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By Phil Barnes
Not a bad ending to opening week, huh Sox fans? Despite a drubbing on Friday night, coming back on Saturday and Sunday with offensive onslaughts almost entirely negated the previous work-week struggles at the plate. Instead of accidentally letting myself foreshadow the meat of this report, let's just get right into it.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly, White Sox opening-week style.
I confessed last week that I was most nervous about the Sox starting pitching. Even though everyone has only gotten one start (Buerhle two), nobody has put up a poor performance. And while Danks and Buerhle (Round II) were untouchable, and Floyd struck out nine, the biggest surprise has to be Bartolo Colon's performance on Saturday. Bart went six scoreless, allowing only three hits and really only got himself into trouble once. While it is only one start, it's a very good sign.
This probably falls under "the impressed" more so than "the good," but Chris Getz and Brent Lillibridge both have shown glimpses of potential early on. Getz has gotten on base a decent amount of times and Lillibridge looks like a run-creator. There has not been an error at second either this year. Always a plus.
Comiskey II Improvements
A couple of awesome improvements to U.S. Cellular this year. Gate 5, the northern-most gate, has had a total makeover. A huge staircase can be accessed from the 100-level seating for a quick exit. Also, a few escalators have been put in that go down, so fans don't have to walk down three miles of ramps anymore to get out.
The other improvement comes on the right/center field scoreboard. A new fully-digital scoreboard gives viewers way more information than needed. The lineups in batting-order order have moved from the black-and-white board in left field to this one. Also the pitcher, his pitch count, the speed of his last pitch and what his dog's name is can all be seen somewhere around the outside. The main portion of the board shows out-of-town games with so much information it becomes almost too difficult to comprehend, but absolutely sick none the less.
I am not sure what it is going to have to happen in order for this problem to be resolved, but the Brian Anderson era is coming to an end sooner than many hoped. And he is the better of the two options. DeWayne Wise is a strikeout machine. Neither is exceptionally athletically gifted either. Four years ago there was this wild rumor that Anderson was a better defensive outfielder than Aaron Rowand. If that is so, why does he almost get to everything, but never actually get to anything?
The only thing that went wrong during Saturday's shutout win was that Mikey Mac looked average enough in mop-up duty to actually keep his job another week. Prior to Saturday's game, M&M had gotten just one batter out of the six he faced. One batter! There might be some beating of a dead horse going on here, but there cannot be a worse pitcher in baseball. There has to be something more appropriate in Triple-A. And Triple-A seems more appropriate for MacDougal.
2008 offense looks like it has returned
Greg Walker might have his work cut out for him this year. While the offense exploited a lot of opportunities they had this weekend, the Royals series looked very reminiscent of last year. It appears that they are going to live and die by the homer again, something that looks awesome when they do it well, but a game style that is utterly frustrating when the sticks aren't there.
Wilson Betemit at the plate
The organization knew they were getting a raw, multifaceted talent when they received Wilson Betemit in exchange for Nick Swisher (who is currently killing the ball). While I am not frustrated, his plate discipline really needs to improve or people are going to treat him like Delmon Young - they won't ever need to throw strikes because he'll swing anyway. Take one plate appearance against the Twins: He looked at a dead-red fastball for Strike 1. He swung at a ball in the dirt for Strike 2. And then he swung at a ball over his head for the K.
Joe Crede's return
While Air Supplies "All Out of Love" blaring out of the speakers before former third basemen Joe Crede's first at-bat in his return was pretty humorous, the standard Joe Crede-styled home run that promptly followed was not.
Girl sitting in front of me
I don't typically bash people for having fun, but this girl on the younger side of 30 was simply obnoxious. Clearly inebriated, she gave the fan sitting next to me a full-blown playoff scenario for the Blackhawks. She gave, in her eyes, all the necessary detail, taking roughly four minutes to explain. The only problem was as soon as she concluded, the man she was talking to politely says "I am sorry, but no, that's entirely incorrect." Which she was. So instead of being embarrassed, she stands up and starts dancing to the U2 song playing on the speakers. Only at the Cell.
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