As Jim Thome gave his post-game interview and wiped the shaving-cream from his face I felt as let down as an ugly girl at prom. I wanted to blame someone for this loss. Anyone. But as I gave it some thought I wasn't sure exactly whom the blame should fall on.
The candidates appear to be:
- Ozzie Guillen
- Matt Thornton
- Bobby Jenks
- Kenny Williams
- Paul Konerko
So I'll outline the suspects and you can decide for yourself. Because just like the ugly girl, I still want to go dancing, and if finding a scapegoat for this gut wrenching loss is the only way to move on then that's what I'm going to do.
I know at times like this it's easy to blame the manager. He's the one who has to go out on a limb at times (like expecting Matt Thornton to pitch two and a third innings last night.)
However, he's the manager and it's his job to put the team in the best position to win. When he makes a shrewed move that you or I wouldn't have considered doing he should be applauded. When he puts a set up guy in a situation that he's not accustomed to, he should be held accountable.
It's true that Ozzie didn't have a whole lot of options in the bottom of the tenth inning.
- Santos had already been used.
- Chris Sale hasn't been up long enough to be trusted to close out a must-win game
- Putz has blown three games in five days
- Jenks was unavailable because of back spasms
- Scott Linebrink? HAHAHAHA
That being said, even though a certain move might not have made sense at the time to us as fans, it's HIS job to make the right move. It's his job to manage, it's our job act like we know better than him.
If I'm going to be fair to Ozzie I have to admit that there was no "right" or "wrong" move in the bottom of the tenth inning. Ozzie went with the pitcher who has been the most effective part of the bullpen all year but it just didn't work out.
If the same situation were to happen again would it work out differently? Maybe.
Matt Thornton gets a lot of love from White Sox fans and most of it is deserved.
He's a hard throwing left hander who gets the job done at an All-Star caliber level and gives the Sox the feeling of having an eighth inning "closer."
Oh, and he's only making 2.25 MM.
But he's not perfect. He's yet to have an ERA below 2.66 and he's blown 5 saves each of the past 3 seasons (that's 2 more blown saves than Jenks has over that time).
I know that complaining about a 2.66 ERA is like complaining about only having 1 winning lottery ticket. But my point is that Thornton has an air of being a shutdown set-up man and that's not 100% accurate.
That's why he seemingly gets a pass for last night's loss. As a fan I was happy to see him against Thome because he's bene fantastic against left handers (.169 BA against.)
The fact is that he did give up the homer, and ultimately he did earn the L.
Was it a terrible pitch that he got burned by? No. But guess what, Jim Thome is a future Hall of Famer. It takes more than an OK pitch to get him out.
How could Bobby Jenks possibly be responsible?
Well, it's the same way Rex Grossman was responsible for the Bears losing even when he wasn't playing. It just feels right.
The only way Jenks could be said to even have a little bit of a hand in the loss is the position he's put the team in by being so ineffective lately.
Follow me down this path...
- If Jenks gets the job done the past two weeks instead of faltering..
- Then Putz isn't put into the closer role the past week or so...
- Which means he wouldn't have blown those games...
- Which means he would have been available to Ozzie in the tenth inning last night.
Now that's quite the reach. However, I said I was desperate to blame someone, and who's an easier target than Bobby Jenks?
Look at that picture for a second.
Kenny Williams on the left with his arm around the slugger that he had traded for during the off season. It was bright times on the South Side, even if a sweep by Tampa Bay was right around the corner.
Flash forward to last night. Kenny Williams watching the slugger that he and his manager "couldn't use" clobber a home run into the Minnesota night sky.
I wrote about it before the season and I'll reiterate it right now. HOW CAN A TEAM LIKE THE WHITE SOX NOT RECOGNIZE THEIR NEED FOR A BAT LIKE JIM THOME?
It's equal parts stupefying and maddening.
Not only is Thome a slugger who fits into any lineup, but he's a clubhouse leader.
Oh, and he's also affordable so money is no excuse.
I want to blame this all on Kenny and his massive ego. I want to turn my back on the guy who makes a plethora of clever moves every year along with only one or two stinkers.
But I can't.
Sure it was a mistake to let Thome go, especially to the Sox biggest rival.But Kenny has to work with Ozzie and if the manager didn't think he could use him then what would be the point of forcing him on Ozzie?
I don't know if letting Thome walk away this off-season will lead to the demise of the 2010 White Sox, but it's clear it was a mistake.
I'll keep this short and sweet.
I can't blame Konerko for last night's loss. After all, he hit his 30th homer of the year in the losing effort.But he's not blameless.
Bases loaded in the ninth inning with a struggling closer on the mound and your captain at the plate, you expect at least a sacrifice fly. Not a double play ball. Not that night. Not with a taxed bull pen. Not with an unsure closer situation. Not in a race for the division title. Not then.
We as fans would be happy to see that situation again, and I'm sure we'd all feel confident that Paulie would come through this time. But he didn't last night and for that he has to take at least a little blame.
It's hard to nail down one guy to blame the loss on. While it's possible to blame the whole team that's not satisfying enough, and really, it's the blame game about making our self feel better?
Personally, I'm choosing Matt Thornton to take the fall for last night. He's gotten all the love of the second-string QB, but it's time he gets the pressure of the starter.
I have confidence he'll rebound and I still have hope for the team as a whole. A lot can change if they manage to win these next two games. The same can be said if they lose the next two. Who knows, maybe in a few days I'll be looking for a scapegoat to blame a second place finish on.