By Daniel I. Dorfman–
CHICAGO (WSCR) One of the really dangerous things to do is declare a baseball season over on Memorial Day. There are over 100 games still to be played, the weather has yet to be consistently warm and things have a way of changing over the course of a 162-game season. All that being said, what happened in Toronto this weekend was a sign the next thing Sox fans should look forward to is spring training in 2012 because these next four months could be less than pleasant.
There were a lot of ugly things going on this weekend at the Rogers Centre and only some of them took place on the field. We were treated to the obligatory Ozzie tantrums, one of which he tried to deny even though it was on videotape. We saw John Danks get angry with Jose Bautista after Bautista apparently broke one of baseball’s unwritten rules, and most of all we saw the Sox lose three of four and get embarrassed on Sunday in a 13-4 loss that wasn’t as close as it sounded.
Guillen got chippy about his team after Saturday’s loss because the Sox lost a 14-inning game and couldn’t get a clutch hit past the ninth inning. Then he went off on Sunday before the game complaining about the fans who he said have short memories. He managed to add comments about the bodily functions of the people who come to visit the statue of the 2005 World Series winning team. Guillen later tried to backtrack from those particular statements, but they were on videotape, so they were kind of hard to deny.
Rants by Guillen are just part of the rites of spring in Chicago. They may not even deserve that much attention at this point, even if it is disconcerting the fan base is part of his venom right now. (Given the crowds – or lack thereof – at U.S. Cellular Field so far this season, no surprise Guillen quickly backed down.) But when they happen with regularity, they lose their effectiveness. It starts to feel contrived and it enters the mind, do the players really care anymore?
Speaking of the players, it was also troubling to see some of the behavior that we saw in Toronto. Perhaps Bautista was “acting like a clown” in the words of Danks yesterday after Bautista popped up a pitch and threw his bat down as the Blue Jays winning 9-2. But watching Danks yell at him made the pitcher, who is now 0-8, look whiny. A well delivered inside fastball the next time Bautista was up at the plate by a Sox pitcher would have sent the same message that Danks was trying to convey without the spectacle of Danks yapping from the pitchers mound. Danks has had some bad luck this year given a lack of run support in some of his games, but no pitcher is going to look good screaming on the mound when they are the first hurler to start off a season 0-8 for the franchise in 69 years. You could hear “shut up and pitch well” coming from homes all over White Sox nation toward Danks.
Optimists will note the Sox are actually one game ahead of last year’s pace after 55 games just before they went on their 26-5 run that vaulted into first place in July and they recently went on a 12-5 stretch and after these next three games in Boston, the schedule, at least on paper, is not as formidable as it has been. But that all seems like grasping at straws amid a train wreck of a season. If it weren’t for the performances of Philip Humber, Brent Lillibridge and Paul Konerko, things would be a lot worse than they actually are, and that is saying something.
Now with the Bulls gone and who knows when the NFL will start up again, baseball is the main sports option for Chicago right now and will be a for a while. That is hardly the most cheery of thoughts.
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Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.