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VAfan last won the day on January 19

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  1. I've been a sports fan nearly all of my life. I was born in Indiana, but after my mother divorced and remarried, we moved to Evanston where I started school. I think the first team I rooted for was the Cubs. But I gave them up after the 1969 collapse to the Mets and became a White Sox fan in 1970. My first baseball game was at Wrigley, but I went to many more Sox games. So for 53 years I have been a Sox fan. 2005 was a magical year for the Sox, and totally unexpected. I wrote, and have posted the link on Sox Talk, a 17-page tribute to that 2005 Sox team. There's no question that was an exciting year. I don't live in the Chicago area anymore, but I sought out Sox fans to watch the World Series together and had a blast. In around 1966, I started rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, so I've been a Cowboys fan even longer. And, unlike the Sox, they had tremendous success under Tom Landry. But that lasted only until 1995 and since then, they haven't even made an NFC Championship game. Now almost 30 years of falling short. I was also once a big NBA fan. First of the Bulls of the era with Chet Love, before MJ. Then, after moving to Seattle, of the Supersonics, who won a title in the late 1970s. I never got too much into hockey, though I recall listening to the Blackhawks on the radio. But I never really had a team. At some point, I started to break my infatuation with sports teams. First to go was the NBA, which I stopped liking because the NBA finalists could be easily picked before the season even began. The Supersonics were no more, and I never picked up another team. I liked the MJ Bulls, but didn't live in Chicago, so I never got too close. My mother, on the other hand, was a bit of a fanatic. I don't remember the year, but it was when Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined the Lakers. That was it for me. The Dallas Cowboys were next, but the 58 year hold they have had on me isn't easy to break. Still, I haven't paid any attention to them since they lost again in the playoffs. Will I pick it up again in the fall? I hope not. I want to keep my resolve and let them go. Now it's the Chicago White Sox. Last year really broke my connection with the team. And this year? Well, it's the same old same old. What I find is that it's mostly pain and stress to follow a team that isn't doing well. All you tend to see is the disappointment, mistakes, and failures. And who needs that in their lives? There's really no pleasure in rooting for a particular team any more for me. And if you can free yourself from that, then it's fine to watch sports for what it is. Take the concern about the outcome out of the equation and you can see the agony and ecstasy as just part of what makes us human beings. So I just thought I would pen this to see if other people are feeling this way. And also to strengthen my resolve to be done rooting for any particular teams any more. I'm too old to want to carry around the stress that comes up from rooting. The highs no longer come anywhere close to making it worthwhile to stress about the outcome. I believe I'll be happier this way. Anyone else? *************** P.S. The other topic I thought about writing was whether the Sox need to start over again. But that would just be filled with a lot of angst. Instead, I'd rather just let go.
  2. It's only a few games, but already Pedro Grifol has left Michael Kopech and Lance Lynn in as starters while they got shelled. Why does that remind me of Ozzie? Because Ozzie's philosophy was to make his starters give him 100 pitches regardless of whether they had their stuff that day or not. Today, nobody gets to 100 pitches, but making a starter who doesn't have it go 80-90 pitches or more is essentially the same thing. I recall a story about Ozzie and Jon Garland. Garland was skittish. If he got into trouble, he would start looking into the dugout expecting the hook. The story I recall is that Ozzie came out and said "why are you looking into the dugout? Are you expecting me to take you off the hook? This is your mess. Clean it up." (Something like that.) He made Garland realize he wasn't going to get relieved just because he got into trouble. He had to learn how to get out of it. Made him a much better pitcher. Plus it saved the bullpen. I think Grifol might think the same way. Game's out of hand anyway. As long as the starter isn't hurting themselves, make them learn how to get out of trouble, and save a thin bullpen that hasn't pitched very well itself. Not much of a track record to go on, but I'm okay with that approach. In 2005, it allowed White Sox starters to post something no team is ever going to come close to matching ever again. 4 complete games in a row in the ALCS. Won't happen at any point in any season ever again. And in the 5th game, the bullpen pitched 2/3 of an inning. 5 games, 2/3 of an inning from the bullpen. Ozzie helped turn his starters into aces. We'll see how Grifol's approach works with this staff.
  3. I have not been in this topic. But it just occurred to me that Rick Hahn is probably the person most responsible for hiring Pedro Grifol. So if Grifol works out, Hahn will deserve a lot of the credit.
  4. I thought Moncada should have been in the #3 hole before the season started, based on what he showed in the WBC. He has a higher ceiling then Benintendi. I would go Anderson, Robert, Moncada, Eloy, Grandal, Vaughn, Benintendi, Andrus/Gonzalez, Colas. Robert will come around, and should steal a lot of bases. I leave him #2. I'm putting the 2 slowest guys together in Grandal and Vaughn. Grandal is hitting well enough to reprise his 2021 season. You could swap him with Benintendi if you wanted to. I just think his power and OBP will play better in the 5 spot. Colas deserves to hit higher, but I'm just splitting up the lefties and so I don't have 3 RHs in a row at 9, 1, 2. I wouldn't hesitate to hit Zavala in the same spot as Grandal. His bat has been amazing.
  5. I posted this over on the Athletic. Despite this point, I'm overall pleased with the series. The offense is so much better. Moncada should hit 3rd in this lineup. Seby should get more playing time. I'd like to see Romy in for Andrus a fair amount. *********** Sox definitely need to work on bases loaded no one out. I really wish the coaches would take the swing tendency away from young players in those situations sometimes. I sat watching Sheets and Colas both up against a righty with the bases loaded and no one out. Three balls low and inside, none hittable, all swung at. I said to my family before each pitch exactly where the ball was going. If you watch the game instead of the ball out of the pitchers' hands, you know he's not throwing a strike there. He gets you to chase once, twice, three times and you are done. Sox should be smarter. There are times the 3rd base coach should give the take sign. Force a young hitter like Colas or Sheets to just watch the ball. See the pitch. Watch it drop out of the zone. Ball one, ball two, and now the pitcher has to do something else. Who am I? I'm nobody. But it always gets me if I can call what's coming in certain situations, then the guys paid to do this ought to do it better. Hitters shouldn't just be evaluating the pitch to decide whether to swing. They should be evaluating the situation and how they expect to be pitched. It wasn't just Sheets and Colas. Vaughn was a victim too. Enticed to swing at balls with the bases loaded. In that situation, batters have to make the pitcher come to them. Be MORE selective. Like Grandal. Look for the pitch where you want it. If it's not there, take it. Get them to 3 ball counts with the bases loaded. My point is, this is a coaching issue as much as it is a player issue. Sox have some young hitters, and some impatient veterans. There is a lot of room to grow.
  6. This game hinged on 3 mistakes the Sox made. 1. Letting Lynn pitch to Tucker. He was over 90 pitches, had just given up a hit, and was borderline. Bring in Lambert there and the Sox likely finish the 6th up 3-0. 2. Graveman walking Maldonado. How do you walk him, he swings at everything. 3. Bringing in Diekman with the bases loaded. He's the worst reliever on the team. I would have brought in anyone else. Those 3 things led to 5 of the Astros 6 runs.
  7. I've gone from Mr. Optimism when this board was all negative, to Mr. Pessimism last year when I thought the team was unwatchable. It wasn't just Tony LaRussa either. None of the everyday hitters except Jose Abreu actually came to work everyday and played above average. Not a single one. But it's a new year, with a new manager and some new coaches, some new players, and no more Leury Garcia to whine about. I'm not going to sit here and project anything for the team. I have no idea if they will 1. Stay healthy 2. Play good defense 3. Stop chasing bad pitches 4. Become a HR team again (like 2020) 5. Pitch well But they might. I think the team has enough talent to win if they stay healthy and perform like they are capable of. They could also continue to get hurt too easily and too often, fall into bad habits, and lose. Here are the things I've liked this offseason. 1. Pedro Grifol as manager. Who had heard of him? Seems to say all the right things. We'll see how it plays out. 2. Benintendi addition. I think he will hit more HRs for the Sox than he has recently. Lefty. Good outfielder. On base guy. Maybe that will rub off on some others. 3. Yoan Moncada looking good at WBC. This guy was once the #1 prospect in baseball. Imagine the 2019 version of Moncada and what that could do for this offense. 4. Jose Castro as hitting coach. The Sox somehow morphed from the team that led the AL in HRs in the short covid season 2020 to a bottom dwelling singles hitting team last year. The Sox have plenty of players who can mash if they stay healthy. They need to do it. Grifol also has a role here. 5. Yasmani Grandal being healthy, and not facing the shift. Grandal went from the Sox best hitter in 2021 to one of its worst hitters in 2022. He's in a walk year on his contract. He should be motivated and ready to mash again. 6. Cutting Leury Garcia. Sends the right message. The team is better offensively and defensively without him. 7. Oscar Colas. Who knows how quickly he'll produce and fix his inevitable mistakes. But the Sox finally have a legitimate right fielder offensively and defensively, who is also a lefty. 8. Andrew Vaughn at 1B, not the OF. Should help him offensively, keep him healthier, and will vastly improve the Sox' outfield defense without him out there. He's not likely to ever be peak Abreu, but he might have years above Abreu's 134 OPS+ average. 9. Another reset for Lucas Giolito. As the middle guy in the Sox' rotation, the Sox need him to be his best version, not his worst. He ought to be motivated for contract reasons to do well. He's looked good so far. We'll see if it holds up. 10. Reynaldo Lopez out of the pen. I think Lopez will get a lot of closing opportunities with Hendriks out. And I think he will do well. 11. Garrett Crochet and Liam Hendriks should be back during the year. When they are, the pen might be great. 12. Lance Lynn healthy. He was a workhorse for several years before coming to the Sox. As the #2 guy, the Sox need him to stay solild. 13. Luis Robert healthy. He shouldn't be this far down the list. He is the best player the Sox have. He needs to play like it. There's my lucky 13. It will be interesting how the new bags and the lack of the shift will affect the Sox. In the past, we would expect other teams to take advantage of these changes more than the Sox. But Grifol and the way he thinks might change that. The Sox certainly have players who can steal. And they have some lefties who should benefit from the lack of a shift. They also have two shortstops on the infield to give them range. The pitch clock might also be interesting. Eloy always steps out and adjusts his gloves. We'll have to see how the new rules affect him and others. I hope the Sox win me back this year. I'm going to give them a chance.
  8. Zavala, Alberto, Sheets. Do we know who the 4th guy is yet?
  9. Nice thought, but I doubt Grifol is pinch hitting for Moncada or Vaughn. I think the more likely scenario is that Eloy, Moncada and Vaughn will get dinged up and need days off, but not long enough for a DL stint to bring up Burger from the minors. The problem is if Anderson or Andrus is hurt, we have no choice but to play Leury or a Alberto, and you can't really pinch hit for them because there's no defensive replacement. (You could maybe play Burger at 2B for an inning or two.)
  10. I was thinking this morning they need Burger Sheets and Seby because the guys often dinged up and unable to play are Eloy, Moncada, and Vaughn. You need a bat to replace them, not a utility guy, and Burger and Sheets are the only viable bats, although Grandal if he's hitting can also DH and cover 1B.
  11. Watched the video over and over again after seeing it live. I don't see how he could have hurt anything.
  12. No one here has any real idea how these guys are going to hit this year. Grandal went from the best hitter on the team in 2021 (155 OPS+) to its worst regular in 2022 (64 OPS+). Moncada went from a 116 OPS+ to a 76 OPS+ Luis Robert went from 154 OPS+ to 109 OPS+ Eloy went from 99 OPS+ to leading the team with 140 OPS+ Elvis Andrus was the Sox' 3rd best hitter while he was with the team at 116 OPS+ Andrew Vaughn elevated from 91 OPS to 111 OPS+. Tim Anderson only played 79 games. ********* That being said, if you project each player to be the best version of themselves, here's the order I would use: 1. Anderson. Still the sparkplug of the team. 2. Robert. Biggest upside of anyone. Speed should put him near the top. 3. Moncada. His best version is better than Benitendi. 4. Eloy. The HR masher. 5. Benintendi. Gets on base for Vaughn. 6. Vaughn. Key RBI spot 7. Colas. Lefty could move up if he mashes. 8. Grandal/Zavala. Grandal might deserve to be higher, but plays the least. 9. Andrus. Need him to reprise last year's numbers for the Sox
  13. Moncada has to prove it more than anyone else after last year. Frankly, Andrus was the Sox' third best hitter during his time on the team. What that means for the lineup I don't know. But I'm going to defer to Grifol. I'm sure he'll have his reasons for how he lines guys up, and we may not be privy to them. The only important thing about the lineup, really, is that the best players stay healthy and play. The order is much less significant.
  14. I'm not making any predictions. I went from being Mr. Optimistic on a board that hated the Sox to being Mr. Pessimistic, calling the team unwatchable. There are a lot of POTENTIAL improvements, but the only one that's for sure is the manager. The players still have to get away from their free-swinging tendencies and stay healthy for once. The one guy who showed up everyday and hit above league average is gone. Can the rest of them do it? I mean, can any of them do that? They've got to show me before I'm buying in.
  15. Let's assume this is the starting group C - Grandal SW 1B - Vaughn R 2B - Andrus R SS - Anderson R 3B - Moncada SW LF - Benitendi L CF - Robert R RF - Colas L DH - Jimenez That leaves 4 openings. C - Zavala is the only lock Who are the other 3, and why? 1. Utility. Someone who can back up all the infield and OF spots. Most likely Garcia. 2. OF depth. Jimenez can play LF or RF, as could Sheets in a pinch. But that leaves CF. Can Colas cover there? Seems like someone is needed here. 3. Platoon value? Sheets offers value against righties, but not paired with Colas. And Vaughn isn't likely to sit often. Burger offers value against lefties if Colas sits and Jimenez plays RF. 4. Defense and speed. Hamilton can cover CF, and offers speed, but who does he run for? Grandal? Vaughn? My guess is Zavala, Garcia, Sheets mostly because they've played the most, with the 4th player a defensive outfielder. But I'm not confident beyond Zavala. Who do you have?
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