By Daniel I. Dorfman–
(WSCR) Trying to come up with reasons to look forward to the White Sox in the second half of the season is not that easy given the cynicism that crept in after their first 92 games. But the powers-that-be would not like it if I turned in a blog that just said of reasons to follow the Sox: “There aren’t any.”
And actually that’s not true. There are things that all Sox fans should rally around, even if the team continues their frustrating, inconsistent play and never do make a run for the top spot in the American League Central.
So here are some things to pay attention to these final 70 games.
1) Paul Konerko: Barring injury, Konerko should get the necessary 13 home runs to reach 400 for his career, played mostly with the Sox, as he continues to pursue Frank Thomas for the most in team history. It’s shivering to think where the Sox would be this year without him. Konerko has been the only player they have been able to count on offensively, and his play at first base has been stellar. It will be nice to see him get the 400-homer accomplishment, and hopefully some other individual accolades. They are deserving for the face of the franchise, which he’s been since 1999. Hopefully the planning has already begun for a Konerko statue at U.S. Cellular Field one day.
2) Mark Buehrle: Speaking of statues, there should also be one constructed for Mark Buehrle. While he may have never been an ace in the ways of Roy Halladay or C.C. Sabathia, any argument about the top five pitchers in Sox history has to include Buehrle. This could be the end of the road for the southpaw in a Sox uniform. The reality is that he’s in the final year of his contract and the Sox are stuck with some bad salaries as part of a $127 million payroll and lackluster attendance. So some unpleasant decisions may have to be made.
If the Sox continue to believe they have a shot at the AL Central crown, it’s doubtful they would trade Buehrle during the season. But if the wheels completely fall off once again, (the Sox have not played well in the second half in recent years) maybe they will decide to part ways with him. That almost happened four years ago when he was at the end of his last contract. Maybe he will get his wish to be traded to St. Louis. Maybe he will follow through on his threat to retire. Who knows? Simply said, the Sox don’t win a World Series in 2005 and a division title in 2008 without Buehrle. So if there comes time to say goodbye, be it in July, August or at the end of the year, Buehrle deserves a collective hug from Sox fans.
3) Gordon Beckham: Two years ago when he came up, Beckham had the look of being, potentially, the best offensive threat since Frank Thomas. He appeared to have all the tools necessary to be a terrific hitter. Who thinks that today? Even with him hitting .389 over the last seven days, he only raised his average to .245, and he hit .252 in 2010. The fact that Beckham looked immature last weekend, with his stupid drawing in the sand escapade, isn’t helping matters. It’s getting to be put up or shut up time for Beckham.
4) Phil Humber: It’s amazing what Humber (8-5) has done this season. A 28-year-old pitcher with only two career wins prior to this season, and who’s battled injuries, has been the Sox best starter. There’s been only one really bad start, which naturally, occurred against the Minnesota Twins. If Humber shows he can continue to pitch and stay healthy, the Sox have something to build their rotation around. Still, first half and one-year wonders have happened throughout the history of baseball, so caution should be applied to Humber and what role he’ll have with the team down the road.
5) Dayan Viciedo: There are those of us who want to see him at the Cell right now, but the organization is not willing to do that as of yet. Given an offense that is truly offensive, it still seems strange that Viciedo continues to languish in Triple–A. But sooner or later he’ll be coming up, and Sox fans will want to see what he can do at the major league level. He’s had an opportunity with the Sox before, will this be the time he shows he deserves to stay around?
6) Given the NFL and NBA Lockouts, and the Cubs being really awful – what else is there to do?
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
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.