Oct 22, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants fans watch relief pitcher Sergio Romo (54) deliver a pitch in the ninth inning in game seven of the 2012 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT

Morning notes: the World Series is going on without us

The San Francisco Giants will be joining the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series.  That means that no matter what, the World Series champion will have had a regular-season worse run differential than the 2012 White Sox.

Not sure if that’s emboldening or just infuriating.

Probably just infuriating, since the Tigers might be able to trot out Justin Verlander as many as three times (and against Barry Zito for Game 1!), and cruise their way to a World Series title after leaving the barn door open on the AL Central for six months.

The Tigers rotation whirring to its full, terrifying capabilities in the playoffs has done all it can to validate the AL Central as legitimate; now their continued success just hits home the “Man, the White Sox really blew it” angle.

Tigers in 6, I say, knowing full well that in a 7-game series, the Giants succeeding behind Marco Scutaro killing everything in his path and other “nonsense,” is just as meaningful as Detroit pitching well.

Obvious research

Mocking the White Sox for needing to hire an independent consultant to tell them to lower their ticket prices seemed like an easy, and immature joke.

And yet, the more revealed about the study Rich Luker conducted for the Sox, the more it sounds like a highly-trained profession ran a highly-elaborate and professional study that continually ran into the same obvious answer.  This is especially become apparent when Luker surveyed the fans themselves.

One telling find for Luker came from a question about why White Sox fans go to games. Their No. 1 reason is to support the team. “Generally, the No. 1 reason to go is more selfish,” Luker said. “My observation from the research is that White Sox fans are always on board.”

So the fans are not uniquely detached from the team.

The second reason for attending was the overall experience at U.S. Cellular Field. In examining teams such as the Bears and Cubs, or even concert attendance, the White Sox held up fine.

So the stadium is not particularly dreadful anymore.

The surveys revealed that 50 percent of the individual ticket buyers said they had less money to spend in ’12. And of those attending fewer games, two-thirds said they had less money available, while only one-third had the same or more. So, affordability clearly emerged as the No. 1 issue for this particular group.

A recession combined with top-end prices? It seemed liked this might just be the culprit.  Luker was also kind enough to compare the dedication of the White Sox fanbase to that of the Green Bay Packers.  That’s an interesting comparison to make, since Packers fans have a tangible investment in the health of their franchise, and the Sox have an owner with fairly typical tendencies to avoid paying for his own facilities  and charging top-end prices.

Terrible player available

Yunel Escobar was already my buy-low supreme candidate before CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman broke the shocking scoop that the Toronto Blue Jays may not be keen on paying the soon-to-be 30 year-old shortstop $5 million in 2013.  Not after a season where he hit .255/.300/.344 and was suspended three games for writing a homophobic slur on his face, that is.

I don’t actually want the White Sox to pursue Escobar–the eyeblack incident was revolting–but I would have to admire the shrewdness of reaching out for a guy who was the toast of Canada in 2011, but has depressed his value through incompetence.

His $5 million salary for next season is a hurdle and a hindrance that would need to be negotiated with Toronto, but between Gordon Beckham and the 3rd base situation, infielders that know which end of the bat the handle is could be a needed commodity.

Alex Rios is the White Sox nominee for the Heart & Hustle Award

Even people who remembered him being good in Toronto are weirded out by this.


Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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Tags: Chicago White Sox Price Cuts World Series Yunel Escobar

  • Aquaria

    Run differential is a very weird stat to cite as mattering anything to a team’s success. It doesn’t matter if a team gets a W by 1 or 101. It only matters that they get the W, because the Ws are what put a team in the postseason. Not any run differential.

    That’s the problem with so many “analysts”. They put too much stock in hitting, when hitting is only one of the things that wins a long season like baseball. Things like defense, team chemistry and, oh, PITCHING matter, too.

    The Sox just don’t have all that great of pitching, unlike the Giants and Tigers, who invested in pitching that’s paying off. The 2012 WS teams don’t need the most explosive offenses in the world or to win by 5 runs a game (even though they can and do), because their pitching can keep the other team from scoring! You do realize that a team can’t score runs if they don’t get pitches they can hit…right?

    This is why “better hitting” teams like the Rangers lose to the Giants in the 2010 WS. Or why the “better” Yankees lose the 2012 ALCS. The Giants and Tigers pitch well enough to silence all those “better” bats and give their offense chances to get something going–and keep a lead intact if they get one.

    • http://twitter.com/2013WhiteSox Matt Adams

      In order to establish a quality run differential a team must also prevent runs, so yes, pitching and defense matter immensely. Teams lose in the playoffs because the other team wins. Any team in the playoffs has the potential to win. The Yankees did not lose the 2012 ALCS for lack of pitching, in fact, they pitched quite well. They didn’t hit.

    • http://twitter.com/JRFegan James Fegan

      I merely noted the run differential because it reflects that the White Sox were of a similar caliber in the regular season as the clubs still playing. They didn’t win games down the stretch, and didn’t deserve to be there, and I’m not arguing some absurdist redesign where we judge teams by something other than wins, but you win games by having more runs than your opponent. If you’re winning a lot, your run differential is going to steadily accumulate.

      Where this lecture about overemphasizing hitting is coming from is beyond me. The 2012 White Sox weren’t a great pitching team, but they weren’t a great anything team. They were average in just about all areas save for possibly defense, but it does seem particularly unique to rant about pitching while discussing a team that blatantly cost itself a playoff spot by failing to hit with runners on for two weeks straight to end the season.