White Sox let Guardians define the brawl

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson during brawl
(Photo by Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Sports)

Buddy Bell could’ve been describing his second go-around leading White Sox player development, but he was actually manager of the Royals when he told reporters in the midst of an 11-game losing streak back in 2005, “I never say it can’t get worse.”

That line has circulated in my head plenty this season, because you can’t assume Late-Stage White Sox has a nadir. This can theoretically go on forever, or at least a duration that feels like an eternity.

Yet even if you’re aware that the situation can deteriorate further, the “how” can still surprise.

Like Tim Anderson suffering a knockdown in a fight he escalated with José Ramírez.

Anderson’s miserable season had already drawn plenty of scrutiny from inside baseball, but with the trade deadline intrigue eliminated and Anderson’s own performance rebounding to something resembling respectable, he was in position to ride out the rest of the season — and maybe his contract — in relative anonymity.

Then he squared up with Ramírez in the sixth inning on Saturday night. Maybe it could’ve been cool?

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson squares up with José Ramírez

But instead:

Few things represent the White Sox’s overall fortunes so well. Now Anderson’s back in the news, in the Robin Ventura kind of way. Except Ventura stayed on his feet and kept driving.

Between off-the-field matters, on-the-field matters, and stuff-that-isn’t-supposed-to-be-on-the-field-but-occasionally-happens matters, it’s hard to imagine anybody having a worse year. I don’t think this punch will replace the Field of Dreams Game homer as Anderson’s defining moment — Jose Bautista’s bat flip at Rogers Centre overshadows Rougned Odor’s right cross, though both are vivid — but this certainly exacerbates what was already going to be a miserable final two months.

Anderson wasn’t available for comment after the game, and while Pedro Grifol said Anderson wasn’t hurt in the fight, the video suggests the White Sox should take the possibility of a concussion seriously.

As for Grifol, he had a chance to define himself as some kind of presence in the White Sox dugout, but passed on the opportunity to say something interesting:

‘‘I’m not going to comment on it,’’ said Grifol, who with Sarbaugh appeared to raise their hands to each other in the midst of a second flurry. ‘‘I’m going to let MLB figure it out, do their investigation and watch the video. They have some work to do.’’

Their relative silence allowed the Guardians to do all the talking. Terry Francona gave Grifol a courtesy explanation for the managers’ roles in his postgame media session. Francona said that he started yelling at Anderson for jawing at the Guardians “once he had 11, 12 guys in between ’em,” and that’s when Grifol started going at Francona.

Francona also pretended to take the high road about Ramírez’s punch while indulging himself.

The way Francona and Ramírez framed it, Anderson opened the door to let the Guardians take out their frustrations on him:

Francona said Anderson had been chirping at first baseman Gabriel Arias all night. And after his actions caused so much frustration in Cleveland’s clubhouse the night before, the Guardians had no interest in hearing more from the shortstop.

“I know that Anderson was yelling at Arias because the umpire went and told him to knock it off,” Francona said. “[Anderson] said some things he probably shouldn’t have.” […]

“I think [Anderson has] been disrespecting the game for a while,” Ramirez said after the game through interpreter Agustin Rivero. “It’s not from yesterday. It’s from before. I even had the chance to tell him during the game, ‘Don’t do this stuff. That’s disrespectful. Don’t start tagging people like that,’ because in reality, we’re here trying to find ways to provide for our families.”

The White Sox did not offer a competing version of events, which, again, is appropriate for a year where competing has been a problem. Only Michael Kopech managed to get in a shot, and he did it with the Most AL Central Quote:

“Obviously in division baseball you’re going to see a lot of each other, there’s been a lot of mouthing between the teams the past few series,” Kopech said. “Bottom line, we’re not playing our best baseball right now, but we’re not going to get bullied by a team that’s also playing less than .500 baseball.”

I saw some fans knocking Kopech for a lack of awareness, but I think he sees everything. The White Sox and Guardians play in a division where not one team added at the deadline. They’re all in hell. They just occupy different circles.

Other observations from the brawl

Eloy Jiménez

I feel like there has to be a code in brawls that, if you get hurt in a completely incidental fashion, you should attach yourself to a teammate for support (and pretend you’re supporting), or you should remove yourself from the premises at earliest convenience. Jiménez’s understandable frustration started crossing the line into scenery-chewing.

Lane Ramsey

The rookie reliever didn’t make his official White Sox debut because he didn’t get into the box score, but seeing his 6-foot-9-inch frame moving about the crowd raised my hopes that he would pull some kind of Dhalsim moves. Alas.

Andrew Vaughn

Vaughn got a lot of plaudits for holding back Anderson early, then carrying him off the field late …

… but between Vaughn, Trayce Thompson and Yasmani Grandal, Anderson presented a lot of work for guys with documented back issues. Only Touki Toussaint (pictured above) seemed to not be inviting any medical risk by intervening.

The bullpens

Back in 2021, the Michigan and Ohio State football teams nearly came to blows in the tunnel during halftime. Michigan Stadium’s architecture took some shots, because sure, maybe it’s not the greatest idea to have rival teams use the same route to get to their respective locker rooms in the heat of battle.

In the Big House’s defense, the White Sox and Guardians had to use the same passageway to get to the field to join the fracas, and they managed to be perfect gentlemen before and after.

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The bullpens’ orderly single file line is the funniest bit of this. Thanks for that.

I think Kopech has the correct reaction. We unambiguously suck, and in this game secured the season series vs Cleveland.

I am more than a little mystified about the shot TA took putting him on jelly legs. J-Ram was swinging totally wild; eyes closed, head not even focused, being pulled backwards by Kopech. I guess he planted his right foot as he swung, but the punch itself looked vastly less impressive than say Odor on Bautista. It wouldn’t be nearly as impressive if TA hadn’t been down for the count. Not great.


I mentioned this in another column, but I REALLY dislike Pedro’s “no-comment” quote. Compare that to Elvis Andrus who said “We all love Tim and have his back.” I feel like that’s what a manager SHOULD say.


I can’t comment on what he should have said, but it was unacceptable to say nothing. Especially when you know Francona is going to go off and say whatever he wants. I don’t know what they were yelling at each other on the field, but reading between the lines of what Francona said (and if you take that at face value), it could have been something about needing to get control of his team. Doesn’t make Grifol look good to have nothing to say

Last edited 1 month ago by JazznFunk

Pretty much this, you can back and forth about what he coulda/shoulda said and we all have thought of the perfect thing to say…5 minutes later, but to say nothing is just unacceptable.

Trooper Galactus

It wasn’t Tony throwing Yermin under the bus bad, but it was certainly bad.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

No matter how low your expectations are for the Sox they will find a way to be disappointing. It’s a truly accursed mix of ignorance, stupidity, and arrogance going on there.

Since there’s no way they’ll successfully rebuild any time in the foreseeable future I’m just hoping they don’t roster any players with active investigations into possible war crimes.


 I’m just hoping they don’t roster any players with active investigations into possible war crimes.” is an actual scenario I could see playing out with how little due diligence is a factor in decision making. Go Sox!


“The Chicago white sox pizza race, brought to you by Al-qaeda”

Shingos Cheeseburgers

Don’t forget to arrive at the park early to make sure you get your Andrew Vaughn Iron Man bobble head sponsored by the Nigerien military junta!


Another thing was wasn’t mentioned is how the Umpire was being peacekeeper then the moment they squared up he backed up so fast and so far he might’ve showed up in another baseball game.


Smartest guy out there.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Ramirez in the lineup today, TA isn’t. Unless TA is hurt, this isn’t a great look from Grifol either.


well, he might be concussed…


It was a planned concussion.


The passageway choreography was tidily kabuki, compared with the on-field slapdashery….


Timmy just needs to go. He has obviously become a big distraction to this dumpster fire, which is hard to do. If they can’t trade him, then just don’t pick up his option. He needs a new start as far away from this team as possible.

But Grifol needs to go now. He has no control of this team, and he offers absolutely nothing. He has zero value to this organization. It’s amazing that he was Hahn’s first choice to run the team. Just how bad is Hahn?

How low can this organization sink. It truly is a complete laughingstock. And maybe no change in the forseeable future. What a damn shame.


I recced this comment, although not picking up his option should not be a consideration.. Tim has had a nightmarish season and he does need a fresh start. But he has been a quality major league player for years and he has value going forward. I think his personal issues have affected everything, from his on-field performance to his conduct on the field, oral or otherwise. I believe that he is a man whose public image and self-image has taken an enormous hit and he does not know how to deal with it. I like Timmy, but I also like Jose Ramirez. Based on what I saw, Ramirez instigated this fight, but Timmy did not need to take the bait. I don’t know if Timmy has been shooting his mouth off to the Guardians, but, if so, I think it likely stems from his general discomfort with the season, originally stemming from his personal life. I very much feel sorry for him.

Grifol seems like a nice man. He is unable to handle this job in any of its respects, however. He has had the shot that he wanted. It did not work. He is not the first who has had that experience. He isn’t even the first White Sox manager.


I agree he has some value going forward, which is why I said if they can’t trade him. Surely someone will find value in him. He just needs to be far away from the White Sox by spring training.

Greg Nix

Rick Hahn hired the Rick Hahn of managers.


Kenny loves him, I would be shocked if his option wasn’t picked up.


Hit enter too soon. I’d half-expect them to extend TA a couple years.


Thankfully I stopped watching this team after the deadline. Mostly focusing on the system again, because fandom and baseball are too hard to just drop on a dime. But if I’m following this correctly, Ramirez was mad at TA for how he was handling tags on 2nd, which I would agree with is cheap, then TA reacted by challenging him to a fight on the field mid game, proceeds to get KO’d, then the manager who is supposed to fixing culture and getting things right the rest of the year, whatever that means, declines to say anything and just deferred to the league to handle it? I’m sure there is more context, but this is the brass tacks of what is available to fans…and the White Sox wonder why their fanbase hates them as much as we do. Completely devoid of any leadership and the arrogance to think they are better than they are despite the results and on field play. But at least its another forgettable season where something stupid happens that will go down as part of the legacy for a Sox player many fans believed would be our guy in a “contention window”.


I’m a Sox fan – til death so is part…but Tom Hamilton is my favorite non-Jon Miller announcer ever, Francona is my favorite current manager, and Jose Ramirez is probably my favorite non-Sox player since George Brett. I feel like I really got my money’s worth last night because they all put on a good show.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I can’t stand any of them.

White Sox Wade

I believe Francona was managing in the Sox system prior to Boston. Looks like the front office is just as bad at identifying managerial talent as they are identifying and developing on field talent.


Regarding Ramirez’s comments, TA was suspended for flipping off a fan in Cleveland last year. Possible that is part of what he was thinking.

King Joffrey

Like those robotic subs exploring the mysteries of the deep, deep down, our White Sox are seeking out uncharted depths in baseball wretchedness.


Do any current Sox remember or care that the Guardians mocked them after clinching the division last season?


Pepperidge Farm remembers


I’m just grasping at straws, trying to figure out wth happened last night.

White Sox Wade

Maybe since the trade deadline has passed, this remaining collection of underachieving athletes senses that their top earning years are being wasted by an organization unwilling to invest in their success and has finally had enough?


Checks out.


Leury Garcia says Hi. He’d do it himself but he’s busy trying to figure out where to invest next year’s 5.5 million dollars.


How much more embarrassment can this guy put his wife through, Glass jaw to go along with his hands of stone.


I don’t know where Anderson learned to fight, but it doesn’t seem a righty should square off like that.


They also let other teams do things like win divisions and trophies.