The White Sox truly are a team.
Now, players win baseball games, period, and there are plenty of White Sox players having incredible seasons and others that are surprising the fans.
- Rookies such as Addison Reed, Nate Jones, and Jose Quintana have proven they belong in the big leagues.
- Alex Rios, Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy and Gordon Beckham are having the bounce-back seasons the Sox needed them to have to be successful.
- Chris Sale leads the AL in ERA and already has 10 wins, while team captain Paul Konerko methodically leads the team by example on and off the field.
- Outfielders are hitting the cutoff man.
- A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers have lowered the team’s steals against average.
- Pitchers are paying more attention to runners and seem to have a better game plan each day.
- Dayan Viciedo is actually drawing walks and newly acquired third baseman Kevin Youkilis brings a dimension to the White Sox that they have not had in a while.
These are just a few of the on-field reasons the Sox have a three-game lead over the Cleveland Indians at the All-Star break. To be sure, there are more, but these individual accomplishments do not tell the whole story.
Ventura’s ejection Sunday paints a bigger picture about why the Sox are successful.
It speaks to the team concept the Sox players have fully bought into.
As Ventura was bounding out of the dugout, bench coach Mark Parent had joined his manager in giving umpire D.J. Reyburn the business, something Joey Cora never really did for former manager Ozzie Guillen.
After Ventura’s two-minute tirade had ended, who gave him a smack on the rear? Third base coach Joe McEwing. I can’t seem to remember former third base coach Jeff Cox ever giving Guillen the old attaboy after an ejection.
When was the last time general manager Kenny Williams had to take to the dugout to offer an explanation of how the latest distraction was not really a distraction, but just a sign of a competitive team? Or suggest that everyone was like a family and sometimes brothers fight with one another?
Jake Peavy told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune on July 5 that the White Sox have “great team chemistry,” and that the video Beckham made impersonating him during the #TakeJake campaign is but one example.
His larger point is that the Sox are a team from the top down.
He is right. Players win, but baseball is not always about individual performances.
It is as much about nuances and superstition as it is about stats.
Most importantly, it is about playing for the guy next to you and not for yourself.
This is not an anti-Guillen column. Far from it actually.
Guillen had a place in Chicago for many years and his accomplishments will not be forgotten.
There is no denying, however, that the difference in the dugout this season is directly influencing the play on the field.