What Went Wrong

After winning a Wild Card slot in 2020 and running away with the Central Division title in 2021, the White Sox looked like an easy lock to make a third straight post-season appearance this October.  Unfortunately, something (or somethings) went wrong along the way and after a long season where nothing ever seemed to click, the team was officially eliminated on Sunday after dropping six straight against the Guardians and the Tigers.  So where did things fall apart?  Let’s take a deeper look.

Injuries

After injuries rocked the White Sox in 2021, they revamped their strength and conditioning staff, hoping a new program would help stem the tide.  Unfortunately, the lockout prevented the new staff from working with the players, leaving them to their own devices.  GM Rick Hahn said in June that, between the lockout and the shortened spring training, the new program “got stymied a little bit this offseason” and that it would “be difficult in-season to perhaps change the results over the next few weeks and months in terms of health.”  Boy, was he not kidding.

Things started at the end of spring training, when lefty reliever Garrett Crochet went down for the year with an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  Two days later, starter Lance Lynn left his final spring tune-up with a bum knee, putting him on the shelf until the middle of June.  Finally, before the White Sox arrived in Detroit for their season opener, Yoan Moncada suffered an oblique strain that knocked him out for a month and may have sunk his entire season.  Relief pitcher Joe Kelly, signed during the offseason, also started the season on the IL rehabbing an injury from the year before and wasn’t activated until May.

Outfielder AJ Pollock left the second game of the year with a hamstring injury, missing over three weeks.  The same day, Lucas Giolito was placed on the IL with an abdominal strain, keeping him out for nearly two weeks.  The day he was activated, Eloy Jimenez was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring suffered that day against the Twins.  It would be two and a half months before he returned.  This was all before the calendar turned to May!

Things never let up.  Andrew Vaughn missed time in May after getting hit in the hand by a pitch.  Aaron Bummer suffered a right knee strain that kept him out for two weeks.  Lucas Giolito and Luis Robert both missed time in May thanks to bouts with COVID.  Joe Kelly went back on the IL with a hamstring strain.  Tim Anderson missed three weeks with a groin strain, the same injury that kept Vince Velasquez for two weeks.

Aaron Bummer suffered another injury in mid-June which kept him out until September.  Yasmani Grandal was felled with lower back spasms for six weeks.  A right forearm strain put Liam Hendriks on the shelf for nearly three weeks.  A strained hamstring took down Yoan Moncada for nearly three weeks.  Adam Engel fell victim to the same injury for two weeks.  On July 6th, Jake Burger went down with a bruised hand following a hit by pitch, Vince Velasquez was felled by a blister on his right index finger, and Danny Mendick was lost for the year with a torn ACL.  We just now are getting to the All-Star break.  Shall I keep going?

Luis Robert was shut down with blurred vision.  A lower back strain put Reynaldo Lopez on the shelf.  A torn finger ligament knocked out Tim Anderson for the remainder of the year on August 9th.  Another lower back strain took down Leury Garcia.  A bum knee sent Michael Kopech to the IL, while another hamstring strain stopped Yoan Moncada for the third time this year.  Kopech was felled again with a shoulder strain on September 7th.  Finally, after suffering with a wrist injury for nearly a month and a half, Luis Robert was shut down and placed on the IL on Saturday with the 2022 title all but wrapped up for the Guardians.

Aside from the sheer number of injuries, this meant that the White Sox were very rarely at anything approaching full strength.  Some piece of the puzzle was always missing, and usually two or three pieces.  The bullpen injuries led to some early overwork for guys like Kendall Graveman, which impacted his performance in the second half.  Because of this, the White Sox never seemed to gel or to be able to string wins together to pull ahead.

Lack of Power

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Travelling The 50 States – Florida

Over my 47 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we start today with the 27th state to be added to the Union: Florida.

State: Florida
Joined the Union: 1845
Visits: 10 (at least)

At some point in the mid-1980s, my grandparents bought a condo in Clearwater, Florida, which has helped make the Sunshine State one of my most visited states.  I’m fairly certain my first trip there would have been in the summer of 1988 and my most recent was last year, with a number of visits in-between.

From what I can recall, my first trip to Florida came the summer of 1988, following my eighth-grade graduation.  I’m pretty sure a collection of seven family members got in the car the day after Mike Tyson’s 91 second knockout of Michael Spinks for the two-day drive to Clearwater.  I’m not clear on exactly how long we were there, but I know there was a one-day excursion to Disney World.  Aside from that, we saw all of the tourist attractions that my grandparents thought were interesting.  Which means nothing that was really all that interesting.

We made another trip two summers later.  I don’t remember much of this trip, aside from the trip home where we came up through southern Illinois and listened to the White Sox somehow beating the Yankees 4-0 despite being no-hit by Andy Hawkins.

My sister and I made a return trip over Christmas break in 1991, our first time on an airplane.  Again, I don’t have many vivid memories of the events of this trip.

My fourth trip to Florida came during March of 1997.  I had an interview with GTE Data Services and turned it into a mini-vacation during spring break, staying with my grandparents.  The highlight of the trip, aside from nailing the interview and getting a solid job offer, was a trip to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota to watch a spring training tilt between the White Sox and the Twins. Continue reading →

It’s Over

While last night’s loss to the Guardians did not officially eliminate the White Sox from postseason contention, it effectively did.  They are now four games behind the Guardians with fourteen games to play, and the Guardians now hold the tiebreaker since they have clinched the season series against the White Sox.  Assuming the Guardians split their remaining games, the White Sox would need to win thirteen of their remaining fourteen games.  After a five-game losing streak at the beginning of the month, the Guardians have gone 13-3, so even splitting those remaining games looks like a pipe dream.

15 To Go

With only fifteen games left in the 2022 season, the White Sox find themselves in second place in the AL Central, 3.5 games behind the surprising Guardians.  While they start a pivotal three game series with the Guardians tomorrow, the White Sox face an uphill battle to make their third straight postseason appearance.  If the Guardians go .500 over their remaining games, the White Sox would have to win a minimum of twelve of their fifteen games to win the division.  And, based on what we’ve seen in the prior 147 games, the odds of the White Sox ripping off a 12-3 record over the next two weeks is very unlikely.

Playoffs?

On Friday, with the White Sox sitting in third place, the team sent out post-season invoices to their season ticket holders.  For the low, low price of $2549, I will receive two tickets to all three potential Wild Card games, three potential Division Series games, one League Championship Series game, and one World Series game, along with parking for all games.  My seats are on the opposite side of the field and 15 rows closer than my normal seats, but I’m not sure how aligned they are to my needs.

I assume only electronic tickets will be issued.  I would hope commemorative tickets will be sent out should a good run occur late into October.

Travelling The 50 States – District Of Columbia

Over my 47 years, I’ve done my fair share of travelling across these United States.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment go look back at those trips to each of the 31 states I have visited (62% isn’t bad, is it?) and see if, and when, I may be returning.  Working in alphabetical order, we continue today with the, umm… well, it isn’t really a state, but rather the seat of our federal government.  Founded in 1791 to house our nation’s capital, we present the District of Columbia.

StateDistrict: Columbia
Recognized as a federal district: 1801
Visits: 1

My one trip to Washington, DC came in June of 2019 to celebrate Michael’s graduation from junior high.  After arriving on Sunday night after an afternoon in nearby Baltimore, the week in DC was spent taking in most, if not all, of the tourist and historical sites.

We started things off on Monday with a trip to the Smithsonian Zoo, after which we headed towards the White House to check out the sites.  We followed that up on Tuesday with trips to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Supreme Court Building, and the US Capitol, where we took a tour which led us out through the Library of Congress. We also spent some time on the National Mall, where we saw the Washington Monument

History and culture was put on hold on Wednesday in exchange for some Americana as we traveled to Nationals Park to see the hometown Nationals take on the White Sox.  A trip to the Newseum and the Jefferson Memorial, where we saw a half-dressed Big Bird in-between filming, returned us to the main thrust of the trip on Thursday.  Friday returned to the Mall, where we saw the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, before heading to the National Air and Space Museum and then taking a tour of the White House.  After that, the plan called for a “show” at Ford’s Theatre, but a fire alarm cut that short.  Before heading to the airport on Saturday, we took another trip to the Mall to check out the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial.

Book 39 (of 52) – The Truth Hurts

The Truth Hurts – Jimmy Piersall with Richard Whittingham

In The Truth Hurts, Jimmy Piersall, with help from Richard Whittingham, tells the story of his major league career starting in 1953 with his return from “nervous exhaustion” through his tumultuous broadcast career with the White Sox in the late 70s and early 80s.  Of course, my interest was in the later parts, working with Harry Caray and his battles with Bill Veeck, Eddie Einhorn, Jerry Reinsdorf, and Tony LaRussa.

Piersall’s tenure in the White Sox booth was just before my time, so all I knew were a few highlights here and there and stories.  If even half of what he says about Tony LaRussa is true, then it is surprising that he ever became the “Hall of Famer baseball person” that he turned out to be.  Piersall’s association with the White Sox ended in 1983, but he continued to be a Chicago-area presence until his 2017 death.

FB8 – Week 32

A trip down to some old haunts helped put me will over 30,000 for the week.  Things got off to a slow start on Sunday, where I finished with 3400 steps.  A slight increase on Monday saw a jump up to 4300 steps.  Tuesday was the low point of the week, falling down to 2900 steps.  Wednesday rebounded a but, rising back up to 3600 steps.  A trip down to West Lafayette for a Thursday night football game helped me surpass my daily goal, finishing with 8600 steps.  Breakfast with Danny combined with a Purdue volleyball game on Friday, not to mention the end of the previous night’s football game, left me with 6600 steps.  A thrilling White Sox game on Saturday left me 24 steps shy of 5700.

Total steps: 35,188

Daily average: 5026.9

Uh Oh

The White Sox announced on Wednesday that manager Tony LaRussa would be out indefinitely and will be returning to Arizona for further testing with his doctors.  LaRussa, who is believed to be in the second year of a three-year deal, missed Tuesday’s game against the Royals on advice of doctors after participating in his normal pre-game routine.  The White Sox announced he would miss the game about 50 minutes before game time.  Bench coach Miguel Cairo will lead the team while LaRussa is out.

With the team’s playoff chances dwindling by the day, there is no real need for LaRussa to hurry back.  Hopefully he takes the time to find out what, if anything, is wrong and to recover and then evaluate what the future holds.

FB8 – Week 31

Another couple of bad days sabotaged the entire week and pushed me back under 30,000 steps by mere feet.  Things got off to a pretty decent start on Sunday thanks to a trip to multiple grocery stores, which gave me 5500 steps.  Monday saw a bit of a drop off, falling down to 4200 steps.  Tuesday fell even more, dropping to 3900 steps.  Another drop on Wednesday saw me fall down to 3200 steps.  Things improved somewhat on Thursday as I climbed back up to 3700 steps.  Friday was the low point of the week, finishing 26 steps away from 3000.  A disappointing White Sox game on Saturday led to the best day of the week with over 6200 steps.

Total steps: 29,987

Daily average: 4283.9