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All Up in White Sox Business Since 2005

Updated: 2017-10-18T09:28:31-05:00


We may as well talk radical realignment


Let’s indulge baseball’s lastest fantasy and/or hellscape Last week, Americans prone to panic had a new/old thing to dwell on — the supervolcano under Yellowstone. In the age of aggregation, it’s not always easiest to find the original source of the angst, but I think it stemmed from PBS’ interpretation of a National Geographic story. The headline: “Yellowstone Supervolcano May Erupt Sooner Than Anticipated.” But in the story: “Yet a massive eruption in the middle of the U.S. is still an unlikely event. [...] Yellowstone is one of the most closely watched volcanoes in the world. There is a whole suite of sensors and satellites that track any and all detectable changes. For now, at least, geologists aren’t terribly concerned.” Along the same lines, Baseball America ran a piece from Tracy Ringolsby about the theoretical fallout from a theoretical expansion that has generated a similar amount of angst from fans, at least those whose teams aren’t in the postseason. Unlike the PBS story, there isn’t a paragraph that so easily undermines its headline, but the nut graph is all overstuffed couching (emphasis mine): There seems to be a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration. It will lead to major realignment and adjustments in schedule, which will allow MLB to address the growing concerns of the union about travel demands and off days. In other words, there are two things that need to happen before it even starts heading in that direction. Only after a building consensus reaches official consensus can the league start heading in that direction. Given Rob Manfred’s tendency to let radical ideas waft away rather than rejecting them outright, this seems like another trial balloon without a timeline. But the ideas alternations contained therein get right to the core of what separates baseball from the other leagues. Chiefly: It features a radical realignment that would do away with the National/American league distinctions and divide a 32-team league (Montreal and Portland) into four eight-team divisions. It’d go all-in on the play-in game concept by settling two of the four divisional series spots that way, with the division winners getting the bye, meaning six of 16 teams will play at least one postseason game every year. In case you’re wondering what the White Sox’ division would look like: Midwest: Both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas. After reading this, I drew two conclusions. No. 1: I really like the American and National league distinctions for reasons that aren’t entirely logical. If you were to design a baseball league from scratch, it’d probably look something like what’s described above. Even numbers, geographic priorities, an emphasis on the postseason and, more importantly, everybody playing by the same rules. It’s insane that the American League has the designated hitter and the National League doesn’t. And yet I’m a fan of that bizarre design for reasons that I may not be able to articulate. For instance, I don’t like that Hawk Harrelson nonchalantly ceded an open ignorance of the National League, because people who are in the business of communicating information to the public should know things ... but I do like that it’s possible to live such a life. That trait wouldn’t be erased. It’d probably shift from “I only follow the AL” to “I only follow the North,” especially if a shortened schedule (156 games) is more than half composed of divisional games (84 games). That gives it a similar feel to the NBA or NHL. The argument against that is that those sports treat the regular season as a preseason, and hardcore baseball fans like themselves the 162-game grind. Again, though, if you were designing a baseball league based on what makes sense to contemporary sports fans, postseason uber alles is a hard draw to resist. As somebody who mentally assigns league affiliations to the United States map — Detroit is American League, Atlanta is National League — t[...]

Gamethread: ALCS Game 4, NLCS Game 3



Dodgers can back Cubs into corner



Sox Century: Oct. 15, 1917


The White Sox win the World Series with the help of some memorable Giant mistakes The White Sox won one and lost one Oct. 13. They beat the Giants in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the World Series, but they lost a coin flip to host Game 7. If the White Sox were going to win it all, they’d have to do it in New York. The good news? They had two chances to win one game, and so Pants Rowland managed accordingly. Eddie Cicotte had been the team’s undisputed ace, but Rowland went to his other horse, Red Faber, for Game 6. Faber had only pitched two innings the prior game, while Cicotte went six and neither Reb Russell or Lefty Williams showed much. With two cracks at the championship, Rowland saved his best for last, and with the most possible rest. John McGraw countered with Rube Benton, the lefty who threw a five-hit shutout at these same Polo Grounds in Game 3 five days before. Both pitching choices proved wise, whether you’re looking at the game’s scorelessness through three innings or what came after. Defense decided this game. More specifically, it was the lack of defense in the fourth inning, when the Giants’ gloves found increasingly creative ways to undermine themselves. Benton had pitched around singles in the first and second inning before a 1-2-3 third, so he appeared to have things under control. The fourth inning started equally innocuously with Eddie Collins hitting a sharp grounder to third baseman Heinie Zimmerman. Zimmerman handled the first step of the process with ease. The New York Tribune describes the other part. Zimmerman, in all his nonchalant grace, made a pretty pick-up. He had plenty of time to make sure of Collins and righted himself before pegging for the Sox captain. For some reason the throw was very bad, in spite of Zimmerman’s apparent care. It carried low and a trifle wide past [first baseman Walter] Holke and on to the stands. Collins reached second on the error. Joe Jackson tried bunting him to third, but fouled off both attempts. After watching two pitches out of the zone, he swung away. The Chicago Examiner will handle this one. Joe Jackson poked a soft boiled fly to right. Dave Robertson camped under the ball and made a $30,000 muff, which sum represents the difference between the ends of the purse. Dave was standing flat footed when the pill came down and so was Ed Collins. The runner raced to third, Jackson remained at first and both Sox waited to see what the Giants would do next. Thirty-three thousand odd Polo Grounders likewise sat tight and swallowed the lumps in their necks. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Happy Felsch had a number of different ways to get the game’s first run across the plate. He seemed to find none of them when he bounced the ball back to Benton on the mound. We don’t have a consensus on what exactly happened next. What we do have is a great article contributed to the SABR publication The National Pastime by Richard A. Smiley, who was kind enough to share it with me. Titled “I’m a Faster Man Than You Are, Heinie Zim,” Smiley goes through dozens of accounts to try to figure out exactly how the play unraveled. He finds that Benton snared Felsch’s bouncer and caught Collins straying too far from third base. He finds that Collins aimed to prolong a rundown long enough for both runners to advance into scoring position. From there, it gets complicated, and without the benefit of instant replay, it gets fuzzy. Many accounts have Benton throwing the ball to Zimmerman. Some have Benton throwing the ball to Zimmerman, who then threw the ball to catcher Bill Rariden. A few have Benton going to Rariden, who then threw the ball to Zimmerman. All of them end up in the same place — with Collins winning a foot race with Zimmerman to an unguarded home plate to score the game’s first run. It doesn’t help that the papers cast blame in different directions. The New York papers — at least the Tribune and Times — blamed Zimmerman. The former’s account: Good, old rel[...]