Yankee fans that check in here can take quit reading, as this piece doesn't relate to you. As a White Sox fan, I've been spoiled over the past couple of decades. Since 1990, the Sox have won at least 80 games every year, except for 1994 and 1995 (both strike-shortened) and 1999. It seems like new territory here, because I can't remember a year where the team wasn't still fighting it out for the divisional race in September.
Losing 21 out of 26 games is a miserable feeling. Considering that the White Sox have had the lead in most of these games is even more perplexing. I've been talking about the worst bullpen I've ever witnessed for the past month and now others are starting to discuss it as well. I'm pulling a couple of quotes from Baseball Prospectus.
First one comes from my former all-baseball.com alumnus Bryan Smith, who just happens to be one of my favorite writers on the game. Smith discusses a Sox stretch between May 27 and June 20. The piece discusses it more specifically, but here is the conclusion.
Ten losses, all games where the bullpen entered with the game tied or in favor of the White Sox. Chicago’s offense has been brutal this season, they aren’t playing good defense and Ozzie has the tendency to leave his starters in just one inning too long. But the Sox could be contenders right now if not for Matt Thornton, Mike MacDougal, Nick Masset, Ryan Bukvich and Bobby Jenks. Instead, South Side fans might be looking at yet another July fire sale in a few weeks.
The second is from Jay Jaffe, who explained his reasons why he thought this would be the year the White Sox were set to fall, just last month in the comment section at the Juice Blog. I disagreed. Score: Jaffe 1, Long 0.
The painful punchline is another late-inning debacle--notice a pattern?--this time via Bobby Jenks, one of the few otherwise innocent bystanders during the team's 5-19 slide. Jenks has put up a 2.45 ERA in that span, while the rest of the relievers are at 8.70, with a WHIP of 2.28. Whips--now there's something Ozzie might try...
While the hitting has been incredibly bad, especially considering the home park they take their cuts in, the starting pitching has still kept them in almost every game. Since I wrote this piece about the quality of the White Sox starting pitching has been even better, despite the bullpen giving up almost every inherited runner they faced.
At this point of the year a lot of people start clamouring about how they wish footbal season would begin. These people fall under one of two categories.
Those who don't like baseball.
Those who live in KC, Pittsburgh, or Tampa.
What am I saying? It is only June 28. I will wait until July 4th. If the White Sox are less than 15 games out of first, I will keep hope alive. Who says they can't have a 1914 Boston Braves miracle? (Braves were 15 games behind the Giants, who had won the last 3 pennants. The Braves went 68-19 after this point to win the National League and then the World Series.)
Sure I know this is crazy, but when you are baseball fan and your team has sucked this badly, you need to hold on to anything. Now, if someone offers up the next Randy Johnson for Mark Buehrle, I can wait until next season. (see Mark Langston for Big Unit trade, 1989.)