As the city gears up for the second round of the BP Crosstown Cup,
both teams are unfortunately enter the series below .500. In the
summer of 2011, the Chicago intra-city series will be more about
bragging rights than ever, unless the White Sox can get over the hump
and win the AL Central.
They're in striking distance for first place, unlike the Cubs, who have absolutely no shot at the postseason.
Since the horrific 11-22 start, the White Sox have been playing about
.600 baseball. Keep up that winning percentage, and they're projected
for 86-88 wins, certainly enough to win a weak division like the AL
Central. But here's a reason not to be optimistic- they seem to be
tripping over the same hurdle over and over again these past couple
months. Every time they get to two games under .500, they lose. They
keep winning enough to get back there, only to stumble again.
One thing's for certain, the division is there for the taking and
this team has both the talent and payroll to get it done. The Sox have
solved their bullpen issues. Their starting pitching has been solid.
They've had some fielding issues, but nothing too severe and which
couldn't be glossed over if they improved situational hitting/more
everyday starters were hitting their weight, and earning their keep.
The Sox will continue to be mired in mediocrity as long as their
recent big-money, big ticket free agent signings Alex Rios and Adam Dunn
continue hitting like this; i.e. not much at all.
Rios is looking like a 5-tool player wasting his natural gifts right
now. His on-base percentage is laughably bad, and with July upon us,
there's no way you can refer to his 2011 struggles as "a slow start."
For him to be this far off from his career averages is extremely
Dunn's situation is more alarming. He's so far below his career
batting average, you'd think the number is a misprint. He's still
drawing walks like he always does, but he's not hitting homers like he
usually does. And he's striking out more than ever. It's frightening,
but he's on pace to have almost TEN TIMES AS MANY strikeouts as home
runs this season. It's hard to blame this on the switch from the NL to
the AL, from being in the field to full time Designated Hitter. I
honestly don't know what the problem is.
Aside from the shortcomings of Rios and Dunn (and you have to throw
Gordon Beckham and Juan Pierre in there), the rest of the Sox have been
producing in 2011. And this team always gets up for the series with the
"I work for the White Sox, so there's loyalty there," says current Sox ambassador and former Sox All-Star Ron Kittle.
"But I'm loyal to having a good game, people playing the game like
it was when I was a kid, all through my career. Play as hard as you
can, give it your all and that makes you float up to the top when you
give your effort something extra special," he said.
Kittle repeats the Sox marketing message which has always echoed the organization's values. You know the slogans/phrases:
Win or die trying.
The Grinder rules.
The Sox seem to take their play up a notch for inter-league,
absolutely owning it in 2010, and despite some less than inspiring
performances versus Colorado and Washington, you know they'll bring it
for the BP Crosstown Cup.
"It's always the same, even in an exhibition game, you go out there
to play your best and you hope for a win. You're supporting the city of
Chicago, a great baseball town. It's great camaraderie, but with BP
throwing the cup into the action, it makes it a little more fun," Kittle
said of the rivalry, and how the addition of the BP Cup gave it some
extra special meaning.
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