South Side Hit Pen’s Best of the 2010s

Three generations: One indelible memory. (Leonard Gore)


That last Christmas gift under the tree? Yep, it’s from your friends at South Side Hit Pen.

After we delivered our take on the very, very best and beyond, beyond worst games of 2019 last month, we decided to wrap up an extra-special treat, as we wrap up 2019 and the Teens to boot.

An octo-rama of the best and brightest SSHP writers present to you our Best of the 2010s — please enjoy.


Orlando Hudson leads off in what would quickly become a season finale onslaught.
Sure, it was a meaningless game, but it was also the last time the White Sox ended a season with a record better than .500. That wasn’t particularly inspiring at the time, because the White Sox had led the division until a week before, but looking back, a mere September collapse was the best of times. Plus, the score was significant — 9-0 being the official score of a baseball forfeit, given that the Sox would as good as forfeit the rest of the decade. The game itself had its moments – Gavin Floyd pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for his 12th victory of the season; Paulie and Dayan Viciedo hit dingers; the immortal Dan Johnson slammed three homers and picked up five RBIs, bringing his season total to six; and Adam Dunn improved the game significantly by not playing. (Yeah, yeah, that was his 41-homer year. So what?) — Leigh Allan

White Sox 9, Braves 6
June 22, 2010
There were two games that immediately jumped to mind, one sad, another happy. The sad one came in September 2011 in Kansas City, when manager Ozzie Guillén and I, both of us sensing it would be our last days together before setting off into other endeavors beyond the White Sox, sat alone and commiserated over our fates and futures for about 20 minutes in the visiting manager’s office of Kauffman Stadium. But I’m choosing the happier one, instead. And that game is a June win in Chicago, my first game on the White Sox beat. I was a week or so from riding in the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade, finishing up my one-and-done year on that beat before jumping right into the White Sox job for CSN Chicago. I’d covered the White Sox before, but never as a permanent job, and after writing stories for the beat-less Comcast during the Hawks playoff run — some even on a Blackberry after my netbook exploded in San Jose — I sort of forced my way into a dream job on the White Sox beat. It was the start of a two-year run with the team that was hard as hell, but a glorious and lucky time for me. I recall no details of the game beyond an early offensive assault and the win pushing the team over .500, but I hopped on the beat with the White Sox in the midst of a six-game winning streak, and from there my pugnacious prose helped compel the club to jump from third to first place during a 14-5 run (20 of 25 wins overall) that made me think, briefly, that after a first Stanley Cup in 49 years and now a 20-5 run with my new Chicago team, I was some sort of lucky charm. Of course, I was proven wrong by September 2010, but this season — and this game — will always be a magical memory for me. — Brett Ballantini

White Sox 4, Tigers 3
July 23, 2016
It was a day that was supposed to feature a cool retro jersey: the 1976 navy pajama top. Me and a group of friends normally went to the cool promotional games — the Hawaiian shirt games, jersey giveaways, steins, etc. — because the promotions have been the best thing about the Sox the past decade. If it is a cool promotion, we will be there. So, we mainly went to that game in July for the giveaway, but with the trade deadline nearing, we also understood it could be Chris Sale’s last game at Sox Park. While we were in line waiting to get into the park among what was a pretty good crowd, we all got phone alerts via Twitter, multiple reports coming in that Sale would not be starting the game. Immediately, we all turned to each other and asked if he was traded. As the line got moving, more and more fans were looking at their phones and turning to their group, all equally confused.

Now, my friends and I wanted a rebuild (and still support it), so we were giddy that a potential trade was in the works. A pitcher scratched from a start in late July surely made it seem like a trade was imminent. As confusion permeated the lines and the stadium, we collected our retro jerseys at the turnstiles and went upstairs to our seats. Looking back now, we should have noticed something obvious: The Sox were not wearing the 1976 jerseys, they instead were in the 1983s. But we did not think anything of it at the time (you can say we were stupid, and I will admit we were/are). As game time grew closer, the story became clear: Chris Sale was not traded; he threw a temper tantrum. He cut up the jerseys the Sox were supposed to wear on that day.

Once that information found its way to our laps, we all just laughed and laughed. In the same year where the Sox had the Drake Laroche debacle, another White Sox childish display was the talk of baseball. Because Sale did not start, Robin Ventura had to go to an impromptu bullpen day, and the bullpen did very well: Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson went all-out to get through the day and on to the next. The Tigers were able to put up three runs in eight innings, including a blown save by Jones. Meanwhile, the Sox offense did just enough. Avisaíl García drove in two runs through the first eight innings, with a home run. Dioner Navarro doubled in another run. It was a rainy day by the end of the game, so we left before the game was suspended after the eighth inning, and we did not go back for the ninth the next day, when Adam Eaton ended the game with an RBI single.

But the game was really a second act on the day: The real story was Sale’s. He ended up being suspended for five games, missing one turn in the rotation. But looking back now, that day must have made it much easier for the front office to trade him in the upcoming offseason. For me and my friends, we do not remember much about the game, but we all have vivid memories of the shock we all had once the true story came out, punctuated by the team wearing 1983s instead of 1976s.

The 2016 team was not all that bad, but it was the most embarrassing season to be a Sox fan in recent memory. This game was the exclamation point. — Darren Black


The youngest Gore scored his first-ever White Sox game at the tail end of 2019. (Leonard Gore)
White Sox 5, Angels 1
Sept. 8, 2019
Since nothing of any baseball importance happened during the seven years of the decade a White Sox fan was the POTUS, I’ll go with a personal choice that just snuck in under the wire. Sept. 8, 2019 was a completely forgettable and insignificant Sox 5-1 win over a Trout-less Angels team.  José Abreu homered; Danny Mendick homered (the first of his career!); Dylan Cease was wild (of course); and every starter got a hit except for Adam Engel (of course-of course).
But what made it most memorable for me was the fact that it was my son’s first ever White Sox game! And frankly, I didn’t spend much time watching this game because I was happy to have him with me. We watched a couple of innings, met Ron Kittle outside the park (of course-of course-of-course), and spent most of the game in the Fundamentals Kids Zone in left field doing all the baseball activities over and over. My dad and brother also were there, so it was three generations of Gore boys to enjoy a day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. — Leonard Gore

Royals 4, White Sox 1
Sept. 29, 2013

White Sox 9, Rays 6
April 25, 2014
Looking for the best White Sox game of the decade was no easy task. But after digging through the dumpster fire of the last decade that was White Sox baseball, I stumbled across April 25, 2014, an evening affair against the Rays that produced some nice fireworks.

Cut to the top of the ninth at U.S. Cellular Field, as Evan Longoria smashed a two-run dinger off of Matt Lindstrom to straightaway center field, breaking a 4-4 tie. Things were looking grim for the Sox, but they got through the rest of the inning unscathed. Then in the bottom of the ninth, with two on and one out, Paul Konerko walked to load the bases. Adam Eaton was up next, and narrowly avoided hitting into a double play to end the game, just beating out the throw at first as a run scored. Grant Balfour then walked Marcus Semien to load the bases once again, setting the stage for José Abreu.

Abreu did not disappoint, smashing a walk-off grand slam into the bullpen in right center field, his second dinger of the game. Ballgame!!! This game set the stage for six years of heroics from José, as he’s been the star who has shined the brightest during that time for the White Sox. — Scott Reichard (guitarsox)


Image result for White Sox 9, Mariners 8 Aug. 24, 2012
The Tank and The Donkey, celebrating the moments of their lives.
The White Sox were fresh off a sweep of the mighty New York Yankees, who finished the season with the best record in the American League. So things were looking up for the White Sox, who held a two-game lead in the AL Central. The mediocre Mariners visited The Cell, and the White Sox broke through early and often against starter Jason Vargas. Even free agent bust Adam Dunn went deep, as the White Sox chased Vargas from the game after only four innings, leading 6-2 when Vargas departed. The White Sox tacked on one more against the bullpen to take a 7-2 lead.
Meanwhile, Jake Peavy settled in nicely, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Matt Thornton took care of business in a drama-free eighth inning, and it appeared the Mariners would go down quietly. However, the ninth inning was far from drama-free. Robin Ventura made an odd decision to have Philip Humber start the ninth inning. Though Humber had thrown a perfect game a few months earlier, his performance between the perfect game and this outing was rough: a 6.67 ERA and  .284/.363/.518 slash against him. Ventura’s strange decision did not pay off on this warm, August night, as Humber’s struggles continued: a leadoff home run and walk before departing with one out. In to pitch stepped Donnie Veal, who allowed a double to the first and only batter he faced.
But, it was OK, as the White Sox still led 7-3, and Seattle’s tying run was still on deck. Addison Reed, who came in to pitch after Veal, had room for error. Unfortunately, Reed could not get the job done, allowing four of his first five hitters to reach base safely, and the final hit was costly. John Jaso’s single gave the Mariners an 8-7 lead and took the wind out of many fans’ sails.
Luckily, the White Sox offense woke back up, as they solved Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen. Kevin Youkilis hit an RBI single to tie the game, and Paul Konerko won it with a base hit into right-center to score Dewayne Wise. This was the wildest game I have ever seen in person, and I am thankful that I was able to attend. In the bottom of the eighth, one of my friends was wondering aloud if we should take off early and beat the traffic. Mercy, I sure am glad that we did not listen. — Joe Resis

OK, so this clip doesn’t feature the Yolmer Homer, but it does include a Yolmer two-bagger and a cameo from our own traveling win streak, Ashley Sanders.
White Sox 9, Rays 2
July 19, 2019
Although it has been a very disappointing decade for the Chicago White Sox, there have been many games worth celebrating. For my favorite game of the 2010s, like many of us I’m picking among games I attended. Of those 29 games, July 19, 2019 in St. Pete against the Tampa Bay Rays is my reigning favorite. A 9-2 squelching of Tampa Bay included a Yolmer Homer — and those are legendary! Reynaldo López pitched seven innings, the Sox tallied 17 hits, and it was an electric victory that ended a seven-game losing streak. Whenever the pitching and hitting are so in sync, it creates an all-around fantastic game! — Ashley Sanders

Today in White Sox History: December 6

Bold stroke: GM Roland Hemond stuck his neck out to make baby shortstop Ozzie Guillén the centerpiece of a winter trade — and won it, bigtime. (@RonVesely)


1959
In an effort to try to repeat as American League champs, Bill Veeck and Hank Greenberg decided to make a series of moves to bring in hitters at the expense of some of the top young players in the Sox system. Veeck originally tried to get young stars like future White Sox coach Orlando Cepeda from the Giants and Bill White from the Cardinals, but was turned down. So he went in the only direction he felt he could.

The first deal brought the Sox back outfielder Minnie Miñoso at the cost of future All-Star power hitting first baseman Norm Cash and future All-Star power hitting catcher Johnny Romano. Cleveland also got Bubba Phillips. Sox manager Al Lopez was quoted after the controversial deal as saying, “Some of us, like me, are not worried about next year because we might not be around then.”


1984
It was one of the most brilliant and gutsiest deals even completed by GM Roland Hemond, a deal that paid dividends immediately and 20 years down the line. Hemond sent former Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt to the Padres in a package deal that netted the Sox a 20-year-old shortstop named Ozzie Guillén. The Sox also got valuable utility player Luis Salazar.

Guillén immediately went on to fill a gaping hole in the infield and was named Rookie of the Year. He’d win a Gold Glove and become a three-time All-Star before coming back as manager in 2004. He’d then win the World Series in 2005 and make the playoffs again in 2008. Hoyt would be out of baseball by 1987, after battling weight and drug addiction issues.


2005
Frank Thomas, probably the best hitter in team history, became a free agent after the Sox declined to pick up his $10 million option. White Sox GM Ken Williams had no choice in the matter, as Thomas was coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons. At his age and weight, and with the addition of slugger Jim Thome, there was no longer a place for Thomas in the lineup. The Big Hurt would eventually sign an incentive-laden deal with the A’s in late January and continue his Hall of Fame career.


2016
One of the biggest winter meeting trades in memory saw the White Sox send Chris Sale, one of the top pitchers in the game, to the Red Sox for a number of prospects. The deal included the top minor league player in the game, Yoán Moncada.

Sale was brilliant in his six-plus years with the White Sox, winning 74 games with a 3.00 ERA. He made the All-Star team five times, pitching five innings and winning the 2013 contest. He set White Sox records for most strikeouts in a season (274) and had four consecutive years of more than 200 whiffs. After four straight losing seasons, the franchise decided it was time to rebuild and Sale was in demand, so the painful decision was made to trade him and hope for a better future.

 

Today in White Sox History: November 1

Ugh: Don’t get me started. (Choose Chicago)


2016 — A name change went into effect at the stadium formerly known as U.S. Cellular Field. The Guaranteed Rate mortgage company, based in Chicago, signed a 13-year agreement with the White Sox for stadium naming rights, renaming the ballpark Guaranteed Rate Field. The announcement was met with a storm of ridicule by many (including the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs), who tweeted out negative comments. The downward arrow logo for the company also was met with criticism by many Sox fans, who felt that was not an appropriate connection with a baseball team, particularly one that had been struggling for several seasons. According to reports, the White Sox asked the company to change the logo’s direction but were refused.

Today in White Sox History: September 12

Scoring frenzy: Avisaíl García collected four hits in an 11-run attack in 2016, the White Sox scoring in every inning. (Wikipedia)


Sept. 12, 1900 — The White Sox beat the Cleveland Blues 12-4 in Chicago to clinch the franchise’s first pennant. However the American League wasn’t recognized as an “official” major league at the time. Roy Patterson got the win in the game.


Sept. 12, 2016 — The White Sox tied an unusual franchise record, as they beat Cleveland, 11-4, at U.S. Cellular Field: The Sox scored at least one run in every inning. It was only the 20th time in major league history that a team had accomplished this.

Chicago banged out 16 hits, Avisaíl García getting four of them. Six of the 16 hits went for extra bases. The first time the franchise accomplished this was May 11, 1949, beating the Boston Red Sox at Comiskey Park.

Today in White Sox History: September 11

Heavy hearts: Baseball fell to the background for awhile at the end of the 2001 season.


Sept. 11, 2001 — The White Sox were in New York near ground zero when the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center took place, getting a firsthand look at one of the darkest days in U.S. history. Major league baseball, in the wake of the national emergency, suspended all games for a week. The Sox returned to New York in early October to make up the three games with the Yankees.


Sept. 11, 2016 — In a 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox pitcher Chris Sale set the team record by recording 200 or more strikeouts for the fourth consecutive season. (Sale had set the team single season mark for strikeouts in 2015.) He would pitch eight innings in this game, striking out 12, only to lose as the Sox offense could not give him any support.