We're only two years removed from our city's greatest tragedy.
After a rocky beginning to his career, Matt Thornton remade himself into a fireballing reliever, earned an All-Star appearance. It was a glorious redemption story, right up until he was tagged for the go-ahead RBI double by eventual game MVP Brian McCann. The runner was inherited, so Thornton wasn't charged for the loss, but still had the video clip of him turning his head to watch the flight of the blast replayed 2,000 times over the next 24 hours.
And then the White Sox missed the playoffs.
So the stakes for the avoiding embarrassment were clear going into the game, and since the Sox had their highest number of All-Stars since 2006, there were a lot of bases to cover.
Jake Peavy, ever the careful pragmatist, acted quickly and decisively.
Jake Peavy said he spoke to AL coaching staff & worked way into emergency/extra innings role. Hopes for blowout & to pitch in KC on Sat #ASG
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) July 10, 2012
Well played, Jake. Especially since the National League scored five runs in the 1st inning and were never threatened in an 8-0 rout.
Chris Sale's talent-level is rarely in doubt, so his primary responsibility was to avoid injury, and in the same vein, avoid a heavy workload.
Sale operated in the 94-95 mph range in a single inning, but found himself in a bit of a jam when Ian Kinsler allowed a slow roller off of the bat of Chipper Jones for a single, and Andrew McCutchen more impressively rapped a fastball on the hands for the same result.
The pair of long flyouts Sale induced wasn't that impressive, but blowing away David Freese for the final out was. And so far, no reports of a Tommy John surgery after his 12 pitches of work!
Paul Konerko had one plate appearance on the night, and it came against R.A. Dickey's befuddling knuckleball. Sure, Konerko has teed off against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in his career, but Wakefield never struck out 123 batters in 120 innings. There was risk.
Dickey's also hit five batters this year, and now one more in a game that doesn't count after nicking Konerko on the wrist with a 74-mph dancer. It was too slow and he was too armored for there to be an injury risk, and now Konerko has a .600 career OBP in All-Star games.
Well, he didn't play. He was the only position player on either team that didn't play. With two outs in the 9th, the game out of hand, Matt Wieters got a second plate appearance while Dunn didn't play. He must have been pretty upset.
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) July 11, 2012
There was already a glut of 1st basemen for manager Ron Washington to deal with, and with the crowd hungry for hometown hero Billy Butler, Dunn stepped aside.
“My whole thing was to rest for the second half,” Dunn said. “I wanted to make sure Billy got his at-bats for the crowd. So we talked about it. I did what I wanted to do pretty much. ... It worked out perfect.”
Rather than be an embarrassing, Dunn's unique absence winds up being a classy and astute gesture. He might have had the best showing of anyone.