The best and blurst games of the 2019 White Sox

(Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


This kicks off a mini-burst of bests and blursts this week at South Side Hit Pen. Today, Lenny G gets things going with his highly-entertaining look at his most and least favorite games of 2019.

Tomorrow, the rest of us take a stab at the best games of the year, and Wednesday presents the saddest chapter of this trilogy, the blurst of the year.

So, before the Hot Stove heats up and spring training looms, let’s join LG as he spins a little yarn about the best and worst blurst of the season!


“He’s your hero tonight … thanks Cubs!”

Oftentimes in sports, whenever a player returns to face an organization that traded him or her, it’s now referred as “[Insert Player’s Name] Revenge Game!”

And it makes sense right? One team, drafting you into their organization, grooming you, pouring millions of dollars into developing you so that one day you’ll bring glory and championships to their city … and then poof, you find out from your agent you’ve been shipped to Pittsburgh or Kansas City or … the South Side of Chicago. I mean, it’s literally a rejection of that player in the purest sense. Despite all that time and effort, they still think someone else is worth more to them than you. So yes, revenge must be a part of it. (To be fair, anybody and everyone seems to get a revenge game moniker nowadays … I mean, Bobby Freaking Portis got one for leading the bum-ass Knicks in a comeback against the Bulls …)

But if there ever was a textbook example of a Revenge Game, June 18, 2019, White Sox at Cubs in Wrigley Field is hands-down the best one I’ve seen in my 35 years on Earth.

But let’s set the scene. I’m not going to recap the trade and all the drama behind his non call-up the year before. All that you need to know was this was the first game that Eloy Jiménez played at Wrigley Field as a professional ballplayer. Now, had he played a few years as a Cub (shudder), then later showed on the White Sox, it probably would not have been as impactful, even if the results were exactly the same.

The game couldn’t have started more ominously for Eloy and the Sox. With the bases loaded and one out, Eloy came to the plate in his first ever at-bat at Wrigley. A grand slam would likely have caused mass suicides in the Cubs front office and the bleachers. But it wasn’t Eloy’s time yet, as the rook hit into an inning-ending double play.

Naturally, Iván Nova, a pitcher who never met a bat he didn’t want to make contact with, grooved the first pitch to Cubs leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarbabyer and gave up a leadoff home run. Ugh.

Fast forward to the ninth inning … you didn’t miss much. The White Sox had tied it in the sixth thanks to 2020 The Show cover boy Javier Baez, with Little Bam Bam’s Homer still the only run for the North Siders.

James McCann led off with a single, and up comes dat boi Eloy. Pedro Strop, the reason Theo decided to throw $45M at the dumpster fire that was Craig Kimbrel, threw a 1-0 fastball in on the hands of Eloy. Hands pulled in, the bat connected with the ball, the sound of the crack of the bat was clear even through the speakers of my television, and … well, let’s run that shit:

The BESS Returns!

Nothing. And I mean nothing, more important happened for the White Sox in 2019 than this moment. Right here. We had instant, indisputable proof that Eloy was and is THE GUY. In a big time moment, in the stadium of the team he originally signed with because he liked their fucking uniform colors, Eloy hit a ball 400-plus feet on a pitch that shattered his bat. Oh, man. I’d have to imagine that’s what sex feels like … (uh … wait … I mean, I know … um …)

Anyway, in the immortal words of Jason Benetti, “Thanks, Cubs!”


Colomé? More like Colom-F!”

OK, I may not be clever enough to come up with a better punchline, but with plenty of losses to pick from, I’m going with one that, fortunately, occurred at such a late hour most Sox fans would be asleep (I was not one of those fans … I need help). And that game was Sept. 14, 2019, White Sox at Mariners. (Author’s note: I completely forgot I actually did the game recap for this one, as Frasier-themed fan fiction!)

Why this game, you ask? Admittedly, there were worse games, like say. .. the game literally the next day. (But that was claimed by someone else, and you’ll read about it on Wednesday; luckily I didn’t have far to go to find this gem.)

Dylan Cease, for one of the rare occasions in his rookie season, did not immediately put the Sox in a multi-run hole early. Sure, he had his customary wildness, but five innings and one run given up is practically all one could ask of a Sox starter and be satisfied.

On the hill for Seattle was the used husk of Felix Hernandez. In his eventual swan song of a career in Seattle, King Felix had been routinely demolished in many of his starts in 2019. In the start prior against the Astros, he gave up 11 runs in two innings. So, even with the good chance Cease might’ve given up a few runs, surely the Sox would be able to beat up on this paper tiger right?

Noooooooope. Felix squeezed the last remaining drops of the emaciated Cy Young version of himself floating in a vat of green goo underneath Safeco Field T-Mobile Park and dominated the Sox, getting outs like the Felix of old. By game’s end, we were stuck at 1-1 and headed to the bottom of the 10th.

Sox closer Alex Colomé used his Cupid Shuffle of a delivery to rack up an amazingly improbable number of first half saves despite having the same strikeout ability as a one-armed blind man with vertigo. As the BABIP gods finally woke from their slumber, second half Colomé started to get hit a bit more than normal and his effectiveness ultimately faded down the stretch.

Two outs into the 10th, and up came Alex’s trade counterpart, the Narv Dog, Omar Narváez. A decent hitter with the Sox on a team-friendly contract, he found that life on the West Coast does wonders to your skill set (hello, Marcus Semien) and was somehow hitting bombs all over Puget Sound. So what would happen in this rare event involving a pitcher and catcher, traded for the other? Game on the line … (ummm) … facing the team that gave up on him … (oh no) … and one run wins the …

ITS THE SUPER-SECRET OMAR NARVÁEZ REVENGE GAME!!!!

Narvy laid into an 0-1 pitch from Colomé and sent it deep into right field. Daniel Palka (God bless that sweet boy, he just tries so hard …) went back to the wall but realized he’s not getting this one as it approaches the fence. The ball, well it had eyes for the seats in hopes of sending the home crowd happy, but … the ball hits on top of the wall and lands back on the warning track. In real time, it looked like it may have cleared the fence and ricocheted off a small barrier just behind the wall, which must be why the umpire twirled his little finger (I bet they love doing that) and signaled that the “home run” had ended the game.

BUT WAIT! Esteemed ceviche lover and part-time Sox manager Ricky Renteria went out to the umps and, with nothing to lose, asked for a review to make sure that ball went out. And, dear reader, I can say with no impartiality, that ball didn’t clear the wall! So, great! Slow-mo that tape down in New York, call the ground-rule double and let’s get the band off the field … we got more free baseba-

The umps took off their headsets. The finger twirled in the air. It is twirled for a second time. I was more sad and confused by a meaningless September Sox loss to a terrible Mariners team than I was a few minutes prior on the first home run call. And, until today, I always wondered why they stuck with that decision. Well … funny you should ask … while I was looking for a link to the walk-off, I found this from WGN that ran the following day: https://wgntv.com/2019/09/15/mlb-says-miscommunication-led-to-no-review-of-walk-off-in-white-sox-loss/

Here’s the supremely depressiing explanation which is just so, so Ricky (emphasis mine):

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he immediately asked umpires to review the homer, and they then went to the headset used to communicate with replay officials.

When Renteria and the umpires reconvened, they asked if Renteria wanted to challenge whether Narváez had touched home plate amid his celebrating teammates. Renteria mistakenly thought this meant officials had ruled the ball cleared the fence and declined to challenge whether Narváez touched home, because he had already seen on replays that he had.

Associated Press
Guess which one I am?

Anywho, did this loss matter in the long run? Of course not. Teams with 89 losses are 0-for-forever in making the playoffs, so this one was not one to cry over. But … for the constraints given by this exercise, I’m marking this down as the Yonder Alonso of White Sox losses in 2019.

Thanks for reading! Oh and congrats to the Washington Nationals for winning the franchise’s first World Series! If they didn’t have someone from the Expos days at the parade give a speech in French, the win should be null and void….

Gamethread: White Sox at Mariners

(No credit) Today is announcing Seattle and White Sox base-ball is the game cold hey baseball.


Hello.

I am Robby the Recapper.

This is game-thread, hello.

Base-ball.

Hello.

Recapping baseball.

Game-thread.

Game-thread coming.

Hello.

Iam RObby the recapper.

If you set nachos on th ewall on the yellow line and it hits the nachos on the wall and there is yellow cheese on the ball and the ball bounces high and the ball bounces on the field it is still not a home run.

What are the umpires? Who are the umpires? Were the umpires tired the umpires were tired how about you.

No home run.

Omar Narváéz hit not a home run. No win.

LINEUPS

Thank you.

Ívan Nova will pitching for the White Sox. Justisus Sheffield will pitching for the Seattle.

Tim Anderson lead-off. HOMERUN! Title.

Watch NBCSCHSCHSCHSCHSCHSCH on scrren and wach WGNo on radio.

OK? Good-by.

Narváez Crane-kicks the Sox in Seattle

Daphne Moon, housekeeper and physical therapist to Fraiser Crane’s father, Martin, is in the kitchen when she hears loud, exuberant noises at the front door. She approaches as the door opens and Martin Crane and his son Niles enter with big smiles on their faces. They are both covered in Mariners hats and jerseys. Niles is casually tossing a baseball and then strikes a less than imposing pitcher’s windup pose as Martin pretends to snap a picture.

Daphne: Oh, look at you two, now! Have a swell time at the ball field? See any touchdowns did ye?

Martin: Daph, it’s home runs! Not touchdowns! Anyway, Niles! Tell Daph all about the game! Niles here won a contest and was the Fan of the Game! He even got to throw out the first pitch after they let that Asian fella talk forever before the game!

D: Ichiro?

M: Gesundheit! [canned laughter]

NIles [laughs]: Aw… shucks Dad. You know, I don’t like to brag… but I’d like to say the fact the Mariners were able to perform and find the strength within to outlast those ruffians from Chicago named after…[shudders] common feet coverings, likely purchased at the local Gas ‘n Go… Anyway, evidently, in baseball, if a score remains tied after each team has batted nine times… well, it’s quite wonderful really…I believe they are called…

Frasier Crane bursts into the room, fuming: EXTRA… INNINGS!? You get more of the most insufferable, detestable, horribly dull way to spend a splendid September evening! And even when we were mercifully about to be spared another infernal two hours of this nonsense when [snaps his fingers] ah yes, the young player Omar swatted the ball over the fence, ending the game… the Colonel Sanders aficionado in the Chicago dugout asked the men in charge to review the play?! How is that even allowed! I have a right mind to write a sternly worded letter to the commissioner….[Frasier pours himself a glass of sherry, downs it in one gulp, then pours another. He’s about to continue his diatribe when Daphne interjects]

D: Oh come now Mr. Crane… don’t be a spoilsport… [to Niles] Alright then! Tell me all about your wonderful night at the Field Pitch!

N: Right then! [Grabs the unfinished Sherry from Frasier’s hand, takes a sip as Frasier rolls his eyes and huffs away to the balcony] So, evidently, The Mariners hurler is called “The King,” and my goodness you should have seen him throw that ol’ pill around! Those Chicago batsmen had nary a chance to make Sir Felix sweat!

F: Oh yes, that was certainly one of the more pleasurable memories I shall take away from this travesty of an evening, at least both pitchers were courteous enough to quickly dispatch the other team’s batters with ruthless efficiency! Even the young man from Chicago, Dylan Cease, he was able to keep up with Felix, getting 5 strike-ins…

M: [rolls eyes] Strike-outs Fraise…

F: Oh will you be quiet! It was enough having to watch you hoot and holler with all these yokels in the 4th inning…Yes, yes, they had the bases loaded and certainly wanted to score plenty of points… but you didn’t have to throw popcorn at me like the others when I cheered for Mr. Cease when he moved the game along by striking…[pause] out the last batter!

N: This is my story Frasier! Maybe if you could have gotten the least bit excited when that Long fellow sent that ball deep into the night, a night as dark as Henry Longfellow [chuckles to himself] described in Paul Revere’s Ride!

M: But can you believe that dummy Dee Gordon?! He had that double play ball in the 7th! And he flipped it slowly to second, not giving enough time to complete the back half of the play and let the Sox tie it up! What was up with that?!

[Frasier and Niles look back at Martin, unsure on how to proceed]

M: Never mind…. ok, Niles. Wrap it up will ya?? I wanna take you down to the policeman’s bar and get you to use that baseball signed by Ichiro to buy us rounds all night long!

N: [beaming with pride] Ok… Pop! Well, Daphne, the game was tied… my attention started to wane a bit, I must admit… evidently, one of the nefarious White Stockings is allowed to expose his entire muscular right arm as he pitches to our team! I believe I heard a young woman shout “I LOVE YOU JIMMY BICEPS!”… most likely a deeply inebriated Chicagoan female…

F: This is dragging on longer than the fifth encore at the local performance of Titus Andronicus we watched at the symphony last week!

[Eddie, smelling a wayward uneaten piece of hot dog in Frasier’s coat pocket, grabs the jacket and runs off to the bedroom]

F: EDDIE! NO! THAT JACKET IS A CUSTOM MADE RUBINACCI! BAD DOG! [Frasier chases the dog into the bedroom]

N: [softly chuckles] I found that piece of “meat” on the ground as we walked out of the stadium! I snuck it into his pocket, that’s what he deserves after sullying my good night… Fortunately, the aforementioned Omar Narváez, who quite ironically, was facing the pitcher the very same Chicagoans had exchanged for him. He took a mighty swing and sent a floating curvey, spinny ball over the fence…although yes, for a split second they were required by rule to take a further review, to ensure against any potential malfeasance, and they ruled in the Mariners favor!

Twas the Mariners with 2 scores and the White Hosierys with but 1! Oh, Daphne, we must go! [To Martin] Ok, Dads! Lets go live it up!

[Frasier exits the bedroom, his jacket in tatters]

F: I should have stayed at Cheers…

[Hey Baby I hear the blues a callin…. Tossed salads and scrambled eggs….that’s right!]