It’s not their city yet, but right now is the Chicago White Sox’s time.
The South Siders barrelled through the past week, winning all but one game since we sized them up last and completing a run of eight games where they’ve hit more home runs in such a span than any other team in Major League history while Jose Abreu also set a single-series record of his own with some of his most impressive hitting since first coming to Chicago as a high profile Cuban defector.
This is a new class of Hitmen at 35th and Shields and the baseball world is paying attention.
Of course, as is often the case, it is on the North Side of the city where the first blow back occurs from a White Sox upheaval, or an invasion in the case of the 2-1 series win the Sox got over the weekend against the Cubs. In a series where they pounded Cubs pitching to the tune of a 17-5 advantage in Games 1 and 2, which the Sox both won. Game 3 was within reach as well with a bases loaded opportunity left stranded in the ninth as Cubs relief got itself out of its tightest spot this season, preserving a 2-1 win.
Some steam had to be let off by the charging Sox so not getting the sweep is nothing to worry about, plus a deserved day of rest comes before getting back to action Tuesday against Pittsburgh for the first of five home games. Expect the Sox to feast some more and keep themselves in playoff contention.
Looking at things with a wider scope, though the Cubs are still the more high-profile team in the city, they unwillingly ceded much of the spotlight to their crosstown rivals this weekend after getting out to a blazing start. Last week, the Sox were middling with a .500 record, today they are two games out of first place in the American League Central (17-12) and a solid bet for a wild card spot in the expanded 2020 postseason. More than that, this team is representing youth, diversity and plain fun on a level no baseball team has since arguably the 2016 curse-breaking Cubs.
But even with the still-electric Javy Baez and the straight-from-central casting Chicago sports hero Anthony Rizzo still around, the Cubs aren’t exuding the freshness Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez or Tim Anderson does nor do any Cubs represent themselves as potential agents for change as TA does.
In a week where the stodgy, unimaginative side of MLB tried to come down on another of the game’s gifted young stars, Fernando Tatis Jr. (who belongs on the South Side and all things considered should still be there), Anderson was looked to stand up for him and that’s exactly what he did and what he looks to always do going forward in the name of moving baseball forward and letting players of all kinds shine like they should.
“I think you can do as you please, as long as you’re doing it with confidence and swagger, it’s only right,” Anderson is quoted by NBC Sports Chicago regarding Tatis and his “controversial” decision to actually swing on a hit-table pitch last week.
“I think that what he did, it looked good and I liked it.”
TA knows what its like to look good and so do the Sox and baseball fans everywhere are liking it more and more. Get used to it.
Buy — Cubs Struggle In Crosstown, But Still Class of NL Central
As partially explained above, this weekend wasn’t the greatest for the Cubs. From the outside, winning 2-1 on Sunday was critical for the team’s confidence, but overall the North Siders are still in a fine spot, leading the NL Central by three games over the Cardinals, who in their COVID-19 effected schedule are the only other team in the Central with an above .500 record.
At 17-10, the Cubs get right back into action tonight starting a three-game set with Detroit before three games against Cincinatti to occupy the weekend. Though all games are on the road, another winning week looks to be at hand.
It looks to be up to the Cubs though if they want to be just another division winner who fades out quickly in October or if they really want to compete again. In most of the series against the Sox they looked woefully unable to contain an elite offense and to get out of the NL the mighty Dodgers, an NL-version of the Sox in the Padres and maybe even the Cards (if they can stay out of sick bay) could be more than Cubs pitching (outside of the resurgent Yu Darvish) can stand for if they don’t get help.
Buy — Bulls Draw High In NBA Lottery
The Bulls may have their mojo working, or something close to it. It may be the golden touch of new vice president of basketball operations, Arturas Karnisovas, who like just about all of Bulls nation had to feel fine in getting the No. 4 pick in the NBA draft lottery, which released the order for the upcoming delayed draft last week. This coming after three consecutive years where the team ended up selecting in the No. 7 spot via trade or the luck of the draw.
All AK really did was just show up to the proceedings and unlike most years he didn’t even have to fly to the New York City-area to rep the Bulls, but his just being there just seems to mean something, that good change is occurring, much like the getting rid of Jim Boylen that occurred a week prior.
Whether there’s a new coach in place or not by the time the draft happens doesn’t matter, this pick is Karnisovas’ and he’s going to look to knock it out the park, which he has a chance to do, as he told the media in reaction to drawing the pick that he will “minimize the noise and pick the player that’s best available on the board.”
The honeymoon is far from over with AK and for the first time in a long while Bulls fans can confidently let an executive take control and anticipate what he does with a positive outlook.
Sell — Hawks Look To Future While Reliant on Past
The Hawks officially bowed out of the playoffs Tuesday with its third one-goal loss in the five-game series it had with Las Vegas.
It sucks to have to give the Hawks a “sell” after such a gutsy performance to even get as far as they did, but with observers questioning whether young coach Jeremy Colliton is the one and several key free agents — including starting goaltender and not-so-gracefully aging Corey Crawford — to decide over it looks like whenever the NHL gets back to action as a whole the team will be on some level rebuilding again. Not the worst thing, but not the best either and given the financial situation of the league, which will offer a hard and low salary cap, not the most promising in regards to adding new talent.
Buy — Vandersloot Delivering As Sky Keep Winning
Three teams jumped up at the Sky and each went down over the past week. After another late-game thriller against the Aces last Tuesday, the team handled a new rash of injuries and still won convincingly against the New York Liberty and Indiana Fever to round out the week.
Both the Liberty and Fever get second shots at the Sky in the next two games, which could very well mean two more wins. At the moment a four-game win streak has the Sky (10-4) solidly in the WNBA’s top four and only one game behind in the loss column from league-leading Seattle (11-3).
All praise should go to Courtney Vandersloot, who has been a wizard out the back court, averaging 19.0 points a game and 11.3 assists over the last three games and earning the league’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. Vandersloot’s overall averages have her atop the league with 8.7 dimes per game, over 3 more than second place, and many have her as a dark horse MVP candidate of the moment.
Sell — Fire Shutout in Official Return to Action
Shaking off their elimination in the “MLS is Back” tournament, the Chicago Fire didn’t acquit themselves that well in a 3-0 loss to Columbus in the return to seasonal action last Thursday.
Tuesday sees them get another shot and this time it’ll be their first at Soldier Field, against Cincinnati. Nothing much is at stake yet, but dating back to the tournament, the Fire haven’t scored a goal since July 14. Think we’ll need to see them make a ball hit the net again before giving out any “buys.”
We’ll finally get into the Bears next week, but know that they’re leaning on the “sell” side in regards to their possible handling of COVID testing, more of which can be learned here.
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