Winning streak Chicago Sox Exchange

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By Paul M. Banks and the Soxman 

Let’s start by discussing the analogies you came up with last week (great job by the way filling in for me while I was away on business/pleasure, the “triple-threat” Sox exchange was quite impressive!) In the last Sox exchange you, Bruce Wayne-Parker and Batboy compared my personality to three members of the 2005 champion White Sox, Kenny Williams, Bobby Jenks, and Ozzie Guillen.
 
(SM) On behalf of Bruce and Batboy, we are glad you liked it.  Filling in your shoes wasn’t easy but it was fun.
 
As anyone who has ever attacked a TSB columnist, a member of my immediate family, or my cat Bastet has learned, I certainly do have an Ozzie Guillen side to my personality. I will unleash the dragon on any and all foolish enough to deride those closest to me. I feel all good leaders should make their enemies feel their wrath when necessary (Ozzie seems to enjoy doing this a bit more often than I do).
 
(SM) While you are a lot like Ozzie, where you are different is that you have never ripped on your fans.  He’s done that a couple of times now: saying that Sox fans unfairly bash his team.  As a manager yourself, you are not afraid to admit when the fan is correct or has a right to be angry with a sub par performance.  After all, without the fans, we don’t exist.  
 
 I also have a “closer mentality.” The the overpowering get-to-the-point persona of Bobby Jenks is admirable no matter what team you’re a part of.
 
(SM)  I think Batboy could find a Bobby Jenks association with just about anything.  No offense of course.  I was talking to him about Jermaine Dye’s big night against the Indians this morning and he still found a way to bring Jenks into the conversation.
 
However, the analogy I like the best is Kenny Williams. He is just so smooth, calm and collected. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown” yet he always seems to be completely in control and “cooler than Freddie Jackson sippin’ a milkshake in a snowstorm” as OutKast would say. Whenever I’ve met him in person, he’s been exactly like his public persona would make you expect. I strive to try and do a good job acting like….how can I put this? Have you ever seen a duck glide in a poetically aesthetic manner across the surface of a pond, yet below the surface is an unseen cumbersome and awkward looking set of motions propelling the animal forward? Everyone sees the cool, but no one sees the “grinder mentality” hard at work below. That’s great leadership, to “never let ’em see you sweat.” Williams is a GREAT dresser too. My sister Kristen, the most stylish person I know, is helping me emulate that aspect of his leadership model. 
 
(SM) Two things on your comparison to Kenny: You MUST not forget to compare the swagger of Kenny to your “Banksian” approach.  They are very similar. 
 

Second, Bruce Wayne-Parker is a pretty sharp dresser and said he’d take you on a shopping spree anytime.  He may be a little metro for you, but I understand you have first-hand knowledge that his fashion sense works. 
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I’ve seen it on multiple occasions: most recently, when the SICA babes pointed out our matching powder blue shirts. 8 in a row! FIRST PLACE BABY!!! This is starting to feel like 2005! When I look at the AL Central and I see the Detroit Tigers are a ship taking on water (Jim Leyland’s latest blowup is yet another piece of evidence) and the Cleveland Indians seemingly unable to play up to their potential, it seems like the division won’t require 95-105 wins like we originally thought it would. I just don’t see the Royals and Twins having the staying power either.
 
(SM) Well, let’s remember that the Sox have not lived up to their true potential yet either as a team.  Almost everyone thought that starting pitching was going to be the problem and our pitching as been unreal.  If we start bringing the thunder like we did Wednesday, look out.  I’m getting more excited as well, but I guess we should proceed with cautious optimism.  670 the Score reported that the White Sox had the exact same record one year ago at this time.  If that’s true, it is too early to start chilling the October bubbly.
 
The Indians are somewhat similar to the White Sox this season.  Their pitching has been excellent and their hitting has been slow starting.  Victor Martinez still does not have a home run and the big ogre Travis Hafner is only hitting .222 on the season. Grady Sizemore is hitting almost 30 points below his career batting average.
 
The Sox need to stay hot to win this division, bottom line.  We win eight games in a row and only lead the division by three and a half games.  That is not enough of a comfort zone for me. I liken the Tigers’ season to the Sox 2007 campaign.  They could not rise above their multiple injuries and several of their super stars are having down years.  The one thing you can glean from Leyland’s blow-up which I think is really important: team chemistry appears to be impacted.  Jason Grilli said the clubhouse chemistry has not been the same since players like Sean Casey left.  Remember, Soxman firmly believes chemistry is the “X” factor that puts a team over! 
 
 
The team has been blazing hot since Guillen tinkered with his lineup, moving catcher A.J. Pierzynski up to the No. 2 slot, followed by Carlos Quentin in the three-hole and Dye at cleanup. He also dropped Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Nick Swisher in the order. Dye is on fire. Konerko and Thome are still coming along slowly, but look at some of the Tribe’s big hitters, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner are having subpar seasons too. Even Harry Doyle from “Major League” would have trouble putting a positive spin on their season…the next time he hosts an edition of “Teepee Talk.”
 
(SM) I think not complaining about where they hit in the order speaks volumes as to the type of players Konerko, Thome, and Swisher are.  Remember a few seasons back when Dusty Baker tried to move Sammy Sosa to the five spot in the order? And he threw a hissy-fit? The Sox hitters just continue to go out there and do their best.  That’s professionalism and class in my book.  I like the lineup tweaks as they break up the logjam of slow runners in the middle of the line-up. As far as Quentin goes, you remember how high I was on him going into the season right?  He could work out to be an absolute steal if he stays healthy.
 
Konerko has me a little concerned.  Though the White Sox have won eight in a row, it is not Konerko who is coming through for the team. Last week he hit .148 with just one RBI.  He had an MRI on his hand, which thankfully came back negative.  Hand injuries can really zap a slugger’s bat speed and power.  It is something to watch closely for sure.
 Perhaps the Indians need some motivation.  I hear that Nick Swisher may have some inflatable dolls for sale!  
 
What are we going to do about Joe Crede’s below average defense?
 
(SM) Let Joe play through it.  He started out the season with the same stellar defense and has stumbled a lot lately.  His .926 fielding percentage is the worst on the team.  He has committed more errors this season (9) than the rest of the starting infield combined (5). Very few players with stellar defense suddenly lose it.  I would not hit the panic button on Joe just yet.  Remember the “x” factor on chemistry.

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Is Jose Contreras back to being himself? His forkball has wicked movement on it again and I guess the mental issues from his bitter divorce that clouded his mind seem to be gone…
 
(SM) In his last three starts, Jose is 3-0, with a 1.35 ERA.  He appears to be back.  You are correct.  Jose has had an entire off-season to put his divorce behind him and to focus on baseball again.  While there is absolutely no proof of this…I wonder if Steve Stone was a factor in Jose’s resurgence?  Early in the season, he mentioned his discussions on what Contreras did in the past to be successful several times.  Maybe he offered some friendly advice?
 
Contreras is third among Sox starters in ERA at 3.17 and second behind Vasquez in innings pitched (59.2).  He’s tied with Gavin Floyd in WHIP (1.14), and is second among starters in opponents’ batting average (.234).
 
Jose is a streaky pitcher so let’s hope he can stay on this streak until November.

Absolutely! By the way, Steve Stone is never ever wrong. His appearances on the Score are the highlight of that station.

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Comments

  1. Grrrrrreat exchange Paul! It is awesome to have you back. SM

  2. paulmbanks says

    Gavin Floyd rocks!

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