SOUTH SIDE - I like to think of my generation as the last of a dying (or dead) breed.
Some my favorite childhood memories come from spending days playing baseball on the block "Sandlot" style, trying to get as many at-bats in before my mom hit the porch ready to scream down the block that it was time to come in for the day.
When we knew the clock was winding down on our action for the day, we'd scramble to make up a random rule to decide winner's and losers. We'd say something like, "...aiight, next run wins..." or "one more inning...somebody start on second and if we score, we win." It was petty...but it was a fun way to end a day of baseball as a kid on the South Side of Chicago.
Never in a million years did me or any of the other kids on the block think we'd see any of our random rules implemented in professional baseball. Thanks to the pandemic, last season's 60 game abbreviated season gave the powers that be an opportunity to experiment with ways to address some of their biggest issues. For example, games lasting too long, or even the mere excitement of the game.(The game can be a drag...don't front).
A DH in the NL? Cool. You'd be hard pressed to find a person that actually enjoys watching pitchers hit. But the extra inning rule where a team gets a free baserunner automatically placed on second base to start each inning past 9 is far more Tuley Park'ish than Guaranteed Rate Field.
At worse, it's too much of an advantage to give the away team after being deadlocked at the end of nine innings. At best, it's a lazy way to try to shorten up a game that far too often, lasts far too long. If this is how we're going to break ties in major league baseball, then why not just go the NHL route and let these guys swing it out in the event of a tie... whoever hits the most HR in 5 pitches wins...who says no?
Anyway, I wish that outlandish extra-innings rule was the only reason the Sox took a 4-3 L on Sunday afternoon but if they were able to convert more of the 12 runners they stranded into runs, 9 innings would have been enough to beat the Kansas City Royals.
Even if you're willing to call the White Sox' current 4-5 record simply stumbling out the gate, you can't run from the frustration of watching an offense as talented as theirs struggle to capitalize with runners in scoring position.
Dylan Cease pitched well enough to win, only surrendering one earned run in his 4.2 innings pitched with 6Ks, but the offense struggled to make the Royals pay early and often.
Although, nine games into the year, you won't find anybody rushing to change their World Series predictions if you put your money on the South Side, its fair to wonder when the self-proclaimed best team in the AL will start to look like it on a consistent basis.
The BIGS Play(s) of The Game: There were two plays today that served as gut punches to the hopes of a W in Sunday's contest. In the bottom of the 9th with the game tied at 3, the South Siders had the meat of their lineup headed to the plate in reining MVP Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada. How'd it go down? A lead-off walk for Abreu was promising before Yoan grounded into a double play to kill the momentum. A microcosm of today. The 2nd was a peculiar throw from reliever Garett Crochet in extras as he attempted to save KC's go-ahead run. The play was there...but his throw wasn't. It dribbled to the plate and KC scored the winning run.
The Good: Michael Kopech...who after today's perfect relief appearance has a 6.1 IP 0 R 1 H 2 BB 11 K line to start the year.
The Bad: Only 5 hits for a team that was coming off a 6-0 shutout victory on Friday.
The Ugly: Even while picking up 9 walks on the afternoon as a team, they stranded 12 runners in scoring position and only 3 runs crossed the plate.
Quote of the game: Manager Tony La Russa let it be known in his postgame interview that he was in favor of the extra innings rule...even after watching his guys get the short end of the stick. His reason was that extra long games can muck up the roster and affect the team moving forward.
Next Matchup: The Cleveland Indians come to town for a 4 game series starting Monday night.