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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sky is Falling?
by Hal Vickery

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

There. Now can we get back to sensible conversation about the Sox?

If you listen to sportsblab radio at all, or if you read the message boards here at WSI at all, the prevailing mood among a significant number of Sox fans is that the end is near. The Sox are doomed.

In the past couple of weeks weíve heard or read that:

a) the starting pitching is terrible;

b) the bullpen is terrible;

c) Brian Anderson is terrible;

d) Chris Widger is terrible.

It is the result of any or all of these factors that the Sox, as of this writing, have lost four of their last five ballgames.

Letís analyze each of these comments.

a) The starting pitching is terrible. Through Saturday, the cumulative ERA of the normal starting rotation is 4.63. This is certainly not good, but it isnít terrible, either. What is disconcerting is that Sox starters are averaging only about 6⅔ innings per game. Terrible? No. But as Chris Rongey pointed out a week or so ago on his post-game show, it certainly is mediocre.

b) The bullpen is terrible. Maybe itís overworked, but not terrible, especially now that Cliff Politte, he of the 8.70 ERA has been designated for assignment. The worst ERA in the pen right now belongs to Brandon McCarthy. In relief his ERA is an even 4.00. As for the entire bullpen as now constituted, the ERA is 3.28. Thatís not bad at all.

c) Brian Anderson is terrible. Since Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams gave Anderson a vote of confidence on June 9, Anderson has only raised his batting average by .038, from .158 to .196. He is hitting over .300 for the month of July. He is already one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. No, heís not terrible. Heís a rookie who had a bad start at the plate.

d) Chris Widger is terrible. Maybe. So? Heís the number-two catcher, for crying out loud! Heís not even close to terrible. Heís not even close to bad. Weíre talking about a guy who has appeard in all of twenty-six games. Yes, the team has a worse record with him catching than with A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate. But as statheads are fond of saying, ďThe sample size is too small to reach any significant conclusions.Ē

Are the Sox in trouble? Who knows? Itís the middle of July. As this is written there are still 70 games left to be played. A lot can happen in seventy games. Especially to a team that has played as good a first half as the division-leading Detroit Tigers. So far, their start is similar to that of the Sox in 2005.

What the pessimists seem to forget is that the 2005 Sox had their slump, while the Indians gained a dozen games on them before the Sox clinched. At their worst point, the Indians were 13.5 games behind the Sox in 2005. As of Sunday morning, the Sox stand only 4.5 games behind the Tigers. The Sox donít have anywhere deficit to make up that the Indians had last year.

Oh, and one other thing: The Sox have a much better team than the Indians had last year.


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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