White Sox have had an amazing run, but they may not write the ending they’d hoped for
“There’s a certain peace that comes with knowing you went out and went at it the right way, the same way all year. It’s frustrating when you don’t get the results you want, wins-wise.”–Paul Konerko
The White Sox were one of the surprising stories of 2012 regardless of how these last few days play out. They got surprising contributions across the board, from Chris Sale and Jake Peavy, from Adam Dunn and Jose Quintana. Paul Konerko had one of best best seasons. They got contributions from a bunch of rookie relievers. Robin Ventura has been so good in his rookie season as manager that’s likely to change the way teams evaluate the position.
The White Sox didn’t just lead the American League Central for 63 straight days. They did it with the heavily favored Tigers breathing down their necks. In that whole run, their lead was never more than three games. When they had a three-game lead with 15 to play, it looked like they might be able to finish the deal.
That’s when the bottom fell out. They lost 10 of 12. They scored three runs or less in 10 of 13 games. Only the Mariners and Red Sox have scored fewer runs this month. A bunch of guys stopped hitting. Konerko batted .242 in September. Kevin Youkilis hit .220, Adam Dunn .197. A.J. Pierzynski .225.
Rookie starter Jose Quintana ran out of gas, winning of his last eight starts and turning in one quality start in September. Francisco Liriano won one of his last six. Sale picked a bad day to have a bad day.
I understand that successful seasons are defined by making the playoffs, and if the White Sox finish short of that, GM Kenny Williams and his staff surely will see it that way. When a general manager has a World Series ring, just being good isn’t satisfying.
On the other hand, it was a tremendous season. It was an endorsement of how the organization does business and of Williams and of Ventura and those players. The White Sox understood that the Tigers were supposed to win, but after holding them off for an entire season, they were convinced they were good enough to win.
Several weeks ago, Tigers manager Jim Leyland chided the media for not giving the White Sox respect during spring training. He said every baseball man worth his salt knew they were going to be competitive. I’m not sure if we should have known it in spring training, but it was a season when Sale established himself as something special, when Peavy and Dunn jump-started their careers and when the White Sox sent a lot of their fans home happy and optimistic for a whole bunch of nights.
If you’re a Sox fan, you’ll remember this summer as one of great fun, of watching a team that was competitive and entertaining. It may not be the ending they’d hoped to write, but it would be silly to see it as a failure.