I'm not here to pump you full of White Sox optimism. Very far from it. Between the chasm separating our starters from the relative security of Bobby Jenks (almost swallowed my tongue writing that), the worst defensive player in the league stalking in right field, and how much the Sox resembled a heavily-charred piece of wheat toast Wednesday night versus the Orioles (THE ORIOLES!!!), I'm still quite broken down in my thoughts toward the team closest to my heart. Which is why it's all the more peculiar to see the team only 3.5 games out with the last month of the season coming around.
It's cliche, but way back when the White Sox were 24-33, given the option to get magically transported to August 27th, 12 games above .500, sitting on 70 wins and within one hell of a weekend of 1st place, I'd not only say yes, but I'd also start bumping off any witnesses who saw such a heist go down.
But seriously, why isn't our season over? Carrie's prom night went better than the last couple of weeks have gone for the White Sox. The home Minnesota series was awful and disappointing enough, but paled in comparison to the stomach-stab, gunshot to the knees, poison Kool-Aid double dip of traumatically blown leads at Target Field. In the middle of that was tossed the most incompetently played series of the year vs. Detroit, and then an underwhelming 3-3 record during the last creampuff stretch left on the schedule served as the somewhat rancid frosting on top of a cake that was baked without flour.
And there are still plenty of reasons to get down. Aforementioned bullpen chaos/schedule difficulties (we're playing the Yankees right now, for example) aside, the Twins only play two potential playoff teams for the rest of the year, have essentially fixed their rotation problems (by throwing Nick Blackburn into the sea), and may still get the best player in the league back before the season ends. At this point, hoping that once mid-September hits the entire Twins roster spontaneously freezes to death is as good of an option as any.
So why hope? Why hope other than the fact that I've already purchased tickets to two gams in the final Minnesota series, and I'm dependent on interest in the team for web traffic? Well first, the Twins just acquired Brian Fuentes, a man who seems like he was born to walk off the field with a bewildered expression on his face while people celebrated around him. There's that, and one of the stranger statistics I've ever come across. The Chicago White Sox, owners of meandering 12-13 game month of August, and a just-ok 4.07 ERA during that time, have been the best offensive team in the league. The best.
For the month of August, the Chicago White Sox, in runs scored - 1st, in hits - 1st, in total bases - 1st, in batting average - 1st, in slugging percentage - 1st, in OPS - 1st by a whole hell of a lot. They've posted an .804, while Toronto is 2nd with .776. Suffice it to say the offense is trending upward, and it's thanks to guys like Juan Pierre (.352 this month), Gordon Beckham (back-to-back month of .900-plus OPS), Paul Konerko (1.051 OPS for August), and even A.J. Pierzynski (not drunk!). Maybe, most alarmingly, Mark Teahen has a .987 OPS since returning, possibly rendering a panicked acquisition of Manny Ramirez less than necessary. Perhaps the hitting would be hard-pressed to maintain even though they're doing this almost entirely without meaningful contributions from Alex Rios, but it certainly gives the team a new dynamic should the bullpen situation work itself out magically.
Ultimately the two biggest things to rely on are the three remaining head-to-head games, and the relatively small division lead. As slight as the opportunities for it are, Minnesota remains one bad stretch away just as much as the Sox are one bad series from falling completely out of it. There's barely a reason to keep watching...but at leason that reason enough to put off thinking about how bad the Bears offensive line is, how lame watching the Miami D-bag trio celebrate is going to be, or how cold the weather is going to get.