Strictly speaking, this isn't the low point of the White Sox season.
The Sox were 11-22 at one point, there's still that no-hitter they endured from a pitcher currently sporting a 4.67 ERA, and on May 31st when Toronto was bashing their heads in by75 runs and Ozzie Guillen just threw in Lucas Harrell to conduct batting practice for four innings, it really displayed how much of a role 'contractual obligation' plays in ensuring that major league teams play certain games.
Things add up over time, though. Adam Dunn isn't just looking helpless against the curveball on a random Tuesday, he's striking out for the 138th time on the season. The offense didn't just get shutout by a struggling pitcher in Phil Hughes, they were shutout for the 8th time on the season, presumably after Phil Hughes compared scouting reports on Skype with Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen.
And while it was widely known that the White Sox offense beyond Paul Konerko was no great shakes, two games of being toyed with by the Yankee pitching staff really beat it home with fan-murdering fury. 2 runs and 3 XBH in 15 innings, and not even 46,000 in attendance over the two prime dates.
If there's a positive by-product, it's Hawk Harrelson's transformation from ebullient eternal optimist to wounded bird. And that's only positive if you enjoy things that are bizarrely sad...which I assume you do, as you're reading a blog about the 2011 Chicago White Sox.
Notable calls for Hawk Tuesday night:
"This offense looks rreeeeeaalll different without Konerko in the lineup." (to which Stone replied "Yup.")
"C'mon Johnny, hold them here, and maybe--just maybe--we'll some runs for ya." (referring to 4-0 hole Danks entered the top of the 4th with)
"That was an easy inning for Hughes...an easy inning...a real easy inning..." (trails off into commercial break)
In fairness to Hawk and his rapidly crumbling psyche, Tuesday night was a uniquely feeble effort to drag the Sox another game further from the division.
Phil Hughes breezed through 6 shutout innings in 65 pitches before the game was called, while striking out 4, and not allowing anyone to reach 2nd base.
Certainly there are pitchers out there capable of dominating by inducing waves of weak contact, and Phil Hughes did appear to have the fastball that abandoned him earlier in the season. But the free-swinging White Sox simply don't have the credibility to deserve the assumption that Hughes was just too darn deceptive.
With the only trade deadline move being a salary dump, it's highly unlikely help is coming from anyone not already on the organizational payroll, such as Viciedo or Milledge.
Guillen however, remains publicly hopeful, or perhaps...immovable from the concept of a turnaround with his current roster, as he surely has to be.
But if the surprisingly candid take given by Alex Rios reflected anything, it's that hitting rock-bottom, or being properly humbled, isn't going to issue a turnaround on command from players at the major league level.
“When somebody is doing bad it’s not because you want to do bad,’’ Rios said. “It’s because something is going wrong. Sometimes they don’t understand that, but they want the best from their team and I understand that. They want to see everybody doing well but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sports are a tough business. It’s called a game, it is a game, but it’s not as easy as it looks. That’s it, man. At the end of the day, we don’t want to do bad. We want to perform well and do our best.’’
These guys are just struggling, and treating them like the middle-of-the-order producers they once were in the hopes they'd get the hint before high-leverage opportunities rolled around hasn't borne fruit. That stings, because it's August and all.
An offense that falls to pieces when a 35 year-old 1st basemen actually misses a few games could probably stand a few improvements for the sake of short-term gain. Continuing to de-emphasize Rios, moving Dunn out of the middle of the order, shipping out deadweight bench players for promising minor league bats...whichever.
At this run production and attendance, the Sox are getting the same return that they would have if they had just blown it all up instead.