Spiegel: Baseball can be tough game to figure out

  • After a 7-1 White Sox road trip, it doesn't look like Jeff Samardzija's going to be traded any time soon.

    After a 7-1 White Sox road trip, it doesn't look like Jeff Samardzija's going to be traded any time soon. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/3/2015 9:29 AM

Baseball likes to laugh at us.

It finds our hubris charming and silly. We think we know this game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

See, we watch a team for as much as three months and trust our eyes. We know when a team is bad. We weren't wrong at the time.

We feel as if we've been thoughtful, calculated, and logical. Ultimately we form opinions, and some of us decisively write columns based on them.

I wrote the "re-think the whole organization" column. I stand by that one.

I wrote the "moves to make once the White Sox concede" column. That one is now mostly irrelevant.

The White Sox just finished a 7-1 road trip in which they outscored their opponents 56-27. They were very nearly a .500 team for the first time since May 19. They are just 3 games back of the Minnesota Twins, who none of us believe in.

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Baseball is pointing at me and laughing.

Some people watch sports for excellence, and the relentless attempts at perfection. Some watch it for drama, escapism, or cathartic personal narratives.

I like all of that. But the draw of baseball to me is the inevitability of being thoroughly surprised.

Every day, every game, you may see something that's never or rarely been done.

And sometimes during the course of a season, some moribund team that has been left for dead makes an improbable charge and finds itself right in the thick of the race.

This Sox run is making me look foolish. And it's glorious.

Melky Cabrera has had an astonishing July as he and Adam Eaton have ignited the lineup. Alexei Ramirez has channeled the best facets of his game, after looking like he'd lost them forever. Everyone is hitting. Even defensive specialist Carlos Sanchez is on fire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Yes, this came against Boston and their 28th-best ERA in the majors, and Cleveland with their 18th-ranked team ERA. But those Indians wins came against three legit starters in Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco.

The tone of nearly every game lately has been the same. As of Friday, July 24, the White Sox had been outscored in the first inning 72-25. Since then they've flipped it to their advantage, 18-3. The pitchers can relax and go to work.

The starters have been very good all along, with a rotation ERA under 4. Now Jeff Samardzija has rattled off 10 straight starts of 7 innings or more, in 6 of those allowing 3 runs or less. The entire rotation went one time through without issuing a walk.

This month the Sox have won series against playoff hopefuls such as St. Louis, the Cubs, Toronto, and Baltimore. They lost six out of seven after the all-star break but went on this terrific trip right afterward.

MLB added the extra playoff spot to make multiple cities believe they have a shot deep into the summer. The trade deadline stands where it is so GMs have to define their motives before they'd like to. The intent is to create angst, hope, activity, and chaos.

It's working.

This hot stretch came right at the deadline, and helped the White Sox' front office act like something they'd hoped to be all along; contenders.

There will be no sell-off. The Shark is going nowhere.

The dominant Blue Jays offense added Troy Tulowitzki, and now will get 11 starts down the stretch from David Price. With that in mind, this entire Sox run for that 2nd wild card may be for naught.

The powerful Yankees are here this weekend. The Sox' next 19 games are very tough; they face four teams that are a combined 52 games over .500.

In another two weeks, baseball may point at us and laugh again.

But right now this is incredibly unlikely, absurd fun. White Sox fans are the ones doing the laughing.

• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The Spiegel & Goff Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.

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