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The final day of the baseball season is always bittersweet, but it was made more so by the thoughtful and graceful way the Sox handled the (possible) departures of three White Sox icons on Sunday.
A.J. Pierzynski gave way to Tyler Flowers before the fourth inning began, and Paul Konerko left with one out in the seventh, both to standing ovations, and with Nancy Faust providing the soundtrack one last time. She got her standing ovation in the ninth inning, and provided a cool scene in the process. From the WGN center field camera, when Chris Sale threw the first pitch of the inning, everybody had their back turned to the field to applaud Faust.
Except for the one guy in the Blackhawks sweatshirt. What’s up with that guy?
We know, sadly, that Faust isn’t returning, and there are no strong indicators yet for Konerko or Pierzynski. But it’s kind of funny how each will (or would) leave a void. You have the captain (and a chant — it was weird hearing “O-E-O, Magglio!” in Detroit), the team’s resident a-hole, and one of the last ties to the stadium across the street. It was a sad day, but the Sox did it right.
And thanks to Scott Reifert for capturing Nancy’s last song, “Don’t Want to Let You Go.”
Assorted thoughts from the last day of the season:
*Bobby Jenks was the notable omission from the day’s ceremonies, and Kenny Williams had to stop himself when asked about Jenks’ future:
“That’s something we have to evaluate strongly because I’ve been disappointed on a number of levels,” William said when asked if he wants Jenks back in 2011. “And there are certain things that … I’m not going to talk about right now.
“What I will say is Bobby Jenks has been good for a long time here. He is one of the reasons we’ve got that (World Series) banner up here and a (20)08 division as well.
“Two years after winning the division in ’08, I’m not going to criticize one of the guys that helped us get there. We’ll just make the moves necessary for the continuity of the team and the success of the team.”
*Edwin Jackson finished his first half-season with the White Sox 4-2, but more importantly, the Sox went 8-4 in his starts. Normally that would be pretty good for anybody, but the Sox probably needed one more win, considering the ridiculously easy slate Jackson had to face.
It represents the kind of razor-thin margin for error the Sox had in dealing with the Twins. Kinda like when they started a road trip 7-1 and only gained a game in the process.
*Brent Lillibridge is probably glad the season is over. He struck out in nine of his last 10 plate appearances, which brought his season line down to .224/.248/.378.
That’s shocking for a couple reasons. For one, he was hitting .424 through his first 34 plate appearances, and I didn’t think he’d get enough playing time to sink it down to that level. But finishing the season 8-for-69 will do that. He had no middle ground:
- First 34 PA: .424/.441/.758, one walk, 11 strikeouts
- Last 71 PA: .116/.141/.174, two walks, 29 strikeouts
The other is that he actually slugged .378 in spite of the free-fall.
*Tyler Flowers, on the other hand, was just getting started. He rapped a single through the left side to give him his first and only hit of the season.
He’s got some problems to work through, as he’s 4-for-27 in his big-league career with 13 strikeouts, and that’s no accident. He’s whiffed an awful lot, and either his swing is long or his bat his slow.
He has a great eye though, with seven walks over those 35 plate appearances, and in the times I’ve seen him catch, both in Chicago and Charlotte, I think they can live with his defense. He did a pretty good job blocking a lot of Jackson’s pitches in the dirt, including three in one inning. But if he doesn’t cut down on the strikeouts, the rest is immaterial.
*Juan Pierre finished the season with 68 steals, becoming the first White Sox to lead the league in that category since Luis Aparicio stole 31 in 1962. Black ink is always nice.
Now that it’s Oct. 4, we can officially close the book on the fifth season of the Sox Machine era.
It was a blast to talk about, especially since I was bracing for another 2007 through the first month and a half. In the end, it couldn’t have been further from that lost season. 2010 had about as much variety as a blogger could hope for — smart decisions, dumb decisions, flops, breakout performances, streaks, slumps, heroes, villains, plenty of drama, and, above all, relevance. Really, it only lacked postseason play.
A hearty thanks to all of you who take the time out of your day to read Sox Machine, and perhaps tell your sons/daughters/friends/neighbors about it. Thanks to your support, the site’s growth continues to astound me.
And I’m especially grateful for those who set the tone in the comments every day. The combination of the natural trajectory, the partnership with ESPN and the abnormal amount of highs and lows inspired a lot of new people into the fray, and still the conversation and debate remains (almost) always friendly, civil and smart. To me, baseball’s supposed to be fun above all else, and failure can be fascinating, and I’m thankful we don’t spend too much time yelling at each other.
For those of you who are new to Sox Machine, don’t confuse this group hug as any kind of goodbye, because I still keep going just about every day. October is for deconstruction, November is for offseason planning, and then the news of the winter carries us from there. The only difference is that I tend to write shorter, because I’ll be writing next year’s White Sox Outsider at the same time.
I hope everybody will stick around through the winter (what, you want to see Jay Cutler get sacked again?), but I know a lot of people check out between now and March. So I just wanted to say thanks to everybody before baseball starts dropping off the radar, and I hope to see you next season, if not tomorrow.