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Lots of flags, few hits.

(September 18)  

Short take:  Durham alone shows fire.

There was a baseball game held at Comiskey Park Tuesday evening, but in fact it was strictly the sideshow for the real event happening in the stands.  The New York Yankees came to town playing their first game after a week of mourning for the tragic deaths of so many of its citizens in horrific fashion to criminals.  Our Sox played host, themselves guests in New York City the fateful morning of September 11 when evil visited, too.  These two cities more than any other in the world are known for America's most significant contribution to urban design, the skyscraper, now forever looked upon differently for reasons perhaps no rational human being will ever understand.  

So there was a special kinship between the teams and their respective fans as each took the field, borne beyond the simple fact we are all Americans drawn together in tragedy.  New York and Chicago share a lot already.  Now we share a bit more.  

In other news from Comiskey, the Sox lost 11-3.

Pre-game ceremonies were somber and uplifting, entirely appropriate to the occasion.  Fans carried flags and signs of all descriptions--many of them expressing Chicago's solidarity with the citizens of New York.  The crowd of 22,785 fell silent at three different occasions when only one was called for by the official script.  Perhaps the most poignant was when the color guard entered the middle of the diamond surrounded by a row of Chicago police and firemen forming an arc around the edge of the infield.  Nobody told Sox Fans to be quiet and respectful--they simply were.  The ballpark could have been empty for the strange silence that just fell upon the crowd all at once.  

The Sox deviated from the usual script.  For the first time in nearly two years, the rousing Sox "Homerun of the Century" video was not shown before the team took the field.  The fans had already been given plenty of a build up to the action.  Very appropriate.

Mark Buehrle deserved a better fate than what his teammates dealt him.  He got in trouble the very first inning, but lousy defense up the middle led to an extra earned run which in fact ought to have been an inning-ending double play.  Was yet another Sox twin-killing ruined by Ray Durham's poor peg to first base that pulled Paul Konerko off the bag, or was it Royce Clayton's slow toss to Durham that forced the rushed mistake?  Whatever, this sort of play doesn't go down as lousy defense in most fan's book, let alone the official scorekeeper's. 

Now the score is 2-0 and Sox bats immediately fall into a routine we seen so often--corpseball.  They managed just two hits across the first five innings.  Orlando Hernandez could practically watch his 4.72 ERA fall with each passing inning.

Finally in the sixth the Sox looked to do something.  A lead off single by Mark Johnson brought Ray Durham to the plate.  He stroked a double down the right field line on a 3-2 pitch.  Just one problem.  First base umpire Mike Winters ruled the ball foul.  Replays clearly showed the ball was fair, but no bother.  Winters stood his ground, tossing first base coach Gary Pettis in the process.  Durham struck out on the next pitch, slammed his equipment inside the dugout and got tossed by Pontius Pilate still standing by first base.  

If you're going to get tossed, might as well get your money's worth.  Durham sprung from the dugout, charged Winters, only to be caught by batter Jose Valentin short of the mound.  It was the most life the Sox showed all night.

The Sox rally fizzled after that.  Next the Yankees came to bat and demonstrated how professionals win ballgames.  If Buehrle was to be the loser, it figures the bullpen would help in out.  Besides a solo dinger, he was charged with two of the four runs allowed by Alan Embree when Jorge Posada's grand slam landed with a metallic "plunk" on Comiskey's centerfield batter's eye.  The Yankees extended their lead to 9-0 and it definitely felt like the rain was coming down a bit harder on the heads of Sox Fans than their Yankee counterparts.

"God Bless America" was sung for the seventh inning stretch and the Sox made a token effort at a rally in the eighth to make the final score a bit more respectable.  Kudos to pinch hitter Joe Crede who singled in the Sox' second run with the first pitch he faced.  Jerry Manuel will doubtlessly bench him again tomorrow.  We wouldn't want to upset the infield chemistry of this team that can't turn double plays.  So what if it's late-September and the games are essentially meaningless.  Manuel has plenty of time to conduct spring training.  Next April, for example.

Yeah, Sox Fans, it only took nine innings for our Pale Hose to remind us of everything we loathed from the first 5-1/2 months of the season.  Still it felt good to wring our hands once again.

God Bless America, and please help our Sox. 

Sox Clubhouse "Pick to Click" Winner

Ray Durham

Completely screwed out of a double because of a blown call by the first base umpire Mike Winters, then screwed again by the same jerk for relieving his frustration in the dugout. Nice catch by Valentin to stop a charging Ray from tearing Winters' head off, too.  Amongst a team filled with midget performances, at least Ray's had stones.  The WSI umpire respects that!

Play WSI's Pick to Click Contest!

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