White Sox turn page to September

Manny Ramirez overwhelms local sensibilities, Mark Buehrle survives, Edwin Jackson dominates, and call-ups are on the way. What a way to end August, huh?

Edwin Jackson lived up to his surname on Tuesday night, signing his own Indian Removal Act with 11 strikeouts against Cleveland. That makes three consecutive outings with 10 or more strikeouts for Jackson, which makes him the first White Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat since Floyd Bannister in 1985.
So naturally, I want to talk about Mark Buehrle. No offense to Jackson, but we know his story. He’s got a big arm, he’s got some weak opponents, and he’s kicking tail accordingly.
Buehrle, though, has accomplished something he hasn’t done in years: He put together a fine August.
I made a note of Buehrle’s traditional terrible month at the end of July, saying his stumbles would be one of those things keeping the Sox from being a genuine contender. That wasn’t the case this year.

2006 2-2 4.34 37.1 42 8 8 23
2007 1-3 5.06 37.1 38 3 12 20
2008 3-2 5.86 35.1 51 5 7 27
2009 0-3 5.54 37.1 57 8 8 10
Total 6-10 5.19 147.1 188 24 35 80
2010 3-2 3.29 41 41 4 12 17

The only problem is, even with Buehrle pitching well (he should’ve been 4-2, if Bobby Jenks could have preserved a three-run lead on Monday), the Sox finished August with a 14-15 record, due in large part to their 2-9 record in one-run games.
Nevertheless, Buehrle’s typically a fast starter and slow finisher, so the fact that he thrived in August might bode well for the Sox’s playoff chances. Maybe that off-season regimen paid off after all, even if it doesn’t show up in his velocity readings. Not one bit.
Manny Ramirez reported to the White Sox today, and immediately began imitating himself by telling the media he would only speak in Spanish.
Doug Padilla has the best account of Ramirez’s introductory press conference. He didn’t need a translator, so he was amused by Joey Cora’s attempts to soften Ramirez’s answers.

The best Cora bait and switch came when Ramirez was asked about cutting his dreadlocks to conform with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s appearance guidelines.
Ramirez’s actual answer: “That’s a stupid question. I’m here to play baseball and that has nothing to do with playing baseball.”
Cora’s translation: “I’m just worried about playing baseball. I’m not worried about hair or nothing.”
The beautiful part of the entire scene was that Ramirez’s English is as good, if not better than Cora’s.

Padilla’s summary is also superior because it only touches upon an obvious theme that David Haugh pounded on in his column:

The price to rent Ramirez for a month is a hefty $3.8 million, but the cost of self-respect to the Sox may be harder to quantify. The organization used to build ad campaigns around a gritty style and undeniable mental toughness in which their fan base rightfully takes pride. Tuesday they began considering the sale of “Manny Wigs,” to promote a guy infamous for being a steroid cheat and quitting on teams.

I laughed when I read this. The only reason I tie “tough” to this franchise is because they want to make scoring runs more difficult than it has to be. Listening to Greg Walker defend his hitters for the last few years, I think the White Sox sign more cutters than they throw. Otherwise, I don’t see any kind of fortitude that makes them a cut above the rest.
What’s weird to me is that Kenny Williams is GMing the way A.J. Pierzynski ran the bases against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 24, 2008. He found himself caught in no man’s land, and the best way out was against a certain code of ethics. Pierzynski was praised for cutting corners; Williams is probably going to get pilloried if the odds are correct.
The indignation amuses and confuses me. The Sox were 4 1/2 games behind the Twins when the deal was done. Preserving the status quo of a fading team because they get along so well doesn’t scream “TOUGH!” to me.
Ramirez and the White Sox may be an uncomfortable marriage — though so far, it seems like the media is more nervous than anybody in the White Sox organization — but this is a chance any “tough” professional sports organization has to take. Williams can’t afford to wait until next year, and he’s making one more crazy effort to pull off the upset, even if he has to eat his own words. That fits their ad campaign ideals more than any grinder slogan does.
September call-ups: The White Sox announced five players who will join the expanded roster starting today, and they happen to be names we’ve reviewed lately.

They all have a clear-cut purpose. De Aza complements Andruw Jones for a fourth-outfielder platoon, Infante is the highest-upside bullpen arm in the minors, Flowers is the ceremonial third catcher, Viciedo provides right-handed backup power at the corners, and Torres is a pinata.
If there’s one surprising omission at this point, it’s Brent Morel, who has outperformed just about everybody in the system (and has played a decent short, too). I imagine he’ll make his way to Chicago after Charlotte concludes its season, though if Gordon Beckham’s hand takes longer to heal than anticipated, it may be sooner than that.
And in other prospect news, the Jared Mitchell will be playing in the Arizona Fall League.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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It’s been fascinating to me to see a rabid media transform Ramirez into History’s Greatest Monster the last few days. Meanwhile, I’m pretty freakin’ pumped to see him in a White Sox uniform.


You need to replace the word “tough” everytime someone talks about the White Sox with the word “dumb”.
Let’s try…
“The organization used to build ad campaigns around a gritty style and undeniable mental dumbness”
Much more appropriate.


“Edwin Jackson lived up to his surname on Tuesday night, signing his own Indian Removal Act with 11 strikeouts against Cleveland.”


This edwin jackson thing is baffling to me, I dont care who he is pitching against he has been lights out, I dont beleive it but im glad its happening!
The tough and gritty campaign died when tony graffinino was no longer a member of this team, haha
Any chance Aj got a better pitch to hit with manny sitting in the on deck circle… or am i looking for any reaosn to be happy about manny despite him having 0 at bats in two games


Sure its possible that he was influenced by the presence of Manny…. we will never know.
Plenty of reasons to be happy about Manny btw


With two on base it’s not unreasonable to think they didn’t want to bring MR up and bases packed with Sox. Funny thing is even he admits he’s rusty.


I love the Cora translation thing! How long till Manny disagrees in public with some of Joey’s translations?? That would be hilarious!!

Carl Rollberg

The media wants to stir up Manny. I think the Spanish bit was because of Ozzie’s statement about Latino players. What I did like was he was on deck so A.J. got his pitch. MaNny games will be won with his help. If I’m wrong, I sit here enjoying the ’05 SOX! Waited all my life.


I was under the impression AJ always got good pitches to hit because he’s just going to ground on on the first one anyways. Or foul it back.
Or if he doesn’t get good pitches, it’s because he swings at every pitch.
But sure, I’ll go along with chalking that one up to the Space Cadet.


This year, with two strikes, it looks like he’ll flail at anything thrown in his general direction. ‘course that particular ab didn’t get to two strikes.


Jim, you need to do something with Chris Sale’s Gameday photo before he gets a real one.


Going to be interest to see how Jackson is going to look in his next start. We need to keep him healthy for this season and the next.