The Big Breeze has played in only three games this month, with his eight official at bats yielding the usual results—one hit, three strikeouts. Manager Ozzie Guillen has decided to rest Dunn, hoping the added energy will shoot his average above .170 in the three $14 million seasons to come.
The Sox are in the middle of a crucial series in Kansas City that could determine whether they finish 15 or 17 games out of first. It's no comfort that the Cubs are even worse, a month of wins below .500 and a solar system behind the Brewers. Baseball in Chicago has been one big K this year.
And now it appears that Dunn, deprived of sufficient strikeout opportunities, will even whiff at setting the club whiff record. Not even the Big Breeze can fan from the dugout.
Back in April, I pointed out that the White Sox season K record of 175, set in 1963 by Dave Nicholson, was in jeopardy with Dunn joining the team. In his eight full seasons, the Big Breeze had averaged 179 Ks, fanning more than 175 times on four occasions, including last season when he piled up 199.
But now Dunn rides the bench, stuck on 160 Ks. With his overachieving K-rate this season—he's whiffed 43 percent of his official at bats, compared with a career 33 percent—the Big Breeze could still break Nicholson's mark, but only if Ozzie plays him in about ten of the final 13 games. That looks unlikely, because Ozzie has recently begun treating him as if he were a .162 hitter or something.
If Dunn doesn't set the record it will be, paradoxically, because he's had too terrible a season to get the chance. Sox fans should hope he breaks the mark going away next year, because it will mean he's returned to form in other categories, and is back to designated hitting instead of sitting. In the four seasons that the Big Breeze has fanned more than 175 times, he's also clouted 38, 38, 40, and 46 homers.
Dunn has 11 homers this year. At his pay grade, that's almost $1.3 million per long ball. Paul Konerko's 29 HRs so far are a steal, costing a third as much—about $414,000 each. (He's making $2 million less this season than Dunn.)
But the Sox know how to finance such things without troubling their fans. Last week I wrote about how White Sox radio broadcasts have turned into a jingle concerto, with everything from pitching changes to collisions requiring Ed Farmer or Darrin Jackson to proclaim the sponsor. ("That walk is courtesy of Waste Management...")
Likewise, the ballpark is plastered with company logos. I'm not fond of all that advertising, but I learned this week from the Sox website that I'm in the minority. "Nearly 75 percent of attendees feel corporate sponsorships enhance their ballpark experience," the website asserts.
A buddy of mine—a fellow die-hard Sox attendee—was talking to me about this yesterday. "Yeah, Dunn and Rios have been pathetic," she said. "But have you noticed how enhanced the ballpark experience has been with those corporate sponsorships?