July 2005

Trade Deadline Aftermath

Sunday, July 31, 2005, 3:09 pm

The Phone Didn’t Ring

Not once during the last hour before the trade deadline.  Outgoing calls were made, but nothing came back in return.

The good news is we are pleased with the addition of Geoff Blum to our club, and our competition in the American League did not improve themselves.

A poster, who had read about the unrealistic trade demands that were out there from other teams, asked me to identify the players in our organization who were in high demand.Rowand

I cleared it with Ken Williams, so here they are:  Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, Damaso Marte, Aaron Rowand, Brandon McCarthy, Brian Anderson, Chris Young and Ryan Sweeney.

I can’t mention our interest in players from other teams because it would be tampering, but it is safe to say KW and our staff pretty much called on everyone you have seen named recently.  The price in talent was just too high.  It didn’t make much sense to improve our bullpen at the steep cost of a starting pitcher from among our big three (Mark-Jon-Freddy).

ESPN

Huh?  The room erupted when Harold Reynolds of ESPN mentioned the Angels as the best team in the American League right now.  Certainly one of the best teams in the AL (no argument there), Los Angeles has gone 4-6 over its last 10 games.  If we were offended (or just ignored), how does Oakland feel?  When was the last time the A’s lost?

Hall of Fame Thoughts

Sunday, July 31, 2005, 1:19 pm

Random Thoughts As I Watch the Induction Ceremony

Four truly deserving Hall of Fame honorees this year in inductees Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg and honorees Peter Gammons and Jerry Coleman.

I have had the honor of visiting the Hall of Fame twice with the White Sox when we played the annual exhibition game and one other time to represent the team at the induction of catcher Carlton Fisk.

My two best stories … as an almost 40-year-old (now), players like George Brett and Mike Schmidt were my childhood stars.  During induction weekend, they close the Otesaga Hotel to only Hall of Famers, Brett their families, media and baseball execs.  The hotel is on the lake, with beautiful grounds and a wide veranda with rocking chairs.  Picturesque.

Well, anyway, late one evening I needed to visit the men’s room.  As I stood there, who should step up beside me but Brett on one side and Schmidt on the other.  They were arguing loudly about something from their playing days.  I remember thinking, "Wow, this is pretty amazing" as I stood between them.  Then, I thought, "Wow, this is one of those really cool moments in your life, and it is happening to me in a rest room."

The night before the ceremony, the Hall of Fame itself is closed to only the HOFers, their family, media and baseball execs.  As you wander through the exhibits, you see Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, etc.  I came around one corner to see Sparky Anderson, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan standing in front of the Big Red Machine exhibit talking to their kids and grandkids about the team and their shared experiences.  Pretty neat.

If you are a baseball fan and haven’t been to Cooperstown, please take the trip.  It is well worthwhile.

The Wall Street Journal recently (July 28) ran a compelling article about **** Allen being the best player eligible for the hall of fame who was not enshirined.

I have the personal pleasure of knowing three gentlemen I believe should be in the Hall of Fame.

The first is Sox left-hander Bill Pierce. Pierce If you took Whitey Ford’s statistics and Pierce’s and put them next to one another without the name, you could not tell the difference.  Head to head, Billy more than held his own with Ford.  Ford is in the Hall because he pitched for the Yankees and sports several World Series rings.  Bill was just as good a pitcher — you can check the stats yourself — and I believe he belongs.

The second is Minnie Minoso.  Baseball has done a great job correcting past injustices when in comes to Negro League greats.  I think Minnie is penalized because his career spaned integration.  Even with his career "shortened" by his years in Cuba and the Negro Leagues, you can make a statistical arument for Minoso’s inclusion.  If you project a full career for Minoso, it is a no-brainer.  This is a man who came to a new country, overcame racial and language challenges and still managed a standout career.  Minnie belongs.

The third is Roland Hemond. I cannot imagine another baseball executive to have accomplished as much in over 50 years in the game.  In addition to the usual accomplishments by general managers (trades, division titles, etc), Roland has fought for years for benefits like a MLB pension plan and the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT), which helps former players, executives and their families who might be in needs of help.  Even now, Roland is working on a project to help players continue their educations (in the offseason or after they are done playing) through the University of Phoenix.  Roland does more for other people than anyone else I have met in this game.  Whenever, he decides to "retire", a foreign concept for him, he should go into the Hall of Fame. 

Just my opinion.  And I admit to being passionately biased toward these three guys.

Trade Deadline Approaching

Sunday, July 31, 2005, 12:22 pm

Blum Trade

We just acquired veteran infielder Geoff Blum from San Diego for minor league pitcher Ryan Meaux, a lefty at Class AA Birmingham.

Blum, who is hitting .241, is taking a red-eye to Baltimore tonight and will be there in time for Monday’s game.  A switch hitter, Geoff will give Ozzie some flexibility with his lineup and during the game.  Geoff can play second and third and has played the outfield and first base.

We will have to make a roster move to add Geoff to the 25-man team.

Still Working

Kenny and his group continue to make calls and to meet in our baseball operations conference room.  They will continue to work the phones until we pass the 3 pm (CT) deadline.

Saturday From the Ballpark

Saturday, July 30, 2005, 3:30 pm

In-Game Report

I should be smarter than this, but I began this post in the top of the ninth inning of today’s game at Baltimore.  If we lose this one, then I’m to blame and I will NEVER post in-game again.

Lineups

I do my best to post them, but it is very difficult some days.  When I am not traveling, I am dependent on my staff member on the road to email me the lineup.  With all that was going on Friday — Frank’s news, a conference call, interviews for FOX Saturday Game of the Week, etc., I did not have time to post it before the game began.  Sorry, my "other job" got in the way, but that will happen on occasion.  I should be fine Sunday, because I plan on being at the ballpark again all day in case we make a deal.  It’s like I am sitting the bullpen waiting for the call.

War Room Report

Ken Williams, Rick Hahn (our assistant GM), the baseball department staff and many of our scouts spent the day in the Baseball Department Conference Room calling other clubs, discussing possible transactions and reviewing all the reports our scouts have compiled on other organizations and other players.

Yesterday, I had a national baseball writer call me and say he kept hearing how frustrated Ken was with other teams being unwilling to discuss and make moves.  As we approach the deadline, teams sometimes become more willing to pull the trigger.

Media

For those interested, Ozzie Guillen is the guest on ESPN’s Sunday Night Conversation.  This obviously has potential to go any direction.  Ozzie will be great … honest, funny, quick-witted, the usual.  But I bet he will be asked about a perceived ESPN bias and might have to battle those national media stereotypes.  Ozzie doesn’t always have great patience for that …

Also, WMAQ-TV Channel 5 is out here now filming a couple’s weRingsdding with Jerry Reinsdorf as officiant.  The wedding is taking place at home plate with the groomsmen and bridesmaids up the baselines.  They have customized bats and everything.  The 200 or so guests are in the Scout Seats.  While he has enjoyed the experience, Jerry has made it very clear he is retiring from the wedding business after today’s ceremony.  I need to ask him tomorrow if the groom slipped him a tip!

Great Sign

When I pulled up in front of the ballpark at noon today, people were in line to purchase tickets for future games. 

Nice Victory

No jinx.  A nice, come-from-behind win and a 2-0 edge in this series. 

Friday Sox

Friday, July 29, 2005, 2:00 pm

Frank Thomas News

The tests on Frank’s sore left foot came back and the news is not good.  He suffered a second fracture, which most likely means his season is over.  Check out whitesox.com for the press release and a statement by Dr. Richard Ferkel (FT’s surgeon).  Sad news.  I feel for Frank because we all know how hard he worked to come back this year.  He’s really only enjoyed two full years of production (2002-03) in the last five (and hit 70 home runs with 197 RBI in those two years).

Sock Collection

For those interested, here are the details on the sock collection to aid U.S. military personnel in Iraq.  Amanda will be at the Walgreen’s on 95th Street in Oak Lawn (4740 W. 95th) from 9-4 pm tomorrow (Saturday), collecting socks.  Southpaw will deliver 250 pair at 1 pm.

Jobs in Baseball

When I have  a little more time, I will pass along the details of how best to acquire a job in baseball.  It does depend upon your vocation, but it certainly helps to have a passion for the game, a willingness to commit long hours to your career and a willingness to understand that you are going to sacrifice quite a few things your friends enjoy … like summer.

A few years ago, I took my family home to my parents for July 4th because the team was on the road and I was not travelling.  As we talked over the grill, I tried to remember the last July 4th I celebrated with my family.  It had been nearly 10 years.  For a decade, July 4ths were spent in hotels on the road (one year I remember we were in Toronto, which was strange) or at ballparks somewhere.  Again, no complaints, I chose this career and love it, but you do have to understand what a career in baseball means.  One year (1995 when spring training went on forever because of the strike), I think I was away from home over 200 nights.  It’s great.  It’s exciting, but it can get old.

Grinder Rules

Grinder Rule #7 … Grinder ball requires speed, defense and discipline.  And immigration.

Grinder Rule #10 … Only one statistic matters:  W.

Grinder Rule #25 … A good outfielder doesn’t see the wall.  He tastes it.

Grinder Rule #26 … Your hitting should serve as a warning.  To low-flying aircraft.

Grinder Rule #28 … Always give fans something they can take away from the game.  Like the other team’s pride.

Off Day Story

Thursday, July 28, 4:40 pm

Off Day News and Notes

Sorry to not post yesterday.  I was a late fill-in at the Catholic Charities GoNunhabitlf Outing at Cog Hill.  Great cause and a great time. The best part of the day was the "Beat the Nun" competition at the Par 3 second hole.  She stood up on the tee in full habit hitting practice shots into the cornfield as priests and other nunes stood by and watched.  I knew we were in trouble.  It also was the sister’s birthday, so what chance did we have against God and good karma?

Of course, she stuck her shot, five feet from the cup.  No one came close to beating her.  She claimed that in her 45 years of playing golf, she never had a hole in one.  I guess you had to believe her with her being a nun and all.

So anyway, I did not post and caught the last few innings in the clubhouse and on the drive home. You just had that sinking feeling didn’t you?

Shingo Time

We did option Shingo to Class AAA Charlotte today.  He has three days to report.  I was surprised that no one was interested in his services in the major leagues.  I would think someone would have wanted a specialty right-hander.

Frank NewsFrank_1

Nothing new to report on Frank.  He underwent tests in Los Angeles with Dr. Ferkel.  The plan was to have Dr. Ferkel compare notes with Herm Schneider.  I am hopeful we will know more by game time tomorrow.

KW

Ken Williams keeps working the phones.  I think you all realize how intense and wound up he is regularly, so imagine now.  He doesn’t seem to sleep much.  After making a round of calls, he often goes to work out and burn off energy instead of sitting by the phone going stir crazy.  The calls continue …

Much Thanks

For all the feedback on our website from Tuesday.  I sent it along to our person in charge of the site, and he was looking into making some of your recommendations a reality.

Late Arrival

With the long game and some travel delays yesterday, I guess the team did not arrive in Baltimore until very late.  After traveling for many, many years, you can’t imagine how tough it is and how much of a burden it puts on your body (and I never had to play).  Off days are invaluable.

Complaints

Sorry, I received a few complaints from friends about my graphic description of Dye’s sore leg.  Didn’t mean to upset anyone’s lunch.

Good Cause

A young girl on the South Side — I think she is going into the eighth grade — is collecting socks to send to our soldiers in Iraq as her community service project.  We heard about it and thought it was a no brainer to offer support.  Saturday, Southpaw is going to take down 500 pairs of White Sox socks to add to her collection.  I will try to get an address for tomorrow, but if anyone knows details, post them.  I encourage everyone to donate if you can.

I will save the Grinder Rules update for tomorrow.

Pregame Thoughts

Tuesday, July 26, 2005, 4:52 pm

Random Thought

It sure was nice to see Jermaine Dye back in the lineup — and contributing in a big way — last night.  His loss, along with the Big Hurt, for the Boston series certainly changed the look of our lineup.  Nice to have him back.

I know quite a few people enjoyed a laugh at Jermaine’s spider episode.  Maybe we didn’t do a very good job of stressing that it was the infection that caused the problems, and it was painful.  As Ken Williams described it, the bites went up and down his leg with puss and mucous seeping out.  Antibiotics didn’t seem to do much at first.  At one point, Jermaine was laying on a table in the training room, biting on a towel in pain as they dug into the bites and tried to remove the puss and mucous.  Eventually, he spent a night in the hospital getting more potent medicine.  It was so hot this weekend (and since the wounds were seeping), that there was concern that if we wrapped his leg so that he could play, the mixture of sweat and puss would run down his leg would only make things worse.  Of course he had to slide and hit the wall last night.  Welcome back, Jermaine.

Frankly Speaking

Frank visited his surgeon in Los Angeles today for further evaluation of his sore left ankle.  Herm Schneider will receive an update later today or tomorrow.

Website feedback

Since most of you must frequent our web site, white sox.com, and receive our monthly white sox wire emails, I would love to hear your feedback.  What do you like?  Not like?  Find useful? etc.  Let me hear your thoughts.

We sat down with Mark Buehrle recently and then sent out a letter from Mark about his All-Star experience.  To be honest, I was disappointed in the open rate for that email.  Did people see it?  Did you care?  Do you find these communications interesting?

Grinder Rules

Grinder Rule  #6 … The best seat in the house should be determined by the best player in the house.

Grinder Rule #22 … When attending a Chicago White Sox game, don’t blink. (anyone get the reference?)

Grinder Rule #30 … Good enough, isn’t.

Grinder Rule #54 … If you can’t take the heat, get out of the batter’s box.

And yes, there were (are) two #45s.  I am not sure why …

Lineup

Sorry, but I have not yet received a lineup from Kansas City.  You’ll have to tune in to our pregame show on ESPN Radio 1000 …

Checking For Media

Tuesday, July 26, 2005, 4:35 pm

Fact Checking

After reading an email by a reader (who posted at about 4 pm), I went outside to check and see if, indeed, there were cameras and media people outside the ballpark.  Other than getting blown sideways — I swear the area at Gate 4 of the ballpark might be the windiest in Chicago — I did not see a thing.

And usually (not always), I would know about this stuff in advance.

Corey McPherrin of FOX 32 was supposedly out here earlier taping another promo, and there is a driving school underway in the parking lot at Gate 5, but other than that, I did not see a thing.

Ken Williams was here earlier, and it looked like his car was gone from the lot, so I am not really sure about that earlier media sighting.  Do call me if you hear anything because sometimes I am the last to hear.

Pre Game Thoughts

Monday, July 25, 2005, 3:10 pm

Reader Question

For those interested, I have been told the photo spread on the White Sox will be in the August 3 edition of ESPN The Magazine (which is the next one).  A photo editor there said the shots came out great and hoped the spread might be as many as seven pages.

AL Central

The American League Central has gone a combined 56-43 against American League East foes so far this year.  If, for the sake of argument, you want to limit the comparison to only the top three teams in each division, the East comes out at 31-27, while the Central is 34-21.  The Sox are 11-6, while Minnesota is 15-6. 

Grinder Rules

Grinder Rule #5 … Every pitch is full count.  Every inning, the nintAj_1h.  Every game, game seven.

Grinder Rule #21 … Thieves will be punished.  Swiftly, harshly and repeatedly (accompanies this photo of AJ Pierzynski)

Grinder Rule #38 … You’re either counted on or counted out.

Grinder Rule #55 … It’s called stepping up to the plate for a reason.

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF … Rowand, CF … Everett, DH … Konerko, 1B … Pierzynski, C … Dye, RF … Crede, 3B … Harris, 2B … Uribe, SS … Garcia, RHP.

Boston Reax

Monday, July 25, 2005, 12:18 pm

Boston Reaction

Please check out Tony Massarotti’s article in today’s Boston Herald, titled "Who are top Sox?  Chicago’s Not Scaring Boston."

I am not with the team in Kansas City today, but my guess is it will be discussed and posted on the clubhouse wall.  Thanks, Red Sox, for the motivation.

The Boston Globe also advanced last weekend’s series by sending a writer to our series with the Devil Rays earlier in the month.  The result?  Same old stereotypes about attendance, the ballpark, the neighborhood and Sox fans.  Check it out if you want to, but if you are a White Sox fan, you’ve read this all before.  Old perceptions make for a better story than today’s reality.

I did send a letter to the sports editor in response, but received no reply.  That happens quite a lot — my being ignored — so if you don’t mind, I will re-print my response here:

To the Editor,

We were disappointed to read Stan Grossfeld’s perspective of the White Sox and the neighborhood around U.S. Cellular Field in The Boston Globe (July 21).

During his visit to Chicago in advance of the Red Sox, Mr. Grossfeld focused on club attendance, the lack of team merchandise in a downtown store and the recovering neighborhood surrounding the ballpark to the east and south.  His story was accompanied by a photo of empty seats and train tracks.  In our opinion, Mr. Grossfeld’s report took the easy way out, relying on some very dated stereotypes (i.e. Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown) and myths. Reading these stereotypes from non-Chicago media is not a surprise to White Sox fans, but the reliance on such a subjective view is disappointing coming from The Boston Globe.

As for attendance, the White Sox currently are on pace to enjoy the fourth-largest attendance total in franchise history, have experienced a club record 10 sellouts in 2005 and boast the third-largest attendance increase in the American League, just ahead of the Red Sox.  Instead, Mr. Grossfeld chose to visit the ballpark for a midweek series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and take pictures of empty seats.  In our most recent homestand, all seven games against the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox attracted over 31,000 fans and six of the seven crowds over 36,000.

Despite what Mr. Grossfeld’s afternoon walk up Michigan Avenue taught him, the White Sox annually rank among the top performers in baseball for merchandise sales, in large part because of our popular logo and color scheme.

Finally, had Mr. Grossfeld chosen to walk in two different directions near the ballpark, his article could have introduced Globe readers to one of the biggest boom real estate markets in Chicago – the Bridgeport neighborhood that surrounds the ballpark to the north and west.  He could have visited restaurants, bars and new construction sites for multimillion dollar homes and condos within minutes of downtown Chicago.

The next time Mr. Grossfeld visits Chicago, please have him contact us in advance.  We would be happy to provide him with the most knowledgeable of tour guides … White Sox fans.

Sincerely,

Scott Reifert

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