Results tagged ‘ Chicago White Sox ’
In case you missed it last year, a story hit the interwebs about how several American League teams had observed strange activities at Rogers Centre, leading them to independently come to the same conclusion in late 2010/early 2011.
Simply put…they had determined that the Toronto Blue Jays were stealing signs:
Now in terms of baseball’s written slash unwritten rules this is a little bit of a grey area.
On the one hand, it’s your responsibility as the pitching team to protect your signs, to not carelessly let the opposing team intercept them. But on the other hand, said thievery is required to be of the natural variety & is supposed to happen solely on the field of play.
Outside influences and the use of technology is 110%, without question, punishable by one in the ribcage kind of wrong.
And this is where the issue in Toronto arose.
From ESPN‘s Oustide The Lines last year:
The enraged player and his teammates could hardly believe what they had seen in the previous inning.
As they sat on the perch above the right-field bullpen at Rogers, they caught sight of a man dressed in white about 25 yards to their right, out among the blue center-field seats. And while the players watched, the man in white seemingly signaled the pitches the visiting pitcher was throwing against the Jays, according to four sources in the bullpen that day.
The players weren’t exactly sure how the man in white knew what was coming — maybe, they thought, he was receiving messages via his Bluetooth from an ally elsewhere in the stadium who had binoculars or access to the stadium feed.
But they quickly picked up the wavelength of his transmissions: He was raising his arms over his head for curveballs, sliders and changeups. In other words, anything besides fastballs.
Now comes this little anomaly.
Jason Hammel came into his May 30th game in Toronto with a 2.78 ERA and just three homers allowed in nine starts this season, but the Orioles right-hander served up four homers to the Blue Jays.
Afterward got about as close to accusing them of stealing signs as he could possibly get without actually doing it.
Here’s what Hammel told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun:
They’re a very potent offense and if you don’t make your pitches down they’re going to get them out. They were taking some pretty big hacks on my breaking stuff too, which leads me to believe it was something else. It is what it is. I need to keep the ball down.
When you’re locating your fastball, you’re going to give up some home runs there, but the swings they were taking on he breaking stuff, it was pretty amazing to me. I don’t think you can take swings like that not knowing they’re coming. I don’t know. That’s all I can say.
When asked if he was aware of past accusations, Hammel replied:
There’s rumors and things like that. I don’t know. I can’t speak on that, but they were taking very, very big strong hacks on breaking stuff. It was something I’ve never seen before.
Hammel has started 125 career games. Not only was that the first time he’s allowed four homers, he’d allowed three homers just twice before and gave up zero homers in 65 of those 125 starts.
Toronto has hit .262 with an .803 OPS at home this season, compared to .231 with a .660 OPS on the road. Their 2011 splits weren’t as drastic but their 2010 ones showed an even more dramatic difference.
Jose Bautista, for example, had a 1.118 OPS (on-base plus slugging) with 33 homers at home but an .879 OPS and 21 dingers on the road. First baseman Adam Lind had a .759 OPS with 15 homers in Toronto but a .660 OPS with eight bombs on the road.
Second baseman Aaron Hill? His home-road OPS split was .730-.605. Shortstop Yunel Escobar was traded from Atlanta to Toronto in July 2010, and he has an .865 OPS at Rogers as a Jay but a .683 mark on the road.
And then there’s Vernon Wells. The outfielder had a .990 OPS and 21 home runs in Toronto last season but crashed to .699 with 10 jacks away from Rogers Centre.
Now that several different teams are on record (Boston, New York, Baltimore, CWS) and several more have alleged off the record, it’s kind of hard to ignore this.
Accusations on their own might not hold much weight, but when combined with some crazy home & road slugging splits there seems to be some meat on this bone.
By Grant Brisbee @ Baseball Nation
Before the season started, it looked like the AL Central was split into three tiers. The Detroit Tigers were expected to be the class of the division. The White Sox and Indians were likely to be a step behind, but with the potential to make trouble if a few things broke their way. The Twins and Royals were supposed to party like it was 1999.
But the Tigers have looked like a catchable team so far, stumbling a bit with a top-heavy lineup and rotation. If a few things could go right for one of the teams in the second tier, it could make for an interesting pennant race.
Which brings us to the White Sox, who have had a ton of things go right. Two of their 30-something veterans — Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski — are off to their best starts ever. Two of the players the Sox might have figured were sunk costs — Adam Dunn and Alex Rios — are enjoying renaissance seasons so far. The hope was that Jake Peavy could contribute anything at all; he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Chris Sale’s conversion from reliever to starter has been a rousing success.
There is so much going right for the White Sox. With a win over the Red Sox on Sunday, though, they merely reached .500. Because in the middle of all these nice stories and surprising seasons, you have this:
Those are some of the ugliest lines you’ll see in baseball, and they’re all lumped right in the middle of the White Sox‘ Baseball-Reference page. Viciedo is the best of the bunch, thanks to four home runs. The other three are carrying sub-.500 OPS‘s, hitting around what you’d expect from Cliff Lee and Edwin Jackson.
When you have one player struggling this mightily, you keep an eye on him and quietly ready a backup plan. When four players are flailing around like Rey Ordoñez with a sack over his head, what in the world can the White Sox do?
Before you get the idea to call in the minor-league cavalry, remember the White Sox have the worst farm system in baseball. And in that worst farm system, there was only one position player in the top 10 who played above A-ball last year. That player, Ozzie Martinez, is hitting .125/.169/.143 in 56 triple-A at-bats.
That’s pretty close to Randy Johnson’s career line.
You can probably expect Alexei Ramirez to get better. He has over 2400 plate appearances in his (quite consistent) major-league career, and those certainly mean more than the 88 plate appearances this season.
But the other three hitters were already substantial risks. A September surge helped Morel stay away from a historically wretched season. The bizarre decline of Beckham is entering its third year. And Viciedo — still just 23 — made improvements with his plate discipline in his second go-round in the International League, but was still a good bet to be one of the more unpolished hitters in the AL.
The White Sox were right to start them and hope one or two or three of them would figure something out. Even considering how much of a risk all of these players were, no one could have expected them to be this bad. And now the team has no choice but to wear it. The commitment they made to these youngish position players can’t be undone that easily. There isn’t anyone waiting in the wings, even if a change makes sense.
If everything else keeps going as well as it has been, and these four players can improve enough to ape Alex Rios or Juan Pierre’s awful performances last year, the White Sox could jump ahead in the Central race. What’s more likely is some of the surprisingly good starts will regress back to what was expected in the first place, and at least one or two of the hitters featured here will figure something out. When the dust clears, the White Sox still have a chance to contend.
Until then, it’s worth noting the Chicago White Sox have four drunken kazoo players screwing up the entire symphony.
By Jon Bois @ Baseball Nation
Last week, a kid who appeared to be no older than five ran through the grass of U.S. Cellular Field and made history. Let’s break down the spectacle.
No one is more truly helpless, more completely a victim, than he who can neither choose nor change nor escape his protectors.
- John Holt
Just as we wouldn’t toss away a can of beans before eating them, we oughtn’t dispose of radical ideas, no matter how radical, before digesting them first. This is today’s can of beans: children, even small children, ought to be treated as independent beings and enjoy the same rights as adults. Eight-year-olds should vote. Five-year-olds should maintain the right to divorce their parents over a refusal to go to bed.
Whether this would be “good for the child” is a separate argument altogether; what we are discussing here is another human being’s rights. Is this unreasonable, irrational? I think so, and I would imagine that you do, too, but I’d also like to suggest that we, as people who were raised in a society that denies these rights to children and have never witnessed the alternative,are incapable of reaching an informed verdict on the matter.
Perhaps it isn’t in the child’s best interest to, say, allow a six-year-old to wander the countryside without parents or … say … run around on a Major League Baseball diamond during a game. But perhaps we also have the moral responsibility to grant this person the same rights as that person, without regard to age or height or the expectations we may set upon them.
Are you done? Here, I’ll take your can for you. We recycle in this household. To the blackboard:
At 3:15 p.m. Central time (4:15 Eastern) on April 19, 2012, this enterprising young gentleman in the South Side rose from his seat, found a way over the railing, and bolted through U.S. Cellular Left Field, objective and destination unknown. Here is video documentation of his adventure.
The gentleman in the White Sox uniform is Dayan Viciedo. This was his 17th career putout at left field, and likely his most notable, because this time, he put out the flickering flame of ambition in a child’s heart. He is to be commended, I suppose. In this instance I’m going to break a rule of mine, which is never to scold or condemn a field-stormer. If the child had happened to run on the field while a play was in progress, he could have placed himself in a considerably dangerous situation, and I’m afraid that I cannot encourage such behavior.
I would love to continue to lecture you, but we have statistics to gather.
Estimated run time: 18 seconds, but it could be argued that a field-storming isn’t completed until the runner is apprehended by security personnel. I find this argument to be sound, and so I am awarding him the extra 11 seconds in which he was being carried by Viciedo. This is a 29-second run.
Estimated run distance: 140 feet
Evasions attempted: 1
Interactions with players: 1 (was lifted and carried around by left fielder)
Security guards in play: 2, though neither appeared to be in full pursuit.
This is the 12th field-storming incident I have documented, and this is certainly the youngest field-stormer I have seen. The most obvious comparison to draw is the 2002 incident in which Dusty Baker’s then-three-year-old son, who was serving as a bat boy, erroneously tried to pick up a bat near home plate in the middle of a play.
The clear difference is that that young fellow was attempting only to complete a task assigned to him, to do what was expected of him. This young fellow dispensed with the social mores of the parent-child complex as profoundly as he dispensed of the notion of trespassing and private property.
Are these mores a necessary constant of nature? Perhaps rights had to be compromised — perhaps children really did need to be ordered to stay in the hut for we as a species to survive. But this fellow never asked for that. He asks for nothing. He only knows that he is here, now, and he lives and acts without regard for such silly cultural artifacts as “our permission.”
Click here to read more adventures in field-storming.