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Time for Buck to Stop Here
2005-10-24 17:36
by Scott Long

With things going so well for the White Sox, you would think it would just be eternal bliss time for most fans of the team, right? Well, almost, as the one thing that I've heard from other Sox fans is how they are tired of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver making such a big deal out of every call which has went Chicago's way.

It's well-documented at this site that I've found less fault than the average baseball fan in how the major calls have went down, but I'm not about to pretend that the White Sox haven't gained from the 4 calls in question. It should also be mentioned that I've praised Buck as the best play by play announcer in football and one of top 5 in baseball, so if anything, you could say I am biased towards him. Having said this it's time for Buck and McCarver to go a little deeper into the situations, when a controversial call is made, instead of proclaiming it as the reason the White Sox are winning their games.

Let's take the Jermaine Dye incident last night. It was the wrong call. OK. Instead of just declaring that this is the reason Paul Konerko was able to hit a grand slam homerun, let's explore the possible scenarios, if the umpire hadn't of sent Dye to first base.

1) In truth, it was lucky for the Astros that the ball hit Dye's bat in the first place, as it would have been ball four and was such a wild pitch, it was possible that if it would have missed him, it could have been a passed ball and scored a run.

2) It's called a foul ball (which should have been the right call, as difficult as it was to see). So another 3-2 pitch is delivered by a reliever who had thrown already a couple of other pitches that were out of the strike zone that Dye offered at. We will never know what would have happened, but this wasn't a Pierzynski play where he was out, if the play was called the other way.

While a lot of the national television analysts have lauded the White Sox for making the plays after the breaks they have received, Buck and McCarver have mainly had the tone of conspiracy theorists, broadcasting like these plays are the primary reason the team has won the games where controversy was involved. Let it be said that not one of these disputed calls gave the White Sox a run or even put the player in scoring position. While the Fox World Series crew has on a couple of occasions acknowledged the great play of the White Sox after these incidents, this has been dwarfed by their overall tone of these events having put the Chicago in the position they are in.

As I've written before, I think the 2005 season has been one where there has been an absence of a great team in MLB. Considering that the White Sox were seen prior to the season as a 3rd or 4th place team in the weakest division in baseball by most prognosticators, it's been hard for most baseball experts to wrap themselves around how this team could be a World Series Champion.

Let me remind everyone that the 2005 White Sox went practically wire to wire with the best record in the AL. This same team finished one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the best overall record in the Majors, and the Cardinals had the advantage of playing against weaker NL competition. If the White Sox win the next 2 games, they would tie the 1999 Yankees for the best single season playoff record. (I'm not expecting this, but it's a possibility at this point.) In a baseball world where the past few World Champs were wild card entries, the White Sox have earned acclaim, no matter what format you are using.

If they win this Series in 5 games or less, I think everyone will need to reevaluate if the 2005 Chicago White Sox weren't a great team, because the strength of the whole pitching staff. Add to this them not having one weak-link position player, either offensively or defensively and it makes up for not having one superstar. (I would argue that Konerko and Buerhle are just below that level.) While it's hard to compare Ozzie Guillen to Bill Belichek, you could make the argument that the 2005 White Sox's are the baseball version of the New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs.

Sure the White Sox have been lucky, but the reason they are only 2 games away from winning the World Series is because they are damn good. If events happen the way I suspect they will, later this week there will be no doubt of this.

2005-10-24 19:27:02
1.   deadteddy8
What is Vin Scully doing this time of year? He works for Fox Sports Net during the season. This is a Giants fan advocating this, by the way. Couldn't Fox hook Vinny up to the juvenation machine for just this week? Back to reality, though... I think Buck is far behind the best baseball announcers (Jon Miller and Dan Schulman have been tremendous on ESPN Radio this year) because he ALWAYS SOUNDS BORED. I can't get past this. The only time he's ever sounded genuinely excited was right after the Randy Moss fake moon. Did you hear his call of Podsednik's home run? It was infuriating because he called it like it was an RBI single up the middle in the second inning of a June game in Tampa. Miller and Schulman sound like they're happy to be there, happy to share the game with us, whereas Buck is confusing "laid back drawl" with "reading charges in open court".
2005-10-24 19:46:10
2.   22Ryan
I am absolutely willing to admit the WS are better than I (and many others) thought they were -- even if they lose the next four to the Astros. Mediocre teams don't put together the run they've had since the last week of the regular season.

But comparing Ozzie and the WS to Belichick and the Patriots? You can't be serious. First of all, the Patriots have 3 of 4 Super Bowls in a league with much more parity than MLB. Secondly, Belichick teams actually play a version of "smart ball," where they play percentages and don't utilize a bunch of disproven, old school strategies. The comparison may hold up against the first Super Bowl team in that they came out of nowhere and got plenty of breaks along the way.

How good are the White Sox? Compare them to the 2004 Red Sox. The WS have a deeper rotation, but the RS were arguably slightly better at the top. WS also have a deeper bullpen, but the 2004 Foulke was better than anyone in the WS bullpen and 2004 Timlin is close. Starting lineups -- how many WS starters would have cracked last year's Red Sox lineup? Konerko and Iguchi (and that's close). The WS are far better on defense, at almost every position.

If the WS do sweep, they will have one of the great runs in playoff history. One of the great teams? I don't think so.

2005-10-24 20:29:32
3.   markp
The 2005 White Sox are better than the 2004 Red Sox. They won more regular season games. Their rotation is much better, their bullpen is better and they're miles ahead defensively. Boston had a better offense. I'm a firm believer in offense being the biggest factor (50%) in baseball (with pitching and defense combining for the other 50%), but Boston's 2004 offense doesn't compensate for their deficiencies defensively and on the mound.
2005-10-24 21:06:28
4.   Scott Long
Let me make this clear that I don't think the White Sox are an all-time great team, no matter if they sweep or not. What I am saying is that in a year where I questioned if there was a even a great team, now I think if they win in 5 or less, the argument is reasonable. I think almost every year there is one great team, though not always do they win the World Series.

I'm not sure I would say this year's White Sox are better than the 2004 Red Sox, as 22ryans breakdown is very fair. Foulke as the closer might make the difference to me, but I do think as different as they are, both teams are very close overall.

I would rate Dan Schulman Number 1 among play by play guys. When he and Sutcliffe do a game together, it's the best as far as I'm concerned, mixing modern opinion with classic style. I don't want to get into the whole Vin Scully deal that I put myself into last year, but I will say that I've never thought Scully was good with other people in the booth. He's too used to doing things on his own. Some people like Limbaugh, Rome, etc. are just better by themselves, as they have a hard time getting into the same rhythm with a sidekick or two.

2005-10-24 23:43:24
5.   typicalboston
"In truth, it was lucky for the Astros ... it could have been a passed ball and scored a run."

You are talking about a purely hypothetical situation. To say that it was lucky for the Astros that the call was missed, goes against the grain of reality.

"Let it be said that not one of these disputed calls gave the White Sox a run or even put the player in scoring position."

Let it be said that the bad call on Jermaine Dye's foul ball put Iguchi into scoring position (and of course moved Uribe to third.)

Let it also be said that the last game's bad call allowed their hottest RBI machine to the plate with the bases loaded instead of giving the Astros a fair shot at getting out of the inning and having Konerko bat first in the 8th. The White Sox took advantage of this break, as any good team would. However there is no question it was a huge break, a gift given them by the home plate umpire in their home stadium.

Look they're a great team and so are the Astros at this point. And they have an uncanny ability to take advantage of umpiring that has proven to be a true embarrassment to MLB.

2005-10-25 05:27:08
6.   22Ryan

For a little more perspective on the two teams, take a look at their run differential: Boston (949/769) and Chicago (741/645), which translates into 98 and 92 pythagorean wins, respectively. The margin of the Red Sox' offensive advantage blows away the run prevention advantage of the White Sox.

I agree that Shulman is the best of the national pbp guys. Miller doesn't do much for me, but that may be clouded by his partner's inanities. With the MLB package, I get to hear alot of announcers and it's just hard to believe that Buck/McCarver/Brennamen/Lyons are anywhere near the best four out there.

2005-10-25 07:43:57
7.   Scott Long
I was off on the statement of none of these calls putting someone in scoring position, as obviously it added another runner, Uribe, after the call. I do not back off of the Dye incident though, as it was lucky that the ball hit Dye's bat, it sure didn't look like Dye was going to be out on the next pitch considering Wheeler's wildness and if the ball had been called a foul.

The weakness of pythagorean wins is how it breaks down for teams which are built on great pitching versus teams that are built on great hitting. As a fan of the White Sox, who in the past 10 years have had team built on power hitting, I can tell you that almost every year the White Sox underperformed their pythagorean wins, so I don't think that is the only measure to compare. This is another reason the Indians were going to have a better pythagorean report than the 2005 White Sox, despite Chicago dominating them heads up.

2005-10-25 17:15:57
8.   Blah Blah Blah
I totally disagree with any assertion that the Blanco Sox somehow have a "much better" rotation than the 04 Rojo Sox. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, playoff-wise. The Sox have caught fire in the playoffs, sure, but Sock and Pedro, my money is on them.

Interpret Pythag any way you want, the 2004 Sox were a much better team. The Sox are a very good team because of their pitching and defense. They are winning so well in the playoffs because they've picked a good time for most of their lineup to have a stretch hitting way over their collective heads.

In a long term view, Jermaine Dye and Carl Everett have to form one of the worst 3/5 hitting combos on any championship caliber team that I can recall.

2005-10-25 17:36:12
9.   spycake
Blah Blah Blah, Red Sox 2004 rotation? As good as Schilling and Pedro were, THAT'S ONLY TWO GUYS. The White Sox have FOUR guys that are dominating the competition. I know it's hard to admit this, given our assumptions about these guys, but Garland, Garcia, Contreras, and Buerhle have been amazing this year, and it doesn't hurt that they all seem to be peaking (or at least matching their peak) in the playoffs.

And compare Dye/Everett to your precious BoSox all you want, but this ChiSox lineup is solid from top to bottom. And I don't think that they're "hitting way over their collective heads" -- it's just that none of them have folded against top competition. Similary to the pitching staff, I might add.

2005-10-25 18:10:13
10.   Blah Blah Blah
spycake, I'll take those two guys and Tim Wakefield, thanks.

I have no precious BoSox, I'm no fan of theirs. That comment tells me all I need to know about where you're coming from and the likelihood that I would ever be able to convince you that the White Sox aren't the '27 Yankees...

But hey, you're absolutely right that they aren't hitting over their collective heads. AJ is a .571 slugger, Crede is a .583 slugger. Konerko is a 1.000 OPS guy. So is Podsednik. And Uribe. And Dye is known for his consistent .400 OBAs. Silly me.

2005-10-25 18:13:47
11.   Blah Blah Blah
The White Sox had a .747 OPS for the season. .843 for the playoffs.
2005-10-25 22:00:50
12.   22Ryan
"ChiSox lineup is solid from top to bottom"

11th in OBP, 8th in SLG, 8th in OPS and 9th in the league in runs. Solidly mediocre.


Just like Konerko and take your pick of the rest. One guy with an OBP above .350. The lowest of any regular on last year's Red Sox team: Bill Mueller at .365 (Cabrera would have been lower, but too I'm lazy to get the Boston splits).

In terms of the pythagorean shortcomings, I've never heard that it breaks down for high scoring teams. I have heard it argued that Rivera and a strong bullpen (and Joe Torre) were the drivers of constant outperformance, but never anything conclusive.

2005-10-26 07:35:41
13.   Scott Long
As I wrote initially on the subject, I would rate the Red Sox slightly better than the White Sox. Rating 2004 to 2005 teams is not fair, as 2004 was a better overall year for hitting stats. The biggest stat you are not including is defensive stats, which the White Sox dominate versus the Red Sox of last year. There is not one 2004 Red Sox I would take defensively over the 2005 White Sox, though you might be able to go with Varitek.
2005-10-26 08:33:27
14.   Blah Blah Blah
I don't really have a strong position on the subject of comparing teams across years other than I'd take Schill, Pedro and a couple of camel crickets over almost any other rotation in a WS scenario.

My only point is that the KEY to the White Sox performance this postseason is (1) Their pitching performing at or a bit above par, while (2) they are hitting way over their heads, just totally out of their gourds. This is not disputable, it is statistical fact.

In other words, you can't validate this team's greatness because of their postseason run, they just caught fire at a REALLY good time. They are, of course, very good, only a fool would dispute that.

2005-10-26 09:47:41
15.   22Ryan

I don't know why you can't compare the two seasons, as the relative hitting environment should be reflected in the Red Sox pitching numbers. I agree that the WS are better defensively (in addition to Varitek, I'd take Nixon over Dye), but that is completely reflected in runs allowed, just as baserunning is reflected in runs scored.

Ozzie is earning more respect from me as I see how handles the pitching staff. I love the decision to bring in Buerhle last night -- so many other managers would have been worried about game 5.

2005-10-26 12:14:48
16.   spycake
Blah Blah Blah, my "precious BoSox" comment wasn't meant to imply you're a fan, but perhaps that you're just romanticizing that team a bit, especially the Schilling-Martinez tandem. I thought the real savior of that team was the bullpen, and a couple surprising performances by Derek Lowe. And I'm not a White Sox fan myself (actually a Twins fan!), I've just really come to respect what they're doing right now.

"In other words, you can't validate this team's greatness because of their postseason run, they just caught fire at a REALLY good time."

Isn't that what great teams should do? Your best argument might be that most of the other playoff teams this year were beset by injuries or general ineffectiveness, but really this shouldn't be held against the ChiSox. (Are the 2004 Red Sox worse because the Cardinals folded over in the Series?) Team sports are about relative achievement, and right now the White Sox are putting on a show dominating the competition (much like they did for most of the regular season). A pretty impressive season wire-to-wire.

2005-10-26 13:17:03
17.   Blah Blah Blah
I don't think that's what great teams do. Great teams play great because they are great. The Chisox are great at certain things and have been up to par on those in the playoffs.

But you seem to be saying that great teams can just catch fire at opportune times as a matter of choice. To buy this argument, you'd have to accept the assertion that (1) Joe Crede, Juan Uribe, AJ Krzyzweskinski et al have some control over their ability to elevate their game to unprecedented levels in this situation; and (2) by extension, you'd have to agree that they are all dogs because they failed to play at all times at the level they were entirely capable of achieving.

2005-10-26 16:17:24
18.   thewebb
Maybe we have to start rethinking what wins championships, or maybe a different type of team can win a championship in different years (I know, groundbreaking stuff) Maybe a team can win the title with solid pitching top to bottom, above average defense at basically every position, and clutch, balanced hitting from 1-9. Maybe OBP isn't the determining factor that all those people with unhealthy crushes on Billy Beane think it is.

I hope this is the way baseball is going because it's a heck of a lot more interesting to watch. Give me the White Sox, Twins, Angels, Astros, etc aggressive styles and fundamentally sound play over the Red Sox, Yankees, A's, etc trying to walk (literally) their way into the World Series with crummy defense and some hired gun pitchers (excluding the A's here) any day. If I wanted to watch that I'd head down to the local softball diamonds and catch a 40 and over team. At least I can drink off sale there!

They can have their run differentials (padded by all the 10-2 games in the regular season), in season OPS and OBPs, etc. I'll take the all around baseball players that are clutch when it counts. In my book, the more organizations that realize baseball isn't played on a spreadsheet, the better. OK, I am now getting off the high horse I borrowed from Ryne Sandberg.
2005-10-26 21:16:59
19.   Lefty
Congrats Scott. Yeah, people quibble. But why do Sox fans care at all? They're World Champs.
2005-10-26 21:36:35
20.   Scott Long
Thanks, it does feel great. As I told TFD, he needs to add a letter to his typical GFWS description. (God Forsaken White Sox)
Now, it's GFWSC (God Forsaken World Series Champs.)

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