Punch to the Gut
If you're a White Sox fan, well, on this fine Monday morning (actually its suitably gray and dreary) you're trying to slowly stand up straight and catch your breath following the tremendous punch to the gut you took this weekend. That hurt. That hurt bad.
The Sox went into Oakland and were swept. Now, Oakland has traditionally been a house of horrors for the Sox. It always is. Ask any knowledgable Sox fan what road trip annually causes the most strife and struggles for the team and they will immediately respond with San Francisco's ugly sister, most likely before you can even finish getting the question out. The Sox just can't win there and the losses usually involve some weird and/or appalling circumstances.
So it was no surprise that if there was any city that could prove to be the tipping point (in the wrong direction) for the Sox in their struggle to reach the playoffs, it could very well be Oakland and it could very well be this past weekend. But to make matters worse, it was Frank Thomas, he who was cast aside and mocked by the Sox, who went nutty sticking nails in the Sox coffin. Whether or not that included the final nail remains to be seen.
Yes, Big Frank must be laughing hard today. After being tossed aside by the Sox, seemingly done, and subjected to some extremely harsh criticism from GM Kenny Williams, Thomas must feel like, now that the dust is settling, he has won. On Saturday it was his four RBIs that doomed the Sox and yesterday it was his three-run homer that put the A's ahead for good. To be fair, Saturday's Sox loss was largely the result of a horrendously awful bullpen (AWFUL!) and yesterday Jose Contreras was so nice as to practically groove a pitch to Thomas on a full count when putting the big guy on base should have been obvious to even the most novice of Little Leaguers. Let's not praise Thomas' achievements too much without first pointing out that the Sox doomed themselves just as they have done too many times this season.
But still, it was huge weekend for Big Frank. The A's are in cruise control awaiting the postseason and, to top all that, he was able to bend the Sox over, lube up, and give it to the club who so offended him, though to be fair, nobody gets offended easier than Big Frank.
Of course, the Thomas all Sox fans know and love/hate was still evident. At one point in the series, after moving a runner over on a broken bat groundout, his teammates came over to him in the dugout to congratulate him for getting the job done. How did Thomas react? He was visibly ticked off that he wasn't able to pad his stats.
Yup. Same old Frank. Still a big selfish baby. Me, me, me.
But with, oh, such a tremendous bat. Damn, the guy could always hit and still can. Right now this very instant, as we speak, RIGHT NOW, I'd say he's as scary standing at the plate as anyone in baseball. And I mean anyone. Think about it. Williams, Ozzie, and Jerry Reinsdorf must be feeling foolish and embarrassed this morning.
As for the White Sox, they're like that knight that gets his assed whupped by King Arthur in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. You know the guy. The knight who gets his limbs chopped off one by one. (My favorite scene, by the way.) The Sox, at this point, are missing both arms and a leg. They're hopping around foolishly on their remaining leg trying to catch up to the Twinkies and Tiggers. They're five games out in the AL Central and four out in the Wild Card. It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.
Black Knight (ie, White Sox): Have at you!
Arthur (ie, Twins/Tiggers): You are indeed brave, sir knight, but the fight is mine.
Black Knight: Oh, had enough eh?
Arthur: Look, you stupid bastard. You've got no arms left!
Black Knight: Yes I have.
Black Knight: Just a flesh wound!
If there is any hope it's that the Tiggers are in town starting today for a three game series, followed by the Mariners. Listen, the Sox need to sweep these six games. Have to. There is no more time for fooling around or waiting for things to click, as we have been told a million and one times they eventually will. It's all meaningless words at this point. It hasn't happened. If the Sox are going to make a stand it has to be right now. This week. To be fair, the starting pitching has more than held up it's share. They've been superb. Unfortunately, the bullpen has been incompetent, not to mention Ozzie's handling of it. Maybe the starters have to go 8 innings? More?
Whatever. Just win, baby.
Sweep the Tiggers. Just sweep them. Then go from there.
Here we go now.