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.
Don’t say things aren’t popping around the White Sox these days. Check this out:
* Sox sweep Pirates and have now won eight of 10–and are only three games under .500.
* South Siders brace for Stephen Strasberg and the Nationals tomorrow night. It’ll be Gavin Floyd for the Sox.
* Jake Peavy will go Saturday in D.C. The MRI showed no structural damage so he’s only being held back two days.
* And maybe the most intriguing bit of news is that the Sox have just designated Jayson Nix for assignment and promoted 1B-3B-DH Dayan Viciedo (pictured above) from AAA Charlotte. He was hitting .290 with 14 homers and 34 RBI in 62 games for the Knights. We could certainly use his bat and Nix was really a non-factor.
How many times have we heard this comment the past few years? The White Sox can’t win unless they hit homers. It’s even been a popular refrain this season when it was supposed to be a transition from power to speed and versatility.
Well, with tonight’s 7-2 victory over the Pirates behind a John Danks‘ gem, an 11-hit attack and six Pittsburgh errors, the Sox have now won seven of nine games and two in a row in Pittsburgh. But the most interesting fact is that they’ve won three of the last four (and should have won the Sunday night game at Wrigley) without a single home run. At least for now, it’s back to Ozzie’s smart ball and hopefully a formula for winning baseball games.
The South Siders go for the sweep tomorrow night and then it’s on to D.C. Friday as they try to hand Stephen Strasburg his first loss.
Of course White Sox fans would have loved a sweep at Wrigley, extend the club’s winning streak to five and to have gained a game on the Twins. But in light of last night’s developments, I’m just happy that Juan Pierre foiled Ted Lilly‘s no-no in the ninth so we didn’t have to suffer the indignity of enduring the feat amid the vines. And able to leave the North Side with a series victory.
Perhaps more important than winning a series on the road–and against the North Side Media Darlings at that–is that the Sox have begun to play entertaining, competitive baseball with solid starting pitching such as Gavin Floyd‘s gem last night. Frankly, it was getting difficult to watch their dismal play–even for the most loyal fans.
So, now it’s on to Pittsburgh and Washington starting tomorrow night. The hope is that we can continue winning series and maybe even give Stephen Strasburg his first major league loss on Friday night.
Question of the Day:Hate to be petty, but has anyone ever seen Ted Lilly smile?
We all know that preseason predictions mean nothing–nada, zilch, zero. And while we shouldn’t take them seriously, it’s still a lot of fun–especially when the so-called experts pick your team to win.
Historically, it’s very rare when the baseball media elite pick the White Sox to win their division, let alone the AL pennant or World Series. It’s not that much different this year as the Twins seem to be the most common pick to conquer the AL Central. That said, there are a few “big name” media types among those who have picked the South Siders:
* Hall of Fame electee Bill Madden of the New York Daily News and author of the forthcoming bio of George Steinbrenner.
* Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal, who somewhat tongue-in-cheek picked the Sox to win the World Series while referring to them “Team Wacko.” Think that had anything to do with our Ozzie?
* ESPN‘s Tim Kurkjian, who doesn’t exactly wear a Sox jersey on the weekends.
* Jon Heyman, he of SI, SI.com and the MLB Network.
Since I’m drinking the prediction Kool-Aid, I might as well add my two cents. Here are my divisional picks for 2010:
My weekly off-season musings about the White Sox and more…
* America, fasten your seat belts. Our Ozzie Guillen will be part of the Fox pre- and post-game announcing crew for the World Series.
* How impressed are Sox prospects Jordan Danks and C.J. Retherford with No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg? Not so much, it seems. In yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action, Danks and Retherford went 4 for 4 against the $15 million man of the Washington Nationals as their Peoria Javelina’s beat the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 9-6. John Danks‘ brother Jordan collected two singles and the gritty Retherford smashed a homer and a single. The duo’s performance was no fluke either. Danks is currently hitting .385 and Retherford .421 in Fall League action. Dayan Viciedo, who didn’t play yesterday, is at .333.
* The Sox picked up Alejandro De Aza this week off of waivers from the Marlins. His role? Probably a candidate for a spot as a backup outfielder. We’ll just have to trust the Sox front office on this one.
* While the Yanks are still in the driver’s seat to get to the World Series, ex-Sox mope Nick Swisher hasn’t helped a lick. If the former “Dirty 30” doesn’t snap out of it soon, his love affair with Yankee fans will be over in a hurry.
* One of the most loyal and passionate Sox fans I know, my dad Seymour Berke, is in intensive care at a Hammond, Indiana, hospital. We all want him to be ready for spring training so please say a prayer.