Monday, May 30, 2011

Clowning around with the White Sox

(skip to the 5:00 mark)
As has been much reported, yesterday afternoon, while in the midst of the worst pounding of his career, John Danks took exception to Jose Bautista's competitiveness. At the time, I thought it was a little funny and sad that a guy who'd just given up 9 earnies had the nads to bark at the best hitter in baseball. And after the game, when Danks' comments were quoted out of context, they made for comedy gold. A White Sox player called a Blue Jay a "clown"? Wait, you guys still have AJ Pierzynski behind the plate, right? Ozzie Guillen is still making ridiculous quotes to the media? Joe Cowley?

And the "Babe" money quote? Well, in almost any other context would be a suitable comedown, but in this case it's hilariously apt. Danks reached deep into his repertoire for the most ridiculous comparison he could come up with, the classic baseball dis - "who the fuck do you think you are, Babe Ruth?" - and he still came up short. Because Jose Bautista is, indeed, Babe Ruth.

Jose Bautista, circa 2011 (so far):
.350/.498/.788/1.285/252 OPS+

Babe Ruth, circa 1920 (i.e. the best year of his career):
.376/.530/.847/1.377/255 OPS+

Now that the game is 24 hours old and I've heard the Danks quote in its entirety, though, I can see his side of the story. By the fourth, he's out there to absorb the beating only because the Sox are short an entire pen. The game's over. For a hitter to slam his bat indicates not only that they think is he's a worthless pitcher, but that even his out pitches should be ending up in the second deck. And that's an insult.

Thing is, I don't think Bautista really gives a shit who's on the mound. He gets to the plate, he sees a pitch and he takes a pass at it. If he hits it out, he's happy. If he pops it up, he's not. Announcers are always saying that hitters ought to take the same quality of at-bat in a 19-1 ballgame as a 5-5 ballgame, though few do, and I can't begrudge Jose one iota for keeping his foot on the gas. Those 9-2 at-bats will count just as much as any other when we recount his historic 2011 for posterity, and every out he makes pushes that magical OBP back towards (and ultimately under) the .500 mark - back from the stratosphere into the realm of a major league baseball player.

So, whatever. as much fun as it'd be to get some bad blood going between the White Sox and Jays, they don't see each other until September. And right now, it's hard to feel much more for the Chicagos than pity. At the plate, Adam Dunn looks like the football player he probably should have been. Juan Pierre has a .633 OPS and a 50% SB rate. Alex Rios is Alex Rios. Ozzie still hates the media, still struggles with the spelling of the word "interview," and is already ranting about his legacy. They're seven games under .500, were supposed to win their division, and haven't even really been slammed by major injury problems like the Twins. They're spinning out, and there's still four more months to rubberneck from a safe distance.

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