Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Season That Was: April

As the Biler, I'm smart enough to know that spring training records mean absolutely nothing, but as the Biler I'm still anal enough to cry about it. Now it's time to cry and mean it -- first because the White Sox raised a World Series championship banner for the first time in 87 years, secondly because the White Sox got off to a not-so-hot start the first week.

They started 1-4 and Freddy Garcia showed signs of wear and tear from his stint on the Venezuelan National Team. His fast ball lost quite a bit of velocity and the Indians opened up a can on his ass in game 2 of the season.

And let's not even get started on my favorite target, Mark Beuhrle. In the opener he lasted all of four innings, giving up 3 runs right away, and he too had serious velocity issues with his fastball. Even lefties were teeing off on Mark, the object of St. Louis' s affection.

Another problem facing the White Sox would be the pitching of Cliff Politte, a key contributor to the Championship run the previous season. During the month of April, Cliff would see his ERA rise to a height of 15.75 before settling at 9.39 for the month of April. Providng a preview for the rest of the season and maybe something to build on for the opposition, Politte would blow a save and take a loss to the lowly Kansas City Royals that first week, 4-3. As the season progresses the Royals will prove to be quite the pain in the ass for the White Sox.

After starting 1-4 on April 8th, however, the White Sox will lose only three more games the rest of the month finishing the month 17-7. Yes, there was plenty of reason to be optimistic. I distinctly remember thinking how great is was gonna be to be talked about as back-to-back champs, and dreams of Bulls-like dynasties for another Chicago team danced in my head. The Biler in his current constitution still wasn't a glint in my eye even with sluggish starts by Beuhrle and our newest White Sox re-signee, Scott Podsednik.

So week 2 goes three -game sweep in Detroit (one of the few time Jeeves would bring out the broom pic) and 2-1 against Toronto with newcomer Jim Thome hitting homers in 4 out of 6 games. The one loss to Toronto would be Javy Vazquez's doing, and he will be giving Sox fans their second bout of indigestion for the season, as he gives up 7 runs in 6 innings. The previously mentioned Cliff Politte will really put the Tums and Rolaids crowd to work as he gives up 4 runs in 1.2 innings of work in what was a winnable 13-7 loss. (The final 2 runs given up by Sox pitching were Neal Cotts doing, but we'll get to his bile-tastic ptiching in a later month.)

The best run of the season would be the 8 game win streak that started in Toronto and would culminate in two straight sweeps over divisional opponents Kansas City and Minnesota. In those sweeps, Sox pitching would give up a grand total of 7 runs in 6 games, and the bile would be safely stored where it belongs in the duct. The highlight of the week will be defeating Cy Young winner and White Sox killer Johan Santana, 7-1. Winning pitcher Mark Beuhrle, who earlier in the week would be given his do-not-slide-on-tarp orders, had this to say about Santana after the game:
"You see him coming in with an 0-2 (record) and a 5 (ERA) and you wonder, `How? How's that possible?'"
Also that week, AJ Pierzynski and Joe Crede would get Chicago's first taste of haircut/ headband-gate as they would be told from none other than Mr. Owner himself, Jerry Reinsdorf, to get their long lanks shorn or face the wrath of god.

But with Jim Thome swinging a hot bat (.327/ .513/ .873 9 homers) and a suddenly hot Pods (9 game hitting streak) the White Sox had no worries. No worries that is until they reach Seattle where they'll lose 2 of 3 including an 11th inning loss by Brandon McCarthy -- a game highlighted by a dramatic 9th inning two out home run by Brian Anderson. This game also marks the beginning of the second guessing of Ozzie Guillen and his curious line-up calls. Even Hawk Harrelson, a notrious homer and an Ozzie apologist, will decry the silliness of Ozuna, Mackowiak and Cintron all starting at once. The Biler would like to note that this is one of the few occasions that Mackowiak and Anderson actually share time in the outfield, a source of serious consternation as the season will progress.

Another curious note will be the yapping one dinasaur-disbelieving Carl Everett -- he subsequently was plunked in what cannot be mistaken as accidental.

The month will end on a very high note with the White Sox sweeping ALCS oppenent the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and if you know anything about the White Sox and the west coast, you'll know that the left side of the country hasn't treated the Sox very well in the recent past. The good game of note for the Biler was the 2-1 victory for the Count, Jose Contreras, over Kelvim Escobar, a masterpiece that would continue the filthy run for the Count. In this game, Jim Thome will be the fastest White Sox to reach 10 HRs.

Of course another season-long theme taking place in this game would be the booing by the fans and plunking by the opponent of AJ. Forget that he was involved in the most controversial play in recent playoff history against these Angels (how Kenny Rogers' mystery sludge didn't garner more, I'll never understand). He will be the second most hated man in baseball in 2006 behind Barry Bonds, but we'll get to that more as the season progresses.

The month will end, as I said, with the White Sox having a 17-7 record, and expectations at an all time high. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, where as the pitching good enough. Sox fans are smiling even if the team is not getting much press. Right now the Biler is quite content in utero, but there are dark clouds on the horizon and the birth of bad-mouth is not far away.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, another reason for all the optimism: check out this video replay. On April 15th (yes, tax day), Iguchi makes the defensive play of the year.

April Hot Sox:
  • Jim Thome: .300 10 hr, 23 rbi
  • Paul Konerko: .360, 6 hr, 20 rbi
  • Jose Contreras: 4-0, 1.45 era
April Cold Sox:
  • Brian Anderson: .161, 2 hr, 6 rbi
  • Juan Uribe: .167, 3 hr, 11 rbi
  • Cliff Politte: 1-1, 9.39 era


Blogger Jeeves said...

I fully expect to bring out the broom pic at least once every other week next year!

12/04/2006 5:32 PM  
Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

I know it was 8-9 months ago, but did I miss anything?

12/05/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger UCLASoxFan said...

I forgot aobut how we became the 'no fun police' back in APril.

12/05/2006 3:03 PM  
Blogger Jeeves said...

I think you just about got it all.
Was Hawk's rant about the balls being juiced in April? That's the only thing I can think of, if that even happened in April.

I still don't understand how Sarge Jr's catch is touted more than Iguchi's play.

12/06/2006 12:36 AM  

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