At the end of the White Sox surprising and undeniably successful 1st half, I decided to drag out some of the happy memories by compiling them into one big link-off to be enjoyed and digested repeatedly.
There wasn’t as much material to work with in the 2nd half.
All the same; before all the hard truths, and speculation about how to go about tearing this team down and/or building it back up, let us return to and revel in those moments after mid-July that encouraged us to have hope.
I’ve opted for risking blowing up your browser by uploading all the clips onto the same post, rather than forcing you to click off to outside pages, Bleacher Report style.
Pretty much every season has their handful of these precious memories, which is why we’re willing to dive in each time. But we certainly had more than 2011.
Going through this, one might get the impression that Alex Rios tried to single-handedly win the AL Central, and his teammates got in the way. For today, I am not going to dissuade you from that.
Youkilis helps Sox outlast the Royals – July 13
Perhaps this doesn’t look like much, but it came at the end of a 14-inning marathon in Kaufman Stadium. And of course, since it involved the Royals, that means the Sox had been flirting with destruction the entire night. MLB was nice enough to give an extended clip to show that it was another one of Youkilis’ grinding’ at-bats.
Dunn’s late inning blast jump-starts late-inning rout of Twins – July 24
What a miserable, dreary night where the Sox are inexplicably struggling with the Twins. Won’t someone slice through the drudgery and restore order? Oh hey, Adam Dunn!
That diving, bent-over swing gave the illusion of Dunn expanding his plate coverage for just a night.
Alex Rios hit two home runs, is hero – August 3
Alex Rios would never match his wrath-of-God, 1.000 OPS month of July, but who could? He still had enough to nearly single-handedly ruin the Angels at the beginning of August.
A.J. Pierzynski’s pinch-hit power downs the Angels – August 5
Catchers regularly need days off, and I never question when they receive them. But surely Robin had to be doubting himself while down 2-1 in the 7th with A.J. Pierzynski–who had homered in four straight games–on the bench. So Robin got him a bat. Good managin’.
Chris Sale’s arm returns from the dead – August 6
Our collective anxiety–Chris Sale’s falling velocity–has prompted a nine-day break for the 23 year-old hurler. A home start against the Royals marked his return, and it was a glorious one. Joe Maddon says Sale doesn’t like his fastball, but he seemed okay with it here.
REDDIGGDUDDINMOOOO – August 10
Not that it takes much to get Hawk going, but Jordan Danks’ first home run of his career to wrap up and tense and taut showdown with what turned out to be a pretty good A’s team, produced his signature call of the year. It’s hard to fully enjoy this because of the presence of Pat Neshek, who recently endured an awful tragedy.
Rios & Co. take a noted bit of pleasure in smashing Toronto to hell – August 16
Since he had his fair share of inexplicably poor seasons there, the fans in Toronto boo Alex Rios voraciously whenever he returns. For that reason, he and his teammates seem to take a particular pleasure in defeating them, even if they’re beset by injuries and starting Aaron Laffey at the time.
Youkilis gets his 1,000th hit, Dunn gets his 400th tater, fan gets his first Kaufman Stadium bath – August 19
People get worked up by milestones, so I thought I would throw this one in here, even if the most fun part of it for me is when the fan dives into the fountain at Kaufman stadium.
The Best Series of the Year: Three games spent befuddling the Yankees – August 20-22
In the first half, the best series of the year was the three-game sweep of Texas at home. For the second-half, and really for the season, I think the three tightly-played and well-attended triumphs over New York take the cake.
Alexei Ramirez’s home run was the most memorable outburst of the 1st game (he takes a 2008-style cut on his home run), which was dominated by tremendous offense and pretty terrible starting pitching.
Kevin Youkilis didn’t get as many chances to annoy the Yankees in a White Sox uniform as he was used to, so he maximized his opportunities as best as he was able.
But perhaps my favorite game of the year was Chris Sale’s masterpiece against the Yankees. 13 strikeouts on a nationally televised stage was both a brilliant showcase of his skill and ability, and the last demonstration of his peak form.
Naturally, it was also punctuated by an Alex Rios home run. That guy is something.
Waking Madness: Sox and Mariners combine for eight 9th inning runs out of sheer incompetence – August 24
It would not be appropriate for a highlight, or ‘best moments’ article to review the awful circumstances that led to the White Sox to be trailing the Mariners by a run in the 9th (six runs, cough, overmanaging, cough, Addison Reed fail cough cough), but suffice it to say that there was a lot of relief when Kevin Youkilis lined this outside fastball up the middle and tied things up.
Paul Konerko’s deep blast to right-center returned the game back to absolute rabid mania, but in a way that actually benefitted the White Sox…and probably gave Eric Thames a concussion.
Tyler Flowers smacks go-ahead home run into the rain, game ends immediately afterward – August 26
Any good season needs a little luck, and maybe a little grift. Grift, such as dragging a game out through a downpour just long enough for Tyler Flowers to hit an enormous go-ahead home run, then calling it immediately afterward.
Rios slams away memories of the previous night against the Twins – September 5
The previous night, the White Sox had lost 18-9 to the Twins. It was worse than the score. Alex Rios hitting two home runs and knocking in a career-high six may not seem like the greatest thing ever on its own, but there’s a therapeutic context.
Rios breaks the tension against Detroit – September 10
Little did we know, but the Sox were deep into a drought with runners in scoring position that they would never pull out of. There were some breaks, and this was one of the better ones–a crackling line drive off the bat of Rios that delivered the Sox the first game a four-game split with Detroit.
The Slide – September 17
Little did we know it at the time, but the Sox would not be winning the AL Central. But if they had, the signature moment would have been Alex Rios doing old-school, gritty baseball things.
Dunn provides a break from the collapse – September 24
And again, little did we know at the time, but this would be the last gasp of the division-leading White Sox. But what a mighty intake of air!
Rios’ last effort to save us all – September 28
By the time the calendar reached the very end of September, illusions were out the door. The Sox had a two-game deficit, and little hope. But a superlative effort from Rios gave us one night to have faith again. He homered, scored twice, and had a beautiful, run-saving catch at the wall to drag the Sox within a game of Detroit.
Dan Johnson takes his seat on Mount Olympus – October 3