Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

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Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
1:21 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It's amazing how words and phrases can become a part of our daily discourse:

"Staycation"

"At the end of the day..."

"Bromance"

"I know, right?"

You hear them all the time. They're like chewed up pieces of Bubblicious. They tend to stick around. And we're the shag carpeting that holds them for an eternity.

I was barhopping a few nights ago (I'm 31 and beyond all help) and took part in a few White Sox conversations. A lot of the talk started with something like this:

"So, you think the White Sox can win another 11 straight?"

"So you think the Sox can take the Central?"

"So you think the Sox can go all the way?"

For the record, I think they can win at least the Central. And quite frankly, they should. Granted, Minnesota will piranha their way near the top. They always do. Detroit has a potential Triple Crown candidate in Miguel Cabrera. They're not going away any time soon. But at the end of the day (there's that phrase again), I think the Sox pitching staff is just deep enough ... even without Jake Peavy. And if their hitting can stay fairly consistent, they're in. Of course, the trading deadline and the ensuing two months will have something to do with it, too. But you know that Kenny Williams will be lurking around July 31.

Another question that was tossed around: "So you think Kenny Williams will make a trade come July 31?" It depends on who you believe. The Sox GM was quoted last night as saying, "I don't see anything materializing." Some people might take that for face value. I see it as a smokescreen. You just know that he has something cooking. Right? If there's one person who loves these kind of cryptic soundbites, it would have to be Kenny Williams.

Random tangent: back to the words and phrases for a moment. I mentioned "So you think..." a few times. This phrase has become commonplace in our society. Heck, the Fox network has an amateur dance show built around the phrase itself. Somewhere in my quest for another round of drinks, I thought, "Hey ... shouldn't there be more shows built around the 'So You Think You Can...' craze?" I think so ... especially if you cater it to the sports mindset. I immediately thought of a slew of ideas. For instance:

So, You Think You Know Fantasy Football... Doesn't this guy just drive you nuts? Every stat. Every draft. Every trade. Every game. Every year. From August to January, he won't shut his mouth: "Haa ... Peyton Manning?!? He's going to have a bad year eventually! You're stupid for taking him!" Or, "My backup tight end could beat your team all by himself!" In this show, that guy has to put up 10,000 for that year's entry fee. The others put up 100. If he doesn't claim first prize, his money gets split evenly with the rest of the league. And he has to stand at the 50-yard line, without pads, and have an unblocked Julius Peppers light him up.

So, You Think You Can Parallel Park... Forget the Wal-Mart parking lot in Aurora. Or the Lowe's on the South Side. And don't even think about a vast train station lot that fades into the horizon. "So, You Think You Can Parallel Park..." places you near Chicago's Rush & Division on a Saturday night. You drive a '74 Buick Regal -- with jagged, rusty bumpers -- in and around pedestrians looking for rock star parking. The moment you hear a cabbie's horn, a curse word or mock laughter from someone in a bachelorette party, game over.

So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball... Ever have that Johnny Tough Guy type that walks around the diamond like he owns the place? Don't worry. In "So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball...", Johnny gets duped by a ringer on the other team. Eric Gagne guest stars as the guy throwing a 90-mph brushback pitch. And hey, what else is Gagne doing these days? He can start his comeback on a reality show. If Johnny can't catch up with the heat, he loses his upper-level management job and goes to the mail room. Done.

So You Think You Can Dance -- At Weddings... You've plowed through the vinaigrette salad, chicken Vesuvio, lemon sorbet, a painfully annoying best man speech and a mind-numbingly bad "From This Moment On" first dance. Now it's time for you to shine! Fire up Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll" or that bumper car stampede that is Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot". YOU have to be the only one left on the floor at the end of the night. All you need is your Sears tie knotted around your forehead, an untucked sweated-up dress shirt and a never-ending supply of determination. Act now and earn a permanent spot in the "Creepy Uncle" hall of fame!

But anyway...

When it comes to moves around the trading deadline, very few general managers in baseball can compare with Kenny Williams. Granted, a lot of his best moves have come 'off peak' -- Joe Borchard for Matt Thornton as an example (spring 2006). But he can also dominate beforeafter the trading deadline (see: Alex Rios). Pardon the reference that Homer Simpson once made, but Kenny Williams is like that guy in the background of ninja movie fighting sequences. He's quiet. You barely notice him. He has that sly grin on his face. And you just know he's going to do some damage when it's his turn. And you better look out when that time comes.

So you think Kenny Williams will make a splash come July 31?

I think he can.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

The White Sox continue their series against the Seattle Mariners, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.49 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

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Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

[MORE: White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays]

Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

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The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

The way he dominated the Pioneer League had to boost to Alec Hansen’s confidence. It also prompted his promotion.

When the White Sox sent their second-round pick to Great Falls last month it was in the hope he could rebound from a rough junior season at Oklahoma that caused his draft stock to fall. Once thought to be the potential first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Hansen was selected 49th after he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings. But Hansen — who made his first start at Single-A Kannapolis on Friday — looked every bit the first-rounder at Great Falls with a 1.23 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

“We wanted to put him in a position where there was a little less pressure to start off the season,” White Sox player development director Nick Capra said. “There's always pressure, but it's a little less magnified in the Pioneer League. We wanted to get him on the right road. We did a couple things with him mechanically and he took off with it.”

“We kind of held him hostage in Great Falls a little bit too long. He’s been really good. He’s double-digit strikeouts every night. He’s not walking people.”

Hansen is expected to make two starts at Kannapolis before the team’s season ends. He earned a no decision after he allowed three earned runs and five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Columbia Fireflies on Friday.

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Capra described the mechanical changes the White Sox made with Hansen as minor. Essentially, they want Hansen to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame and stay taller and release the ball more quickly. They believe it will help him better command his pitches.

Through 11 minor-league starts, Hansen has walked 18 batters in 49 innings (he also pitched seven innings in Arizona). That’s compared with the 96 batters he walked in 145 innings in college.

“Our player development guys deserve so much credit for the way they've handled it,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “There was a little bit of concern about the confidence part of it, just him taking the ball every fifth day and knowing that we believe in him. Our pitching guys and PD guys deserve a huge amount of credit for just the time they put into it. They really, really know how to make these guys excel and succeed. Been a pretty fun ride to watch and I hope it continues.”