White Sox aren’t just bad, they’re utterly tedious
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com June 3, 2013 10:04PM
Updated: June 4, 2013 12:52PM
If there is such a thing as an allergic reaction to success, then that’s what the White Sox are experiencing. If you want to check them for rashes, knock yourself out. I’ll go with what I’ve been forced to see on the baseball field.
On May 26, the Sox reached the .500 mark for the first time in six weeks. Since then, they have dropped seven straight games. The prospect of having more victories than losses was apparently too much for the South Siders. Opponents outscored them 33-9 in those losses. The lowly Cubs swept them, for crying out loud.
Bench coach Mark Parent did not paint a pretty picture of the team in Monday’s Sun-Times.
“Even when things are going good, we seem to be waiting for things to go bad,’’ Parent said.
One couldn’t help but think of a team of Eeyores from Winnie the Pooh, a storm cloud for each player. Oh, bother.
Sox general manager Rick Hahn has talked about a “lack of energy’’ on the club and is threatening to move players if things don’t improve. I don’t know if he means it, but he should. It’s early June, but it feels like a dog team going through the motions in the dog days of summer.
The Sox have managed to make the Cubs look good by comparison, and I didn’t think that was possible. But the Sox’ biggest sin is that they’re a boring team. It’s not so much that they’re unlikable as it is they’re unremarkable. If it weren’t for Adam Dunn, who’s on his way to a second miserable season out of three in Chicago, there would be nobody to hate. And so the boos rain down on him with each mighty strikeout.
With these tedious Sox, you find yourself hating the sin, not the sinners, and how much fun is that? You hate the lack of hitting, and you hate the lack of defense.
The Sox have had a season-long problem with errors. I asked manager Robin Ventura about it in late April, and he thought the defensive struggles would pass.
“It’s not good, but I look at it more as it’s not going to continue like this,’’ he said. “You continue to work at it, preach it and make people believe they’re good at it.’’
Well, the bad defense hasn’t passed. It might as well be an uncooperative kidney stone. Last season, the Sox set a franchise record for fewest errors in a season (70). This season, they have 37 errors in 55 games.
The return of Gordon Beckham to the active roster thankfully wasn’t being treated like Michael Jordan’s first comeback, but some people were a tad overheated about the effect he might have on this struggling team. He’s an excellent second baseman and a great teammate, but he’s not going to change the Sox’ fortunes, not with a lifetime .246 batting average.
Nobody should be happier about the Blackhawks’ success than the Sox, who, thanks to eyes turned elsewhere, haven’t been the center of attention in town. But a tree in a forest still makes a sound when no one’s around — there, that’s the end of that philosophical argument — and the Sox are still playing poorly whether people are looking or not.
Even watching this team distractedly has been difficult for those of us tuned into the Hawks. Paul Konerko finally starts hitting like Paul Konerko, then feels pain in his neck. Chris Sale pitches lights-out and gets nothing in the way of run support.
The Sox are near the bottom of the big leagues in most of the major offensive categories, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They take walks like a germaphobe accepts handshakes.
You can delve into the numbers all you want, but they say the same thing about this team: meh. It feels like another one of those mind-numbing Sox seasons, in which the team won’t be good enough when it counts but stays competitive enough that it doesn’t get broken up by the trade deadline.
If this is how it’s going to be, better to blow it up and start over. I hope Hahn meant what he said about changes. I hope it wasn’t simply a GM’s attempt to light a fire under the players.
Ventura will miss games Thursday and Friday against Oakland to attend a daughter’s graduation. Lucky guy.