In a year when the Detroit Tigers were expected to run away with the Central Division title, the Chicago White Sox were surprisingly competitive. They competed doggedly from start to finish due to quiet leadership, great team chemistry, and the timely resurgence of key players.
In addition to taking the division race down to the wire, the team also provided two spectacular individual achievements: the third perfect game pitched in White Sox history and another slugger reaching the 400 home run mark.
The Sox led the Central Division for a total of 117 days out of the six month season. They did this despite:
*losing their ace pitcher, Mark Buehrle, to free agency
*having Buehrle's heir-apparent, John Danks, for a total of only nine starts
*using four rookie pitchers in starting roles
*depending on a rookie closer, Addison Reed
*having an untested rookie manager, Robin Ventura.
Sox manager Robin Ventura was brought on to replace the fiery and entertaining Ozzie Guillen. The former Sox Gold-Glove third baseman could be considered the anti-Guillen. The cameras stayed focused on the players rather than the mild-mannered manager. Ventura's steady, positive guidance made this year's achievement possible. He created an environment that bolstered and encouraged players, young and old.
*At one point in the season, left-handed veteran Matt Thornton was the only non-rookie reliever in the bullpen. This led to the now infamous gag of Thornton leading his young rookie ducklings out to the bullpen on a tether at the start of s game.
*It could be argued that Ventura's supportive style was a major contributor to the comeback seasons experienced by outfielder Alex Rios (25 HR, 91 RBIs, and .304 BA) and designated hitter Adam Dunn (41 HR and 96 RBIs, 105 BB).
*On April 21, pitching against the Seattle Mariners, 29-year-old right-hander Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in major league history. Humber joined Charlie Robertson and Mark Buehrle as the only White Sox pitchers to ever pitch a perfect game.
*Adam Dunn achieved a notable and rare milestone: 400 career home runs. On August 18, Dunn hit his 35th homer of the season and became the 50th player in baseball history to reach the 400 home run mark. Earlier that same month, he also batted in his 1,000th run.
The White Sox may have finished the season in a disappointing tailspin, but they still provided an unexpected treat up until the very end -- a surprise run at the pennant.
Greg has been a White Sox fan since the first time his grandfather took him to old Comiskey Park to see Gary Peters pitch. He often arranges his work travel to be in cities when the Sox are playing.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago White Sox
- Mark Buehrle
- Robin Ventura