Afternoon notes: Second-place edition

Everything seems less rosy when it doesn’t have the ‘activities of a 1st-place team’ stamp on it.  A Wednesday night set to be spent battling the Cubs to avoid a sweep with one of the league’s worst starters of the last month lacks a certain tinge of nobility.

So does marveling at Detroit’s comeback.  In his well-justified bemoaning of the Sox Tuesday night loss to the Cubs, Jake Peavy warned “Detroit is coming. And we know Cleveland isn’t going anywhere.’’

Cleveland is three games over .500 with a run differential of -38 on the season.  For most playoff contenders, them “not going anywhere” would be just fine.  Detroit’s still below water by a game, and their return to the top of the division race is more of a statement on the vacuum of power in the division.  Conversely, Detroit’s failure to live up to expectations is what everyone has to thank for this season’s excitement.  As it is, Peavy was neglectful to have not mentioned Kansas City.

Mid-June doldrums certainly makes attendance complaints from the front office a fair bit weaker.  “You’re no Tampa Bay Rays” can become the “You’re no Woodward & Bernstein” retort of every fan of any decently-performing but lightly-followed baseball team.

Kenny Williams seems to acknowledge it:

White Sox general manager Ken Williams said his ability to make trades and add salary for a second-half pennant drive continues to depend on ticket sales, which have been lagging at U.S. Cellular Field even though the Sox are in first place.

“Yes,’’ Williams said. “I don’t want to expound. Then I get buried because I’m crying about money.’’

Chris Jaffe had an excellent rundown at how dedicated the Sox are not doing their attendance numbers any favors with pricing, but more curious is what exactly is being expected.  Mid-season attendance bumps happen, but not very quickly, or with only moderate prodding.  The biggest bumps come in the wake of the successful season, and 2011 was a disaster followed by months of rebuilding talk.

Actual team things

Zach Stewart was sent down in favor of Dylan Axelrod, a move more out of necessity due to Stewart’s performance than grand purpose for Dylan Axelrod.

Not to scoff at Dylan, who’s striking over a batter an inning in AAA Charlotte, but some of the curiosity about him starting is gone after a rough Spring Training and poor spot start in Detroit earlier this season.  It’s more interesting than seeing Stewart again, though.

The most amusing suggestion for the 3rd base problem was apparently already raised by Kenny Williams, who made the mistake of thinking twice about Dayan Viciedo.

Kenny Williams even broached the idea to the White Sox coaching staff, although it wasn’t received too positively.

“It was just in conversation and I was shot down in the room pretty quickly,” Williams said. “He wasn’t as bad over there as people want to think he was. I think in an emergency situation he can go in there.”

There’s a lot of fun fake dialogue that can be imagined in that situation, mostly centering around around “C’mon, he’s not that bad”, “NO!”

In the meantime, Eduardo Escobar is starting Wednesday night at 3rd.  If only there was time travel, so I could back in time two months and explain to everyone how this is being considered progress


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