MUSICK: Sox make it tough to focus on baseball
CHICAGO – What a day for a daydream.
Not just Wednesday. More like any day the White Sox have a game.
But there I stood, notebook and pen in hand, smack dab in the middle of another Chicago-style baseball season at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox’s 4-2 loss against the Baltimore Orioles marked the halfway point of the 162-game schedule.
Eighty-one games down. Eighty-one games to go.
Symmetry was in the air.
It seemed like a good time to check in on the South Siders. Catch up on some baseball. Take advantage of the rare quiet spell one week after the Blackhawks partied in Grant Park and three weeks before Bears opened training camp.
It was time to roll up my sleeves and write about baseball.
Hey, look, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Bollig!
The Hawks’ two-time champion winger and his fist-clenching teammate emerged from the Sox dugout with the Stanley Cup about 15 minutes before the first pitch. Those in the crowd cheered and snapped pictures, enjoying an up-close view that millions had tiptoed to glimpse five days earlier in the streets of downtown.
What a spectacular trophy. It never gets old to look at that thing.
Hours earlier, a group of reporters chatted before manager Robin Ventura arrived to soft-talk his way through a couple of minutes. Where, we wondered, would the Cup go after its on-field appearance? Would it make a stop in the press box?
No such luck.
That’s too bad, I thought. I missed the Cup’s appearance in 2010 during a Cubs-Sox matchup at Wrigley Field. Maybe you remember the game. It featured a terrific pitching duel between Gavin Floyd and Ted Lilly, both of whom carried no-hitters into the seventh inning.
But this was 2013, not 2010.
Sox relief pitcher Jesse Crain stood at his locker before the game. He wore a wrap the size of a beach ball on his right shoulder. He and first baseman Paul Konerko (lower back strain) had been placed on the 15-day disabled list.
“That’s the way it goes,” Crain said. “You can’t explain baseball. That’s why things on paper are always totally different than how they play out. You’ve got to go through injuries and fluky things that happen in this sport.”
Fluky things. Sounded like a good theme for a Sox column. Time to get to work.
Hey, look, football helmets!
An impressive display of football headwear lined a far wall of the Sox locker room. The full-size helmets represented a mix of college and NFL teams and seemed to be arranged in no particular order.
Among the helmets was one for the Texas Longhorns, which made sense. That’s where Adam Dunn played backup quarterback in addition to playing baseball. Other college helmets were for LSU, Florida, Georgia and Notre Dame – no Illini.
Meanwhile, Crain continued to talk about the injury-riddled season for the Sox.
“That’s why you have depth, that’s why you have the minor leagues,” Crain said. “You bring up guys, give guys opportunities, and see what happens.”
Except the Sox don’t have a lot of depth, and they don’t have great minor leaguers. At 33-48, they don’t have anything close to a winning record.
As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, the Sox could try to trade veteran players for younger prospects. But all of their trade chips – ahem, Crain – keep getting hurt.
You know what’s weird? The Sox locker room includes helmets for NFL teams such as the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks, but nothing for the Bears. Why no love for the hometown team?
Speaking of football, it would be fun to see another two-sport star like Bo Jackson. Maybe Dunn could sign on as the Bears’ No. 3 quarterback or something.
OK, fine, back to baseball. A reporter asked Ventura whether all of his team’s troubles made him want to drink.
“Water?” Ventura deadpanned. “Water’s pretty good.”
He’s right. Water is good. Especially when it’s hot.
Hey, look, fireworks!
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.