Art Berke, a lifelong White Sox fan, has worked at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television and Sports Illustrated. He grew up in Northwest Indiana, in the shadow of old Comiskey Park, and proudly proclaims 2005 as the best year of his life. Art offers his glass half-full opinions and observations as he lives and dies with the Sox.
The new baseball season, with the promise of a revamped Sox approach leading to a division title, has so far been a nightmare–make that nightmares.
Opening Day was a pleasure, but for the past three nights the South Siders have blown leads, lost two heartbreakers in 11 innings and scored three runs in each contest with an average of six hits. To make matters worse, the hit total includes only four extra base hits–two homers and two doubles. The result? a 1-3 record and a three-game losing streak.
Add the weak offense to the somewhat shaky and already-overtaxed bullpen and the natives are becoming restless in Week 1. The biggest culprits? Mark Teahen and Scott Linebrink. The slumping Teahen, benched last night, had a chance to redeem himself in extras, but hit into an inning-ending double play. Linebrink, with two years left on his lucrative contract, doesn’t look like he’s going to improve any time soon. He walked two of the three batters he faced against the Twins.
To make matters worse the The Twinkies look tough, very tough, and it was almost unbearable to see Jon Rauch do his Joe Nathan imitation last night.
If I’m disappointed, I can only imagine how Ozzie and KW are feeling right now. Think they’ve had a conversation or two in the past couple of days? My sense is that if the Sox are in the doldrums for an extended period of time, changes will be made quickly. But, remember, we’re still only four games into the season.
I have made no secret in the past that I hate Twins closer Joe Nathan–in a baseball sense of course. I have dreaded seeing him every time he’s taken the mound against the White Sox and have cringed watching his victorious fist pump, pictured above. As Ozzie commented to the Sun-Times, “…Nathan is so good against us…I don’t remember in the six or seven years with this ballclub that we had a good day against him, except once.”
As much as I hate Nathan (remember, baseball-wise), I would never wish for him to endure serious injury. Although it’s a fact that the torn ligament in his pitching elbow, which looks like it will necessitate season-ending Tommy John surgery, is certainly a blow to the Twins–and a big benefit to our chances in the AL Central.
While it’s a major setback for Minnesota, we know the franchise well enough not to get too giddy about this. It’s a terrific organization and they do have options, primarily former Sox Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch plus Pat Neshek, who is coming back from elbow surgery. So we shouldn’t be foolish and write them off.
Whatever happens it’ll be good not to have Nathan to worry about, I just wish it weren’t under these circumstances.