I haven't written any live game blogs this year, and for good reason. It's a cumbersome, goofy gimmick that doesn't allow me much time to gather my thoughts and provide cogent analysis. Also, it's an idea I picked up from reading Bill Simmons as a teenager, and I've been trying to strip his influence away from my work slowly over the past year.
But as the 2011 season has slid deeper and deeper into a listless haze, there were so many trappings of this year of failure and regret that I wanted to capture. The barren, defeated vibe of U.S. Cellular Field, Hawk's losing battle with his unquenchable rage, Ozzie's possible last days as a manager, and this weird mish-mash of players being used that's neither all veterans finishing nightmare seasons nor youngsters getting their feet wet. I wanted to capture the fallout of 2011, and I think the best microcosm may lay here, Friday night, the 23rd.
The last game of the season is too bittersweet, as too will be Buehrle's final start, and I'll be at the Stadium Sunday and Monday. Tonight, on the other hand. Tonight is perfect.
-The Royals, a team associated with futility but entirely capable of plastering the Sox this season
-The strangely dominant Bruce Chen
-One more episode of Zach Stewart: Major League Starter, the less successful spinoff of the now cancelled Canadian television program Zach Stewart: Hot Prospect
-Adam Dunn in the lineup, alongside A.J. Pierzynski batting cleanup
This game couldn't be more 2011 if it tried
To be clear, while I am publishing this post-game, this is all as-its-happening reaction. I'm not saying this like it's supposed to be mind-blowing or something, just so you understand the perspective it's written from.
I'm excited. Well, conditionally excited. If those grey clouds that were hanging over downtown on my drive home mean rain, I could be staring at the MLB.TV Rain Delay message until I start seeing I-Spy shapes. It could be a fun read--the latter portions at least--but probably would leave me changed in unappealing ways.
Two things are true
1. I will be sad when baseball season ends
2. MLB TV is a great bargain
Now that said, baseball season ending will mean I've presumably seen the 'Brett Michaels leaps out of a bus, then lectures me about Ford pickups' and 'Jenny McCarthy-directed romantic comedy' commercials for the last time. So, small wonders.
I felt an overwhelming amount of relief when it was announced that Lorenzo Cain was playing center, because that means Melk--oh crap, he's playing left field. We're still boned.
Zach Stewart's stats show a 2-5 record with a 4.97 ERA. I could reach for some advanced statistics to defend him, but I don't wanna
L Cain lined out to center.
De Aza is in center tonight, which means line drives won't be accompanied by 1-2 seconds of Rios staring at the ball in contemplation
M Cabrera reached on infield single to third.
Brent Morel did everything right, he charged the short hop, handled it beautifully, and gunned it to 1st. And yet, failure. Character-building for Brent. That's also what my mother said when I rode the bus alone to visit my Grandmother in Chatham. Character-building
B Butler grounded into double play, third to second to first, M Cabrera out at second.
There is no one at the stadium. These are the things you have time to take note of when Billy Butler is running
There's the damn Brett Michaels commercial again, I'm getting a beer.
I understand that Viciedo is being hidden because he's slumping and inexplicably can't hit anything in the air, but De Aza 6th? I know he looks like a leadoff guy, but he's being hidden at the bottom of the order so 3 guys with less power can protect him
"This is going to be first team I've ever been with that has a better road record than home record" Hawk shuns 2005.
J Pierre lined out to pitcher.
You know what are sad plays? Plays that Juan Pierre would make if he weren't old
A Ramirez popped out to second.
The crowd is still big enough to audibly sigh during foul balls. Thank goodness for Fireworks Night
Aaaand my feed cuts out. I didn't think I'd find a reason to sneak in how Comcast is a horrible company with terrible service, but they forced the issue
P Konerko flied out to left.
Chen is perfect through an inning. Yes, it's never too early.
E Hosmer homered to center. 1-0 KC
Hawk raves about Hosmer's plate coverage as he chases Stewart fastballs out of the zone. Of course, he looks a lot smarter when Stewart floats a change over the heart of the zone and gets taken out to center. That's Stewart's third pitch (behind his heater and his slider). It is bad. This is a primary sticking point with him.
J Francoeur grounded out to third.
M Moustakas safe at first on error by pitcher Z Stewart.
Knocking the ball down is the first step. It's not the second step though, and it's not even close to the third
M Moustakas safe at second on throwing error by pitcher Z Stewart.
Zach Stewart was unwise to not announce kickball rules were in play before throwing a ball at Mike Moustakas' calf
S Perez lined out to center.
"That ball's hammered" Take some joy in the outs, Hawk! They are precious!
J Giavotella popped out to second.
Way to pitch around your own two errors, Zach. That's a must. Especially, you know, if you're going to commit lots of errors personally
Goodness gracious, Hawk and Stoney are sitting really far apar---OH SCRAP THAT LOOK AT THESE CRAZY GUYS IN LUCHADOR MASKS!!!!
A Pierzynski grounded out to shortstop.
He couldn't even wait for Hawk to finish saying "He hits Chen well"
D Viciedo reached on infield single to third.
I just heard the much-discussed happening of Hawk calling Viciedo 'Tanks'. Viciedo swings for strike hard enough to spin and fall down. I am so very, very discouraged.
Hawk just detailed at length Viciedo's history of adjusting to new levels gradually, and I am encouraged. I am encouraged by something Hawk Harrelson said. Viciedo makes me very emotionally vulnerable.
He reaches after Mike Moustakas tries to whip the throw to 1st at a personal enemy sitting in the 3rd row. Hosmer leaps and catches it, and why he's not immediately tested for performance enhancers is anyone's guess
A Dunn walked, D Viciedo to second.
When you're not good at swinging and making contact, don't.
A De Aza struck out looking.
It's nice to hear Hawk and Stone mention that De Aza probably needs to be hitting against left-handers all the time given his role in 2012, which means I'm not just screaming in a phone booth about this.
Alejandro thought it was low and outside, and it was damn close. A hell of a lot better to see someone be overly discerning than pull a Beckham or Dunn and stare at a fastball over the middle.
B Morel popped out to second.
It's getting to be weird when he doesn't homer.
Sonofa....get out of my face, Brett Michaels! Your eyes are curiously blue!
A Escobar singled to right.
I wonder if Stewart will throw another changeup tonight. Probably not to Hosmer. Or hopefully, just not in that spot. Ever again. Any changeups.
L Cain hit a ground rule double to left, A Escobar to third.
Another reason why bunting is bad. Morel comes in to prevent it and a chopper bounces over his head....or wait, that's a reason why it's good, but I still hate it. Stupid bunting!
M Cabrera grounded out to second, A Escobar scored, L Cain to third. 2-0 KC
Beckham makes a great play, and a run scores. All in vain, Gordon. All of it.
B Butler hit sacrifice fly to right, L Cain scored. 3-0 KC
Why would you call him Tanks? Why, Hawk? This is like the first good nickname he's crafted in years, and he takes it upon himself to ruin it
E Hosmer struck out swinging.
I notice he threw Hosmer no changeups, and no pitches blatantly over the heart of the plate and up either. Stewart is like a sponge of knowledge.
I don't even want to see Boardwalk Empire now. Hear that companies? Broadcast on MLB.TV, and you're guaranteed to earn contempt via overexposure
G Beckham popped out to catcher.
Blimey, it's already the 3rd? This is what happens when your favorite team just impatiently racks up weak contact. I just saw Beckham pop-up in multi-view, though.
J Pierre grounded out to pitcher.
When the word 'poke' can be applied to a grown man swinging a large wooden blunt object, something is wrong.
A Ramirez grounded out to pitcher.
Alexei made Chen bend that low for that one, we'll see how that affects him in the later innings. Somewhere around the 17th or 18th, he's going to be feeling that one.
Chicken tenderrrrrss! Delicious! Chicken Tenders on my fingers! Damnable!
J Francoeur singled to center.
God, even Paulie likes Jeff Francouer. Is Contagion just going to be this guy's biography?
Stewart failing to field a comebacker has been changed to a base hit. Maybe all errors should be called hits. Batters would love it, fielders would love it, and pitchers would hilariously lose their minds
M Moustakas doubled to deep center, J Francoeur to third.
Hawk said earlier that Stewart had "the best stuff he's had all year", now he mentions that "it doesn't matter if you don't put it in the right place"
S Perez homered to right, J Francoeur and M Moustakas scored. 6-0 KC
REFER TO PREVIOUS POINT
J Giavotella popped out to first.
Hawk comments that Konerko "Took the heat off AJ"by catching that one. Pierzynski never moved
A Escobar homered to left. 7-0 KC
Zach Stewart could be in the bullpen by the end of the night. "Zach is messin' around with the middle of the plate" Hawk chides. I like the concept of referring to Stewart's mistakes like they're marital infidelities
L Cain reached on infield single to pitcher, L Cain to second on throwing error by pitcher Z Stewart.
"Not one of Zach's better nights" says Stone. Hawk giggles.
M Cabrera flied out to center, L Cain to third.
If there's a positive to Stewart giving up 7 runs, committing essentially three errors, and allowing 3 dingers before the end of the 4th, it's that the Twins must feel really stupid about those two games. What were you guys even doing up there???!
B Butler popped out to shortstop.
It will be hard to get excited about things from here on out. The crowd has started chanting something that seems unrelated to the game. Stewart is ruining the night for the USCF security staff too.
Commercial for movie Dream House with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz features someone screaming "You moved here and no one told you about THE MURDERS!" I really hope the revelation is that Daniel Craig unwittingly moved into a really bad neighborhood. It's probably not that.
P Konerko flied out to right.
I've noticed a lot of players picking up the 'disgusted bat toss' from Konerko
A Pierzynski grounded out to shortstop.
Hawk remarks about teaching Jim Rice how to play golf. This seems like death to the 'Home Run Derby screwing up swings' argument. How can you play golf during the off-season and not ruin yourself, but a slight uppercut motion for a day is the ruin of some of the best players in the league.
D Viciedo fouled out to first.
If the Royals are willing, we don't have to be here much past 9pm.
E Hosmer doubled to left.
Hosmer has now picked up on the strategy of Stewart avoiding him out of pure terror, and is flicking pitches into left. Welp, that's it Zach. Plunk him next time, best result you can get.
J Francoeur homered to left, E Hosmer scored. 9-0 KC
Zach Stewart loves his spots far too much to hit them
W Ohman relieved Z Stewart.
M Moustakas grounded out to second.
"That ball hit hard" For Pete's sake, Hawk. It's 9-0 and Ohman got a groundout. Do a shot or something. I know I'm gonna.
S Perez lined out to right.
Comparatively, Ohman seems masterful
J Giavotella reached on infield single to second.
The first 5 seconds of that play by Beckham are amazing, the attempt to engage the Royals dugout in a game of bocce ball....less so
It's pretty clear that this is going to devolve into me staring at things that aren't the game. Holy crap, look at all the pink sweaters in Row Such-and-such!
A Escobar singled to left, J Giavotella to second.
These groundball singles feel like wins, and how could they not? When you allow 14 hits in 5 innings, you start sorting them in terms of severity. Hawk assures that the pitching staff did their part for the first 5 months with no support, which caused undue stress. Hell yeah, man! Screw you Alex Rios! You stressed out Matt Thornton and traded Edwin Jackson away, jerkass!
L Cain grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop, A Escobar out at second.
Halfway home! But we are already home, and home is absolutely terrible.
A Dunn flied out to right.
There was a brief moment, where I saw Dunn up to lead off, and got real excited to see some power. Then I remembered everything that's happened this year.
Hey, I said some power. That sounded great off the bat, and died 20 feet in front of the warning track. Is that not terribly disconcerting?
A De Aza grounded out to third.
Alejandro reacts to questionable calls like a 6-year vet. He does everything well
B Morel flied out to left.
C'mon Royals! We can do this! Want to go to the movies at 10 and see Moneyball? We can get great seats if we get there early!
M Cabrera popped out to second.
The Royals are down for it too. I'm going to call Las Tablas and reserve a 10pm table for 75. Colombian steaks all around!
B Butler struck out swinging.
Butler strikes out and disputes that he tipped it for 30 seconds. I guess he already ate. I particularly enjoy how manager Ned Yost never came to argue on his behalf. No one cares, Billy!
E Hosmer struck out swinging.
Ohhhhh, I have to pee. Beer + Live Blogging = Stupid.
Hosmer's desire to cover every pitch possible is proved faulty when he swings at something that might otherwise hit him. On the other hand, that swing/duck showed oceans of athleticism
G Beckham struck out looking.
Beckham is hitting .228, doesn't walk, and has unremarkable power. When discussing his floor as a hitter, I never thought it was lower than "in-his-prime Ron Karkovice".
J Pierre grounded out to first.
One would think Juan Pierre would be cherishing these at-bats
A Ramirez flied out to left.
Just to clarify, the White Sox already have a hit, so you know, objective reached. I can't remember what it was though....oh wait, it was the Viciedo would-be-groundout. Grrrreeeat.
J Frasor relieved W Ohman.
J Francoeur grounded out to third.
Francouer is upset with himself for not hammering that pitch for a 5-run HR...oh snap! Jason Frasor is in now. Yeah, he should be mad
M Moustakas singled to right.
Well, Moustakas has figured out the league, it'll be a battle with the Twins to stay out of the cellar this season. God, it feels like I was just writing the AL Central previews the other day. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED THIS SEASON?!!?
S Perez grounded into double play, second to shortstop to first, M Moustakas out at second.
Moustakas just stopped running to 2nd base. This game is 20 minutes away from having a peaceful surrender negotiated and agreed to.
P Konerko homered to left center. KC 9-1
I was initially going to be critical of Cabrera not hustling on that play, but then the ball cleared the fence by 20 feet. My bad, Melky. And like that, Konerko has made this game somewhat worthwhile. I'll miss that quick jerk to left field when it's gone
A Pierzynski fouled out to third.
Well, they can't all mash dingers to left
D Viciedo struck out looking.
Dayan Viciedo strikes out look. Dayan Viciedo strikes out looking!
A Dunn lined out to right.
YOU DIRTY, SHIFTLESS HOBO!!!!!!
J Giavotella doubled to center.
While you'd think Alejandro racing in and whiffing on a dive would be heartbreaking, the super-slow-motion shot of his shocked reaction made everything better. Now I will always know how to tell if he is truly surprised.
A Escobar flied out to right, J Giavotella to third.
Viciedo overran the ball in about two different ways, resulting in horrible throwing position. However, it's 9-1 in the 8th inning.
I can hear people whistling the "Charge!" chant to each other. Important to find ways to keep busy at White Sox games.
J Giavotella scored on J Frasor's wild pitch. KC 10-1
Cain showing some discipline by not chasing that slider 8 feet out of the zone. Good-looking kid.
L Cain grounded out to pitcher.
Cain tries to kill Frasor....fails.
M Cabrera walked.
There's some grim satisfaction in Frasor absolutely annihilating any chances of his option being picked up. It's very grim, though
B Butler doubled to left, M Cabrera scored. KC-11-1
Cabrera sprints all the way around the bases, sprints to the dugout, and jumps over all the stairs. These Royals are adorable! Can I keep them?
M Thornton relieved J Frasor.
E Hosmer struck out swinging.
Hosmer swings and misses for strike three that rolls through AJ's legs, then stands there as Pierzynski runs over to get it, then throws it back to Thornton so he can tag him. One hopes Hosmer was just confused, otherwise that was the most blatant "Who cares, let's get the hell out of here" moment I've seen in a while.
A De Aza flied out to left.
B Morel struck out looking.
These things just kinda happened without much of note
E Escobar hit for G Beckham.
ESCOBAR GETS THROWN A BONE WITH A PLATE APPEARANCE!
ESCOBAR SOMEHOW FOULS OFF A PITCH, THROWS HIS BAT, AND BREAKS IT SIMULTANEOUSLY
For a prospect generally viewed to have moribund hitting skills, Escobar hasn't done anything blatantly embarrassing....besides throwing his bat while still making contact.
E Escobar lined out to pitcher.
Escobar's liner nearly nails Chen in the face. Instead, he snares it, and Eduardo is not the greatest hero in franchise history
E Escobar at second base.
Francoeur grounded out to shortstop.
Alexei races to the middle, spins, and fires a dart to retire Francouer. There's your second highlight of the game, Sox fans. Well, 2.5 if you count Beckham's diving stop followed by him rolling it to the Royals 1st base coach.
M Moustakas singled to left.
S Perez grounded into double play, shortstop to second to first, M Moustakas out at second.
Moustakas dink single is made irrelevant by a double play. Try to get those 2 minutes of your life back, Moustakas. Better yet, rewind yourself
Moustakas slid hard into Escobar to try to break up the DP. The next shot was of Escobar giggling and smiling, which was a more welcome sight than him bloodied and in a heap.
Vin Mazzaro in to close things out.....THERE'S A CHANCE, OH GOD THERE'S A CHANCE!!!!
Hawk makes mention of "Cy Chen", which is just as depressing and defeated as he hopes for it to be.
(Sound of Stone shuffling papers in silence for a full minute)
J Pierre grounded out to first.
Juan Pierre is engaged in a battle with Vin Mazzaro. Nothing like seeing a battle between Vin Mazzaro and Juan Pierre.
T Flowers grounded out to second.
Tyler Flowers coming out is announced alongside Donny Lucy hitting for Konerko. Not often you see such a rush to get catchers more involved in the lineup.
D Lucy struck out swinging.
First pitch hacking, eh Donny? You cheeky bastard.
Hawk calls Donny an "enegma". Damn straight. Yes, he said "enegma"
Hawk cites Lucy's 'mystique' right before he strikes out to end the game, he then ends the broadcast like the stadium's burning down. WAIT, IS THE STADIUM BURNING DOWN?!?!
It's not. Game over, 11-1 Royals
One could jump to the conclusion that in getting positively annihilated by the Royals in a late September snoozer, the White Sox accomplished nothing. They'd be wrong, but not in ways that anyone would actually bother disputing.
-Clinched a non-winning season for the White Sox
-Saw Konerko hit his 31st HR of the season, leaving him 5 short of 400 for his career
-Probably annihilated Zach Stewart's hope of a rotation slot
-Proved Jason Frasor isn't worth $3 million
This is important stuff kinda. I'll always remember witnessing it. Or I won't, but it will be months before I forget. Thank you, 2011 White Sox, thank you.
Now go the hell away.
Filed under: Live Game Thread
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Dunn, alcides escobar, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, billy butler, Brent Morel, bruce chen, Dayan Viciedo, Donny Lucy, Edwin Jackson, francisco perez, Gordon Beckham, jason frasor, jeff francouer, johnny giovatella, Juan Pierre, Kansas City Royals, lorenzo cain, Matt Thornton, Melky Cabrera, mike moustakas, Paul Konerko, Tyler Flowers, White Sox, Will Ohman, zach stewart