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Their Former Selves

You know what's awesome about the Sox being three games back?

Everything from now on, all the time, every day.

They lost today? That's huge.

They won today? That's also huge!

Split the series? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US!

And this is only possible because the once mighty have suddenly been reduced to . . . not quite a shell of their former selves, but really just their former selves.

Shaky pitching in general, a questionable bullpen in particular, poor defense and a lineup just good enough to lose, and right now those are all collectively the single greatest thing that could happen.

Yes, first place is nice but do you know what else first place is? Complacent at best. Tenuous more often than not. Frightened at worst. The entire American League Central painting a target on your back, every manager shuffling his rotation to spite you, every injured player hurrying back just for a chance to bring you down, every loser turning one of your few losses into one of their lone bright spots.

That doesn't happen when you're in second place. In second place, you become just another heelbiter. A nuisance with three frenemy ballclubs by your side. A team with nothing to lose aside from the everything you don't have and the White Sox, having awoken to the hard reality of not feasting on the entrails of the Pirates and Orioles Mariners every day, have earned this luxury.

Or, you know, maybe they're just once again revealing themselves to be the same awful team they had briefly tricked us into thinking they weren't. Are they better than the Twins? Are they not? Once again, the suspense is killing us.

Week in Review: Subpar. Lose a winnable game against the O's, lose two unwinnable games against the Twins, then just say 'to hell with it' once Detroit comes to town, and thus another week of .281 baseball comes to a gentle close.

Week in Preview: Tremendous. Three at Minnesota offer a chance for sweet, sweet revenge while three at Kansas City offer a shot at nothing in particular.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "Now, it used to be that if teams looked up and saw they were three, four, twenty games back, that they thought 'Okay, well, looks like we're not in first place anymore,' but because the game has changed so much, what with the DH, the Wild Card, with so many guys who are better athletes now than when they first came up, so many great managers, all these great young players, guys like Joe Mauer, Alex Gordon, Manny Ramirez who would be a great addition to any ballclub, the Jakemeister, our own Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko, where now teams know that just being atop the standings or winning the most games in your division isn't really the same as being in first place, because now you have so many teams competing that it's tough to say it's over until some team goes out there and clinches the division, and that's why, for my money, a team made of Joe Mauer, Billy Butler, Zack Greinke, that's a team made of players of that mold made to win all the way up to game 162, whereas players used to not have to do that. And that's why this series with Kansas City, that's why this could be the season right here, because of these young Royals players playing now."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham batting line, past 28 days: .301/.381/.534. Manny Ramirez batting line, past 28 days: immeasurably low. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox lumberjack Jim Thome currently boasts the fifth-best OPS in the American League, as though he were some sort of superhuman given the singular ability to move a baseball through air with a bat - a "designated hitter," if you will.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Heard it through the grapevine the Sox are still after Manny Ramirez. Old? Check. Past his prime? Check. Injured? Check. Not left-handed? Check. Defensive liability? Check. Sounds perfect.

The Q Factor: "I'm not interested in adding to rumors about what happened to them," he says, "and I know how you illiterate savages will twist my words. But let it be known that better men than you have tried to stop me while shaming my brothers in arms. Some of them may play in Minnesota. Some may play in Detroit. All have tried harder and threatened far greater things than you could ever imagine. Go find those men now. See what became of them, and then ask me that question again."

The Guillen Meter: His team hoping to gain maybe one game this week in Minnesota, the Guillen Meter reads 14 for "Shut the **** up you low expectation-having ************."

Endorsement No-Brainer: The second-place White Sox for low-rent, decade-old websites: Minnesota Sucks.

Cubs Snub: The Tribune reports some of the rooftop bars across the street from Wrigley Field are losing money this season. The White Sox Report sheds no tears for them. Not a one.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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