Wednesday night, the braintrust of White Sox Observer all met at once for the first time to enjoy each other’s company in the presence of the game and team they love.
Fittingly, the White Sox pitching staff didn’t want the night to end.
Sox pitching walked a season-high 12 batters, which according to the preeminent Chris Kamka of CSN Chicago, is their highest sum in nine years. While it was remarkable, and the Sox were never out of it in spite of themselves, the plodding pace of the crushing defeat drove an already modest (~20,000) crowd to the exits early on, and in large quantities. Mass exoduses started as early as the 6th inning.
As a result, the U.S. Cellular Field atmosphere came off as a step ahead in its reaction to a damaging loss to the worst team in the AL.
Bemoaning what awful people Sox fans must be to neglect to act as voracious consumers has beaten out ‘Chris Sale losing velocity is just him learning how to pitch’, and ‘the Sox hit too many home runs’ for my least favorite media canard of the season. But it’s nevertheless intriguing to note that as the Sox have imploded and rung up a series of disastrous, frustrating, and nearly unwatchable late-season performances, their audience has already stopped watching with rapt attention.
Entire colonies worth of marooned White Sox baserunners have shifted most of the attention away from a month’s worth of pitching control problems. Yet after Wednesday, the only AL staffs issuing more free passes for the month are Toronto and Boston. 88 free passes issued in 210.2 innings looks awful for a staff coached by Don Cooper, but he’s also had Francisco Liriano, a fully regressing Jose Quintana, and Hector Santiago making starts, and the make-shift rookie bullpen to work with.
There’s not a lot to work with or trust there, and in turn, Robin Ventura has become untrusting. The ability to play matchups more with an expanded roster has been garishly over- and mis-used, giving a ‘Red Sox-Yankees on ESPN’ pace to September games. And the rotation is still getting shuffled in response to burnt-out performances from the top starters.
It hasn’t worked particularly well, and Ventura’s exceedingly long leash for starters in the 1st half can’t be immune from blame as Peavy and Sale stagger down the stretch. But it’s also hard to get on Ventura too much for trying to dance his way around failures of execution. The erratic Jesse Crain and Nate Jones are the closest things he has to shutdown relievers, and he recently had to put the training wheels back on for his closer.
Eulogies aren’t welcome for a team one out with seven to go, but in struggling mightily to scratch across a single win in a gimme series at home against the worst squad in the AL, the flaws of the 2012 White Sox were laid bare. It’s currently more fun to wonder how they overcame them for so long, then figure how they’ll do it for one more week.