Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, Jeff Francoeur

Jeff Francoeur is on the board!


And Robin Ventura still seems out of his element.

Jeff Francoeur finally hit his first homer Sunday, taking Nate Jones deep in the eighth inning as part of the Royals’ 9-1 win over the White Sox.

The homer came in his 124th at-bat of the season. Francoeur last year hit 20 homers in 601 at-bats.

Francoeur is also without a steal this season after finishing with 22 in 2011.

But that’s about all I have to write about Francoeur at the moment. Let’sdiscuss Robin Ventura’s decision-making with the White Sox down 3-1 in the ninth inning of the contest.

Rookie reliever Addison Reed entered today’s game with a .143 average against this season. However, after a walk and a double to open the ninth, Robin Ventura had Reed intentionally walk Jarrod Dyson to load the bases with no outs. And then, after a run-scoring wild pitch and a strikeout, Ventura had Reed issue another intentional walk, this one to Alex Gordon. Reed, still struggling with his control, went on to hit Billy Butler to force in a run and then gave up an RBI single to Francoeur before being pulled. He ended up being charged with six runs.

If you ask me, this is just another case of Ventura looking overmatched from the dugout. Reed hadn’t allowed a run all season and he appears well on his to establishing himself as one of the league’s top strikeout relievers, yet Ventura kept taking away his margin for error by loading the bases. Reed clearly wasn’t at his best today, so maybe he would have given up those runs regardless. Still, Ventura should have trusted his stuff: Reed was a much better bet to get out of the inning with strikeouts (of which he had 26 in 17 1/3 innings as a major leaguer) than he was with a double play (of which he had zero in 17 1/3 innings as a major leaguer).

Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga to throw out first pitches in Games 1 and 2

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 05:  Kenny Lofton #7 of the Cleveland Indians runs to first base against the New York Yankees during Game Two of the American League Divisional Series at Jacobs Field on October 5, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.

Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.

Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.

Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.

I guess the White Sox don’t count

CHICAGO - APRIL 04: General Manager Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox shows off his World Series Championship ring during ceremonies prior to the start of a game against the Cleveland Indians on April 4, 2006 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.

I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:





I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.