The Gordon Beckham era has arrived on Chicago’s South Side, and this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees was the official coming out party for the precocious budding superstar. In case anyone was wondering why Beckham was untouchable for teams hoping to trade with the White Sox at this year’s trade deadline, the Sox 3-1 series victory over the Yankees was all the evidence they should have needed.
But before we go anything further, let’s get into the right mindset for a Beckham discussion by listening to the song that is taking Chicago by storm and could perhaps prove to be the cheesy 2009 answer to 2005’s cheesy World Series anthem Don’t Stop Believing.
The song is Your LoveÂ by The Outfield and accompanies every Gordon Beckham at-bat:
[track title="Your Love" artist="The Outfield" url="http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/wp-content/uploads/mp3/Your-Love-The-Outfield.mp3" alt="Gordon Beckham's At-Bat Anthem"]
Our friends at Tremendous Upside Potential wrote a great post back in June about Beckham’s somewhat curious song choice. In their post, they cite an article by CSN Chicago’s Chuck Garfien in which he puts to bed any talk of the song being part of some sort of rookie hazing by Beckham’s veteran teammates:
If youâ€™re new to the blog, this song has been an ongoing topic in the Sox Drawer, mainly because after hearing it introduce Gordon for the first time a few weeks ago, I went up to him in the clubhouse, and asked what he felt about getting hazed by his teammates with one of the cheesiest songs from the 1980â€™s.
As it turned out, Beckham chose the song himself.Â In fact, â€œYour Loveâ€ has been introducing Gordon going all the way back to high school.
Needless to say, as a fan and connoisseur of all things cheesy from both the 80s and the 90s, I fully support young Gordon in his musical choice.
Living in Dallas I don’t get to see the majority of White Sox games on TV. It’s always great when the Yankees are in town though, because usually at least two or three of the games are televised nationally. And since I watched every inning of White Sox baseball I could this weekend, I was able to hear Beckham’s song every time he triumphantly strode to the plate — seemingly smacking a double in every at bat — and Your LoveÂ got stuck in my head like all good cheesy anthems do.
However, what reallyÂ stuck in my head is just how special this kid appears to be. And it’s not just me, Ken Williams, and other man-crushing White Sox fans who feel this way. Beckham’s idol Derek Jeter sees a lot to like in the young phenom as well.
The baseball world has taken notice — starting with Jeter.
”He’s playing well,” Jeter said. ”I got a chance to talk to him a little bit because he’s been on second base the whole series. He can hit, that’s the bottom line. You throw him in, he pulls it; you throw him away, he hits it the other way. It looks like he’s got some pop.
”He hasn’t been playing third base very long, but he’s been doing a good job there, too, so I’m sure he’s going to be here for a long time.”
Apparently Beckham turned some heads during Spring Training when he said that he wanted to one day lead the White Sox like Jeter has led the Yankees. Obviously that was bold talk from a kid who had never stepped foot in a Major League batter’s box. De Luca spoke with Beckham about that quote for today’s article, and even Beckham himself said that he “can’t believe [he] said that” having now played against Jeter and seeing how the Yankee icon handles himself.
The truth is, for those of us who have watched Beckham evolve from his struggles immediately upon being called up to his emergence as one of the most feared hitters in our lineup, his Spring Training proclamation certainly seems a lot less outlandish now.
Just look at his numbers from the Yankees series:Â 7-19, 5 2Bs, 7 RBI, 3 R. And over his last 20 games, Beckham is hitting .411 and has 11 2Bs to go along with 17 RBI. His 0-13 start seems like a distant memory now that his season batting average is .311 with 5 HR, 36 RBI, and 17 2Bs.
And all the talk about Beckham as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate is here to stay. Beckham has been a huge spark for a White Sox lineup that struggled with inconsistency through the first few months of the season. But the early season addition of Scott Podsednik, combined with Beckham’s emergence and the return of Carlos Quentin, plus the emergence of speed and excitement on the basepaths, has turned the White Sox back into an offensive juggernaut that is a force to be reckoned with.
(At least at home. Now the bats need to prove they can stay hot when away from The Cell, especially in Detroit and Minneapolis.)
In Gordon Beckham the White Sox absolutely have a major piece to build around for the next ten years. And while significant contract decisions must be made regarding Jermaine Dye, John Danks, and a possible renegotiation of Mark Buehrle’s deal, the White Sox will no doubt try to buy out Beckham’s arbitration years and lock him up long-term just like the Rays did with Evan Longoria and like the Brewers did with Ryan Braun. Yes, Beckham has done enough to prove that he is in the class of those two young stars, and he and Longoria could be competing for starting All Star slots at the AL’s hot corner for years to come.
What makes Gordon Beckham truly intriguing is that he seems to have that “it” star quality about him. Whereas Carlos Quentin’s intensity and focus make him appear, at least to an outside observer like me, more aloof and less charismatic, Beckham seems to revel in the attention that his phenom status brings. Beckham always seems to be smiling and having fun, with the fundamentals of baseball appearing to come easily and naturally to him.
This is not to say that Beckham does not work hard or is not focused (although he certainly wasn’t focused this weekend when he left the basepaths and got tagged out, not realizing there were only two outs). There is just a difference in the way he and Quentin carry themselves. TCQ seems like more of a “grinder” in which every movement is 100% max effort but not necessarily “natural”; Beckham, on the other hand, appears to glide effortlessly through every motion on a baseball diamond.
My point is that I think the Quentin-Beckham combination, which will carry the White Sox into the next decade, is going to be an excellent yin and yang duo. To me, Quentin never seemed totally comfortable with all of the attention showered upon him last season during his breakout year. I see him as more of a hard-hat-and-lunch-pail type player, who just wants to show up to the ballpark and work. And don’t get wrong, that’s great; but I have a feeling we’ll see Beckham embrace more of the trappings that go along with being a superstar athlete in a big market, and in that way he can perhaps help remove some unwanted pressure and attention from Quentin.
We all know that Quentin is an fantastic hitter, but one who tends to press sometimes, This can lead to slumps in which he appears to be over-swinging at everything. Beckham will certainly endure his fair share of ups and downs, especially as a young Major Leaguer, but he strikes me as the kind of confident-bordering-on-cocky player who won’t necessarily look like he’s pressing and who will rarely if ever grasp for confidence.
Maybe I’m off base in this assessment, and I admittedly am pretty far removed from the White Sox living in Dallas, but these are my relatively informed impressions. I’d appreciate the opinions of any Sox fans who are closer to the action. The comment section awaits you below.
I think the best part about this weekend’s series with the Yankees was that it was a terrific preview of what the White Sox can do for the rest of 2009 when the offense is clicking, and what the future will look like with Beckham and Quentin leading the way. Carlos will eventually find his way back to the 3 hole this season, and he and Gordon will be terrorizing opposing pitchers hitting 2-3 (or eventually 3-4) in the White Sox lineup for many years to come.
Of course, even with Beckham displaying his prodigious talents at the plate on a game-in, game-out basis now, his field work at third still leaves a lot to be desired. Through 51 games, Beckham’s fielding percentage is a paltry .944 thanks to 9 errors. This is somewhat expected, however, considering that Beckham just started playing third base a few weeks before his call-up. With Alexei Ramirez and Chris Getz holding down the middle infield, third base was the biggest hole in the White Sox lineup; it is a testament to Beckham’s confidence and overall baseball skill level that he can perform as well as he has playing a new position at the Major League level despite such limited experience.
But .944 won’t cut it forever, and defense could very well prove to be the Achilles’ Heel that prevents the White Sox from achieving October greatness this season. So Beckham and the rest of the team will need to clean up some of the spotty play in the field. Otherwise, we may need to rewrite the lyrics of Beckham’s favorite song:Â Please learn how to use your gloves…to-niii-ight!
At this point though, criticisms of the kid are pretty nit-picky. Few players have the natural ability and confidence to step into the situation he was given and produce like he has. If these last two months have been a preview of what the next ten years will be like with Beckham on the South Side, it has been about as auspicious a beginning as I can imagine.
In baseball, few things are as rewarding for an organization and its fans as seeing a draft choice (or international signee) come up through the system and become a fixture at the big league level. Frank Thomas did it. Mark Buehrle has done it. Joe Crede did it. And now Alexei Ramirez, Beckham, and others are currently in the process of doing it. The homegrown stars always seem to be the ones that are most beloved by the hometown fans and the ones who become the anchors of organizations and the icons of cities.
It’s early, but Gordon Beckham sure appears to be on track to become an anchor for the White Sox organization and a sports icon of the city of Chicago. Assuming these last six weeks are just a preview of Beckham’s career on the South Side, and that he stays humble and hungry enough to fulfill his potential, Gordon Beckham doesn’t have to fear ever losing the love of White Sox fans tonight…or ever.
* – Gordon Beckham thumbs up photo credit: Michael O’Day via MLB.com
* – Gordon Beckham spazzing out photo credit: AP via NWITimes.com