ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 23: Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after striking out in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 23, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Beginning on Friday, the Seattle Mariners will host the Chicago White Sox for a three-game series. To get you up to speed on the White Sox, please enjoy these jokes about role-playing games.
You are the Chicago White Sox.
You push through the dense underbrush until you come to a clearing at the top of a hill. From the crest of the hill, you can see a sprawling expanse of wilderness ahead of you. By consulting your map, you realize that you have reached the very edge of the American League West.
You know that to the south lies the much-hyped Kingdom of Angels, the new seat of the vicious and overpowering King Albert. To the mid-south (west), in the middle of a wide desert, rests Ar-Ling-Ton, home of a ruthless band of bombardiers. You can faintly hear the distant thunder of their cannons from atop your peak. Straight ahead of you is the City of Oak, where the citizens are few. Legend foretells that when the wind whistles through the desolate and deserted Coliseum, the ghosts of long-departed All-Stars are said to whisper, "Moneyball ... moneyball ... " To the north lies an Emerald City. You have heard tales of a band of adventurers living in the area, but as you make your home east of the Rockies, you cannot be certain whether these stories are mere myth.
You decide to head north.
The Seattle Mariners will host the Chicago White Sox for a three-game series beginning on Friday night. The Mariners were hard-luck losers in two of their three games against the Cleveland Indians, but are still capable of coming away with a winning record on this homestand.
The White Sox, of course, won a World Series in 2005, but haven't made much noise since then. During the offseason between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, they actually traded their manager to the Miami Marlins. No, really, that happened. So if "Ozzie Guillen" was the one member of the White Sox you were sure you could name, it's back to the drawing board for you.
But don't worry, the 2012 White Sox are a mystery to a lot of people. They're actually in second place in the AL Central right now (yep, it's still around) and hold a 6-6 record, which is almost as good as the Mariners' record. They just dropped three of four against the Baltimore Orioles, but won two out of three games against the Detroit Tigers. I don't know; you try making sense of that. Oh, right: it's the very beginning of the season. Okay, carry on.
Anyway, since nobody knows anything (more or less) about the White Sox, I figured it would be good to present a little primer. And what better way than by speaking the universal language: role-playing games. I'm sure everyone here has played Dungeons & Dragons at least a few times, right? No? Just me?
Well I'm doing it anyway. Here are your notable White Sox players and their analogous RPG counterparts.
Troll: A.J. Pierzynski. Yep, he's still around. He's also hitting .400/.421/.829 and leading the team in home runs and RBI. Like I said, beginning of the season. Still, realizing that you're about to face A.J. Pierzynski in three straight games is like fighting your way to the end of a dungeon map, but then your Dungeon Master pulls out another one and says that was just one wing and you suddenly realize he's got like a stack of maps on the floor beside him. (I'm pretty sure every baseball fan knows what I'm talking about here.)
Paladin: Paul Konerko. You know, when I looked up Konerko's age just now, I expected it to say "a million billion" but it turns out he's only 36. The wizened and noble leader of the White Sox is still around and he's leading the team in hits, including five doubles.
Rogue: Alejandro De Aza. The center fielder you've never heard of, which means he's the guy most likely to be backstabbing the M's all weekend and stealing their delicious treasures. (The Mariners have some sort of treasure, right? Maybe they hide it inside Miguel Olivo.) De Aza is leading the team in runs scored and in walks (non-Adam Dunn division) and has an OPS of .868. He has three homers, two doubles and two triples in 11 hits. Check your pockets, because De Aza probably just snatched your coin purse.
Cleric: Alex Rios. He's pretty good. He's certainly not bad, anyway. Especially if you discount the fact that he's stolen one base this year but has been caught stealing three times. He's been perfectly fine this season, even if his numbers are unspectacular. He's the perfect analogy of the cleric; you know he's going to come in handy and that his powers are pretty cool, I guess, but ugh do I really have to play a cleric?
Berzerker: Adam Dunn. Dunn, as everyone knows, fell off an extremely steep cliff in 2011 and and missed most of the rocks on the way down (that's a joke about how often he strikes out). He's already doing better this year than last year (which was inevitable) and he leads the team in walks (Adam Dunn division) and is tied with Konerko for most White Sox doubles. He has also struck out an amazing 21 times in 45 at-bats, so he's still Adam Dunn. He's the berzerker, because berzerker attacks are careless and they end up hurting themselves a little each time. It's okay though, because it's all they've ever known.
Human: Alexei Ramirez. He'll always be a solid player and he'll always do better for you than a lot of other, flashier options, but who chooses to be a human in an RPG? Alexei Ramirez, probably. Still, he's a shortstop with a lot of power and he'll probably end up giving Seattle fits this weekend.
Half-Elf: Dayan Viciedo. This right-fielder is figuring to have his first full season in the majors this year. He has eight hits in 36 at-bats, of which two are doubles and two are home runs. He's walked once and has struck out 12 times. One of the most inscrutable players on an inscrutable team, much like the half-elf, who is always on the race charts for RPGs even if it's hard to understand why, exactly.
NPCs: Gordon Beckham, Kosuke Fukudome, Brent Morel, Tyler Flowers. Each of these guys is betting under .160 but you just know they're going to do something infuriating at some point over the next three games. Flowers, for example, is the backup catcher and has played in three games. He has one walk and one hit in nine at-bats, but that one hit is a home run. That's pretty annoying.
Probable Pitchers and Viewing Information:
On Friday, Hector Noesi will get the start for the Mariners. He's had two outings so far this season; one spectacular, one awful. Here's to hoping he can just split the difference and manage "acceptable." He'll come into the game with a 1-1 record and 5.73 ERA. The starter for the White Sox will be Chris Sale, who is also 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA and strongly, strongly resembles a kobold. The game will begin at 7:10 p.m. PT at Safeco Field and will be televised on ROOT Sports. You can catch the radio broadcast on 710 ESPN.
Saturday's game will have Blake Beavan looking for his third strong start to begin the season. His only loss came in a rough 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Texas Rangers. He'll face Philip Humber, which already sounds like he's a dwarven companion of some hobbit or another. Humber holds a stellar 1.69 ERA but has not yet been awarded a decision this year. The game will begin at 1:05 p.m. PT and will be one of FOX's games of the week. So the good people at FOX will roll a six-sided die to determine which game you get depending on where you live. Odds are good you'll end up with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, so you might be better off listening to the radio broadcast on 710 ESPN.
The series finale on Sunday will have Kevin Millwood attempting to pick up his first decision of the year after a really fantastic debut and rolling a natural "1" in his last start, which sounds really good, until you realize that's a critical miss and depending on which version of D&D you're playing, he probably fell down while swinging his axe and accidentally beheaded himself. It was really bad. On the Sox side, John Danks will get the start. Danks both looks and sounds like a hunter class of some sort. Jonathan Longdanks. He's got a 1-2 record and a 4.82 ERA. Sunday's game will begin at 1:10 p.m. PT and will be televised on ROOT Sports. You can catch the radio broadcast on 710 ESPN.
For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit Lookout Landing. For updates and perspective on the Chicago White Sox, head on over to South Side Sox or check out SB Nation Chicago.