Tonight's broadcast was undoubtedly the most difficult broadcast of the season to listen too. It was even harder on the ears than the Don Pall or Oakland games. Hawk saw his favorite person in all of baseball behind the plate, and he made up his mind to grind that axe all night.
Every close pitch that El Duque didn't get was Hunter Wendelstedt squeezing him. Every called strike that Mike Mussina got should have been called a ball. There was endless talk of the White Sox and the World Series. -- Raise your hand if you even remember a White Sox World Series game. -- Not only was he talking about the upcoming World Series as if it was a guarantee, he seemed convinced that the Sox were ready to embark on some sort of Yankee-like run.
Even the most optimistic Sox fan can see that this is just not true. Tonight was a perfect example. We batted A.J. Pierzynski in the #3 hole for the first time of his career. There is a reason he has never batted in that position before. We had Timo Perez batting in the 5th spot and playing DH. I'd feel better about Cliff Politte playing DH.
Yes the White Sox have some nice quality young arms in the rotation and pen locked up for the near future, but I wouldn't really classify any of them as guys who you'd ride to World Series titles. On the offense, their most potent weapon signed through next year is Jermaine Dye, hardly the centerpiece to an offensive juggernaut. They don't have any elite prospects waiting in the wings who are primed for a breakout either. They look like a winning team for the next few years, but I don't really see anything that screams dynasty.
There was a case where Hawk really could have gone off on the umps, but he actually was rather reserved by his standards. I think that was largely due to Hawk being a little unsure on the rules.
The play in question featured Gary Sheffield on first base with one out and Alex Rodriguez at the plate. A-Rod drove a ball deep to right field, which Jermaine Dye caught against the wall for out number two. He then fired the ball in quickly trying to double off Sheffield at first.
A-Rod, however, had other ideas. We all remember the slap in last years playoffs. Well A-Rod was at it again. He had rounded first base before Jermaine was able to catch the ball, and stopped when he saw him control it. He then started to head back towards the dugout while watching the throw back to first. As the throw got closer to first base, A-Rod appeared to step into the path of the ball and turn his back such that the ball hit him in the ass, guaranteeing that the Sox would have no play on Sheffield at first.
Hawk chimed in about 20 minutes after the play happened with the exact rule, care of Scott Reifert, but never really teed of on the umps, as the play didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I don't know exactly what the rule is. It's somewhere in this link. I'm no good at reading through that type of stuff. -- Actually I'm better than I thought. I highlighted Rule 7.09 (F), but didn't know if it was the right one.
As for the actual game itself. The Sox had a number of fine defensive plays from their outfield. I already mentioned the Jermain Dye catch. Aaron Rowand had two great plays in the first inning to start the game, and Scott Podsednik leaped up and grabbed a ball away from a would-be Steve Bartman in the 7th inning.
Offensively the Sox were pretty pitiful, even though they more than doubled up the Yankees in terms of hits. Podsednik, Konerko and Timo all had some really cheap hits. Pods would go on to prove that, unlike the proverb, speed does indeed slump when he was caught stealing for the 8th time in his last 12 attempts after reaching on a bunt single to lead off the game. Aaron Rowand was the lone player to hit the ball with any real authority, doubling in Jermaine Dye on a ball that just missed being a HR.
Joe Crede followed Rowand's double with a productive out, for which Hawk commended Joe for putting ball two in play to the right side. Juan Uribe followed him by hitting a lazy sacrifice fly to left field on a hanging breaking ball, to which Hawk tossed far too much praise Uribe's way. After all, hanging breaking balls are balls that should be driven for hits, not turned into lazy flyballs. Sure those two outs scored a run, but Crede put a ball in play that he had no business even swinging at, and Uribe should have punished that hanger.
El Duque had another rough first inning, that would have been far worse if it wasn't for the fine defensive work of Aaron Rowand, but he settled in nicely to work six strong innings. Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks provided two innings of perfect relief to close things out. It was good to see the way that Jenks handled his first trip to Yankee Stadium, and having to face Sheffield, A-Rod, and Hideki Matsui back-to-back-to-back.