie still have inserted Lillibridge in right field?

It's a question no one has asked the skipper.

However, let's be clear that no one - not Quentin, not Ichiro, not Clemente (not that I equate Carlos with those two) - would have caught those shots off A-Rod's and Cano's bats. It's simply fate, the same way no one but DeWayne Wise could have saved Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009.

Ironically, it also was Quentin who was yanked in the ninth inning that July day as Wise was inserted in centerfield. Scott Podsednik moved over into Quentin's spot in left.

DiMaggio couldn't have caught Gabe Kapler's shot to left center because that's the way fate operates. And it's also why the game - dare I say life - is so compelling and interesting. You never know what's around the corner.

But if you thought that Lillibridge's heroics and notoriety - there was a nice little feature about him in the New York Times on Thursday - were the signal for the Sox to kick it into high gear, pudgy (I'm being kind) Bartolo Colon dashed our hopes the next night, and the Sox haven't won since.

Remember in 2009 when Colon was a member of the Sox and doing okay as part of the rotation? Then he said he hurt his knee and went into a Houdini act. He disappeared. Every time Ozzie was asked when Colon was coming back, he'd reply, "How should I know? I don't even know where he is."

Presumably the big fella was back in the Dominican, chowing down on some home cooking, pitching locally, and plotting a return to the Bigs. He stopped the Sox dead in their tracks on Wednesday. Sure, so have a lot of other pitchers this season, but Colon didn't even pitch in organized ball last year.

You'd never know it. Who does this guy think he is? Luis Tiant? He consistently hit the mid-90's on the gun, walked one, struck out six, and allowed a lone run in eight innings. As Harry Caray used to say about Tiant's comeback in the early 70's, "You coulda had this guy for a ham sandwich!"

As of this writing, Freddy Garcia - the same Freddy who won 12 games for the Sox last season - and Colon have pitched 44 innings for the Bombers with a combined ERA of 2.45. How about both of them for a ham and cheese?

While the White Sox struggle for respectability, a couple of former Sox also had bad weeks in this regard.

Vance Law, who played three seasons at third base on the South Side (and two on the North) - including the 1983 division-winning team - has been the head baseball coach at Brigham Young University since 2000. Seems that following the Cougars 1-0 win over New Mexico on April 23rd, the teams engaged in a very un-Mormon-like brawl. Four of Law's players were suspended, and he was given a "public reprimand," whatever that is.

Law is the son of Vernon Law, a truly great pitcher for 16 season with the Pirates in the 50's and 60's who posted 162 career victories. He also holds the Major League record for the most children with names beginning with the letter V. Vern - and his wife Vanita, of course - are the parents not only of Vance but also of Veldon, Veryl, Vaughan, Varlin, and Valynda.

A guy who helped the World Series champs in '05 was Carl Everett. He clubbed 23 homers and drove in 83 runs six years ago primarily as the DH. Having played for eight different teams in his 14-year career, Carl occasionally was labeled with Milton Bradley-type tendencies, but the guy sure could hit.

Apparently not just baseballs. Carl and his wife of 18 years got into it last week, and before the "argument" ended, he had held a silver-plated (hey, the guy made more than $40 million in MLB) gun to her head, broken two phones as she tried to call 911, and was charged with tampering with a witness (I guess!) among other transgressions.

Not the finest of weeks in Soxdom.

More Minoso Merry-Making: Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of Minnie's White Sox debut, and there he was throwing out the first pitch at The Cell for the second time in 12 home dates. And he threw another strike, making him two-for-two, which is a lot better than most Sox pitchers.

Minnie got lots of play on the Jumbotron and then mingled with fans in center field alongside his statue.


It's fortunate that the bronze has a Number 9 on its back because the resemblance to the real man is negligible. But then, Minnie was/is one of a kind. There's no way to duplicate him as badly as the White Sox could use someone like Minnie.


Comments welcome.

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