Friday, September 29, 2005, 9:22 am
Great coverage, both quantity and quality, in today’s newspapers. Those of you who live in Chicago, make sure you pick up several copies. They are worth keeping.
Thanks to all the White Sox fans who drove or flew over to Detroit to enjoy yesterday’s clinch celebration. Your support was loudly heard and appreciated in the clubhouse. Our players came back out on the field after the game, but unfortunately, fans had already been cleared from the ballpark, so we weren’t able to share in the celebration like in Minnesota (2000). That’s OK, we plan on having three more of these this October.
Thanks to the Tigers
Who were very gracious hosts yesterday and very accommodating. Can you imagine what it must be like to clean up that clubhouse?
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 9:58 pm
Put That on the Board
Congratulations, Sox fans, your team has won the American League Central Division title!
Sorry to not post until now, but after last night’s games, we immediately made plans to head to Detroit. I flew over this morning with Ron Vesely, our team photographer, and we arrived at Comerica Park late morning.
What a relief … when Paul Konerko snagged that line drive, you could almost see the weight come off our shoulders. Guys were pretty tame with their on-field celebrations, but once inside the clubhouse, they let loose. Nothing beats unrestrained joy. I hope you all shared those emotions with the team as you watched on television today.
Random thoughts from today:
Love the smell of champagne and cigars …
Freddy Garcia turned in another strong outing …
Congrats to PK for his 40th home run … you can’t find a better guy …
Congrats to Ozzie, who had a load lifted today …
So happy for Kenny, Ozzie and Jerry Reinsdorf …
So proud of the loud Sox fans who showed up in Detroit to support the team …
So impressed by how Bobby Jenks threw in the ninth inning …
So cool that White Sox front office staff and employees could watch the game at U.S. Cellular Field and hold an impromptu party to celebrate with the team in spirit …
Annoyed by all my "friends", who upon seeing me in the background on television today, called or emailed, advising me to wear a hat next time so the glare isn’t too strong …
So appreciative of all the calls, messages and emails from fans (some who are regular readers of this blog), friends, peers and others in the industry who left congratulatory thoughts …
So happy for our fans, both those who continued to support us all season, through the highs and lows, as well as those who were driven crazy by the stress. We all should enjoy this …
It’s been a very long day, so I am going to go take a shower and wash off the sticky champaigne residue.
Congrats again Sox fans. You are AL Central Division Champions and you earned it.
"Now the fun really begins," — A.J. Pierzynski
Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 3:31 pm
Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … AJ, C … PK, 1B … Dye, RF … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … Ozuna, 3B … Uribe, SS … Contreras, RHP.
I apologize to any readers for the amateur nature of this blog (but I think blogs are probably, by definition, non-professional efforts to express opinions and provide information).
Let’s Go White Sox.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005, 4:08 pm
White Sox Lineup
Pods, LF … Guch, 2B … Rowand, CF … PK, 1B … Dye, RF … Carl, DH … Ozuna, 3B … Widger, C … Uribe, SS … McCarthy, RHP.
We lost an opportunity last night to gain ground on the idle Indians. Let’s win one tonight …
Monday, September 26, 2005, 4:47 pm
White Sox Lineup
Pods, LF … Tad, 2B … AJ, C … PK, 1B … Dye, RF … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Gar, RHP.
With Cleveland off today to pick up a half game on our lead.
Sunday, September 25, 2005, 12:51 pm
White Sox Lineup
Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Rowand, CF … Konerko, 1B … Dye, RF … Everett, DH … AJ, C … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Buehrle, LHP.
Aaron Rowand was decked out in Bears apparel before the game. With batting practice cancelled because of the rain (players hit under the stands in our cages), guys sat and watched the Bears/Bengals game. Rowand lives and dies with the Bears.
The team leaves after today’s game for Detroit.
John Rooney calls his final regular season home game today and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before today’s game. We will miss his voice on Sox games …
At The Gate
With last night’s sellout (18th of the season), we have drawn 2,312,431 fans for 79 dates, the fourth-highest total in franchise history. Thanks, Sox fans, for all your support in 2005.
With 93 victories, this year’s White Sox team is tied for 12th-most in franchise history. Five teams won 94 games (last in 1993) and just five teams won 95 or more games. The 1917 Sox team, the city’s last baseball World Champions, is the only one to reach the century mark with a 100-54 mark.
Saturday, September 24, 2005, 3:35 pm
White Sox Lineup
Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … AJ, C … PK, 1B … Dye, RF … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Garcia, RHP.
From A Fan’s Post Last Night
Have to share a good Jose story. My 8 y/o son went to game with his uncle last night and watched Jose warming in pen. All through the warm up, my son yelled for him to do well, not get wild and to have a good game. After Jose finished his warm up he pointed to my boy and threw him the ball he was warming up with. Made my son’t whole night and he’s still smiling about it today. Scott, if you can, please let Jose know how much that meant. That’s what makes baseball so great for these little guys. GO SOX!
Friday, September 23, 2005, 1:51 pm
White Sox Lineup
Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … AJ, C … PK, 1B … Dye, RF … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Contreras, RHP.
Check out today’s Chicago Tribune for a very good article by David Haugh on Jose Contreras. It was great to see someone get past Jose’s language barrier to give people a sense of the man.
Thursday, September 22, 2005, 10:27 pm
No excuses. We had opportunities to win this game and did not. Looking at the pitching matchups before the game, no one expected us to beat Santana, but you are still frustrated because we should have won this game.
Comments from Ozzie Guillen
"The kid threw the ball real well. He battled and did a tremendous job. That might have been the only good thing about tonight. He had command, threw strikes, was attacking the zone and made the big pitch when he needed."
On Failing to Score:
"We had opportunities to score. Bases loaded, one out, you should win the game right there.
"Those little things … we need to do those things. If not, we’re going to have trouble. Our hitters need to be better down the stretch.
"So many things happened today where we should have won the game, and we didn’t. You need to win those games."
Thursday, September 22, 2005, 4:30 pm
Ozuna, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Everett, DH … PK, 1B … Rowand, CF … Dye, RF … Uribe, SS … Widger, C … Crede, 3B … McCarthy, RHP.
Stress and Managers
Ozzie Guillen was quoted by one suburban columnist this morning as saying that if the White Sox won the World Series, he just might walk away. He talked about stress and that it sometimes leads to him to the point of vomiting after tough losses. He talked about how booing from fans affects him.
Many of us in the front office have heard Ozzie make comments like this about walking away countless times this year and we generally just shrugged it off. But Ozzie’s comments in print today led to a morning full of speculation on the radio about whether the stress was getting to him, was he blaming fans and would he really quit …
Before batting practice Ozzie explained his comments (and I paraphrase here):
He would consider leaving because it would mean he accomplished everything he could. He would leave with his head up and as a winner. I would be like (Mike) Ditka in this town, he said, making money 20 years after I won something. He then mentioned the video of Ditka being carried off after winning the Superbowl.
He does sometimes get ill because of the stress and strain of managing a team, bit his family shouldn’t worry about his health. Managing is tough, he said, and he often spends time after a game thinking about what the team needs to work on, what could have been done differently, etc.
Fans have the right to boo and he isn’t bothered by media coverage. I like talking to the media because it is my job to explain what happened to the fans, he said. When we are playing badly, I expect to have tough things written. But when we are playing well, I also expect to read good things. This team has won 91 games.
He said more, but that was the gist.
In my time here, I have worked with managers Jeff Torborg, Gene Lamont, Terry Bevington, Jerry Manuel and now Ozzie. The stress of this job is amazing. People often assume it is from the strategy of the game, the media and fans, because that is so public. From what I have seen, there is even more stress in dealing with 25 different people and trying to get those 25 guys to buy into a plan that puts the focus on team ahead of themselves.
Every manager I have known has his own way of dealing with the stress (food, drink, religion, etc), and just about every one has exploded in his own way at sometime or the other (usually in private). It just comes with the job. As a teenager/20-something, I used to think being a major league manager would be the greatest job in the world. Now, having seen it up close and seeing the toll it has on a person, you could not pay me enough to manage a team (and include GM in that as well).
Ups and Downs
As stressful as anything the last two weeks (and arguably even longer) have been the ups and downs. Sunday was up. Monday was down. Tuesday an incredible high. Last night a blah down.
I can’t ever speak for fans, but I find it so agonizing and frustrating to feel so powerless. The only thing that matters occurs from 7-10 pm and we all are spectators. I have always thought that fans booing (and cheering) is often the only way fans can express passionate emotions given the position they are in (section, row and seat). It certainly is understandable to express exasperation or frustration. At times for the player, it is very personal, and that is when the two collide.
Some readers have told me what they like best about this blog are my attempts to make the players seem like human beings, not statistics or robots. I wrote the other day about how guys rely so much on routine and don’t allow ups and downs to affect them much. That’s true, but they still react with human emotions like joy (Crede and AJ Tuesday night), anger and frustration. The reactions aren’t always public, but they are there.
Jay Mariotti, a long-time and fervent pro-White Sox columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times, took a rest break in the middle of his column today to accuse the team of "fibbing" by calling last night’s game a sell out when our attendance was 36,543 (capacity is 40,615).
Jay apparently didn’t check the facts before the accusation, but the explanation is this: before the season starts, several games are selected in advance as exchange dates for season ticket holders. This is a perk for making an 81-game commitment to the team. STH can exchange unused tickets for tickets to one of these pre-selected games. Therefore, the tickets have already been sold once. The exchange tickets are comp. Last night was one of those games, obviously a pretty attractive one. So, we sold every available seat for last night’s game (i.e. a "sell-out") but had several thousand "comp" tickets distrubuted as part of this program to help our season ticket holders. That’s the explanation, but for all those budding journalists at home, it is always more important to first accuse an organization in print of lying. Then ask for an explanation.
A good friend of mine in the PR world (and a reader of this blog, which is saying a lot since he went to school at LSU … which is a cheap shot, but then you all have read that I went to Iowa. Our football team beat theirs on New Year’s Day so I’m allowed a little rubbing it in even if it is months later) called me this morning to see how we were doing.
I moped a little on the phone, complaining about last night’s game, and then remembered he had gone back to New Orleans (where he was from) to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I asked how all his family had fared and how things were going …
"OK," he said, "but my father passed away this weekend."
He skipped over it quickly and went on to the devastation, and the difficult rebuilding process, and now, the scary approach of another storm.
"Wait a minute," I said, stunned. "I am really, really sorry about your father."
Now, I have to tell you that I felt about as small as you can imagine, complaining to a guy who saw his beloved hometown devastated (he was a great recommender of restaurant/bars like Napoleon House), has been living who-knows-where for the past month, works 14 hour days trying to help Louisianans, and then lost his dad in the last week.
"The first thing we do each morning is check the standings," he said. "Good luck."
Baseball games are vitally important to all of us for many reasons. But at the same time, little conversations like this help provide perspective.
September baseball games often provide heroes of epic note, but last night, the real hero was the pilot who safely landed that JetBlue plane at LAX.
I was on a team flight from Anaheim in 1992 that blew an engine over the Rocky Mountains late at night. After a terrifying hour, our jet landed safely in Des Moines (again, thank God for Iowa). As we climbed off, we all thanked the pilot.
"Oh, it was nothing," he said. "I’ve done it plenty of times … in a simulator."