As White Sox fans we have agonized over the collapse of Adam Dunn, heretofore one of baseball’s premier sluggers and the man the Sox hoped would be a key piece in their drive toward an A.L. Central title.
The facts, however, are there for all to see: a batting average well below .200 (it reached .165 after Sunday’s game with the Cubs), an alarming 105 strikeouts and before last night Dunn hadn’t hit a home run since June 12. Statisticians have gone even further by pointing out that his season thus far is historically one of the worst ever.
In the midst of pulling the hair out of our heads and screaming at him at the top of our lungs, we’ve also been aware how tough it must be for Dunn, who has been the favorite of the boo-birds. And, frankly, who could blame the fans? Dunn has whiffed so often that a groundout or routine fly ball has been cause for optimism.
But there is another side to Dunn. He’s a fun-loving guy, a great teammate and has worked as hard as possible to break out of the slump. To his credit, he has responded to his woes with a self-deprecating humor and hasn’t for a minute lashed out at the media and fans. That quality was never more evident that it was last night in the Sox’s 5-4 victory over the Royals.
In his second at bat in the fourth, Dunn lined a single down the right field line. The fans, reacting to the rare occurence, gave him a “tongue in cheek” standing ovation. Dunn smiled and tipped his cap. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, with a man aboard, Dunn smashed a towering two-run homer over the right field fence to give the Sox a 4-3 lead. The fans, now delirious with joy, didn’t stop cheering until the beleaguered DH came out for a curtain call.
As it turned out, Dunn’s home run was not the lead on SportsCenter and in all the game recaps. K.C. tied the game at 4 in the top of ninth on an Eric Hosmer round-tripper off of closer Sergio Santos and the game ended on an Aaron Crow balk with Dunn at the plate and A.J. Pierzynski scoring from third.
We’d like to think that July 4 will be Dunn’s independence from the ire of the media and the fans and the freedom to be the slugger he has been for years. From our perspective, we now realize that regardless of his performance on the field, he’s someone we should cheer for.