Thursday, March 02, 2006

Whoa Jciechowski!

Gene Wojciechowski writes for ESPN. He doesn’t do research or know a lot about sports, but he does write. He is also in love with the White Sox, and particularly Ozzie Guillen.

Grinder Ball Rule No. 71:
If at first you succeed, repeat.

For anyone that misplaced their copy of “Grinder Ball”, Wojo reminds us.

Under overcast skies at Tucson Electric Park, the White Sox opened their spring training schedule Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies (they lost 5-1). A year ago they lost their exhibition season opener to these same Rockies. Then they lost another game. And another game. They finished the spring with the second-worst record among American League teams. The general consensus among seamheads: they'd finish third or fourth in the AL Central.
Mean Gene’s first point for Grinder Ball is their awful spring training record. This is totally stupid. The definition of exhibition game: a sporting event in which there is no gain or loss from whether the competitors are victorious are not in any competition.

So, of course, the White Sox won the World Series. They didn't just win it, they ground a cleat heel into the Houston Astros. They became the first team since the '27 New York Yankees -- the gold standard of baseball dominance -- to lead the regular season from start to finish and record a World Series sweep.
The Sox share this in single commonality with the ’27 Yankees, so they must be a juggernaut. Keep in mind Wojo doesn’t do any research. It took me ten minutes to look up the 1990 Reds, a team that lead the Division wire to wire and swept the A’s. And that was when there were only two divisions.

Further, leading the division wire to wire is pretty arbitrary. The ’98 Yankees began 0-3. They recovered to win 114 games and sweep the World Series.

Now, 'most everyone has jumped on the Grinder Ball Rule No. 71 bandwagon. The White Sox are the logical pick for the two-peat, regardless of what George Steinbrenner says about his precious Yankees.
Does anyone recall Peter Gammons or anyone else citing Rule 71? There are a lot of people besides Steinbrenner who will pick the Yankees this year.

"Nobody's that good to win a World Series in March," says Guillen, sitting in the golf cart he uses to buzz from practice field to practice field. "You win a World Series in October."
A wise proverb by Ozzie Guillen. Similarily nobody's good enough to win the WBC in December.

We saw a starting rotation with Mark Buehrle and then a collection of question marks. White Sox general manager Ken Williams saw ERAs with tiny waist sizes.
"We thought we would win the division because we thought we had the best pitching," he says.
I guess Ken Williams knew that Jon Garland and Jose Conteras would each reduce their ERA’s by over a run. And Garland would reduce his walks by 40. Can anyone honestly claim they say Garland and Contreras being that good last year?

But nobody -- not Guillen, Williams, Konerko, Podsednik, Dye, Pierzynski or Jon Garland -- says he ever thought about breaking an 88-year-old championship losing streak. Not in March, they didn't.
Wait a minute, first Wojo gives the Sox credit for thinking they could win. Now no one in the organization actually believed it.

But as the season progressed, a National League first baseman began to notice the White Sox surge. His name was Jim Thome.
Jim Thome, baseball slugger and prophet.

"I think after the first month [and a 17-7 record], you thought, 'Man, this club here has got a chance to be a pretty good team,"' says Thome, who was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the White Sox in November. "Then they kept it going and you said, 'They got a real good team.'"
Thome, being the only man with access to the Division standings correctly declared that the White Sox were in first place.

Guillen wants more, and he might get it. Those questions about the rotation? Uh, what questions? Concerned about the White Sox offense? Hello, Thome. Nervous about the pressure of defending a world championship? Guillen might have the loosest, friendliest clubhouse in the big leagues.
Maybe they should worry about the Indians, Yankees, and Angels. While a loose clubhouse is nice for groupies, plenty of teams have the talent to beat the Sox. Sure Garland and Contreras might pitch great, or the law of averages kicks in and returns them to adequate. Center field is a big hole. Scott Podsednik is overrated. The White Sox are far from flawless. And on top of it all it's Gene's assertion that signing Thome, a guy coming off major elbow surgery, can step in and perform as well as he once did.

"Last year, we were good," Guillen says. "This year, I want to be great. I tell them don't worry about 2005. Worry about 2006."
What ballplayer wouldn’t be fired up by that? Tony LaRussa's "Remember 1982" speech to his Cardinals falls well short by comparison. Guillen's remarks even outshine Mike McGinty's stirring 2001 preseason speech to his Southwest Sparklers 3rd grade girls hoops squad. That's the stuff of legend and Guillen is crushing it with his Confucious-like wordplay.

Basically this article is for Recessive Gene to say he likes the White Sox and thinks they’ll repeat. His reasons: Spring Training losses, Ken Williams’ clairvoyance, Jim Thome’s clairvoyance, and his man crush on Ozzie Guillen. And because of Grinder Ball rule #71. Simple, just repeat. Had the Astros won last year, they would easily repeat in ’06. Ignore that they probably won’t have Roger Clemens.