White Sox Week In Review: The Fighting Sox (Part Two)
Wednesday is not my favorite day of the week.
After all, the best night of primetime TV programming just passed. The weekend is still two days away. And being that Wednesday is the exact middle of the week, it just seems to take the longest time to pass by.
I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of Wednesdays.
But today, Wednesday is especially aggravating. Today, Wednesday is as annoying as bird poop on the shoulder or the shirtless fans at football games.
Today is the Wednesday after baseball's All-Star Game. Today is Wednesday, July 16.
Today, there is no baseball.
And I hate it.
However, there is a silver lining to the lack of America's Pastime today: it gives me ample time to get back to writing about the fortunes of my beloved White Sox.
"And we're halfway home!"
As I said in my Part one article, these are the Fighting Sox. Call them what you want: the Fighting Sox; the Chicago Whine Sox; the South Side Hit-Each Others. The bottom line is that these ChiSox have made it to first place and staked their claim to contention.
They got to this spot with good starting pitching and an amazing bullpen. John Danks and Gavin Floyd were the two big question marks heading into the season, and they have dazzled hometown fans and opponents alike.
The bullpen, which was just a bit less than solid in 2007, has made a 180-degree turn this year. Scott Linebrink has been solid (save for his few opportunities to close), and along with Matt Thornton, Boone Logan, and Bobby Jenks, the Sox bullpen has been shutting the door on teams from the seventh inning on.
At this point, I feel it's time to give some first-half awards. After coming up with the prized Beast of the Week Award, I figure it's time to give the guys some spotlight who don't often see it.
So while you'll see some predictable names here, some of these players have had a larger impact on the White Sox than you'd think.
The "Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick" Award goes to...Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye
As the Sox offense began to cool off at the end of April, CQ shouldered the weight and quickly began a fan favorite around Chicago.
His "I'm glad to be here to play baseball" attitude can come off as a bit aloof and prickly, but hey, he's glad to be here and playing baseball.
But Carlos couldn't stay hot the whole season and when his batting average took a slight dip, Jermaine Dye began to heat up. In a season filled with inconsistency at the dish, these two guys really picked it up in the clutch.
JD has been the big man the last month and a half, starting during interleague play.
The "Who Is That Masked Man?" Award goes to...Toby Hall and Nick Masset
Way, way back in May, someone called into the Sox postgame show and complained about Toby Hall. They said that they'd like to see someone with more offense backing up A.J. Pierzynski.
This led me to check Toby's stats, and at the time, he was batting somewhere north of .350. The next day, he had four hits in four at-bats. Hall's average has dropped off to this point, but he's still batting in the .270s, very good for a guy going out every three or four days.
The big guy doesn't run well, but what catcher does? (If their name isn't Mark Johnson...)
Nick Masset's theme song should be "Fireman" by Lil' Wayne. In June, Javier Vazquez and Jose Contreras just about wilted in the Chicago heat, and Masset was the guy who had to come out and keep the opposition from scoring six more runs or whatever the case might have been.
Needless to say, he came out and did the job. He doesn't have the stuff to be a starter, but Nick Masset can come out and give the Sox bullpen a rest when needed.
The "Kenny Williams Got Moneyballed by Who, Exactly?" Award goes to...Alexei Ramirez
Ah, the Cuban Missile. The kid is like baseball's equivalent of Rey Mysterio. Rudy from Notre Dame might have told Ramirez that he was too small to play baseball (at least until he met David Eckstein.)
He sure didn't look like a big pickup when he was batting .140, but since Juan Uribe went on the shelf, the Answer has made a big impact on the White Sox. His defense is absolutely stellar, he can make contact, and he has power hidden somewhere in that 175-pound frame.
Bet you Billy Beane wouldn't mind Alexei Ramirez on his team—or having Nick Swisher back, for that matter.
The Employee of the Month Award goes to...A.J. Pierzynski, John Danks, and Dewayne Wise
A.J. Pierzynski should have made the All-Star team. John Danks should have 10 wins by now. Dewayne Wise is a utility player that I'm sure a few other teams would like to have right about now.
It's just about as simple as that. These are the guys who just go out and play. They don't make headlines; they just do their job and do it well.
I'm sure there are a few other names that should be on here, and it's up to you to include them. Comment with some other creative awards and who should get them!
Now, it's time to get down to business. The season is not close to being over, but a bad finish to July could put the Sox in a deep hole.
What do the Sox need to do to stay on top? Who should stay and who should go? Will the Twins be the main ones in the fight, or can the Tigers make a run as we head towards August?
All this and more in Part Three of the White Sox Week in Review. Until then, keep waving the Pennant!
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