In Which We Say Hooray!

Before we begin I guess, due to the name of this site and so on, I should note that Jay Mariotti wrote a column. Well, wrote is such a strong word, let’s say he* aimed words at a word processor and hoped for the best. As with all his* drek, this is all about him* and not much else. As the fun loving folks over at Deadspin noted, ”Got it, nerds? Jay Mariotti is currently living it the f**k up in sunny Southern California. He’s got blue skies to raise his spirits, cool breezes to delight his skin, and plenty of Negra Modelos to crush while he chills on the boardwalk. The only thing that could make that opening paragraph more perfectly contemptible would be if it ended with #winning. Actually, let’s just assume that it did and was edited before publication.”

He* also talks about football, makes specious pop culture references and wanders around what could have been some interesting topics in the hands of a real writer.

I guess it all can be summed up by one of Jay’s neighbors in LA;

I live in Venice Beach, and I see Mr. Mariotti frequently in one of my favorite bars. He usually is sitting alone, ruddy-faced, with a lecherous look on his face as women half his age go strutting by in summer clothes. The times I do see him with a woman? She looks p***ed and he drinks. Did I mention he is always drunk? Sad state of affairs Jay.

A drunken loser sitting alone in a bar trying to be hip. Since he* divorced his* wife for irritating him* by getting cancer and then abandoned his* children, I guess it’s the life he’s* always wanted.

Before we move on, I should note that it’s a vanity blog not a commercial site, there’s no advertising or revenue associated with it. That means that someone just gave Jay a web page for a day. If you go to Amazon to buy his* failed effort at book writing you’ll note that people who bought Jay’s book also bought mommy porn.

Congrats there dude.

Speaking of congratulations, they are in order for Chicago’s southside ballers. While it wasn’t a pretty game, the Sox stranded the equivalent of the population of a small viallge on the bases, it was a hard fought game. And, more importantly, it was a game they needed to win and they did. Scott Merkin was there and has the whole story.

So sit right back and you’ll read a tale, a tale of a fateful slide ....

The core of the 2012 White Sox highlight reel will feature great moments like Philip Humber’s perfect game and the 400th career homers by Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn to name a few from this surprising South Side success story.

Right behind those standout performances, on par with a Chris Sale shutout or one of the team’s six walk-off hits, will be Alex Rios’ fifth-inning slide from Monday’s 5-4 victory over the Tigers before 29,130 at U.S. Cellular Field.

This was a hard slide into Detroit second baseman Omar Infante that broke up a potential inning-ending double play and allowed Dunn to score the tying run and Konerko to score what turned out to be the winning run when Infante’s errant relay throw skipped by first baseman Prince Fielder. But it was so much more.

That extra effort from Rios, coupled with four hitless innings turned in by Nate Jones (8-0), Donnie Veal, Brett Myers, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed (27th save), just might have dealt the Tigers (77-69) their deciding blow in the chase for the American League Central title. With 16 games remaining, the White Sox (80-66) hold a three-game lead and have a magic number of 14 to officially eliminate the Tigers.

With four straight victories, the White Sox are sliding their way to the postseason much like Rios did in Monday’s makeup game of last Thursday’s rainout.

“I just told him that might be the play of the year,” said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham of Rios’ slide.

“Every second baseman knows we’re coming in hard. It was a clean slide, and we took advantage,” Rios said. “We scored two runs on that play and ended up winning the game, so it was a big play.”

“How many times do you see a guy slide or pull up and this or that?” Dunn said. “Alex went in hard and essentially won us a game.”

Rios’ slide was followed by White Sox bullpen domination. Delmon Young’s run-scoring single with nobody out in the fifth was the last hit of the day for Detroit, with Jones recording three outs in relief of Jose Quintana to end the fifth and the Tigers going 12-up, 12-down on 48 pitches from the sixth through the ninth.

Robin Ventura played the ninth like a trained musician would work a finely-tuned instrument. The White Sox manager started with Myers, who retired pinch-hitter Quintin Berry on a ground ball to third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Left-hander Matt Thornton came in for left-handed-hitting pinch-hitter Andy Dirks and struck him out on three fastballs.

Then it was Reed, who jumped ahead 0-2 on Austin Jackson and induced a game-ending fly ball to Rios. White Sox relievers possess a 0.69 ERA over the last four games, covering 13 innings pitched.

“It wasn’t just about the bullpen,” said Jones, who made his 15th consecutive scoreless appearance. “It was about the guys making plays behind us and the offense kicking in when it needed to. It’s about Quintana. He kept it close enough to where we could do our job. It’s all about the team.”

In Monday’s victory, the White Sox found much greater success against Doug Fister (9-9) than the two-hitter he threw at them over seven innings last Tuesday. Fister was staked to a 3-0 lead in the third, and even pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the frame by striking out Youkilis and Dunn.

Fister wasn’t so fortunate in the fourth, hitting Beckham with a 1-0 pitch to force home a run with two outs. Dewayne Wise then connected on a 3-1 fastball to single home two more to tie the game.

Detroit regained the lead in the fifth on Miguel Cabrera’s leadoff double off Quintana, Prince Fielder’s infield single and Young’s single. On Fielder’s grounder to Dunn at first, Quintana was late getting off the mound but still appeared to beat Fielder to the bag. First-base umpire Mike Muchlinski disagreed.

Despite holding these two early advantages, the Tigers missed on three prime chances to take total control.

Jhonny Peralta hit into a double play with runners on first and second and nobody out in the second, and Brennan Boesch followed with a swinging strikeout against Quintana. Boesch struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to strand the bases loaded in the third, before Peralta hit into a second rally-killing double play and Boesch grounded out to shortstop Alexei Ramirez to end the fifth.

A Wise baserunning mistake in the eighth, where he tagged up and was thrown out at third by Avisail Garcia for the final out before Beckham could score on Dunn’s fly ball to left, cost the White Sox an insurance run. Fortunately, it didn’t change the outcome or the look of the standings.

Basically, the AL Central hasn’t changed since last Monday night, when the White Sox, who are 2-9 in their last 11 games against the Tigers, took the series opener from Detroit and held a three-game advantage. The only difference is taking six more games off the schedule.

Monday’s outcome marked the Tigers’ 10th straight one-loss. The game certainly featured major playoff ramifications, but no postgame concessions.

“That doesn’t bother me at all,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland of the deficit. “It’s right there in front of us. There’s no secrets. There’s plenty of time, but you have to win games.”

“Tomorrow becomes a whole different game and different team,” said Ventura, whose team returns to its nine-game road trip in Kansas City. “Be sure you worry about yourself and not worry about anything else. There’s nothing you can do about [the Tigers].”

14. That is now the Sox magic number. Four-freaking-teen.

That’s all I got to say about that.

On the Northside the beloved Cubbbies took on the evil Bucs and split the series with them. Carrie Muskat was there and wonders, as we all do, why this game was so important that it got played at midnight.

Did you stay awake?

It was late night at Wrigley Field on Monday, as Starling Marte hit a two-run triple to help the Pirates beat the Cubs, 3-0, in a game that wrapped up at 1:28 a.m. CT.

“That’s probably the latest I’ve ever started a game and the latest I’ve ever been pitching,” Cubs starter Travis Wood said.

Wood threw the first pitch at 10:42 p.m. as the start was delayed three hours and 37 minutes due to rain. It was the latest start in Wrigley Field history, and the latest a game has begun and ended here since July 26, 2005, when the Cubs faced the Giants, and Greg Maddux threw the first pitch at 9:48 p.m. CT. Maddux picked up his 3,000th strikeout in that game, and play ended at 1:16 a.m. CT.

This was the Pirates’ last trip to Chicago, and they do not have an off-day for the rest of the season, which is why the two teams waited for the weather to clear. The fans who waited out the rain in the upper deck were moved to the lower level so some of the ushers could go home. The announced crowd was 33,017, but there seemed to be more players in the two dugouts than the bleachers. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts stayed, posing for photos with fans.

Alfonso Soriano practically knew everyone’s name in the left-field bleachers.

“I could hear them and their phones, whatever they said about the game,” Soriano said. “It was a funny night tonight.

“It’s weird—wait for three hours and a half, and then play the game,” he said. “Weird one. I never waited that long to play one game.”

Kevin Correia (11-9) struck out the side in the first, and finished with six punchouts over seven scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, both singles by Darwin Barney, as the Pirates split the four-game series.

“You know when the game starts at 10:40, that hitters are going to be aggressive and it’s not going to be a game where you take a lot of pitches,” said Correia, who watched TV during the delay. “If you can pound the zone with quality pitches, you’re going to have a decent outing, usually.”

Pittsburgh had two on with one out in the third against Wood, and both scored on Marte’s triple to left. Marte then scored on Jose Tabata’s double. Wood (6-12) struck out a career-high nine batters, but also took the loss, giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Neither team mustered much offense.

“I think you can chalk it up to sitting around and waiting around all day,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Both teams seemed like in a little bit of a daze out there. The pitching wasn’t.”

The Cubs did strike out a season-high 15 batters in the game. Wood didn’t make any excuses.

“I don’t think [the delay] had anything to do with it,” he said of his outing. “It was a long wait, but you just prepare yourself for the ballgame. Correia threw outstanding, I had to battle, and they came out on top.”

Next up for the Cubs are the Reds, who had checked into their hotel long before Monday’s first pitch. They’ll be rested for Tuesday’s night game.

“That’s a nice ballclub,” Sveum said of the Reds. “That’s the same kind of ballclub we saw in Washington. You make mistakes and they have a chance to beat you up. It’s a really good ballclub and that’s why the Reds and Washington have the best records in baseball.”

The Cubs had a tough time against the Nationals, who swept a four-game series Sept. 3-6 in Washington, and outscored Chicago, 31-10. The Reds’ magic number to clinch the National League Central is at five.

“Nobody wants anybody to clinch on your turf, that’s for sure,” Sveum said. “It’s inevitable that they’ll clinch, you just don’t want them to do it in your place.”

The Cubs also have a magic number of five. Five more wins, and they avoid a 100-loss season.

“It’s a goal for these guys, because they started talking about it a couple weeks ago about not losing 100 games and it’s their motivating factor, as well as all of us,” Sveum said. “Nobody wants to be associated with that. To be able to sit back and knock people out of the playoffs, that’s what you get motivated for in September when you’re not in it yourself.”

In their defense, the Cubs are playing hard. Not well, but hard. I guess, given what they’ve been left with on the field that’s all anyone can really ask.

If you’re a true fan you’ve got 3/4 of an infield in place for many years to come and lots of hot stove time to be spent on filling in the holes.

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