John Danks’ Arizona staycation, that darned video and the Civil Rights Game
The urgent nature of Danks’ drive toward being ready for Opening Day was always a somewhat odd fit with a recovery that was always going to be hard to pin down in terms of length and degree. Now that the impossible dream has died, Danks and the Sox have noticeably taken their foot off the pedal. Way off.
"JJ at CSN:“[Danks] expects to pitch every five or six days while in Arizona. Once the White Sox feel he’s accomplished what they want in Arizona, he’ll move on to a minor-league rehab assignment. If that goes well, then Danks will return to the White Sox.General manager Rick Hahn doesn’t have a timetable for Danks’ return, but stressed he wants the left-hander to take a bigger-picture approach to his recovery.”"
Danks is in extended spring training until some miles come back to his fastball and even then will have to get his sea legs against Triple-A competition before he’s in the rotation. Assuming, as always, that the velocity returns at some point, it’s hard to see how this shakes out with Danks coming back before mid-May, with obviously plenty of potential for even more waiting than that.
That’s a lot of Dylan Axelrod and a fair amount more than I accounted for when I initially resisted fretting about having a replacement-level starter at the end of the rotation. Fifth starters are typically terrible, but nothing yet has dismissed the presumption that the White Sox pitching staff needs to be exceptional to carry an unremarkable offense.
That awful video
I went a full 24 hours without re-watching the White Sox’ cringeworthy lead-in video to their Opening Day broadcast after seeing it live. With the initial shock of “Why why why why how did they think this would be received?!” and “One sketch making fun of Peavy and they think they’re auteurs” gone, it’s surprising how normal the middle section looks.
There’s a bunch of standard photo day poses–hard stares at the camera, gripping a bat, miming looking in for a sign–and even the din of seven year-old nu-metal/hard alternative/whathaveyou is standard for these type of pump-up videos (just the list of professional teams that have already used this same song is surprisingly long, even if they all took place closer to its actual release).
This whole thing probably could have simply faded into the abyss of local TV mediocrity if the players had merely had not lip-synced (which is sort of a universal truth in regards to being caught in public listening to bad music). As Jim Margalus reasoned, this is likely just the cost of letting the exuberant youth have a say (unless it was Peavy’s fault, or gasp! COOPER!). Obviously the days of centering commercials around grizzled veterans can’t last forever, even if the continued use of Gordon Beckham only underscores the disappointment that his performance doesn’t merit the franchise-player treatment his personality is ready for. Which is another reason no one’s laughing with him on this.
Civil Rights Game
On Saturday, Aug. 24, the White Sox will be playing host to the seventh annual MLB Civil Rights Game, where they will face the Texas Rangers. As a result, we have our first insight into what Kenny Williams is doing with his freed-up schedule, since he actively campaigned for Chicago to be the hosting location.
Positioned on a Saturday, the game has traditionally been the centerpiece of a weekend of festivities celebrating both the integration and expansion of African-American influence on the sport and the American civil rights movement itself. For example, last season’s game in Atlanta honored greats like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Don Newcombe, but also Rep. John Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Chicago’s rich civil rights history lends itself very easily to such an event. Off the top of my head, the Chicago Defender–the nation’s second black-owned and operated newspaper–and its role in the Great Migration, Minnie Minoso acting as a trailblazer for black Cubans and the impact Chicago-native Emmett Till had in galvanizing national outrage are all welcome targets for recognition.
Looking forward to it.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan