While you were sleeping last night, and while you were sleeping through this Chicago baseball season, the White Sox became watchable.
Or maybe it was while watching the Blackhawks, but whatever, the Sox not only won’t make you throw battery acid in your eyes, they’re actually competitive. No lie. True fact. Just like a big-boy baseball team.
The Sox just started a road trip by taking two of three from a big-boy baseball team, in fact. Or at least a big-money baseball team.
After losing to Clayton Kershaw on Monday, the Sox took the last two from the Dodgers and now head to Anaheim where, don’t look now, the Sox could take over the lead in the AL wild-card race and maybe tie the stumbling Tigers for the Central Division lead.
Honest. The Sox are one game out of a wild-card berth and 1 1/2 games behind the wild-card-leading Angels. Next week, the Sox come home to face the Tigers, who’ve lost seven of 10, including four in a row at home. Dreaming this year is better than all the dozing we did last year.
The Sox have played 61 games. It’s enough to know they won’t stink like last year. It’s enough to think they could go from 99 losses to a season that lasts into September and maybe October. Baseball can be screwy that way.
Finishing .500 would seem like a miracle after last season. Making the playoffs would qualify for team-wide beatification.
But no. Other players look like they’ve returned to their chosen profession.
John Danks authored his third straight quality start, allowing the Dodgers only two hits and one earned run while striking out five and walking three in 7 1/3 innings. Danks has a gaudy 1.22 ERA over his last three starts covering 22 1/3 innings.
Adam Dunn hit a bomb off Beckett that proved to be the difference in the game and is riding his best on-base-plus slugging percentage since signing that four-year, $54 million albatross to join the Sox.
Gordon Beckham came off the disabled list and apparently had surgery to become a respectable major-league ballplayer. He is getting on base and slugging better than he has since his rookie year in 2009.
Alexei Ramirez finally learned that the season starts in April, not June.
And Ronald Belisario recorded actual saves in consecutive games. Call Cooperstown.
Somehow, the Sox made a race of it despite losing Jose Abreu and Chris Sale to injury. The Sox lost their best hitter -- the best power hitter in baseball the first two months -- and still scored runs. The Sox lost a perennial Cy Young candidate and still pitched well enough to keep the season respectable.
The Sox are a game above .500 and have played that way. They are maddeningly inconsistent. Entertaining, but maddeningly inconsistent. They can go a week making all the defensive plays, and then the entire infield can throw balls into the Pacific Ocean while outfielders play soccer chasing gappers.
Or vice versa, which was kind of the way the series against the Dodgers went. In the opener, the Sox made two errors that led to five runs, and against Kershaw, forget it. Then they played one game so clean that even Hector Noesi couldn’t lose it, and Danks pitched over trouble.
Sox general manager Rick Hahn is buried in draft reports today. He’s trying to build a better tomorrow. But today is happening. Today for the Sox is a thing. Today matters to a team that needs to draw fans so it can afford to trade for a big contract, and the Sox need to make a deal. They should make a deal.
The A’s are willing to deal Jim Johnson and pick up most of his $6.5 million contract because of his 6.55 ERA. If the A’s are picking up the tab, then the Sox ought to look at what Dr. Don Cooper can do to restore a guy who had 113 saves the last two seasons.
The Phillies seem ripe and stupid, a favorite combination for vulturous GMs. I might get the phone slammed in my ear, but I’d still ask about Chase Utley and Cliff Lee. The Sox have been told no by better people than Ruben Amaro, believe me. Nothing to lose there.
Point is, the Sox have played their way into having their GM make a deal that helps this season. The division isn’t a gimme, not with the Tigers’ issues. The American League isn’t insurmountable, not with the AL East flagging. Hahn made a terrific leveraged deal at the deadline last year. I’d just as soon that he not wait this season.