Socks and pants.
Not a fastball, not a curveball, not a forkball, not even a junkball, but socks and pants and some vaguely psychotic advice from a man who only pitched when it mattered: this is what the back end of the Sox’ rotation clings to for hope. It’s kind of heartwarming in a redemption story kind of way, as though our man from Havana was humble enough to seek the guidance of The Man from Villa Clara in his hour of need.
All things considered, it’s probably also the death warrant for the 2009 Chicago White Sox.
As his outings degenerated from unbelievable to solid to shaky to disastrous, Contreras seemed to have finally revealed what was really happening with this midseason gems of his; his career wasn’t revitalized, but rather eeking out its death rattle. We could all take comfort in the peaceful knowledge that sad as the end was, #52 at least put up a fight and never gave up (except when he sort of did). He would go out there Wednesday, as scheduled, and proceed to get lit up by the Royals. It would hurt, and would probably end in Contreras losing his job, and the masses would lament the sad decline of the man who arguably carried the franchise down the most important stretch of its history. He will be missed, we would say, but it was time.
And now this. Instead of moving on, the Sox and everyone watching have to wonder – again – how much Contreras has left in the tank, and whether or not the next outing is going to be another gem or another grease fire. Considering his performance this season, and the one before, and the one before that, most of us know which outcome to expect (even while we hope for the other); assuming six more starts for El Signo de Interrogación, and assuming everything holds steady, we’re talking about a guy fully capable of finishing the season 6-14, a statistic which only matters in situations of extreme dominance or extreme misery. Or, in the case of Contreras, a little of the former followed by a relentless barrage of the latter.