Monday, August 21, 2006

White Sox and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Ok, so it's a shitty title, but there's a lot to cover from the weekend in sports. The White Sox lost two out of three this weekend to the Twins, shrinking the Sox lead in the wild card chase to 1 game. There's no shame in losing to Johan Santana, but Vazquez actually probably deserved a little better fate. On the other hand, bad things happen, like Konerko's mis-play, and good pitchers bear down and get out of trouble. Vazquez does not know how to pitch out of trouble. Every game, once things start to unravel, they unravel all the way. It has happened a lot in the fifth or sixth inning, creating the impression that Vazquez can't get through a line-up for a third time. Sunday, however, things unraveled early enough that Ozzie left Vazquez in the game, and he pitched pretty well through seven. So, now it just looks like Vazquez is prone to that one big inning. I actually think it's a better problem to have -- a mental problem that can be addressed, and has been in the past with guys like Jon Garland. Anyway, as bad as losing two out of three felt, the Sox still lead the wild card chase by 1 game.

And, the Sox are only 5 games back in the loss column in their pursuit of the Tigers. They can do a lot to close that gap this week, starting tonight, when the Sox need Jose Contreras dominant ace more than at any time since last year's play-offs. The good news is that the Tigers just acquired Neifi Perez from the Cubs, which means they'll now be giving regular at-bats at 2nd base to one of the least productive players in baseball. He has a grand total of 5 walks this season, and an on-base percentage of .266. Only two 2nd baseman have been worse at the plate this year, Kaz Matsui and Anderson Hernandez, and neither one remains in the majors. Ozzie says, "If we go to the playoffs, watch out." He may be right because of the club's power, ability at the back of the bullpen, and potential in the starting rotation. This week may the Sox last, best chance to make sure they get the chance to prove Ozzie right.

Speaking of last chances . . . Rex Grossman's may be fast approaching. For right now the coaches continue to assert that Grossman is the team's starter and Brian Griese is the very capable back-up. And, despite Griese's superior play thus far in the pre-season, that's probably how things should stay until Grossman sinks or swims in the regular season. Grossman gives this team its best chance to be something special. But the media is starting to circle, and Grossman is clearly more likely to stink up the joint than Griese too. One suspects that once the regular season is underway, the coaching staff won't allow the quarterback play to undermine the team's defensive prowess, or potentially dangerous running game. But it's hard to read too much into Grossman's performance without most of the offense's top playmakers.

There were some very good signs this weekend, not the least of which came from the return game. Special teams are very important to a team that hopes to rely on its defense and running game to win games, and Rashied Davis and Devin Hester have brought a stability and dangerousness to the return game that Bears fans have become unaccustomed to seeing. Robbie Gould also added a 49 yard field goal.

Finally, I continue to voice my protest to reading anything into pre-season results. However, if there is one pre-season game that team's take seriously, it's the third one, which arrives this Friday for the Bears when they face the Arizona Cardinals. Not only will I be watching to see how the starters perform, but I might actually even care who wins, if for no other reason than to trash talk Deadspin about what will undoubtedly be another long season for his beloved Buzzsaw.


Anonymous Hideki Matt Suey said...

As per usual, the Bears are making the throwing and catching of a football look slightly harder than bringing home the crew of Apollo 13 alive. A team of America's finest engineering minds working under cold war-era pressue couldn't get the Bears to routinely complete a 12-yard out pattern.

At least the Grossman version looks that way...he's making very Orton-esque throws, rushed and erratic.

5:49 PM  

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