Over the weekend, Scott Merkin and others on the beat went hunting for a nickname for Jose Abreu. Predictably, all the suggestions sucked. So I think we should impose a rule on ourselves: no nicknames for Jose Abreu unless it comes down from the Hawk. He is our White Sox delegate for all things nicknames, regardless if he’s been in a dry spell creatively recently (as evidenced by using the word "bleeping"). Because, at worst, "Jose Abreu" is a pretty good baseball name.
Jerry Reinsdorf has to be thrilled by the way the season has gone so far. To be hovering around .500 is all the Sox could have asked for. It takes some faith to allow your team to retool. The obvious risk being that if you suck like the Astros, the crowds you were getting in April will be the same ones you get in August. The new national TV money sharing among all 30 teams certainly makes this risk easier, as everybody gets theirs regardless, but kudos to Jerry for putting faith in Rick Hahn. The Sox far surpassed expectations in most categories for April (unless you expected 130 walks, in which case you are quite the pessimist) and that was against a pretty stiff schedule. Moving into May, the Sox have a schedule as generous as the Alex Snelius family.
The Sox have 12 games against the Cubs, Astros, Padres, and Diamondbacks – basically the four worst teams in the National League. (Oh, that’s right, the Astros are in the American League now.) They also have zero against the Tigers. Both of these facts appear to be working heavily in favor of the Sox. Series against the A’s and Yankees will surely prove difficult, but even taking a game from each will put the Sox in good position just as school is getting let out. Not to mention, the Sox have a couple big names returning from the DL soon: Jeff Keppinger and Felipe Paulino. (Chris Sale and Connor Gillaspie, as well.) Basically what I am trying to say is, come June, the Sox may very well be above .500, which means I’ll need to buy some more charcoal for my grill.The Whole "Cubs" Thing
We’ll start here:
"The South Siders are Che Guevara to the North Siders’ Paddington Bear. They’re Miles Davis to Al Hirt. They’re bourbon whiskey straight up to a sloe gin fizz sipped through a straw." –some guy who goes by rob_said_that
I don’t even know what this means. Che Guevara to Paddington Bear? What’s going on here? When the Cubs/Sox headbutting gets out of hand, it makes everyone dumber. Like, seriously, Che Guevara? The fact is White Sox fans and Cubs fans are more similar than any of us want to admit. But that doesn’t mean the rivalry should be taken lightly.
On the spectrum of loudmouth baseball fans, I’m somewhere between "Sends condescending text messages when your team fails" and "Laughs in your face the next day after your closer blew it." So it upsets me a little when people pretend like Cubs vs. Sox is just another game. Maybe just allow yourself to have fun, I don’t know. Who doesn’t enjoy making fun of their friends?
Nevertheless, don’t ever try to tell me the Sox are Che and the Cubs are Paddington. Because that’s just nonsense.
I used to do a stupid little gimmick about Gordon Beckham where I’d go back and forth arguing what to make of him. It’s hard to take a firm stance with him either for good or for bad. He is the epitome of enigma. So time to brush the dust off this old debate and see where we’re at with Beckham these days.
Point: Well, we’re now five years removed from Your Love, the Southern Swoop hair, and the tickled taints of all female tween Sox fans. Hard to believe it’s been five years. Feels like just yesterday I was indulging in 80’s New Wave and reading articles comparing his swing to Alex Rodriguez.
Counterpoint: Yep, I still remember hearing about his numbers in the Cape Cod League and envisioning ourselves a Ryne Sandberg. Tragic, really.
Point: Wow, Ryne Sandberg? You were really drinking the good stuff. I was more of a Jeff Kent comparison type of guy. So what happened?
Counterpoint: Three years of complete mediocrity and a broken hamate bone.
Point: The defense has been great, though! What really concerns me is after three hitting coaches, his swing keeps looking worse and worse. Last week, Beckham had four 93mph fastballs right down the middle of the plate and was late on all of them.
Counterpoint: Can we get some pitch fx data on this? These are new times, my friend. We can’t solely rely on our lowly anecdotes anymore.
Counterpoint: Yeah, that’s not pretty. Don’t even know who Bryan Shaw is… We’ve been saying it for years but it just looks like his hands aren’t ever in the right position to hit. They are playing catchup the whole time.
Point: You got a gif to back that up?
Counterpoint: One technological insert at a time, my friend. Let’s not pretend like we know what we’re doing.
Point: Good point.
Counterpoint: Now he’s trying to inside-out everything, but really the only person that’s impressing is the Hawk. The chances of him having a 20 home run season are now over. He’s swinging the bat like a 40-year-old Derek Jeter.
Point: Hey, look. More data. Pretty clear here what he’s trying to do in 2014. Everything going opposite field.
Counterpoint: Well done, Point.
Point: Thanks. So what now? Move him down in the order? Look to trade him? Does he have any trade value?
Counterpoint: At this point, you wouldn’t be crazy to think Carlos Sanchez could put up the same numbers as Beckham. And he’s 21. I’d give Beckham until July to see if anything emerges after the oblique injury and then go from there. But his trade market is currently not existent. And with Semien/Johnson/Sanchez all exhibiting some degree of hope, the Beckham Era is on very rough waters.
Point: Agreed. Plus, Keppinger is coming back. That’s really going to get complicated.
Counterpoint: Why did you have to make this so hard, Gordon? You were supposed to be Jeff Kent...
I present the White Sox facial hair Power Rankings:
10. Chris Sale
When you’re the ace, you find yourself on lists you don’t deserve to make. Daniel Webb gets snubbed.
9. Gordon Beckham
His decision to shave this is enough to earn the 9 spot.
Surprisingly dependable backstop with an always dependable beard.
Just looks cool. California cool.
6. Adam Eaton
Just not comfortable with a leadoff hitter having a beard. Still a great beard, though.
I actually like beardless Alexei better as he looks more like a a young shortstop of the future rather than a 32-year-old guy. But the beard is still nice either way.
4. Jordan Danks
Dense. Dark. And full. Just quality stuff.
3. John Danks
Older brother gets the nod because even though he only plays every five days, that's still more than Jordan.
2. Adam Dunn
The type of beard that gets a date alongside McConaughey and then pays for a dinner for 35 people after.
1. Paul Konerko
This goatee has property on the same face that took a ball to the eye and then homered in the next at bat. It’s beginning to weather but that’s what happens when you’ve hit for more total bases than anyone else in Sox history.