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When this season comes to a close, you’re going to look back upon this three-game series with the Kansas City Royals and laugh. And believe you me, it’s getting its own section in the August chapter of White Sox Outsider 2011.
Win or lose, it was a train wreck. Look at the individual ingredients:
*A massive storm that postponed the first game two batters in, costing the Sox their best starter of late, Edwin Jackson. It also posed power problems the next day, as half a lighting bank went out, causing Joe West to look confused and bloated for about five minutes.
*The power problems, combined with Fox’s exclusive Saturday window, forced a true doubleheader starting at 6:10 CST, which is just about unheard of. Worse yet, the doubleheader was followed by a 1:10 start. Getaway day never meant so much.
*Of course, ALL THREE GAMES went to extra innings, making it 31 innings in 22 hours.
*Yuniesky Betancourt hit a game-tying grand slam and a walk-off single in the same game. Wilson Betemit was on base more often than not. Jason Kendall won the series. These guys were heroes.
*On our side, Tony Pena started and lasted seven innings. Bobby Jenks threw three scoreless innings. These things happened.
*Speaking of West, you had two of Major League Baseball’s most incompetent umpires working this one, and by the end, Hawk Harrelson** apparently sounded ready to kill West … if he didn’t kill himself first.
(** I had Kansas City’s crew, Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White, for all three games, and I think my health is better for it. The Fox Sports Kansas City broadcast is kind of sleepy — maybe because of the small crowds — as Lefebrvre and White don’t depart from their natural inflection. I can’t really point out anything distinguishing nor unlikeable about Lefebrve, and White is soft-spoken. He does deliver some great analysis of infield play, but if you’re not locked in, you can tune out both of them pretty easily. You can’t say the same about Harrelson, for better or worse.
But for a series like this, I needed calm. Spending 10 hours watching three crucial games decided by individual pitches, I don’t think I could take Harrelson. Lefebrve and White were steady and pleasant — even as the Royals were equally baffled by the bottom half of West’s strike zone — and didn’t put another layer of stress on top of the one caused by two crushing losses and a victory that managed to disappoint. Thanks, Ryan and Frank.)
It was the kind of environment that could make any event believable. Unassisted Betancourt triple play? Sure. Paul Konerko inside-the-parker? Why not? Ozzie Guillen charging West and delivering a Double Dragon drop kick? I wish.
The series also brought out every emotion, and I think my lasting one is “amused.” The situation didn’t cause the Sox to lose two of three, and besides, I like a good story. It’s not often that a series against Kansas City gains notoriety, but it’s going to be nearly impossible to top this clusterlove of circumstances.
But if you want to see if a series can get stranger next year, there’s a brand-new highway directly linking the two cities to make travel easier.
I’m going to use the off day to itemize some thoughts on individual events and players, but I keep rolling around one thought in my head:
Should Ozzie Guillen get more heat for starting Edwin Jackson on Friday?
I can’t say for sure, because I wasn’t around to first-guess. I came home from work, turned on the TV and was surprised to find the “rain delay” message on my screen.
But if it was so obvious to everybody that West blew it by starting a game that had no chance of getting two innings in, forget about five, wouldn’t it have been also apparent that starting Jackson would be a waste of a turn?
The Sox ended up winning Jackson’s turn thanks to Pena, but I think Guillen did put his team on the wrong foot by not anticipating what everybody figured to be a rather obvious conclusion on Friday. He was fuming at West, but he had control of the situation, too.