If you’re like me, you’re always look forward to coming up with new things to do with plastic wrap. So, a couple of plastic wrap bikinis seemed like a great way to kick off the day.
On the other hand, if you suddenly find yourself being like me after spending years as a Krishna monk, then your friends are probably shying away from you right now.
Don’t worry, you’ll make new friends.
Speaking of new friends, I’d like to welcome all the fun stalkers from Clear Channel / NBC. Just FYI, I have a Facebook page too. As long as you’re going to refer to us from time to time, why not join? Even if you wear a suit and tie, you’re welcome here.
If you wear plastic wrap suits and ties, we’ll buy you a beer.
On the Northside, the Cubs are finally, blessedly some might say, officially wrapping up their season. CARRIE MUSKAT from MLB.com takes a long look at Randy Wells’ last game of the season.
At least Randy Wells won’t have to talk about his sophomore year any more.
Wells finished his second big league season with a loss on Wednesday and the Padres kept their postseason hopes alive with a 3-0 victory over the Cubs, thanks to Will Venable’s two great catches.
“The first catch was good,” manager Mike Quade said. “The second catch was phenomenal.”
The center fielder robbed Alfonso Soriano of what appeared to be his 25th home run leading off the second with a grab in deep center. In the third inning, the Cubs had a runner on and two outs when Venable snared Aramis Ramirez’s fly ball at the wall in left-center.
“That’s the difference in the game right there, those two catches he made,” Soriano said. “That gives some momentum to the team. Our team was down, and those two catches were very good catches.”
Wells (8-14) notched his 18th quality start, the second most on the Cubs’ staff. The right-hander, who went 12-10 his first season, struck out two and gave up six hits over seven innings. Two of the three batters he walked unintentionally scored.
How would Wells sum up his sophomore year?
“One word—terrible,” Wells said. “Everything I said I wanted to do coming in, I didn’t really do. I learned a lot. That was one of the things I wanted to do. But I continued to make mistakes and continued to let situations hurt [me], and that’s not the way to make a long career in this game. I’ll go back to the drawing board and take some time off and reflect on the season and come back fresh next year and roll the dice and see what happens.”
Quade wasn’t as down on Wells’ season.
“His whole game is about command,” he said of the right-hander, who finished 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in his last six starts. “He comes up last year, has the good year and we’re back to that adjustment year [this season].
“He’s going to have to locate his slider and continue to command his sinker well, and he’ll be fine. He’s going to go as far as that sinker and slider and command will take him, and I think it’s going to be a lot farther than people think.”
Especially for a guy who began his baseball career as a catcher, as Wells did.
“He’s stayed healthy, and the bulk of what’s left is making adjustments,” Quade said. “Guys are pretty good up here. He pitched fine tonight, but it was just one of those nights.”
The Cubs missed a chance in the first. Kosuke Fukudome walked to lead off, moved up on Starlin Castro’s single, and both advanced on a double-steal. But Padres starter Chris Young (2-0) settled down and got Marlon Byrd to ground out, then struck out Ramirez and Xavier Nady.
“I threw [Byrd] a slider and was able to keep the runner at third,” Young said. “I felt that I could pitch around Ramirez a little. Finally, I was able to get Nady with a slider.”
The Padres had runners at first and second and two outs in the second when Chase Headley hit a single that Nady deflected. Castro recovered the ball and threw home but not in time, and a run scored.
Ryan Ludwick doubled to open the fourth, moved up on a sacrifice by Yorvit Torrealba and scored on a wild pitch by Wells to make it 2-0. David Eckstein added an RBI double with one out in the Padres’ fifth.
Young, limited because of shoulder problems, struck out six and limited the Cubs to three hits over five innings.
With the win, San Diego kept pace in both the National League West and Wild Card standings.
The Cubs now are 21-12 since Quade took over Aug. 23. General manager Jim Hendry has interviewed former Indians manager Eric Wedge and Hall of Fame second baseman and Triple-A Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg, and there are reports that Yankees manager Joe Girardi also is on Hendry’s list. All are well-known names.
“I always like the underdog,” Quade said. “[The media] can handicap the thing. I’m proud of the job we’ve done and the way these guys have finished. We’re not finished yet. Let’s hope we finish the next five games well. People who make the decisions will make the decision.
“When it comes to underdogs and handicapping, I’ll stick to horses.”
On Tuesday, Ryan Dempster endorsed Quade for the manager’s job next season.
“As long as my relationship with [the players] is good, and I think it is, then I stick to that and do what I have to do,” Quade said. “To get support from people is better than to not get support. I’m glad they’re happy with the way we’re doing things and the way things are going. Hopefully, they’ll be productive and happy for the next five days.”
In 2009, the Rockies went 74-42 after Jim Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle. The 2003 Marlins may have responded the best to change. After Jack McKeon took charge, they went 75-49 and won the World Series. This year the Orioles are 30-22 since Buck Showalter took over, and the Marlins are 43-44 under Edwin Rodriguez. Winning helps.
“If we hadn’t been winning during this time, who knows what the comments would’ve been,” Quade said of the players. “No matter what the situation, winning baseball games takes care of a lot of stuff. Things are never perfect, even when you’re winning, but it does make for a lot better environment.”
I tend to agree with Dempster and would like to see Quade wrap up this job. But that’s not my choice to make. One thing is for certain, if the Cubs go young and ask the fans to go with a 2 or 3 year rebuilding program, they better have a manager that fans will trust with that task or these will be the longest years in team history. Or they can get Wedge and a new ravioli statue and pray that those Iowa tourists keep flooding the gates.
Ravioli’s like a pasta wrap. See how I keep themes going?
Okay, on the Southside, the Boston Red Sox did everything they could to stop the Chicago White Sox from wrapping their season up in 2nd place. They even had Big Papi lay down a bunt. As SCOTT MERKIN from MLB.com reports, it was all to no avail.
Ah, the fun and oddities of late September baseball, when both teams have been eliminated from the playoff picture.
In the White Sox 5-2 victory over the Red Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday, the fast-running but not exactly power-packed Brent Lillibridge ended up hitting third after replacing an injured Carlos Quentin in the fifth. Quentin left with a sore left ankle after making a spectacular diving catch in right-center to start the game.
And Boston cleanup hitter David Ortiz, he of the 32 home runs and 102 RBIs, laid down a bunt in his first at-bat against Freddy Garcia leading off the second.
That’s right, a bunt from Big Papi. He was thrown out easily by Garcia, and then he received the expected ribbing from catcher A.J. Pierzynski—a teammate of his in Minnesota—and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
This contest ultimately finished in favor of the White Sox, who scored three off Josh Beckett (6-6) in the seventh inning. The victory, coupled with Cleveland’s doubleheader sweep of Detroit, clinched second-place for the White Sox in the American League Central.
The story for the White Sox was Garcia, who actually has been the surprise story all season for the South Siders. He gave up two runs on four hits over seven-plus innings, striking out one without issuing a walk, and improved his record to 12-6 overall.
Twelve victories stands out as impressive for any member of the starting rotation facing the daily challenge of AL hitters. For an individual who was penciled in as the fifth starter and literally got knocked around Arizona during Spring Training, it was a crucial season to extend Garcia’s already-successful career.
A little more bullpen help along the way, and Garcia could have won 16 games this year. Not a bad investment by the White Sox for a pitcher with a $1 million base salary and earning close to another $1 million in performance bonuses.
“A lot of people talk about [John] Danks and [Gavin] Floyd, all those guys,” Guillen said. “The best pitcher we had every five days was Freddy.”
“This year, it’s big for me. Last two years, I wasn’t pitching,” said Garcia, who had shoulder surgery in 2007 but rejoined the White Sox organization last season. “I got surgery and came back this year. Almost threw 160 innings. And I don’t know how many starts I got. But it’s big for me. Hopefully everything works out for us.”
For six innings, Garcia looked as if he was going to finish with a no-decision in what might be his last start for the White Sox. Ortiz’s run-scoring single in the fourth and Pierzynski’s solo home run in the bottom of the frame left the game tied.
After stranding the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth, Alejandro De Aza and Juan Pierre started the game-winning rally in the seventh with singles against Beckett. Omar Vizquel singled home the first White Sox run of the frame, and Pierre scored the second run on Lillibridge’s bunt single and catcher Victor Martinez’s throwing error. Alexei Ramirez completed the rally with a third run-scoring single after an intentional walk issued to Pierzynski.
Mike Lowell’s solo homer cut the lead to two in the eighth. But J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton (eighth save) helped raise Garcia’s career record to a sterling 133-87.
“Throwing strikes, never giving up,” said Martinez, as to what made Garcia successful in the White Sox fifth win in six games against Boston. “I think the one mistake he made, Mike Lowell made him pay. He didn’t give us a lot to hit.”
“Definitely, I wanted to finish strong,” said Garcia, who missed two September starts and had his first two outings of the month cut short by back soreness. “Show them here, and everybody else, I still can pitch. I’m battling. I’ve always been that way. I try to do my job and today that was essential.”
With Mark Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, Edwin Jackson and Jake Peavy set to return in 2011, and general manager Ken Williams having told MLB.com how Chris Sale will be moved back to a starter’s role, there doesn’t appear to be room for Garcia in the rotation. Any team who takes a run at Garcia, if things don’t work out in Chicago, will get a great competitor who has earned the moniker of “Big Game Freddy” over the years.
It’s that propensity to rise up in big games that caused the White Sox to not worry one moment about the drubbing put upon Garcia back in March.
“I remember Spring Training, when we started, his first outing they scored 13, and in the second they scored, like, 20,” Guillen said. “We had our meeting and Kenny asked about our pitching staff, and as soon as we mentioned being worried about Freddy, Kenny said, ‘I don’t care about Freddy. Next. I know what we are going to get.’
“When the general manager gives you a vote of confidence like that, and usually what is said in that meeting stays in that meeting, I told Freddy how much confidence Kenny has in him. He came back to be one of the more consistent pitchers we have.”
Garcia’s victory also stands as the 597th victory of Guillen’s managerial career. Ideally, Garcia would help his friend win a few more.
“Ozzie is a great man, a good friend. We’re like family,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. It’s baseball business. You got to go with the flow.
“One thing, I’d like to come back here. I love it here. It’s a great city, a great team.”
As the Sox roller coaster season finally wraps up kind of near where it started, I do find it interesting to note that many players, off the record, are saying how much they really want to be here next year and get this right. To a man they seem to believe that this team, minus the Man-Ram and with a little more depth, could go deep in the playoffs.
With the Bears finally making their critics louder, ... what? They’re winning you say? Don’t believe it. I saw Around the Horn yesterday and it was clear that the Bears hadn’t won anything against anyone. You have to believe them. They claim to be experts. Of course, I also watched Comcast Sports Net this morning and they have the Bears going 7-0 to the break. I guess you have to believe them as well since they’re experts too.
Cage match anyone?
Oh well, congrats to the Cincinnati Reds and all of Dusty’s gang for winning the NL Central Division title. Winning it at home on the first pitch of the 9th inning was a little over dramatic, but the fans seemed happy, so who am I to bitch?
Naturally some fans are already saying that the Cubs would have won it this year if they’d kept Dusty. I believe those were the same ones that were hanging him in effigy during his last season. Gotta love consistency.
Anyway, as long as were in the neighborhood of the Cubs, let’s take a look at what the true staff ace did last night. As CARRIE MUSKAT of MLB.com reports, Ryan Dempster logged his 15th win.
The Padres are fighting for a playoff spot while the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster has a chance to finish with 16 wins. Alfonso Soriano can post some of his best numbers since signing with Chicago. And, Mike Quade is trying to get a little job security.
That’s what remains in the Cubs’ final five games. Soriano smacked a tiebreaking two-run homer and added a solo shot to back Dempster and lift Chicago to a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night over the Padres, who are scrambling. The loss, coupled with the Giants’ win over the D-backs, lowered San Francisco’s magic number to four.
“They’re far from dead, I guarantee you that,” Quade said of the Padres.
Dempster (15-11), who will start the season finale on Sunday against the Astros, has reached 15 wins for the third time in his career. He’s the third Canadian-born pitcher with at least three 15-win seasons, joining Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and Russ Ford.
“He was effectively wild,” San Diego’s Nick Hundley said of Dempster. “You couldn’t sit there and be comfortable.”
The Cubs’ right-hander struck out nine over seven innings, including three in a row in the seventh when the Padres had two on and none out. He admitted he was pumped when pinch-hitter Yorvit Torrealba swung and missed a nasty slider to end the inning.
“When you play, you play for those exciting times,” Dempster said. “It’s nice to come out on the winning side.”
The Cubs now are 21-11 under Quade with five games to go. Is there anything else he has to do to convince general manager Jim Hendry he should stay as manager in 2011?
“Just do my job for the next week and that’s the God’s honest truth,” Quade said. “I’m dying to play well these next three days and then go to Houston and play well and take a breather for a week or so and see what happens this winter.
“The season’s not over until it’s over—it’s not over for the players, whether you’re playing for a pennant or doing what we’re doing. We have to make sure none of us quit, none of us get too comfortable. I’ve said all along, I’m motivated by fear of failure and we’ll just keep grinding right on through Sunday.”
These last few days aren’t nerve-wracking for Quade, who has made the transition from third-base coach to manager look smooth, including his dealings with the media.
“You’ve got to be honest, say what you need to say, make your adjustments and move on,” he said. “You do that for 162 [games] and that’s what you do. I hope I get to keep doing it, and that’s the only way to approach it.”
He’s got the players’ vote.
“He’s done a great job,” Dempster said. “He’s been very upfront and very honest with all of us and he’s been tremendously supportive. ... I hope he’s here longer than this year. I hope he’s managing for us next year because he deserves it. He’s done everything they’ve asked and he’s done a great job with us and everybody likes him.”
He’s also quick with a quip. Carlos Marmol picked up his 36th save and third in the last four games. Asked if Marmol was available Wednesday, Quade said no.
“You have a better chance of seeing me with hair tomorrow,” he said.
The top defensive team in the National League, the Padres made two errors in the fifth to help the Cubs take a 2-0 lead. Koyie Hill bunted with one out and was safe as Mat Latos (14-9) couldn’t pick up the ball. Hill advanced on Dempster’s sacrifice and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s double. Starlin Castro hit an infield single to shortstop Miguel Tejada, whose throw to first was wild. Fukudome scored on the error.
San Diego tied the game in their half on Hundley’s two-run homer with one out. But Xavier Nady singled to lead off the sixth and Soriano connected on his 23rd home run to go ahead, 4-2.
Soriano added No. 24 leading off the eighth for his third multihomer game of the season and 26th of his career. He now has 78 RBIs, his highest total in four seasons with the Cubs. His only goal this year was to avoid the disabled list.
“I know what I have to do to stay healthy next year and I want to do the same things this year and put up better numbers,” Soriano said.
He’s a good role model for some of the rookies.
“I can show to the younger players it’s very important to finish strong,” Soriano said. “If you finish strong, it’s good for the next year.”
The same is true for Quade. Since being upgraded from third-base coach, he now gets a suite in the team hotel on the road.
“That is one of the perks,” Quade said. “To be honest with you, I was like, ‘Just give me a room.’ I had a friend of mine who called and said, ‘Don’t be an idiot. You spent a lot of years doing what you’re doing and this is what they’re doing and take advantage of it.’ That’s all it took.”
Players talk about how the balls are cleaner and the clubhouse spread is nicer when they get called up to the big leagues.
“We used to complain about riding 12 hours or 14 hours from Jacksonville to Memphis,” Quade said. “I’ll be darned if I’ll complain about anything up here.”
Ah yes, clean balls do seem to be a national preoccupation as of late. I guess I can sympathize. As to the game, it has been refreshing to watch this team under Quade. He leaves no comfort zone for the players. Baker hasn’t bunted since he was in Pony League (for good reason) and yet he’s squared off on a couple now and has used them to the team’s advantage. Haven’t seen Soriano bunt yet, but that seems to working out okay.
By the way, quick Blackhawks’ note, did you see Brent Seabrook score on his own goal last night? Not really what fans expect from a championship team. Even so, there’s no truth to the rumor that it’s all Tommy Harris’ fault.
Back to baseball.
The White Sox had the opportunity to ruin the Red Sox’ post-season chances and didn’t misuse it. As SCOTT MERKIN from MLB.com reports, it may be too little, too late, for our guys but a win against Boston is still better than sex. At least for the team.
For those who dub Major League Baseball games as “playing out the string” after a team has been eliminated from postseason contention, take a look at the White Sox jubilant celebration following Tuesday’s 5-4 victory over Boston as evidence to the contrary.
Pinch-hitter Dayan Viciedo delivered the game-winning single to left on a 2-2 pitch from reliever Matt Fox, scoring Juan Pierre with just the team’s third walk-off hit this season. Pierre had swiped both second and third with two outs to put a little extra pressure on Fox, and then continued running to mob Viciedo near first base after his line shot fell under the diving attempt of Daniel Neva in left.
It wasn’t the same sort of excited mob as could be found in Cincinnati on this evening, when Jay Bruce’s home run not only beat Houston, but also clinched the National League Central for the Reds. But it seemed to be pretty close.
“Was it that bad?” asked a smiling Pierre. “I don’t think it was like that. I don’t think we had one since May or June.”
“I’m very lucky to have guys like that,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his team battling back. “I let people know what kind of ballclub I have every time. And those guys, they’re going to keep fighting to the end.”
Boston (87-70) jumped to a 3-0 lead after three innings against Edwin Jackson and held a 4-3 lead entering the eighth. Manny Ramirez, who saw 29 pitches on the evening, drew a leadoff walk off of hard-throwing reliever Daniel Bard after fouling off five straight full-count offerings.
Brent Lillibridge pinch-ran for Ramirez, swiped second and then came home with the tying run on Paul Konerko’s double to right. The game stood deadlocked in the ninth when the managerial wheels of Guillen and Boston’s Terry Francona started to churn.
Francona made three pitching changes in the ninth alone, starting with local product Michael Bowden (0-1) and finishing with Fox. Viciedo entered to pinch-hit for left-handed-hitting Mark Kotsay when southpaw hurler Dustin Richardson entered the game, with Guillen opting to go righty-lefty.
Even with the matchup finishing as righty-righty, Viciedo didn’t disappoint. That key hit coming from the rookie contributed to the on-field jumping and yelling.
“Without a doubt,” said Pierre of Viciedo, who has nine RBIs this season. “He has been up here a couple of weeks, getting his work in, hitting early every day. Nobody sees that when he’s out there getting in his work.
“He went in Anaheim and got more hitting done on the off-day. For him to take what he has been doing in practice into the game, it’s big for him. Not just for the team, but big for him for putting in the work behind the scenes.”
This contest actually began as a pitchers’ duel between Jackson and John Lackey, whose two runs allowed over six innings came courtesy of Carlo Quentin’s 26th home run in the fourth. Quentin has 87 RBIs on 110 hits.
“He made, what, a 1-2 pitch to Quentin and a guy that’s really given him a tough time,” said Francona of Lackey, who has allowed four career home runs to Quentin in 13 at-bats. “He just didn’t get it in enough and he hit the homer. Other than that, he was good. He was crisp. Some deep counts. They made him work a little bit, but he was really good.”
“Tonight was a good old-fashioned battle,” said Jackson, who threw 105 pitches, fanning six and walking one over seven innings. “It was one of those games that you come for. It’s going to be a battle on both ends and it makes it exciting.”
Chris Sale (2-1) earned the victory, pitching two scoreless innings and allowing Guillen to stay away from Matt Thornton late. Sale struck out three and allowed two hits.
Where September callups or White Sox future contributors are concerned, Guillen isn’t necessarily looking for shutout innings or four hits every time they enter a game during the 2010 season’s home stretch.
Guillen wants the proper approach more than results. So the job done by third baseman Brent Morel and Sale certainly fit that description.
With the White Sox trailing by two runs in the seventh and runners on first and third with one out, Morel poked a single in between third base and shortstop to cut the Boston advantage to 1. Morel walked and swiped second in the fifth.
But even before this contest, Guillen was raving about Morel’s 0-for-3 showing during Monday night’s loss. He continued the praise on Tuesday night of Morel and his young counterparts.
“You look at Morel’s at-bat, it was amazing,” Guillen said. “He faced some good pitching and he handled it very good. Viciedo, you try to put him in the right spot and Sale, since he got to the big leagues, he’s been unbelievable.”
All three of them were part of the celebration when Viciedo connected. The victory ended a seven-game home losing streak for the White Sox (84-73) and showed this team doesn’t give up, even when there’s reason to fight a little less.
“Regardless of where the season is, regardless of if you are making it into the postseason or not, it’s always exciting when you can come out and get a win like that,” Jackson said. “We battled tonight.”
“You never want to go into the offseason with too much of a sour taste,” Pierre said. “It’s going to be sour because we are going to be watching others in October. We can end on a good note and carry it over to Spring Training and get ready for next year.”
Next year for the Sox is going to be interesting. While fans, like me, would love to see P.K. and A.J. stick around, you never know what’s going to happen during hot stove season.
You saw the same game I did. The Packers totaled up 18 penalties (17 accepted) and Des Clark appeared to be wearing concrete mittens. But, at the end of the day, the Bears ended up all alone at the top of the NFC North with a 3-0 record. More importantly, at least for me, was that the team came from behind, twice, to win this thing. Even when Cutler looked like he was going to need Cavallari to pre-chew his food, after a helmet to helmet hit, the Bears never gave up.
Flipping through the morning newspapers I noted that writers are kind of split on whether this game meant anything. Some claim that the Bears didn’t win as much as the Packers lost. Before the game the majority of sports’ prognosticators in Chicago picked the Packers to win. Many pointed out that the Bears hadn’t really beaten anyone thus far. The Sun Times ran an article showing that 8 out of 10 sports professionals claimed that Rogers was a better QB than Cutler and the remaining two didn’t pick either. More than one article pointed out that yesterday was THE MOST FREAKING IMPORTANT GAME OF THE DAMN TEAM’S SEASON.
Sorry. You can’t have it both ways. Either the game meant something and the 3-0 Bears need to be taken seriously or the Bears have been playing Pee Wee teams and we’re all doomed when the real NFL teams show up.
And the first person who tries to pass off the Packers as a Pee Wee team will, in the famous words of the rapper Nemesis, “be hurtin’ fo certain.”
Since most of the local scribes today are hyperventilating, either pro or con, I decided to go out of our normal safe zone and get the game recap from MICHAEL DAVID SMITH at AOL.com.
The Bears forced a Green Bay fumble near midfield as the clock approached two minutes, and Jay Cutler drove them to capitalize with a 19-yard Robbie Gould field goal with four seconds left to help secure a victory for the home team, 20-17.
Penalties killed the Packers—17 accepted for 152 yards on the night—with the final one bringing Chicago down to the 9-yard line on a pass interference call in the waning seconds.
Monday night’s game featured the NFC’s only two unbeaten teams, leaving Chicago as the early leader in the race for best record in the conference.
• Bears coach Lovie Smith made a surprising decision to bench defensive tackle Tommie Harris. From all indications Harris isn’t injured and hasn’t violated any team rules—Smith just didn’t think Harris was one of the 45 players who gave the Bears the best chance to beat the Packers, and so Harris wasn’t on the 45-man active roster. That says a lot about how far Harris has fallen: Just two years ago the Bears signed Harris to a contract that made him the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league at the time.
• Brian Urlacher’s forced fumble and Tim Jennings’ ability to recover it on the sideline without going out of bounds were a couple of great defensive plays late in the game. The turnover off Packers receiver James Jones put the Bears at the Green Bay 46-yard line to start their game-winning drive.
• Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw an absolute bullet to Greg Jennings in the end zone for the night’s first score. Rodgers doesn’t get enough credit for his arm strength; when he needs to he can zip the ball with a velocity that few quarterbacks can match.
• ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski told me before the game that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had improved his decision making this season, but Cutler made a terrible decision on his first interception, throwing into the middle of the end zone when the only player there was Packers strong safety Derrick Martin.
• Cutler made a great decision, however, early in the second quarter, when he saw a huge hole in the Packers’ zone coverage on third-and-15 and decided to take off running. Cutler isn’t particularly fast, but there was so much green grass in front of him that he was able to get the first down before stepping out of bounds.
• I usually like aggressive play-calling, but I have to credit Packers coach Mike McCarthy for calling on Rodgers to deliver a short dump-off pass on third-and-20 from the 30-yard line late in the second quarter. The resulting 11-yard gain wasn’t close to a first down, but it did set up a field goal before halftime that gave the Packers a 10-0 lead.
• Bears tight end Greg Olsen made a great move to catch a short Cutler pass and dive into the end zone with less than a minute left in the first half to cut the deficit to 10-7 at halftime.
• What on earth were the officials watching on Packers running back John Kuhn’s run early in the third quarter? Kuhn ran into the pile, was knocked down, rolled on the ground, got up and began running again—and the officials somehow said he was never down and gave him 15 yards. Eventually it was correctly ruled a two-yard gain on replay, but Smith never should have had to use his challenge flag.
• Julius Peppers blocked a field goal in the third quarter, and although the height and leaping ability of a former college basketball player are an important part of his ability to block kicks, his greatest asset as a kick blocker is his quick first step: He was across the line of scrimmage before the Packers’ linemen were out of their stances.
• There’s no excuse for Desmond Clark’s dropped pass in the end zone on fourth down late in the third quarter. It wasn’t a good pass by Cutler, but an NFL tight end has to make the catch when the ball is in his hands.
• Jermichael Finley had a sensational game for the Packers. He might just be the best tight end in the NFL.
• Devin Hester picked a great time for his first punt return touchdown since 2007, scoring in the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 14-10 lead. It was the eighth punt return touchdown of his career.
• Bears defensive end Henry Melton picked a terrible time for a costly roughing the passer penalty, setting up the Packers with first-and-goal on the drive immediately following the Hester touchdown. Rodgers ran for a touchdown three plays later.
• The Packers’ defense, however, must not have been watching how costly Melton’s penalty was, because Green Bay committed two personal fouls on the subsequent drive, handing the Bears a free 30 yards to set up a game-tying field goal. Penalties were a huge problem for the Packers all game long.
I admit that I didn’t see this team doing much of anything this season, aside from guaranteeing wins for opponents. Therefore I must also admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. While they haven’t completely dominated anyone, they’ve managed to win no matter what. At some point that’s a decent habit to to get into.
On a sadder note, George Blanda passed away yesterday. ANDY BARRAL from the New York Times (see, I’m way outside our normal safe zone today) wrote such a wonderful obituary that I need to share.
In 1970, during a five-game stretch in the middle of the season, George Blanda went from a kicker and backup quarterback to the most famous football player in America. At age 43, he came off the bench to rally the Raiders to four wins and a tie and became, as Michael MacCambridge said in “America’s Game”, “synonymous with a newfound middle-aged vitality.”
Oakland, which had gone to the three previous A.F.L. championship games, started 2-2-1 that year, the first season after the merger. In Week 6 against the Steelers, Blanda replaced an injured Daryle Lamonica and threw three touchdown passes in a 31-14 win. The next week, against the Chiefs, in a wild game that featured a brawl at the end, Blanda kicked a 48-yard field goal with three seconds left to salvage a 17-17 tie. (That’s the one where Hank Stram put 6-foot-10-inch Morris Stroud under the crossbar to leap and try to block the kick. This was within the rules at the time, but not for long).
Blanda wasn’t done. Against the Browns, he again replaced Lamonica and drove the Raiders 70 yards in 7 plays, hitting wide receiver Warren Wells on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:34 left to tie the game. After an interception, Blanda kicked a 52-yard field goal with three seconds left to win it, 23-20. The next week, he came off the bench and hit Fred Biletnikoff on a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to beat the Broncos, 24-19. Finally, he kicked a short game-winning field goal with four seconds left in a 20-17 victory over the Chargers.
The league’s oldest player had captured the nation’s imagination. He was featured in Time and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cast and crew of “Mission Impossible”, a popular television show at the time, sent him a telegram accusing him, in a friendly way, of stealing one of their story lines. Oakland’s longtime radio voice, Bill King, said “a forty-three-year-old man has no business doing things on a football field that would make another forty-three-year-old man jump around like that in the broadcasting booth.” (From “75 Seasons: The Complete Story of the National Football League”)
Soon, Blanda was doing television commercials for Wheaties and Brut. Amazing for a player whose professional career began so quietly.
After playing for Bear Bryant at the University of Kentucky, Blanda was selected by the Bears on the 12th round of the 1949 draft (119th overall). That’s so long ago that the N.F.L., at that time, didn’t even have unlimited free substitution. That became a permanent part of the rulebook in 1950.
Blanda was traded to the Colts just before the 1950 season, but was reacquired by Chicago just 15 days later. He spent most of his 10 years with the Bears as a backup quarterback, first to Johnny Lujack, and later to Ed Brown; as a kicker; and, briefly, as an outside linebacker. In his only full season as the starting quarterback, Chicago finished 3-8-1.
After the 1958 season, with his playing time diminishing, Blanda quit football. He finally had had enough of the notoriously stingy Papa Bear, George Halas. As Mike Ditka once famously said about him: “Halas throws nickels around like manhole covers.” Blanda told Time Magazine in 1970 that Halas “was too cheap to even buy me a kicking shoe.” Seemingly, Blanda’s career was over.
In 1960, Bud Adams, owner of the Houston Oilers of the new American Football League, gave Blanda enough money to bring him out of retirement. Then, his career as a quarterback finally took off. Calling his own plays, as it was done at the time, Blanda led the Oilers to three consecutive A.F.L. championship games, winning the first two over the Chargers in 1960 and 1961. In 1961 he threw 36 touchdown passes, then a record, and quarterbacked a team that scored 513 points in 14 games, one of the highest-scoring teams in pro football history.
Blanda was released by the Oilers after the 1966 season. He was 39 years old, and, once again, it appeared as if his career was over. Not even close. He soon signed with the Raiders and, amazingly, played another nine years before retiring after the 1975 season, at age 48. By that time, he had played in more seasons, 26 (a record that still stands), in more games, 340, and scored more points, 2,002, than any player in history. He held single-game records for most pass attempts, 68, and completions, 37, and tied the record for touchdown passes in one game with 7. Blanda also held the postseason records for games played and points scored.
Blanda had a quality that most of the successful quarterbacks possess: he didn’t worry. If the news media, the fans, or even his coaches or teammates second-guessed him, he didn’t pay any attention. Others would always bring up his age, but Blanda didn’t care.
John Madden loves telling the story about a game against the Broncos in 1968, when he was still a Raiders assistant. Blanda, at age 41, was going to start for the injured Lamonica. The team arrived in Denver on Saturday in the middle of a huge snowstorm. As Madden says in “One Knee Equals Two Feet”, “everybody began to worry about the weather. Everyone except George.” Blanda calmly explained that he loved to throw in the snow because the pass-rushers can’t get traction and the defensive backs don’t know where the receivers are going. The snow had stopped by game time but it was still cold and windy. “George didn’t worry about that, either”, Madden said. Blanda threw four touchdown passes, one of them a 94-yarder on a post pattern to Wells, and the Raiders won, 43-7.
George Blanda’s career was a remarkable football odyssey. When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981, his presenter, Al Davis, said that Blanda “inspired a whole nation in 1970. I really believe he is the greatest clutch player in the history of the game.”
And that was way back when Davis was still lucid.
You no go ‘til you pogo!
Nope. We gotta go back farther than that.
Get on down to the boogie town sounds as we watch those platters spin round and round ....
Nope. Not far enough.
It is with this song, featuring Lulu on flute and Lance on tambourine, that we will entail to dissect the mindless minions who follow the contemptible horde that has forced this country into a multi-layered dichotomy ....
Sorry. Not far enough yet.
Drop your saddle shoes and grab your Bobby socks ‘cause tonight is the night we rock!
Closer, but still no cigar.
The Andrews Sisters remind you to “Buy bonds!”
Ahhhh, there it is.
Tonight’s Monday Night Football game features a decades old rivalry between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. So, it is fitting that the two teams will be wearing their uniforms from the 1940’s, albeit with modern protective gear. Even more fun is the MNF ad campaign they’ve been running on billboards around the city with the text, “Is MNF #1? Do Bears #2 in the woods?”
Truly scatological humor.
Anyway, tonight at 7:30 (local time), the Bears and Packers find themselves in a meaningful game for the first time in a few years. Both teams are undefeated and both wish to stay that way. Fans for both teams have ramped up the hype, flooding talk radio with bad jokes about their opponents and predicting slaughters of epic proportions. DAVID HAUGH from the Tribune takes a look at the Bears’ toughness heading into tonight.
With most Bears fans marking time this fall according to the Lovie Smith watch, get ready to synchronize your clocks, Chicago. Believe it or not, we could be mere hours away from restoring order in the best sports city in America.
If the Bears beat the championship-caliber Packers on Monday night at Soldier Field to become 3-0, football instantly becomes more credible and relevant around here than at any point since Super Bowl XLI. Only three times in the past 20 years have the Bears started 3-0—1990, 1991 and 2006. Those seasons ended in the playoffs.
My glass is not as half-empty as it was two weeks ago, but it’s still early to say where this season is headed. As impressive as the Bears looked in beating the Cowboys, nobody’s ready yet to say this season will end in the playoffs too.
The other day I was in the middle of anointing Jay Cutler an early season MVP candidate and Mike Martz a modern-day Bill Walsh when the NFL executive listening interrupted to remind me it is only Week 3. Thank you, sir.
Objectively, we still don’t know if the Bears are that good or if the Cowboys are prone to disarray because coach Wade Phillips struggles organizing a two-horse rodeo. We don’t know what may happen to the Bears’ defense when an opposing quarterback actually hits a wide receiver in stride. Or if the Bears can run the ball on demand.
I do know this: An undefeated Bears team heading into October would create a bigger buzz than the Blackhawks slipping on their Stanley Cup rings, Ozzie Guillen talking his way out of the South Side, the Cubs searching for a manager or the Bulls beginning a 50-win season.
That’s what makes the anticipation of “Monday Night Football” so delicious, the tantalizing possibility that one of the best redemption stories in the NFL season could be unfolding in a football town desperate for success. Even if most of us never thought the Bears were capable of contending after a winless, listless preseason, Chicagoans gladly would adjust their outlook quicker than Martz adjusts his game plan.
Bears Nation would start peeking ahead at the next four winnable games. If the Bears beat the Packers—hey, it’s Chicago—they will have convinced some folks enough to begin selling the idea that 7-0 heading into the open date is possible.
If the Bears don’t—and depending on how competitive the game is—we will go back to staring at the 2010 playoffs-or-bust calendar.
Signs point toward a ratings-magnet close, one not decided until the fourth quarter. Clues during the practice week can be deceiving, but based solely on rhetoric, a Bears letdown against the Packers would be as surprising as their uprising was against the Cowboys.
You had to like the way Martz left no ambiguity over why Devin Aromashodu played sparingly in Dallas by pointing out Aromashodu’s reluctance to play the slot. That was as refreshing as it was a week earlier when Cutler bluntly explained he would throw to Devin Hester more if he got open. Then there was general manager Jerry Angelo, in a revealing interview with Zach Zaidman of WSCR-AM 670, acknowledging recent mistakes in the draft as well as wondering whether the Bears might be better off if Hester gave up punt-return duties.
In football, the connection between accountability and resilience is like that of speed and big plays. One typically comes from the other. Of all the things we haven’t yet confirmed about the Bears, we do suspect they’re a resilient bunch based on how they have handled adversity.
David’s right. While Lovie continues to mumble inanities, Martz, Cutler and the rest have been very clear in what they expect of themselves and their teammates. Chicago hasn’t seen that level of honesty since “Da Coach” talked about Minnesota tourist attractions.
But, while attitude can help players prepare for a football game, it is rare that it helps them win it. RICK MORRISSEY at the Sun Times breaks things out in easy to understand terms for those of you playing along at home.
Many Bears players say Packers games are more important than other games only because they know that’s what they’re supposed to say. They weren’t raised on this rivalry the way many of us were, so they don’t understand. Father, forgive them.
But this time, they might be right. What matters more than anything tonight is that the Bears are playing a good team, and in order to be considered one themselves, they have to win. Lose this game badly and lots of people in Chicago will be nodding their heads and saying: ‘’Yes, that’s what I thought. The Bears were an illusion. And isn’t it a little early for female Packers fans to be growing playoff beards?’’
In that sense, the opponent doesn’t have to be Green Bay. It could be the Saints or the Steelers.
The Bears just need to beat somebody who’s somebody.
When it comes to this team, there are a lot of hearts in need of conversion around the country. If offensive coordinator Mike Martz hadn’t made adjustments early against Dallas last week, Cowboys pass rushers might have relieved Jay Cutler of his brainpan. The Bears’ offensive line has to take a big step forward tonight, and if you’re certain it can do that, please share the flask with the rest of the class.
The Packers surely have isolated this biggest Bears’ problem, so linebacker Clay Matthews has every reason to believe he’ll be able to go the carnivorous route for the third week in a row.
If you’d like to reduce this game to a match-up between Cutler/Martz and Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up being right.
For Cutler and Martz to succeed, the Bears need to conjure up a running game. If Matt Forte, Chester Taylor and the rest continue to average 2.8 yards a carry, it’s hard to envision the Bears winning. It’s hard anyway.
So, yes, we’re back to the offensive line, which righted itself last week when Martz started calling for quick passes. Cutler spoke the truth afterward: The Bears can’t live on a steady diet of three-step drops by the quarterback. The offensive line gets paid to block. Do it. This isn’t the Black & Blue & Pastels Division.
There are a whole bunch of things on the Bears’ to-do list. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is great, and Julius Peppers needs to have a big game. The Bears’ defensive backs need to make up for their deficiencies by forcing turnovers.
A lot has to go right for the Bears to be able to show a national TV audience that they’re for real. Right now, most people clump them with the Chiefs and the Buccaneers, which is to say that lots of people think of them as question marks. So the question remains, what are the Bears going to do about it?
They’ll wear throwback jerseys tonight to commemorate their Monsters of the Midway teams and, quite possibly, to make more money.
Fans at Soldier Field will gladly cough up the extra cash if the Bears upset the Packers, or if a Green Bay fan is ritually melted in a fondue pot. Whichever comes first.
To quote my old buddy (okay, we never actually met or talked, but I’m sure he would’ve liked me) Bill Walsh, a 5 yard pass is just as good as a 5 yard run. Sometimes even better. However, Rick’s right in the long run. If the Bears don’t want to have their panties handed to them they’d better run for more average yards than my height. Seriously, I could fall forward and only be .5 yards shy of the Bears’ current average. Even given the state of my knees, I could probably crawl the rest.
There’s already a thread going, so just CLICK HERE, GRAB A BEER AND JEER GREEN BAY!
Life’s a funny old thing. Lou Piniella’s on his way to the Hall of fame and Cubs’ fans couldn’t get him out the door fast enough. Ozzie Guillen only has one losing season in his career as a manager and some Sox fans are lining up to make him the Cub’s manager in 2011. Jay Mariotti, our least favorite Diminutive Diva of Despair, has managed to publicly reap what he hath sown and now will be lucky to get a job working Chuck-E-Cheese.
Just FYI, if you live in LA and are planning on a party with the Chuckster, make sure to call first so the kids don’t get scared by the overly botoxed bus-boy.
But, today’s not about Jay or his shenanigans. They will be dealt with in due time by the nice people who run the LA court system. The same system that keeps letting Lyndsay Lohan out so she can go on cocaine runs while finishing her sentence. I’m sure justice will prevail.
No, instead, today I thought I’d take a peek at Chicago’s 2 baseball teams just so everyone could have a nice, relaxing, Sunday. So, grab your breakfast beer, pop open the heart-healthy bag of Doritos, plop your laptop on your sizable lap and enjoy.
The Cubs were guaranteed a series win over the Cardinals this year before the game even started. So, as CARRIE MUSKAT of MLB.com reports, a little piling on wouldn’t be bad for their souls.
Casey Coleman made quite an impression on Saturday.
In his seventh big league start, Coleman outlasted Chris Carpenter in the Cubs’ 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. Blake DeWitt hit a two-run triple, Sam Fuld smacked a two-run single and Aramis Ramirez drove in two runs for Chicago, now 19-10 since Mike Quade took over as manager on Aug. 23.
“Guys are playing hard, the veterans are hanging in there and still going about their business well,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. “I’m real happy with some of the young pitchers who have gotten over the hump. I think they’ll all benefit from the experience.”
Coleman (3-2) is in that group. The right-hander gave his father and grandfather, who both pitched in the big leagues, something to brag about Saturday. The rookie gave up three runs, five hits and struck out four over seven innings in his longest big league start.
He credited Cubs catcher Koyie Hill and pitching coach Larry Rothschild with settling him down after the Cardinals scored early.
“I’m sure he’d like to be lights-out from start to finish,” Quade said of the young right-hander. “He makes adjustments on the fly by himself. Larry doesn’t need to be out there. You’d like to see that from anybody, but for a young pitcher, that’s huge.”
Facing Triple-A hitters is one thing. Facing Albert Pujols is another.
“It’s always fun to face those guys,” Coleman said. “[Pujols] is the best hitter in the game, and once you face him, you can face anyone. He is intimidating but he’s human, so you just have to make pitches. He got me in the one inning, and I said, ‘Just attack. Don’t pitch around him, don’t pitch scared, and hopefully they’ll make a play for you.’”
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the second on Bryan Anderson’s sacrifice fly and took advantage of an error in the third. With one out, Jon Jay singled and scored on Pujols’ double, his 113th RBI. Matt Holliday was safe on an errant throw by Ramirez, which allowed Pujols to score to make it 3-0.
The Cubs, who had struggled to score three runs in their past four games, answered in their half. With one out, DeWitt doubled and moved up on a wild pitch. One out later, Kosuke Fukudome walked and Ramirez singled, scoring DeWitt. Micah Hoffpauir singled and Fukudome was caught in a rundown between third and home, but catcher Anderson’s relay throw sailed over third baseman Daniel Descalso for an error.
Chris Carpenter then intentionally walked Alfonso Soriano to load the bases, and Fuld delivered a two-run single to center to go ahead, 4-3.
“Any competitor is going to take it at least slightly personal,” Fuld said of the intentional pass. “Frankly, I don’t blame them. It did get me going a little bit.”
The Cubs are the first team to beat Carpenter (15-9) three times in a single season in his career.
“He’s tough,” Fuld said. “He’s one of the best in the game. You can’t try to do too much there. With the bases loaded, you’re looking for a single.”
Starlin Castro doubled with two outs in the fourth, Fukudome walked and Ramirez hit another RBI single. That was it for Carpenter.
Blake Hawksworth took over in the fifth and with one out, Fuld lined a ball off the right-hander’s face. He dropped on the mound but was able to walk off under his own power. Fernando Salas took over and struck out Koyie Hill, but walked Coleman and then served up a triple to DeWitt as the Cubs went ahead, 7-3.
Quade asked the media the first question postgame, trying to get an update on Hawksworth. Fuld called the Cardinals’ clubhouse to make sure the pitcher was OK. It’s been a frightening week for the Cubs, who lost outfielder Tyler Colvin for the season last Sunday in Miami when he was punctured in the chest by a broken bat. Coleman said he flinched as he watched Hawksworth go down.
“I was a bit rattled when it happened,” Fuld said. “It’s something that’s never happened to me before. Between that and the incident with Tyler, it’s scary. This is a dangerous game, and people don’t realize that. You try to avoid it as much as you can.”
The bundled-up crowd of 39,316 at Wrigley Field pushed the home attendance to 3,024,916, the seventh straight season the Cubs have topped 3 million. They are one of five Major League franchises to surpass 3 million every year starting in 2004.
“They’re the best,” Quade said of the fans. “Whether they show up in droves on the road—you go into a ballpark, and see blue everywhere—or it’s the support here, they’re phenomenal.”
Hendry said the team, which began the season with the highest payroll in the National League, doesn’t need to overhaul the roster to get back on top of the division.
“It takes good fortune and a few solid moves and your young people to keep developing and stay healthy, and you’re right back in it,” Hendry said.
Among the players who have shined are rookies Coleman, Castro, Colvin, James Russell and Andrew Cashner.
“There are some positives to build around,” Hendry said.
Yes, the Cubs announcers can finally say, with conviction, “Mighty Casey’s at the plate.” Sure, we hope they won’t but we all know they will. As to the Hawksworth injury, it was pretty scary. Lots of blood, lots of medical personnel and no commercial to cut to until he walked off the field under his own power. He was on the ground so long I was surprised that Cowboy Joe West didn’t call him for delay of game. Click on the previous link if you want more information on Hawksworth as St. Louis is updating fans as it becomes available.
Moving over to the White Sox, ELLIOTT HARRIS posted this gem on his Facebook page; “The new Comcast SportsNet set for White Sox postgame viewing is a lot like the team’s belated winning steak at this point: Too little, too late.” I guess Comcast figured no one was watching anyway so they may as well see if all their cool new toys work.
They’re very nice.
But, new toys or no, the Sox are still trying to win games and finish their season strong. A friend of mine mentioned that this year’s version of the Pale Hose is strikingly similar to the 2004 version. We all know what happened after that. Ozzie got to keep his DH on the DL, just as good as not having one, and went on to win the World Series. So, a little repetition wouldn’t kill me. MLB.com’s SCOTT MERKIN was in Anaheim for the Sox latest tilt against the Angels.
Saturday was not a total loss for John Danks.
Yes, his beloved Texas Longhorns were clubbed on the home gridiron by UCLA, dropping them well down the pecking order in the BCS national championship picture. But that tough loss certainly didn’t carry over to the left-hander’s mound effort.
Danks allowed two runs in the first inning and then shut down the Angels over the next seven, as the White Sox cruised to a 6-2 victory at Angel Stadium before 40,758.
This third straight victory for the White Sox (82-72) raised their record to 3-2 on this West Coast road trip leading into the 2010 season’s final week, beginning Monday night at home with the Red Sox. It also brought Danks his 14th victory, setting a single-season high for the southpaw.
“I’ve had a couple of rough ones coming into this one,” said Danks of his 110-pitch effort. “Really, I’m just trying to go out there and finish on a high note.”
“Well, I think John has worked hard to be what he wants to be,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the hurler with the highest win total on his staff. “This kid is very special. He is a real bulldog. I think he takes the opportunity very well, grabs it and keeps it.”
It has not been a good recent run for Danks (14-11) or the White Sox starting rotation as a whole. Entering Saturday, Danks had one win since Aug. 12 and held a 1-3 record with a 6.46 ERA over his last five starts.
Meanwhile, the White Sox starters set a franchise record by going 18 straight games without a victory, posting an 0-9 mark with a 6.45 ERA and .329 average against during that time. The White Sox run ended one short of the season-high stretch without a win of 19 held by Seattle.
Prior to Danks’ stellar performance against the Angels (75-79), Gavin Floyd’s victory in the second game of a doubleheader sweep at Fenway Park on Sept. 4 marked the last win for a starter. Danks, who won the day portion of that split twin bill in Boston, gave up seven hits, fanned five and walked two on Saturday and then stood speechless at his locker upon hearing the news of the futility streak he snapped.
“I didn’t know that. I don’t know what to say about that. It’s tough,” said Danks with a sheepish smile. “We haven’t been pitching the way we wanted to this month. We’ve let the team down in some respects.”
“Not just my starters. I think the team,” said Guillen with a laugh when informed of his starters’ stretch without a victory.
Actually, the White Sox improved to 5-12 since being a season-high 17 games over .500 on Sept. 6—just two days after the last starter’s victory. Danks’ somewhat erratic first inning and run-scoring hits from Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter put the White Sox in a 2-0 hole, but they exploded for four runs off Scott Kazmir (9-15) in the third.
Alexei Ramirez singled home the game-tying pair, furthering his cause for the American League Silver Slugger honor at shortstop with 66 RBIs, while Alex Rios and Manny Ramirez chipped in run-scoring doubles. Manny’s line shot to right-center stood up as his second extra-base hit with the White Sox and just his second RBI.
Ramon Castro’s eighth home run leading off the fourth ended the night for Kazmir at just three-plus innings.
“It’s almost like you’re swimming under water,” said Kazmir, who was touched up by the White Sox for five runs on five hits. “You know you have so much more strength and power.”
“When he commands his fastball, he’s pitched well enough to give us a chance to win,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia of his starter. “If you’re not able to command your fastball, guys are laying in the weeds, looking in one spot, one area—and he’s paying a price for it.”
Juan Pierre’s bunt brought home Brent Morel in the seventh to cap off the scoring. Morel produced his first multi-hit game and continued strong defense in his ninth straight start at third base.
“He gives you good at-bats, and his defense was outstanding,” said Guillen. “I always say defense, it’s important and wins games. That’s why he’s in there.”
Maybe the White Sox would have fared better overall this season if they played in the AL West. They have a 23-13 ledger against that particular division, with one game left on Sunday, while they have a dismal 30-39 record against the AL Central, with three games remaining against the Indians to close out 2010.
Regardless of the opponent, the White Sox simply want to win these last eight games. They want to hold off the Tigers to maintain second place and build up a head of steam for next year.
Or in terms related to Saturday’s action, they want to accomplish what Danks’ Longhorns couldn’t do in Texas.
“That was a tough one today,” said Danks, before returning to baseball analysis. “We are all competitive. We are not going to the playoffs, but we don’t want to get our heads handed to us.”
As noted by Scott, an 0-18 record from the starters is not the recipe for success. Yet, despite injuries and huge holes in the pen, the Sox can still finish with a 90 win season. Small consolation when they’re not making the playoffs but, to me, proof that had Ozzie been given the pitching he requested instead of the bat no one wanted, they would have won their division this year. They only had those 30 games in June where everyone was inked in the rotation and pen and they went 25-5 then. It doesn’t take a statistician to figure out the rest.
Also, yes, it’s okay to make fun of Notre Dame’s football team.