Harold Baines has been around for a long time. He made his South Side debut on April 10th, 1980. Here he is, 31 years and a couple of pit stops later, still in the dugout on 35th and Shields. After the early part of this season, I can't help but think he flashes back 28 years.
You see, 28 years ago 2 of the major pieces of the White Sox puzzle were struggling mightily. On June 3rd 1983, the White Sox won a 2-0 game vs. the Kansas City Royals. With one out in the 1st, Carlton Fisk singled. After Baines walked, Greg Luzinski singled home Fisk to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. Anyone who remembers 1983, or at least hears stories about that team, know that Carlton Fisk and Greg Luzinski were a huge part of the ball club. After those singles, a Ron Kittle homer and a Jerry Koosman shutout though, Fisk's average stood at .200 and his OPS was .674. Luzinski's numbers were .195 and .675.
After that Sox victory over the Royals, they moved to 23-25, 5 games back of the surging California Angels. The Angels sat at 29-21 after Ken Forsch out-dueled Milwaukee and Don Sutton 3-0. They were the only team above .500 at the time, with Texas, Kansas City, Oakland, Chicago and Minnesota all bunching up 4-7 games behind them. The Sox finally dug themselves out of the early hole to reach .500 on June 22nd with a 6-3 win over the Mariners. On July 18th, they finally moved to the top of the standings at 46-42. By the time the smoke cleared, the Sox sat at 99-63... 20 games above the 2nd place Royals (79-83). At the end of the year, Fisk totaled .289/.355/.518 with 26 homers and 86 RBIs. Luzinski checked in at .255/.352/.502 with 32 homers and 95 RBIs.
Fast forward 28 years. With last nights 6-4 victory over the Tigers, the White Sox are now 28-31, 7 games back of the Indians, who are the only team playing well above .500 at 33-22. Coming into the game, Alex Rios was sticking .201 with a OPS of .560. Adam Dunn sat at .180 with an OPS of .654. The Sox just finished off their toughest month and toughest road trip of the season. Looking ahead, the road gets a lot more clear in June and July. The Indians are starting to fall back to the pack. Just like 1983, the starting pitching is really doing an outstanding job on almost a nightly basis. Carlos Quentin has bounced back and is on pace to hit 38 homers and knock in 109 runs. In 1983, Ron Kittle hit 35 homers and knocked in 100.
I am not saying that the 2011 version of the White Sox is going to explode past everyone to put up 99 wins and win the division by 20, but I think its a very realistic possibility that they get to 89 wins and win the division by 10. If Dunn and Rios turn it around like Fisk and Luzinski did, you better start making your playoff plans.
The votes have been counted for 2nd base. In the American League, Robinson Cano edged out Howie Kendrick 30-27 percent to get the starting nod. Cano is hitting .284/.324/.514 with 11 homers and 37 RBI's. In the National League, Rickie Weeks ran away with the voting, with Brandon Phillips finishing 2nd and Neil Walker and Juan Uribe tied up for 3rd. Weeks is hitting .291/.365/.502 with 10 homers. This week, lets select the shortstops.
* Brent Morel had a really nice game last night for the Sox. He made 3 very smooth plays and also added in 3 hits. His average now sits at .254 and is trending upward. Hopefully they keep the kid in the lineup, even against a guy like Justin Verlander.
* I wonder if Dunn secretly gets a little upset when Brent Lillibridge hits another homer. You know he has to be sick of the "Hey Dunn! Lillibridge has more homers than you for Chrissakes" calls that he is sure to be getting.
* Hopefully this is a very successful homestand. With the Tigers, Mariners and A's coming in, I think we should go 7-3, which would get us back to .500.