An unexpected gift, at an unexpected time



The White Sox have been full of surprises all year long.  There have been a few bright spots in these, but for the most part, they’ve been awful.  The Sox are a relative who just refuses to abide by the birthday gift list you provided them, which would be fine, if only they weren’t under the impression that you are four years younger than you actually are.

Oh, breakout years for Phil Humber, Brent Lillibridge, and Sergio Santos?  Oh, ok, I was expecting these in ’07 but…thanks!

But the major, grand, arching surprise of the year is that the Sox;
assembling essentially the same group of guys who last year won 88 games
(not unimpressive) now featuring a fortified rotation and a boosted
offense that would guard against another slow start, came into this week
in pretty much the same spot as the same time last year.  Well out of
first place, holes throughout the lineup, no set 3rd basemen, and an
embattled manager.

After a skid in Toronto punctuated by he best starter of the past three
seasons (Danks) getting demolished to the point of picking a fight with a
man known for his greatness at hitting things with bats, hope for the
playoffs certainly hadn’t moved out for the year, but it had definitely
flicked off the television, climbed into bed, and just hoped the Sox
would be there when it woke in the morning.


Carlos Quentin, facing the horrors of his past. // David Butler II, US PRESSWIRE

So, this was a surprise.  A sweep of the highly revered Red Sox in
Fenway, winners of their last 13 of 16 coming in, behind 24 runs was a
surprise, and a good one.  So much of one that it will undoubtedly bring
up the duality of the White Sox, 9-19 versus sub-.500 teams, and 18-12
versus winning organizations.

A more notable duality might be how the Sox had a .367 BABIP in Boston,
where as for contrast their batted balls only fell in for hits at a .188
rate the first three games of that darn series in Tampa where Sam
Fuld took it upon himself to catch everything.

Concluding that the White Sox play up to their competition, or just got
lucky in Boston–though Pierre being spared of another CS via umpire
error, leading to two runs, certainly hinted that–is probably a little
simplistic, but perhaps so is reasoning that these things are just
evening out….even if they swatted a fairly charmed .326 with runners
in scoring position.

No, whether it’s Alexei Ramirez’s career-season, the continuation of the
6-man rotation
, the possible presence of a reliable left-handed
, Ozzie realizing he can’t bench a preposterously hot Brent
Lillibridge, and impact bat stocked in Triple-A, some actual off-days or
the soft interleague-heavy schedule coming up, things are looking
feasible again.

Three games really shouldn’t have this kind of effect, and the
unexpected-delight-skewing-perspective element is definitely at work,
but when a team with a tiny playoff window is tottering on the fringe of
still being able to contend, meaningful shows of force really need to
be encouraged.  Just like Adam Dunn, apparently.

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