June 2005

Go-Go White Sox

Fashion Conscious

Interesting choice by White Sox starting pitcher Freddy Garcia to wear black alternate jerseys today.  The right-hander added to his attire with a black long-sleeve undershirt.  Maybe he knew he would work quickly enough that the black jerseys wouldn’t grow too hot.

"Freddy likes the big games," manager Ozzie Guillen said.  "He came out today in the first inning throwing the ball from the get-go the way we want."

"Every time Freddy pitches in a big game, he’s right there," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.  "If we can get him through the first couple of innings, he’s very good.  Today, he gave us a seven-pitch first inning and got us off the field.  It was hot out there today."

For those unaware, the day’s starting pitcher chooses the game jersey … regular pinstripes, black alternates or "sleeveless."

Hot, Hot, Hot

A west wind at the start of the game greeted fans entering the ballpark, but the air inside for batting practice was still and heavy.  One source had the game-time temperature at field level at 104 degrees (97 air).

I wonder if this is the hottest game in Tadahito Iguchi’s career?  His home games in Japan were played in a dome.

"If you want to play in cool weather," manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game.  "Play basketball."

A note for fans attending the next two games … watch the heat.  Drink plenty of water.  Easy on the alcohol.  Visit the shower or the rain rooms on the concourses to cool off (two on the main concourse in the outfield and two on the upper deck concourse).  There are also cooling stations for overheated patrons and the Sox added a number of medical staff to deal with severe cases.  Please seek help if you need it and beware of the sun.

Frank Thomas

Hit an absolute bullet into the left-field stands in the first inning.  The home run was his seventh in 39 at-bats to start his year.  One joker commented, "That’s Daigle-esque," comparing the two-time MVP with Class A Winston-Salem firstbaseman Leo Daigle.  For those who missed the Carolina League stats, Daigle is having an amazing season, leading the league with 24 home runs, 102 hits, 84 RBI, 46 extra-base hits, a .709 slugging percentage, 60 runs scored and a .367 batting average … all in 71 games.

Frank’s run scored in the first inning tied Hall-of-Famer Luke Appling for the franchise record with 1,319.

Power Surge

Pierzynski, on his power surge this season:  "Luck.  Lucky.  I have no idea."

Go-Go Sox

A typical Sox victory:  Scott Podsednik stolen bases, hit-and-run first-to-thirds, big blasts and a little luck (courtesy of the right field foul pole).  Credit Ozzie Guillen with all the useless pitchouts by the opposition we have seen so far this season.

"When somebody makes a mistake, we want to take advantage of it," Guillen said.  "We’ve been doing that this season.  When you do that and catch a little luck here and there, you are going to win games."

Guillen said the key to the 12-2 win came when Tadahito Iguchi was moving on a pitch to Paul Konerko in the team’s five-run fifth inning.  "If he wasn’t, that’s a double play," Guillen said.  "With Iguchi going, we were able to keep the inning going."

Brantley-Oops-Meter

So far this season, ESPN analyst Jeff Brantley has called Dustin Hermanson "Darrin" and Freddy Garcia, "Frankie."  To quote a ballpark regular, "I love it when you analyze" …

Another Oops

Today’s Sun-Times had a note on Joe Crede next to a picture of Aaron Rowand.

Most Sox Wins Pre All-Star Break Since 1975

Jim Kaat … 13-6 in 1975

Jack McDowell … 13-6 in 1993

Jon Garland … 12-2 in 2005

Mark Buehrle … 12-6 in 2002

Jack McDowell … 12-4 in 1992

50 And Counting

The Sox became the first team in the major leagues to reach 50 victories (50-22).

Japan’s Johnny Carson … Yo-ko-so Chicago-a

Prior to the game, Shingo Takatsu and Tadahito Iguchi both greeted a famous entertainer from Japan described as "the Johnny Carson of Japan."  The poor guy flew from Japan, got off the plane at O’Hare, rode to the ballpark and then sat out in the stands in the heat (seats courtesy of Shingo).  That’s a long day in any language.

Way to Go Sox Fans

Maybe it was just me (or a combination of me and the way the game went), but there seemed to be a great representation by Sox fans today.  They continue to turn out in force and in uniform, sporting Sox jerseys, hats, banners and flags.

The Great Luis Aparcio

Hall-of-Fame shortstop Luis Aparcio threw out the ceremonial first pitch before today’s game wearing his replica 1959 cap.

Attitude

"Every time you win, you turn the page and get ready for the next day," Guillen said.  "That is the key for this team.  Whether we have won 20 straight or lost two straight, we are ready to play the next day."

Friday’s Lineup

Today’s Lineup

Was posted early this morning, so I have time to get it up on the blog:

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thomas, DH; Konerko, 1B; Rowand, CF; Dye, RF; Pierzynski, C; Crede, 3B; Ozuna, SS.  Garcia takes the mound.

Quick Note

Clarification

Before I hear from anyone about the white dove at the bottom of my previous blog entry, please understand there is a kind gentleman at MLBAM who looks over my shoulder as I write this.  Because I am technologically challenged — to say the least — he is responsible for all the impressive links and photos you see.  Credit him for all the cool stuff and blame him for the white dove at the bottom of the prior post.

White Sox vs. Cubs, Part 2

Crosstown Classic

The first time the White Sox and Cubs met there was quite a bit of talk that six games between the two rivals are just too much, that interleague play should be scaled back to just one three-game series.  With Part 2 of the annual rivalry set to begin Friday, what do you think?

Last year, the first series was played at U.S. Cellular Field.  There does seem to be more hype and coverage for whatever matchup is first.  We benefitteAnnikanl060105_1d from that last year.  By the time the second series comes around, a lot always seems to be happening in the sports world, story lines for the baseball season seem to be set and media interest seems divided (i.e. tonight’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the U.S. Women’s Open, the coming Western Open, etc.).  But I’m not sure any of this makes a difference to the fans of the two teams … let me know what you think?  Has the rivalry cooled somewhat as we have now played 45 times against one another?

I do know that from a White Sox front office perspective, it is very nice to have an off day before the series begins … especially with the series coming at the end of the season’s longest homestand.  We all are taking a breather.

It was nice of the Chicago Tribune to remind the White Sox in today’s newspaper of the 2003 Kansas City Royals.  My opinion, but given the disppointments this team has gone through since 2000 and its one-game-at-a-time approach, the Sox players won’t need the friendly reminder.  Time will tell.

Given the day games of the weekend and the hectic schedule, I will probably not post before the three games (i.e. lineups and notes) but will try and post after each game to pass along any funny notes or quotes from the clubhouse.

Trivia Question

This one is for extra, extra credit:  The White Sox have enjoyed five walk-off victories against the Cubs during the series’ history.  Can you name the four players who were involved?  Here’s a hint … one came in 1999, one in 2000, one in 2001 and two in 2003.  Answer later.

White Sox vs. Cubs Notes

Possible statistical help for those pregame arguments with your friends from the other side of town:

Since interleague play began in 1997, the Sox own a 24-21 edge over the Cubs, going 13-8 at U.S. Cellular Field.  The Sox have won five of the last six series.  However, the Cubs have outscored the Sox by a slim margin, 217-214.

Konerko_3 Paul Konerko is hitting .293 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in his last 18 games against the Cubs.  He has hit safely in his last nine games.  PK’s nine home runs against the Cubs leads the Sox, followed by Frank Thomas with six.

Twenty-nine of the 45 games (64 percent) have been decided by three runs or less with the Sox going 17-12.  The Sox are 3-4 in three-run games, and 3-2 in the five extra-inning contests (last coming on 6/9/01, a 4-3 Cubs win).

Twelve of the 45 games have been decided in the final at-bat.  The last time the Sox lost a home series to the Cubs was in 1999, going 10-5 and winning two of three games in each of the last five years.

Counting postseason, exhibition, spring training and regular-season games, the White Sox own a 152-106-6 edge in the all-time series with the Cubs.

Trivia Answer

7/9/99 … Carlos Lee sac fly off Terry Adams for 3-2 win

6/9/00 … Ray Durham single off Daniel Garabay in the 14th inning for a 6-5 win

6/8/01 … Lee grand slam off Courtney Duncan for a 7-3 win

6/27/03 … Jose Valentin solo home run off Antonio Alfonseca for a 4-3 win

6/28/03 … D’Angelo Jimenez’s single off Mike Remlinger gave Sox a 7-6 win

Friendly Reminders

Yesterday we released an advisory for fans planning to come to the three games.  The two key points … plan to arrive early to alleviate traffic and take mass transit if you can.Dove

If I may add, let’s all enjoy the weekend together (Cubs fans and Sox fans) and avoid the mean-spiritedness that sometimes creeps into these games.  Let’s all try to be respectful and considerate.  Give peace a chance.

The 2005 White Sox team has succeeded to date by focusing on today’s game and the next series — messages preached in the clubhouse over and over again by Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen.  Let’s keep the same approach this weekend because it seems to be working …

Have a great time and enjoy the buzz Chicago’s fans create for these three games.  I know our players do.

Pregame Thoughts on Wed

Today’s Lineup

Ozuna, SS (Uribe continues to rest a strained back); Iguchi, 2B; FT, DH; PBuerhle_1K, 1B; Everett, LF; Dye, RF; Rowand, CF; Widger, C; Crede, 3B.  Mark Buehrle is pitching, so arrive early.

Take A Drive

The next time you are heading to a Sox game, leave early and take a quick tour of the neighborhood around U.S. Cellular Field.  You will be amazed at the new condo and townhouse construction underway in Bridgeport.  Yesterday, Jerry and I were talking about it after he drove over to Polo Cafe for lunch.  Ozzie Guillen was there attending this month’s Windy City Sox Fan luncheon, so Jerry and Ozzie signed autographs for the fan club members.  One his way there, Jerry drove around some of the re-developed areas of Bridgeport.  "It was amazing," he told me.  "It’s like its own little city."

Fans also might want to drive down Halsted street from UIC.  Again, I think they will be surprised at what they see.  The other neighborhood under construction is Bronzeville.  While its development might be a little behind Bridgeport, it still is Bridgeport_1happening quickly.  It will only be a matter of time before the area between the Dan Ryan and the lake is again a vibrant community … not a strip of bars but a neighborhood and a community.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a front page story on the White Sox that described CHA high rises, rusty walls and open lots.  We think the description they used was about 5-10 years old (which is probably the last time they bothered to attend a game).  Nothing could be futher from the truth today.  Come judge for yourselves.

And the best news is that all of these neighborhood developments will benefit the Sox and Sox fans during the summer.

Next time you get the chance, take a drive around the ballpark.

Map

Pregame on Tuesday

Court is in Session

The 2005 White Sox are big Kangaroo Court fans, and the team held a session prior to tonight’s game.

Attendance

Judging from batting practice turnout, attendance will be solid tonight.  As of 6:15 p.m., sale was just short of 25,000, pretty good for a Tuesday night.  Funny how when we attract big crowds for each of the last four games, no one talks about attendance issues.  Our pace is the franchise’s best since 1994.

Lineup

Pods, CF; Iguchi, 2B; Thomas, DH; Konerko, 1B; Everett, LF; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Ozuna, SS.  Jon Garland (11-2, 3.61) is on the mound.

All-Star Voting

Just a reminder that All-Star balloting continues on-line.  Vote for your Sox.  At the risk of being a jinx, the last time the Sox had more than one pitcher on an All-Star Team was 1994.  Can you name them? (Answer at end)

Hard Gar

Jon Garland is 10-4 lifetime against the Royals with a 4.30 ERA after going 3-1 with a 4.37 ERA in 2004.  This is his first start against KC in 2005.  He is 3-0 with a 2.53 ERA over his last three outings.

PK … the Power of One

Paul Konerko has the third-most Konerko_1 home runs in baseball since the start of the 2004 season, trailing just Adam Dunn of Cincinnati (46 + 18 = 64) and Albert Pujols of St. Louis (46 + 18 = 64) … which I guess means PK leads the American League.  He is one ahead of Manny Ramirez of Boston and Mark Teixeira of Texas.

Central Command

The White Sox are 21-5 vs. the American League Central this season, going 4-1 vs. Minnesota, 6-3 vs. Cleveland, 4-1 vs. Detroit and 7-0 vs. Kansas City.  The Sox are 12-3 at home and 9-2 on the road.  Most impressive is that the Sox, Twins and Cleveland all rank among MLB’s Top 10 in winning percentage.

Natural Right and History

The White Sox lead the American League with 75 stolen bases, 25 sac hits, 26 sac flies and 16 bunt hits … they rank second with 75 infield hits.  The Sox have scored a run in 75 percent (18 of 24) of the innings in which they have successfully executed a sacrifice hit.

Trivia Answer

Box2

Future Trivia Questions

Feel free to send your Sox questions my way.  I will try to pick one a day and then provide the answer in my blog.  Those of you worried about my day job, thanks for the concern.  But don’t worry, I have several interns who will do all the research.  They are the greatest …

Tonight at U.S. Cellular Field

Tonight’s Game

Fans went to a White Sox game and had an old-fashioned (like in 2004) American League game break out, as the Sox took an 11-8 decision from the visiting Kansas City Royals to win the first game of the three-game series.

With the victory, the Sox improved to 7-0 against the Royals, 24-10 at home and their 47-22 record is the best 69-game start by a White Sox team in franchise history (the 1915 team was 46-23).

Despite scoring 11 runs, the Sox still had to scrape for the win, breaking an 8-8 deadlock with three runs.

"In 2000, when we won, we blew everyone out and didn’t have too many close games," said Paul Konerko after the game.  "I think that hurt us in the end, so maybe this will help us down the road."

Wearing Pinstripes

A great crowd of 34,345 turned out for the ballgame on a beautiful night in Chicago.  So many more fans seem to be wearing White Sox jerseys, t-shirts, hats and colors this season when compared to past seasons at the ballpark.  The support is noticeable and has players talking.

Nothing But Nancy

Wednesday afternoon’s series finale will feature nothing but organ music as Nancy Faust celebrates 35 seasons as organist for the White Sox.  Seniors may also stroll the bases after the day game, so take advantage of the day.

Nancy_copy

Sending A Message

Mr. Williams Responds

After a week of very public comments by Carl Everett, Mark Buehrle and manager Ozzie Guillen, White Sox general manager Ken Williams sat down with the media on Saturday and sent a clear message.

"When you get to a point where people start paying attention to you, that’s a good thing," Williams said.  "But it can also be something that can be distracting if you let it.  This past week was not a good week in terms of keeping our focus on the issues at hand.

"We should leave world politics and all the other topics that none of us are qualified to expound on, we should leave all those things alone and focus on baseball," Williams told the Chicago Tribune and several other Chicago media outlets.  "We’ve got a bunch of good guys.  I don’t want them to get caught up just because of one disparaging remark here or there.  I know these guys.  I handpicked every one of them.

"When you see something like this, it pains me, because it’s not indicative of the type of people they are."

Top U.S. Cellular Field Foods

As part of a feature in last night’s game, ESPN featured five favorite foods at U.S. Cellular Field, a ballpark known for a wide-range of food options, many of which represent the various ethnic neighborhoods and cultures in the city.  The five favorites include:

Kosher hot dog (with grilled onions)

Corn off the cob (with mayo, butter, salt, pepper, lime and paprika)

Churros

Steak pitas

Corned Beef sandwich

Tonight’s Sox Lineup against Jose Lima and the Kansas City Royals

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thomas, DH; PK, 1B; A-Row, CF; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; and Ozuna, SS.  Brandon McCarthy makes his USCF debut.

Father’s Day and a Ballgame

Becoming a Sox Fan

We do a lot of polling with our fans, from on-line polls during the offseason to in-park surveys and focus groups during the season.  We want to know what our fans think and how we can respond and improve the ballpark experience for our fans.

One of the unique things we have learned — and year after year our research reinforces this — is that our fans become White Sox fans largely because of the influence of a parent or grandparent.  Most Sox fans, according to what we have been told, learn to love the game (and their Sox) from dad, mom, grandpa or even grandma.  It seems like an appropriate point to make on a special day like Father’s Day.

There is something unique about the baseball experience, about spending a day at the ballpark with your family.  The pace of the game allows for conversation.  The history of the game allows for comparisons and fun arguments.  Being a Sox fan is generational.  It literally is in the blood.  We find many fans who now might live in the northwest or west suburbs who still think of themselves as south siders and as Sox fans.  One polling company came to us after completing a survey amazed at how strong the connection was between our fans (no matter where they now lived, what they did for a living and how many games they attended) and the work ethic of Chicago.  It was an ethic that had been passed down through generations, just like being a Sox fan.

Our fans tell us they attend games in groups that often include extended family … grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  When compared to data for all MLB teams, our fans attend in larger groups, reflecting this mix.  It is a chance for fans of all ages to share something special together at the ballpark, and we have tried to tailor the U.S. Cellular Field experience to appeal across generations.

Fans often have learned the game from a parent or grandparent.  It may be how to keep score.  It may be stories of past stars or great teams.  It may be memories or playing catch in the backyard.  It may be Mayor Daley bringing his kids to a Sox game, or it may be Jon Garland bouncing sinkers off his mom’s shins in the backyard in California 15 years ago.

I’m sure every baseball fan has his or her own special memories about baseball and a parent.  Obviously, I am biased, but this special connection across generations is something that baseball can boast over any other sport.  Father’s Day reminds me of that special relationship baseball fans can enjoy with their parents or grandparents, and of course, their favorite team.

White, Not Black Stockings

Our 1959 throwback uniforms from last night seemed to receive rave reviews.  Prior to the game, Rich King of WGN-TV asked pitcher Bob Shaw about the 1959 team’s wearing white socks for the World Series.  It seems the club wore black socks during the 1959 regular season (with red and white stripes), just like the team wore last night.  According to Shaw, for the World Series, owner Bill Veeck was concerned about comparisons to the 1919 "Black Sox" and had the American League champions switch to white.  "They didn’t really match the uniforms, but we wore them," Shaw said.

What an Ending!

Wow

Great night at U.S. Cellular Field.  Down 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the White Sox scored three times — capped by A.J.’s two-run homer — for a dramatic, come-from-behind 5-3 win Saturday night.

The crowd was electric.  Just before the bottom of the ninth inning, the ballpark scoreboard replayedthe 1959 video, "Let’s Go Go-Go White Sox" as the fans stood and roared.  You could feel the electricty and the momentum switch on a dime.

The team responded.  Tad Iguchi had a great at-bat to get things started.  Carl Everett singled, and then Aaron Rowand came through with a clutch two-out hit to tie the game.  Pierzynski followed with his first career walk-off home run on a 3-2 count.

1959 Perspective

The Sox wore throwback 1959 jerseys for the game.  Reaction in the stands was pretty positive to the look.  How did they look on television?  After the game, guys in the clubhouse — which was rocking, by the way — signed their game-worn jerseys for Chicago White Sox Charities.  The club bought each player an extra jersey as a momento, and guys seem to like how they looked.

The 2005 White Sox mixed with members of the 1959 team before the game.  Bill Pierce and Mark Buehrle posed for photographers and each lefty held out his hand showing his pitching grip.  Bob Shaw threw the ceremonial first pitch to Buehrle (who might be the only All-Star in MLB to offer his services as a catcher for the ceremonial first pitch).

After the game, most fans stayed for the fireworks show.  The Sox go for the sweep tomorrow, but tonight was one of those "no way we should win this game but we do" kind of nights.  Makes you believe in magic and karma. Enjoy.

And a happy father’s day to all dads.

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