Put Your Sox On (April 30, ’18) : The White Sox Stink…..But the Royals Smell Worse
The Chicago White Sox have had an incredibly strange start to their 2018 season. They are playing like garbage most of the time, with an 8-18 record. In fact, against everyone else other than Kansas City, they are 3-16. However, at KC they are a cool 5-2. Chicago is 2-10 at home in Comiskey Park but 5-2 at Kauffman Stadium. So how bad are the Sox? How much worse are the Royals?
On the bright side, this kid Daniel Palka is an interesting addition. GM Rick Hahn is really cornering the baseball market on former University of Pittsburgh quarterbacks. Hahn must have really overscouted ex-Pitt QB’s in all his free time as former GM Kenny Williams’ Assistant GM. First it was current minor league C Kevan Smith. Now it’s Daniel Palka. I mean, who’s next…….Dan Marino?
(Ooops! I was thinking of former Panther Tyler Palko, not Daniel Palka.) Never mind.
Called up from the farm recently due to the injuries to RF Avisail Garcia and RP Danny Farquhar, Palka has already driven in 6 runs in one weekend series at the Royals. Palka is a left-handed hitting 1B/OF with power. At 6’2″ 220, he looks the part of a barrel-chested 1B/DH similar to an Adam Dunn or a Mike Moustakas or a Jim Thome or a Matt Adams, you know the type. He’s 26 years old and hit 11 bombs in 362 plate appearances for the Minnesota Twins AAA Rochester Red Wings last year despite a broken finger that cost him half the season. I think Palka has potential. So far through 4 games he’s hitting .400 (6-15), 1 HR, 6 RBI, and scored 3 runs with only 1 K.
I also like the return of OF Trayce Thompson. This kid has plenty of potential. Remember they traded him a few years ago (December 2015) to the Dodgers along with 2B Micah Johnson and P Frankie Montas in the 3 way deal in which we acquired 3B Todd Frazier from Cincinnati. Baseball is really funny with all of the transactions. This is a good example of how strange it can be. Now that GM Rick Hahn switched gears from contender to rebuilder, he unloaded Frazier and went back to Thompson. I always liked Trayce’s potential. Glad to have him back.
Meanwhile, how about 3B/1B/DH Matt Davidson! He reflects the Sox as a team. He has hit 7 HR in 7 games at KC but just 2 in the other 19 games combined. This is beyond bizarre. Part of his success is because the Royals pitching is bad. But the other part is just sort of extra-terrestrial. Is Davidson playing in a magical zone when he plays at Kauffman Stadium? If I were the Royals GM, I’d call Hahn and put a big-time trade offer in for Davidson.
As for SP Carson Fulmer, could a pitcher look any worse than he did in his first 4 starts? But then an amazing thing happened. Fulmer, presumably with the help of Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, made some adjustments. Since then, he’s had two really solid starts. He’s only given up 7 hits and 2 runs over his last 13 innings vs Seattle and at Kansas City. So who knows? Maybe Fulmer is finally figuring it out.
The Sox had been playing like garbage prior to this series at the Royals, with big time losses at Oakland and home vs Houston and Seattle. But if the Sox looked like garbage, the Royals (7-20) surely look like the owners of a landfill. It’s gotta be sad for Kansas City fans who just recently went to back-to-back World Series, winning it all in 2015. Now they are breaking it all down and rebuilding again. How long until they return to contention? I bet the Missouri/Kansas natives are dreading a possible 20-30 years of mediocrity. Oh well. Too bad for them. I’m not crying about their problems. We have enough of our own.
With this rebuilding Sox team, it doesn’t look good for this year. Playoff contenders? No. Well, let’s rephrase……… ‘highly unlikely’ is a better way to put it. Why? Because you just never know. When it looks like a storm, sometimes the rain clouds disappear and the rainbows appear. You’re never as bad as you think and never as good as you think.
The Guns of August
Most Sox fans don’t remember that in 1983 the White Sox got off to a slow start. In mid-May they were 13-20, then 16-24 on May 26, then still only 49-47 two months later on July 26. And then a crazy thing happened. “Winnin’ Ugly” ensued. Led by Manager Tony LaRussa, the Pale Hose went 44-15 in August and September to win the A.L. West Division going away, by a record 20 games! By the end of the season, they won 99 games, finishing 99-63.
So what’s the point?……… You just never know. Sometimes a team looks dead in the water, coasting along in a boat of mediocrity. And then Boom! Something clicks. Somebody is acquired. Somebody else gets hot. The team starts feeling that incredible mindset of, we WILL win everyday. Not a thought process of we’re trying to win, we’re competing, rather, it will be a surprise IF somebody else beats us today. We won’t be denied. We’re simply too good. That’s the confidence that all playoff teams work towards and eventually attain.
Then the Playoffs start. The hard part. Can they ‘maintain’ what they’ve ‘attained?’ In 1983 they couldn’t, losing 3-1 to Baltimore. In 2005, they could and they did, in dominating fashion. They won 11 and lost only 1, quietly an amazing feat that will grow more legendary as time moves on slowly, just like the first four months of 1983….. before the “Guns of August” fired in unison, exploding like the pinwheel scoreboard, toward a record-breaking season.