Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sox hit high point when it’s too late

About the only way the Chicago White Sox were going to get any R-E-S-P-E-C-T this season was because of singer Aretha Franklin’s involvement on Saturday in the Civil Rights Game being staged at U.S. Cellular Field.

Only now, in what is probably a typical happening for the White Sox in 2013, “Lady Soul” herself won’t be able to attend.

SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO RECEIVE Major League Baseball’s Beacon Award – which is supposed to honor people who encouraged positive change toward civil rights. She’s citing health reasons for being unable to be in Chicago on Saturday.

Which is kind of a shame. Since Franklin’s appearance at the ballpark prior to the White Sox’ game against the Texas Rangers could have been one of the most interesting happenings to occur at U.S. Cellular Field this season.

Saturday is still the Civil Rights Game, and a luncheon at the Marriott Hotel located near Tribune Tower. Only we’re going to have to settle for honoree Bo Jackson, and memories about how the Negro leagues of old used to play their annual East-West all-star game nearly every season at the old Comiskey Park.

Somehow, the whole “Bo Knows” movement seems a bit old – even if Jackson’s story of refusing to give in to an injury that should have been career-ending is inspiring.

BUT IT WILL be interesting to see how the White Sox manage to stage the event that in the past has been played by major league teams in southern cities as a way of paying tribute to the role that professional baseball played in desegregating the nation.

Although there are times I wonder if baseball fans pay more attention to the annual April tribute to Jackie Robinson (the one where all 750 major league ballplayers wear uniform number “42” – not just Mariano Rivera of the Yankees) than they will to what happens Saturday on the Sout’ Side.

Which would be typical of this season for the White Sox – one in which the ball club went into Friday’s game needing to only lose seven of their 35 remaining games to ensure a losing record for the season.

The fact that the White Sox played outstanding ball this week – in fact, winning eight of their past nine games, and sweeping the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals in three-game series played against each – may give hope to some fans that the team can overcome the Minnesota Twins.

THE WHITE SOX are only four games behind Minnesota. Although when a team looks at fourth place as a goal to be achieved (rather than fifth place), you know things aren’t good.
Only Sox past in '13

Which is what made Thursday’s freaky victory against the Royals all that more bizarre.

Conor Gillaspie broke up a 12th inning, 3-3 tie with what turned out to be a freaky inside-the-park home run. Gillaspie chugged his way around the bases while the Royals’ players did nothing to chase down the ball and try to throw him out.

Yahoo! Sports’ “Big League Stew” tried to make this interesting by writing about the “Hilarious Hawk Harrelson home run call.” They claimed his broadcast of the moment was truly ridiculous.

ACTUALLY, IT MERELY reflected the confusion on the field, as it appears the Royals’ outfielder, Jason Maxwell, thought that Gillaspie’s fly ball to deep right field went into the stands for a Home Run! It really bounced off the top of the wall and wound up on the field – meaning it was still in play!

Which means that Maxwell is the one at fault for not picking up a ball and trying to throw it in and get Gillaspie out on the base paths. Although it seems that none of the other Royals players had a clue either.

Let’s be honest. When you first heard the White Sox were involved in a fielding misplay that resulted in a home run, didn’t you figure that it was the White Sox defense that screwed up?

It may not rank up there with a ball bouncing off the head of Jose Canseco into the stands for a home run (as did occur in Cleveland many years ago), but it was close.

A FLUKY PLAY working to the advantage of the White Sox? When combined with those six victories in a row this week?

This may well be the baseball highlight of 2013 in Chicago.

Unless you want to take into account that series the White Sox swept from the New York Yankees a few weeks ago – when many fans seemed more intrigued by the idea that long-time (and soon-to-be retired) relief pitcher Mariano Rivera would never pitch again in Chicago.

Even that fits into the late season theory; which is that this White Sox team is only capable of playing up to its talent level when the pressure is off and it no longer matters – just like the Cubs!


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