So, looks like this is going to be my last shot at writing my motivational column to the Chicago White Sox. As kooky as it sounds, over the past several years, it seems that every time I would rip the South Siders for whatever reason they respond by playing well — at least for a short stretch.
MDH Associate Mark Malone can verify this. He's a Sox fan through and through and it started by him pointing out that my columns were off in their assessment.
Not sure if you have paid attention to this phenomena over the years, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it right?
I've only written one of these columns this year and that came on May 10th with the Sox having a 14-17 record. Among other things, I wrote that the Sox "just don't appear to be a very good team. On top of it, they are just not a lot of fun to watch, either."
I ripped the development of Dayan Viciedo, I called Gordon Beckham a big disappointment and Alexei Ramirez one of the most overrated players in a Sox uniform in the past 20 years. The magic column seems to have helped all three of them. The one person who must not have read the column was Brent Morel because he disappeared after I wrote "I just can't bear the thought of watching another Brent Morel at-bat — ever again."
The best sentence of the column is that the core players the Sox are banking on this year "amount to a big pile of yuck."
The White Sox then proceeded to close the month with a 14-5 record and have basically been in first place ever since.
However, the team has been on very shaky ground in the last couple of weeks and Malone is wondering what has taken me so long to write this column. I told him that I thought the three game lead they had a week ago would be sufficient, but I guess not.
Well, here's the things the Sox need to fix if they want to make the playoffs this year.
The White Sox have lost six of the last seven games at press time, which doesn't include Wednesday's game. That is not surprising when you consider the team is hitting a whopping .098 in that span with runners in scoring position with 47 runners left in scoring position.
A lack of clutch hitting by such a veteran team is a complete surprise to me. I wouldn't have expected that from guys like Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Kevin Youkilis Alex Rios and Adam Dunn. Viciedo, Beckham and Alejandro De Aza — I'd buy it from them, but not the veterans. My guess is that they are out of gas at this point and time.
The pitching hasn't been horrible in the last seven games. The staff has a 4.02 ERA (26 earned runs), which is acceptable.
At this point in time, the microscope is down so far on the Sox that every little detail is being scrutinized, which is only right at this time of the year when the team's in the hunt for a pennant. It's not like on the other side of town where they have been pushing up daises on the season since about May.
However, you have to wonder how much horrible baserunning mistakes by Ramirez and Rios, along with simple fielding mistakes by Beckham and Ramirez are tightening what seems to be a noose around the neck of the team.
No matter what, this team HAS been better than I thought, though not by a lot. I had the Sox for 80 wins this year but little did I realize that Robin Ventura's team would be around that AND stay in the playoff hunt. Ventura's been better than I thought, as well, but even he has to step up and show he's a real leader.
For crying out loud, it's time for someone to clutch up for about a week. After all, you can't win a pennant when you are playing baseball with both hands around your neck.