First off, Happy Father's Day to all of my fellow dads out there.
Now, back to sports...
This week, the Chicago baseball scene has it's second round of hate break out when the last place Cubs visit the first place White Sox for a series starting Monday. Exactly one month ago before the two teams faced off, we looked back at the all-city All-Stars by position.
Now, with more of the season in the books, how have the city's baseball teams changed the dynamics? Let's take a look at who's the best at each position again.
Paul Konerko, White Sox
In the last month, Konerko has established himself as the unquestioned best first baseman in Chicago and should represent the Sox in the 2012 All-Star Game. In spite of taking a fastball to the head in the last Cubs series, he's batted .372 in the last month with five home runs and 16 RBI. Bryan LaHair has struggled and slumped - like the rest of the Cubs - but Konerko has run away from the crowd. A case can be made that he deserves MVP votes in the American League.
Gordon Beckham, White Sox
Darwin Barney continues to be a nice player for the Cubs, but Beckham has turned his season (perhaps career?) around in the last month. Since having a solid series against the Cubs, Beckham has enjoyed a strong month. He's hit six home runs and has 17 RBI in the last month, and has scored an impressive 19 runs. The Sox have enjoyed a fantastic offensive month in large part because of the resurgence from Beckham.
Starlin Castro, Cubs
It hasn't been the best month for Castro, between his current slump and the press he got for not paying attention in the field. But he has four home runs, four stolen bases and 12 runs batted in while hitting in the middle of a bad offense. For 22, he's been good for the Cubs all season and the future is bright for him. Meanwhile, Alexei Ramirez continues to have a tough season for the Sox with 20 runs scored, one homer and 27 RBI.
Orlando Hudson, White Sox
A month ago we left this position blank because both sides of town had been awful. With more on the line this season, the Sox made the move to free agent Hudson and they have been rewarded so far. Of his 39 hits, 11 have been for extra bases (two doubles, seven triples and two home runs) and he has scored 17 runs with 21 RBI in limited action. Perhaps most impressive, he's drawn 17 walks against 38 strikeouts; that walk total is almost equal to the Cubs' entire infield over the same time frame.
Adam Dunn, White Sox
Alex Rios, White Sox
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
One change here since a month ago, when we included Alejandro De Aza (who has disappeared since). Dunn continues to murder the ball, and now has 23 home runs and 53 RBI on the season. Soriano has been good for the Cubs over the last month, enjoying a renaissance in his power game as well (16 extra-base hits and 21 RBI in the last month).
Rios, however, has been a fantastic surprise on the South Side. After a rough start to the season, he has had a fantastic last month: seven home runs, 20 RBI, 21 runs and a batting average around .340. The sprint from the Sox to first place in their division has two faces on the poster: Beckham and Rios.
AJ Pierzynski, White Sox
By default? Yes, the Cubs really don't have an option... though there's a lot to like about Wellington Castillo. But Pierzynski has continued to play well for the Sox. He's batted .286 over the last month with 16 runs scored and runs batted in, and continues to call good games behind the plate.
Chris Sale, White Sox
A month ago we looked to Ryan Dempster for this spot because he had pitched so well in spite of the team around him, and he has continued to be worthy of praise. But Sale has a legitimate chance to start the All-Star Game for the American League this year with an 8-2 record and 82 strikeouts in 80.2 innings pitched. In the last month, Sale is 5-0 with 49 strikeouts while allowing only 38 base runners (26 hits, 11 walks, 1 HBP) in 42.1 innings. He has looked like the dominant ace the Sox have lacked since Jack McDowell.
The Cubs removed Carlos Marmol from the job, and have since given it back; this might be a way to keep him from pitching considering the number of save opportunities on the North Side of town. For the Sox, Addison Reed has been impressive but has only thrown 9.1 innings this year. If he continues to throw well, the Sox are in business.
Better First-Year Manager
Robin Ventura, White Sox
While you certainly can't blame Dale Sveum (that rhymes, by the way) for the Cubs woes, Ventura has the Sox in first place and has pulled all of the right strings. He showed faith in Sale as a member of his rotation, stuck with Rios through some early season struggles, and has let Beckham hit himself out of a slump. Everything he's touched has turned to gold so far.