Happy Thanksgiving!…still. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, I’m going to take this special time out to try to say something nice about every player who donned a White Sox uniform in 2011. Here goes! (holds breath)
Thanks Dylan Axelrod!: For providing the thrill of seeing someone who looks exactly like my friend Joe Cronin strikeout Miguel Cabrera…err, I mean, for winning the final game I attended on the year and sending Ozzie Guillen out in style. And for filling the fringey-AAAA-7th starter role, thus undoing the pain of losing Lucas Harrell.
Thanks Gordon Beckham!: For some really great defense. Yeah, great defense. (Also, see below comment)
Thanks Brian Bruney!: For preserving a win for Gavin Floyd on June 29th in Colorado by inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the 8th. The ball was smashed to Beckham (great D!) and the bases were loaded because Brian walked the first batter he faced, but still. 27% WPA!
Thanks Mark Buehrle!: For May 29, 2002. I went to the game with my high school tennis team, almost all of which were derisive Cubs fans. Keith Foulke blowing the save horribly in the 9th didn’t exactly make life-long believers out of the crowd, but 23 year-old Mark Buehrle throwing 7 innings, striking out 7, and allowing a single run to out-duel Roger Clemens and the Yankees left a lasting impression.
Thanks Ramon Castro!: For two-straight seasons with an OPS over .900 against lefties. Perfect at his job.
Thanks Jesse Crain!: For fighting against the stigma that every multi-year deal handed out to relievers with shaky peripherals coming off of career-years is doomed to fail.
Thanks John Danks!: For June 18th at Arizona. 7 IP 1 ER 0 BB, 7 K, 1 line-drive to the back of the head. I don’t know if that’s Chicago Tough, or Texas Crazy, but it was pretty hardcore.
Thanks Alejandro De Aza!: For outplaying absolutely everyone on the team from the moment of arrival, and never stopping or slowing, even when jerked around the outfield, even when dragged all over the batting order.
Thanks Adam Dunn!: For Opening Day, for taking a ball 10 rows deep without even hitting it entirely on the nose, and all the promise and hope it suggested.
Thanks Eduardo Escobar!: For good glovework, putting on your pants correctly, and thereby making Omar Vizquel expendable.
Thanks Tyler Flowers!: For proving that non-AJ Pierzynski’s can play full-time catcher for the White Sox without the pitching staff falling into the sea, and making as much as could have been reasonably expected out of a chance opportunity.
Thanks Gavin Floyd!: For every night where the curveball and slider were both on, and there wasn’t a better pitcher on the planet.
Thanks Jason Frasor!: For picking up the ‘W’ in the August 16th, 14-inning slog against the Indians, and being just enough of a legitimate name to make the Edwin Jackson trade not look like a complete salary dump.
Thanks Lucas Harrell!:For throwing 5 innings, posting a 5:1 K/BB ration, allowing no home runs, and having a 7.20 ERA. That’s some special mediocrity.
Thanks Philip Humber!: For filling in when the rotation was a man short, for being too good to kick out, for making the necessary adjustments to stick around, and being the best temp-to-perm hire in recent memory.
Thanks Edwin Jackson!: For 13 strikeouts in the home opener in front of 38,000+, and hinting at a juggernaut. A lot of these are just wistfully remembering great moments in the first week of the season and how we all felt about the season back then.
Thanks Josh Kinney!: For having good enough peripherals (10.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9) to stick around, and for being too much of a mid-30’s journeyman for anyone to feel bad that he didn’t.
Thanks Paul Konerko!: For staving off complete offensive disaster by having a career renaissance at 34, for becoming a better contact hitter and tracking fastballs like no one else in the league at an age when most are slowing down, for putting the team on yout back when it’s probably not too good for your knees. For playing hurt, quite hurt.
Thanks Brent Lillibridge!: For providing the top dozen most exciting plays of the season, and being the one guy having the time of his life in 2011.
Thanks Shane Lindsay!: Because every teams needs their Nuke LaLoosh, and it’s even better if they’re Australian.
Thanks Donny Lucy!: For your grace.
Thanks Dallas McPherson!: For that one single on May 11th. It really kept the rally going.
Thanks Lastings Milledge!: For taking getting DFA’d in the first week and spending the rest of the season in Triple-A as well as anyone I’ve ever seen get DFA’d in the first week and spending the rest of the season in Triple-A.
Thanks Brent Morel!: For the best home run of the year, for banishing haunting memories of Mark Teahen 3rd base defense to hell, and for a hellacious September power surge that gave a reason for watching.
Thanks Will Ohman!: For between being homer-prone disaster and a curiously used mop-up man, being pretty much the professional LOOGY you were supposed to be.
Thanks Jake Peavy!: For caring so disastrously deeply about contributing to the team, and for making the complete game shutout on May 18th quick enough so that everyone could watch the Bulls game.
Thanks Tony Pena!: For takin ‘er’ easy for all us sinners.
Thanks Juan Pierre!: For working preposterously hard at all times; even in the face of absolutely everything going wrong.
Thanks A.J. Pierzynski!: For the 0-2, 2 out, bottom of the 12th game-tying HR on June 24th, or the 2-run triple to seal the Cubs series in the prior game, or the whole 5-game stretch around then when you hit for a 1.374 OPS. It stood out.
Thanks Carlos Quentin!: For mashing dingers on command always, and for a defensive resurgence that was ultimately effort-laden to a fault
Thanks Alexei Ramirez!: For looking like the best shortstop in the league for a couple months, and being willing to settle for being perhaps the best player on the team.
Thanks Addison Reed!: For graduating out of the White Sox farm system in the only way that’s allowed; by getting promoted four times in the same calendar year.
Thanks Alex Rios!: For September 10th, 2011. I was out of town visiting a friend, and after watching the Indians and White Sox strand somewhere around 2600 baserunners combined and at my friend’s nudging, agreed to flick off the game, reasoning “This game’s annoying, they’re out of the race, and I’ve already written my post for today.” Five minutes later Alex Rios hit a walk-off grand slam. So thanks, for the reminder that you never turn off the game, even on Alex Rios.
Thanks Chris Sale!: For committing to be the only above-average White Sox starter for the next five years…probably unknowingly.
Thanks Hector Santiago!: For being the rare minor leaguer who is neither completely overmatched nor immediately being way too good to stay in the system, and for throwing the screw.
Thanks Sergio Santos!: For putting an end to Bullpen Hell, for being the ultimate road warrior, and for that sweet, snapping slider.
Thanks Zach Stewart!: For the most dominant start of the year; September 5th at Minnesota – 9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 9 K
Thanks Mark Teahen!: For the game-tying, 9th inning 3-run HR out of nowhere on June 24th, and proving that no, you’re not usually as terrible at defense as you were in 2010.
Thanks Matt Thornton!: For decently weathering the most harrowing stretch of your White Sox career, and being besties with Yeezy.
Thanks Dayan Viciedo!: For being an empty vessel for all our hopes, dreams, and frustrations. And for that 405 ft line-drive out to dead-center at Safeco Field. That was cool.
Thanks Omar Vizquel!: For this. Just this.
(Panting in exhaustion).
Tags: a, Adam Dunn, addison reed, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, baseball, Brent Lillibridge, Brent Morel, brian bruney, Carlos Quentin, Chicago Cubs, Chris Sale, Colorado Rockies, dallas mcpherson, Dayan Viciedo, Donny Lucy, dylan axelrod, Eduardo Escobar, Edwin Jackson, Gavin Floyd, Gordon Beckham, hector santiago, j. pierzynski, Jake Peavy, jason frasor, jeff gray, jesse crain, John Danks, josh kinney, Juan Pierre, lastings milledge, Lucas Harrell, Mark Buehrle, Mark Teahen, Matt Thornton, miguel cabrera, Minnesota Twins, Omar Vizquel, Paul Konerko, philip humber, Ramon Castro, Sergio Santos, shane lindsay, Tony Pena, Tyler Flowers, Washington Nationals, White Sox, Will Ohman, zach stewart