Let me begin by stating this is not a review of Jeff Stryker's newest flick, but instead a breakdown of game 2 of the White Sox/Angels series. When I was just a tyke, I can remember reading about the Bill Buckner's of their time, the passed ball by Mickey Owen and Fred Merkle's baserunning Boner. Well add Josh Paul to this dubious list. As a White Sox fan, I don't take great pleasure in this, as Paul played for the Sox parts of 5 different seasons. He's a scrappy player, who happened to grow up in Chicago, was White Sox fan as a child and just as importantly to Sox fans, hated the Cubs. A very sad irony, as I'm guessing Paul, prior to this series, considered the match-up, the best scenario he could ask for.
Breaking down the play, I felt Tim McCarver was a little too definitive in declaring Paul caught the ball. I don't know if the home plate umpire made the right call or not, but it was close and in the NFL world of replay, I'm not sure you would have reversed it, because conclusive evidence is questionable. Earlier in the broadcast, McCarver had mentioned Paul was working on a book on calling a game, interviewing past and present catchers on their strategic moves. I would hazard to guess that McCarver was interviewed by Paul and feels some infinity for a current player who's respectful, instead of acting like, oh, someone like Deion Sanders. I feel badly for Paul, but he made a mistake by not making sure the out was made. I hope Josh Paul has gotten the advance on his upcoming book, because if he hasn't, it might be difficult to sell a strategy book by him at this point. He should have a really interesting epilogue, though.
Someone who should face some questions is Mike Scioscia. After pulling Jose Molina for a baserunner, Sciosia chose not to move his brother, Benji over from his DH spot, instead inserting Paul. Why I question this decsion is that Escobar is not good at holding on runners and either Molina gave the Angels the best chance to keep the White Sox from being able to steal a base. Even if you discount that factor, when Escobar had pinch runner Pablo Ozuna on first, this was the time Scioscia should have brought in a new pitcher, as the Escobar/Paul battery was like putting Ozuna on second. The White Sox knew this, as Crede waited on the first two pitches, so Osuna could get in scoring position. This almost backfired, as Escobar threw two strikes to begin the at bat.
Now to Doug Eddings and his Denkinger future. The guy is a young ump and all I can say is that he might want to go under an assumed name when he visits Anaheim. Also, Doug, I would make sure to wear your mask and chest protector, even when you're working 1st base. Let me mention that earlier in the game, Eddings made the correct call on a very close play at home plate, calling Aaron Rowand out. While not as big of a play, as the Escobar 3rd strike, Eddings enthusiastically rang Paul Konerko up on a check swing that at the least seemed to deserve to be called by the 3rd base umpire on an appeal. It was a tough night for Doug. In the press conference following the game, Eddings looked like Bambi staring down an oncoming 18-wheeler. Wisely, 2 veteran umpires, who behaved like they were Johnny Cochran and Robert Shapiro, trying to protect their client, accompanied young Doug during the questioning.
Now let's get to the final person involved, A.J. Pierzynski. If you were going to ask, what player on either team would be the protagonist in a controversial play, it would have to be Anthony John. Part Eddie Haskell, part Dennis the Menace, Pierzynski just might be the ultimate love him if he's on your team, hate him if he's not player in all of Major League Baseball. I can't tell you the pleasure I would have had, if the White Sox would have been playing the Twins in the 2002 playoffs and the Twins' Pierzynksi would have "trapped" the ball and not tagged White Sox's batter Josh Paul, who would have run to first base, keeping the game alive. Unfortunately, it happened a bit differently.
I'm sure if I was reading this piece, I would be questioning the author's ability to be like Fox News, you know, FAIR AND BALANCED. Well, let me begin by saying, I've waited a long time to have a walk off hitting moment, in a playoff game. Well, Crede's double should have been a triumphant moment, but instead I felt more muted in my reaction than any other time the White Sox have done something of a similar fashion. I hope the series is won by the White Sox in 5 or at the most 6 games, as I don't want Josh Paul to be seen as the new Scott Norwood. On the other hand, if this is the only way the White Sox wind up in the World Series, I'm desperate enough to throw Josh under the team's charter bus.
So it's been mentioned that the White Sox don't have the curse of the Bambino or some tavern's billy goat, but let's not kid ourselves, the Black Sox scandal is the most infamous incident in baseball history. A team that had won a championship just 2 years before throws the 1919 World Series, because of being unfairly treated by their owner, Charles Comiskey. No goat being excluded from attending a game, no player who is sold to your biggest rival to finance a Broadway show can match the overall sleaze factor of having members of your team purposedly lose World Series games. I will say that no matter if you believe Eddings blew the call or Paul was the one with the brain cramp, we can all agree the White Sox received a major gift. (Remember the White Sox won a game where they managed no earned runs.) So off to Anaheim, a place that has been far from being a Disneyland for the White Sox. No Colon, a Vlad missing his Implaer bat, Washburn with a strep-throat induced washboard stomach, plus now the Angels have to fight more than just fatigue, but the mental conflict that a game was given to their opponent.
Things look good for the White Sox, but knowing the past, I'm just waiting for a Bartman from the O. C., who swings a rally monkey over the railing, costing Scott Posednik a pennant cinching catch. Having a reprieve, I have nightmares of Garret Anderson hitting a 3-run homer to send it to a game 7. Game 7 is not something a baseball team from Chicago can be comfortable with. Sure this sounds like the hallucinogenic ranting of a man who has no confidence in his team. Well, welcome to the insecure world of the White Sox fan. We're Number 2! We're Number 2! Until the White Sox make the final out of the World Series, I can think nothing more.
PLEASE NOTE: Make sure to read Will Carroll's excellent piece below on how the off-season shakes out for most team's in MLB.