Well I am flipping out. If the White Sox success can be measured by how
little grief I get from wearing my Sox hat on the north side, then the
White Sox are doing very, very well. (I did get called a "dago"
by some moron in one of those drunk trolleys going down Clark St. This
was interesting not just for how incorrect it was, but that the guy
clearly looked at me, took a few seconds to decide what was the correct
ethnic slur to scream from his vehicle at the random people crossing the
street, and chose that. Also, I was with my friend who is clearly a
black man; if you're going to be a racist jackass, why make it hard on
yourself? Why challenge yourself by trying to throw a label at the multi-racial guy? Ahh, the northside)
For the past few weeks of the White Sox' incredible 25-5 run, I've been on the record as saying that even though the White Sox were limited offensively, and not an incredible defensive team, their pitching in the rotation and in the bullpen is good enough that they can be competitive in the AL Central so long as the starting 5 continued to roll.
The baseball Gods responded to my statement by striking Jake Peavy in the back with an enormous, ironic lightning bolt.
Not only did the White Sox rotation respond to Jake's season-ending injury by continuing to chug along (4 quality starts in a row after that game), but something even crazier might be happening. The Chicago White Sox might be hitting. Hitting the ball.
Andruw Jones - Alive?
It was a pretty popular thing to give Andruw Jones up for dead a week or two ago; I did it, Sox Machine did it, in fact I read the Sox Machine piece and thought to myself "Oh crap, why haven't I written an 'Andruw Jones is dead' piece yet?!?!" Andruw certainly looked dead, he struck out constantly, and hit .086 with a .371 OPS for June (for the stats neophytes, that's the equivalent of you going to your job, setting your computer on fire, then throwing it at the janitorial staff...every day....for a month).
Coming into this week, Andruw hadn't done anything to pull out of this slide, so perhaps Ozzie putting him in the lineup 7 straight games ranged somewhere between 'curious' and 'uber-crazy'. But Andruw has gone 7-21 (.333 BA), put up an excellent .462 OBP, and also clubbed 2 HR, had 7 RBI, and scored 5 times. Sure, he still struck out 7 times, but he also whiffed 112 times the year he hit 51 dingers....so that's not going away.
Gordon Beckham - Alive????
This is the absurdest of the absurd. Gordon is different, right? There are flaws with Gordon, he keeps chasing pitches up in the zone. Scouts have identified this; he is broken, it's confirmed. Surely Gordon has just been feasting on crappy pitching the last few days, right? He looked to be on his way to being Brent Lillibridge's backup until Ozzie once again inexplicably blessed him with playing time.
In the past 5 games, Gordon's hit 6-16 (.375), with 3 of those hits going for extra bases, and has scored 4 runs. Maybe it's not the biggest sample size, but he's driving the ball to all fields again, and as Hawk put it "He's starting to swing it, and if he's starting to swing it, we go from a good team to an outstanding team."
That's right, I just cited Hawk Harrelson to support my argument. Now you know things are going well.
Carlos Quentin - ALIVE!!!!
CQ was perking up well before this recent stretch, but that was merely a return to previous production levels. This past month Quentin is hitting like he wants to completely wipe out the first two months of the season statistically. He's hitting .409 for the month, with 6 HRs, 12 RBI, a .480 OBP, 1.270 SLG, and an OPS of 1.753......which is insane.
Really insane. He's essentially doing the work of 2 good hitters right now, or 3 A.J. Pierzynskis. He's even been DHing recently, meaning he can't add to his -14.1 UZR. And that, is real victory.
So what does this mean? Why turn a post about the team's streak into just a profile of three players? Because with these three guys, this offense can transition from "Just good enough to win with great pitching" to "viable in its own right". A functional Gordon Beckham would give the White Sox someone at the top of the order for the first time all season. And while Rios and Konerko have been one of the best 3-4 combinations in baseball, Quentin hitting at 2008 levels would give them one of the best 3-4-5 combinations. While I'm not convinced that the Andruw Jones can be consistent over the course of an entire season, it'd be really beneficial if he could win a role in the outfield; not just for the defense, but for the stability it would provide in a lineup that well....pretty much changes every single day. With the rotation most likely parred down to 4 good starters from 5, the White Sox will need to have more games like this where they render the starting pitching irrelevant. Furthermore, if the offense continues on its way, and Kenny Williams winds up embracing his super-itchy trigger finger and makes a trade, then he can focus more on securing an extra starter than making a trade for Adam Dunn, or Prince Fielder, or any other overweight sluggers who can't field well and strike out a lot.
49-38. 11 games over .500. 1st place in the division. This would be a great result for the 1st half even if the team hadn't started the season absolutely in the tank, and reached the brink of a fire sale around 17 times. This is one of the times where people say, "this team is sad to see the All-Star break come because of how well they're playing." I don't think a 3-day break will mess the White Sox up too much, because their season is real now; the playoffs are a very real possibility, and we can start discussing things like 'the White Sox have the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the AL Central', as opposed to 'What can we get for A.J. Pierzynski?'
Most importantly, people read more sports blogs when their team is winning, so I'm super thrilled. Thanks for the money, White Sox!