Wednesday, May 03, 2006

White Sox Talk

With the Bulls capturing the imagination of late - well, at least until last night's horrendous performance (more on that later) - the Pale Hose have momentarily taken a backseat, so a few observations to catch up...

Yesterday's 7-1 loss in Cleveland wasn't fun, but, all in all, a 5-3 road trip out West and into the home of their biggest rival at the moment (no, I'm not disrespecting the surprising Tigers), isn't shabby. Besides, Jim Thome and Scott Podsednik sat yesterday and Jermaine Dye left early with a strained calf. I'm not making excuses, but things may have gone better had Ozzie not been resting guys. I was surprised that Thome sat. Not that he couldn't use a break, but I figured he would have loved the chance to cause some more damage back in Cleveland, particularly after being booed on Monday.

Here's hoping Dye is OK.

Freddy Garcia's alleged adventures with marijuana are not a concern. Yet. It was the off-season. So what? So the guy likes to take a few tokes while home in Venezuela? Who doesn't? Big deal. I mean, I bet Venezuela has some really good shit. Now, if he's toking at the moment, that's different. As much as I support the rights of pot smokers, I don't like dudes who are being paid millions of dollars doing anything that might affect their performance. And Garcia's uneven start to the season may be cause for concern. But with all the garbage major leaguers put into their bodies, I'm not worried about Garcia taking a few puffs. Yet. Just keep it in the offseason.

As solid as the Sox start has been, it seems they are far from playing their best baseball, especially in the pitching department. There have been more wins of the 8-5 or 8-6 variety of late than I care for. I'd love that team ERA to lower.

Ironically, the Sox went a very strong 4-1 in Anaheim and Cleveland, but only 1-2 in Seattle. Of course, this may have been all the fault of yours truly as I attended all three games and the Sox are 1-4 with me in attendance thus far this season, and weren't much better last year. I need to get my mojo working, baby.

Before it all disappears into lost memory, let me share a few observations on Safeco Field...

- Sweet stadium. Not a bad seat in the house. The food is splendid: soup poured into giant hollowed-out rolls of bread, giant chicken salads, chocolate-covered strawberries, etc. I'm used to getting a hot dog or brat or anything that doesn't involve the use of confusing utensils at the Cell where us heathens are easily satisfied; not that I'm complaining.

- Behind right field there is a train that is VERY LOUD. For the second game, I sat in the center field bleachers and the whistles signalling the train's arrival actually startled me. After that, the consistent hum of the train passing did a nice job of drowning out Mariners fans hassling Brian Anderson in center field. Whatever. I guess it's a quirk, and every stadium needs its quirks.

- While not exactly Wrigleyville, there are some bars just outside the stadium within good "stumbling" distance. This is always preferable to a stadium surrounded by a sea of parking lots.

- In my three days there, I caught the overwhelming scent of blatant pot-smoking in one bathroom, and scattered, small bottles of unidentified hard liquors on the floor of another. In other words, while Mariners are far from the liveliest I've witnessed - in fact, the crowds were quite small and tame - some of them do know how to get down, and I like that. Of course, it was nothing like the drunken, Mad Max-esque outposts you can find in certain sectors of the Cell, but it's something

- Anderson loves Seattle. The highlight of the three games was his two-out, two-strike game-tying home run in the ninth inning in the series opener. This came after Anderson's game in Seattle last year when he hit two homers, including the game-winner in the 13th inning, shortly after being called up for the first time. For a dude who is struggling mightily, and whose spot in the lineup is currently in jeopardy, Anderson must love Safeco.

- I was surprised at the mumber of White Sox fans present. I've seen my share of MLB stadiums, but this was actually the first time I've seen the Sox outside of Chicago, so I didn't know what to expect. I'd like to think the Sox are always thusly supported on the road and that the fans I saw were not bandwagon jumpers following the World Series title, but then, it doesn't matter, really. They were out and proud, so it's all good.

Naturally, there had to be that one jackass Sox fan present. You know, the kind that gives us South Siders the rep of being illiterate, knucklehead thugs who do things like attack umps and opposing coaches while being hopped up on booze and God knows what else. He was sitting a few rows ahead of us in center field and after the Sox took the lead, he stood up, turned around, held his ring finger up, pointed to it, and began mocking Mariners fans with, "Kiss the ring! Kiss the ring!" Of course, Seattle fans, as I mentioned, are quite tame and had done nothing to attract his scorn, and you could immediately hear the mumblings coming from them as they rightfully sized the dude up as a clown. After a few moments, he caught the sight of my bro and I, in our Sox caps, and after giving my best icy stare, he sheepishly sat down and shut up. Listen, I love a loud, enthusiastic fan as much as the next guy, but there is a line you can cross at which point you become an asshole. Now, if the game was in Cleveland or Minnesota, it would have been a completely different story. In that case, mock away, I say! Mock away!

- In the first and third game, we sat about 30 rows behind the Mariners dugout and towards home plate, and strangely, were surrounded by Sox fans. I talked to one elderly lady who told me she grew up a block away from the old Comiskey and walked passed it everyday on her way to school. I love stories like that. She also told me she made placemats from the newspapers following the World Series win. I loved that, too.

- My favorite line overheard: Two Mariners fans were sitting directly behind me and were pretty much in awe of the Sox the first time through the lineup as the gawdy stats of Thome, Konerko, Dye, Crede, etc. were flashed on the scoreboard. "Jesus, no wonder these guys are killing everybody," one said. Then Juan Uribe and his low batting average came up and one dude says to the other. "Wha? How is this guy in the lineup? I thought you needed to hit .300 or else to play for the White Sox." To which his buddy replied, "Yeah, but he probably hasn't made an error in the field in about three years."

So true, so true.

Now if only Uribe can get on a roll at the plate. It would do wonders for the bottom of the Sox lineup, not to mention my fantasy team. Let's go Juan, baby.


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