Monday, October 31, 2005, 2:45 pm
Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the Al Lopez family. News reached us Sunday afternoon of the 97-year-old Hall of Famer’s passing. According to his son, Al followed the Sox throughout the playoffs and was aware of the World Series triumph before suffering a heart attack Friday night. He died early Sunday morning.
Scott appeared on Saturday Night Live during the Weekend Update skit.
Looking Back …
To give you all a little feel for Thursday, our travel day back from Houston:
The bus left the hotel, the Westin Galleria, at 11 a.m. and the flight left Ellington Field at around 12:30. Our flight was one of four charters by the White Sox heading home (team, family and two employees/spouses). Each plane had White Sox flags flying out the windows as they sat on the runways.
The World Series trophy sat in the front row next to Ozzie Guillen on the flight home. Details about Friday’s celebratory parade were made on the plane’s PA system.
The pilot alerted us to all the people waiting to welcome us home along 63rd street. Players and staff crowded the windows as we landed to see the fans.
As we taxied toward our hangar, employees of all the airlines lined the route and cheered. The fire department shot cannon sprays of water over and onto the planes in salute.
As we disembarked (do you do that on a plane?), Jerry went first, holding on tightly to the trophy. Ken Williams and Ozzie followed.
They pull our cars onto the runways for us (tough life, huh), and one by one we pulled out toward 63rd street. The sight was heartwarming. Thousands of fans lined the street, cheering, waving and holding up signs. Players honked and waved. Ken and Ozzie stopped to shake hands with the crowd.
While we were in Houston, it was very tough to gauge the reaction at home. Part of you wished you could be in both places at the same time to see the reaction and feel the celebration. Seeing these fans at the airport was our first sense of what our World Series title had done for Chicago. It sent chills down your spine.
It was a small taste of what Friday would bring.
Saturday, October 29, 2005, 11:04 a.m.
In case any of you missed the news, the Chicago White Sox are WORLD CHAMPIONS.
I say "missed the news" because you would not have read it here, on this site. I am sorry to fail you but there has been zero time to stop and post to this blog. From when I posted on Monday until this morning, we have been going non-stop. I finally was able to sleep 9 hours last night which equals all of our sleep for the previous three days.
Since I owe you a recap of the past days, I thought I would take this approach: beginning today, I will work my way backwards, giving you whatever moments and memories stick in my head. Each day (probably skipping tomorrow because I owe it to my kids), I will work backwards through the World Series.
First, a few newsy updates from today …
Coming into the ballpark, I saw El Duque and Aaron. El Duque stopped to say goodbye and we wished one another a good offseason. There is a lot of class in that man and it’s pretty apparent why he is called, "The Duke."
Aaron was driving his BIG red truck and said he was eager to head home to Las Vegas with his family.
The national television requests are already pouring in. Several of our guys appeared on the Oprah Show Friday AM, Scott Podsednik will appear on Saturday Night Live tonight, you will see Sox players on the Tonight Show next week and then Letterman the week after. Guys are enjoying the new-found attention.
MLB Productions continues to sit down and talk with guys on film about the season and the series. They are putting together a must-have DVD on this year’s series that should be out by Thanksgiving. All of our players, Ozzie, Kenny, Jerry and others have sat down over the past few days to offer their thoughts on the past weeks.
SI’s commemorative edition will be out soon, as well.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Words cannot come close to expressing how yesterday felt for our staff, players and front office. Guys could not speak, they were so moved by the adoration of our fans.
Most of us boarded the double-decker buses at the ballpark expecting a nice parade and rally. What we experienced dwarfed those expectations.
As the buses left the ballpark and wound their way through Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Pilsen and other neighborhoods on our way to the Loop, thousands of people lined the streets, cheering and thanking us for the season. We should have been applauding you. Schools came out along the way. Kids held out handmade signs. Construction workers around McCormick place flew banners. Fans of every ethnicity celebrated. Truckers honked horns. As Mark Buehrle said, we had chills the entire way.
Once downtown, the sights took your breath away. Thousands and thousands lined the streets between skyscrapers. Ticker tape and paper swirled in the air. The crowd roar was continuous … to the point where you couldn’t hear the person next to you. It was what you imagined a parade was like for World War II generals or for the astronauts. Police estimated the crowd at 1.75 to 2 million people. Chicago roared. Chicago celebrated.
For me, the rally itself, at the corner of LaSalle and Wacker, was anticlimactic after that parade. But others said it was just as special.
Ozzie wore a Venezuelan flag drapped around his neck. Ken Williams carried the World Series trophy onto the stage. Frank Thomas, fighting back tears, kissed the trophy.
In the most moving moment, Paul Konerko presented Jerry Reinsdorf with the baseball from the final out. Jerry fought back tears as he said this was the single, most moving moment of his life. How classy of PK.
Yesterday was the greatest single expression of SOX PRIDE we have ever experienced. Fans were crying. Players cried. We all cried together. I saw fans holding photos of relatives who had passed away, yelling to us, "Thank you. This was for my mother."
How can you even communicate the emotions? The passion? The joy everyone felt? Even as I write this now, a day later, tears are in my eyes.
If you did not see yesterday’s parade and rally, make sure you check it out. I believe several of the Chicago television stations had it posted on their websites (in addition to whitesox.com).
Thank you, White Sox fans. We cannot express how great your reaction to our team made us feel. This World Series Championship, that Commissioner’s trophy, is for you. Enjoy. After 88 years, you deserve it.
Monday, October 24, 2005, 5:41 pm
Game 2 Leftovers
Two amazing moments last night … Paul Konerko’s grand slam and Scott Podsednik’s game-winner in the bottom of the ninth inning. For White Sox fans, both will forever be "Where were you when" moments.
If postseason makes heroes, then PK and Pods are in the pantheon.
Is now a card-carrying member of the White Sox. After last night’s game, Steve and his friend, Dan, visited the celebrating Sox, who convinced the former Journey rocker to come to Houston for the next three games.
Ozzie Guillen looked for closer Bobby Jenks immediately after Podsednik’s home run. "I slapped him and told him to forget tonight," Guillen said. "The next time we are in a save situation, you will be in the game."
Home Run Balls
Pods got his ball back from a group of four guys who exchanged the ball for three autographed baseballs and a signed bat. Arrangements are being made to get Paul’s home run ball when the team returns to Chicago.
"Was that one for Nicholas," Phyllis Merhige of MLB asked Paul in the postgame interview room. He just smiled.
Pods and the Hall
The Baseball Hall of Fame asked for Scott Podsednik’s bat from last night’s home run. The leadoff hitter will donate it after the series. Right now, it is safely stored in clubhouse manager Vince Fresso’s trunk. Pods has two more bats of the same make and model, so as long as they don’t break in the next two games, all is well.
Not Like Sox Fans
Apparently as last night’s game ended, a fan sitting behind some Astros families slapped Craig Biggio’s wife across the back of her head. He was grabbed by fans (Craig even laughed that his wife ran him down … "He picked the wrong New Jersey woman …"), Sox security and MLB security. The Biggios decided not to press charges (and we cannot), but the events still left a bad taste for Ozzie Guillen and the Sox.
Ozzie went over to the Astros clubhouse today to apologize on behalf of the Sox.
Biggio was incredibly gracious and understanding and blamed no one for the actions of one idiot.
Cool and windy today in Houston. If you were in the sun, it felt nice. With the ballpark empty, the left field fence did not seem that close. Everyone says it is much different when the ballpark fills up.
Open or Closed, Boxers or Briefs
A big issue today was whether or not the ballpark’s roof would be closed or open for the games. MLB and the Commissioner are involved. It seems the ballpark is much louder with the roof closed (brilliant deduction, don’t you think), so the Astros want it closed. MLB’s position, as I understand it, is that they want to remove gamesmanship from an event like the World Series. During the season, the rule of thumb is to open it if the temperature is under 80 degrees (and there is no threat of rain), so that argument is that it should be open for these games. Stay tuned.
Plenty of Sox fans headed this way for the games, including three flights full of Sox families and employees. Rumor has it that several hundred Ozzie masks will make the trip to Texas, as well.
We arrived last night/this morning at 4 am and worked out from 1 to 2:15. Can’t speak for the players, but I am tired (blogging takes a great deal out of you). I feel like a shark. If I stop moving or stop talking on the cell phone for 10 minutes, I will fall asleep.
Sunday,October 23, 2005, 11:33 am
Ron Vesely, our terrific team
photographer, snapped this shot of the first pitch from last night.
Seeing it this morning sent chills down my spine again. How much fun is
this? It’s better than I ever could have dreamed.
The great Luis Aparicio presented
Ozzie Guillen with an honorary “Luis Aparicio Award” for Ozzie
contributions to the game of baseball in Venezuela. What does this
tradition mean to Ozzie? Last week, he and I were talking about Chico
Carrasquel, who passed away this season, and how much this would have meant to
him. “I can’t even talk about Chico,” Ozzie told me. “I
get a lump in my throat every time.” Viva Chico. Your No. 17 is on the wall next
to our dugout and we know you are with us still.
There is no one I would rather have
on the mound than Mark Buehrle. Let’s hope for another performance
like his in the ALCS when many in the press box compared him to Minnesota’s Jack
Morris in 1991.
How great a baseball fan is Steve
Perry? Let me tell you. As most of you know, we have been trying to
find Steve since clinching the ALCS in Anaheim.
It seems several guys, Joe Crede, Aaron Rowand and A.J. Pierzynski among them,
have taken Perry’s “Don’t Stop Believin”” as the
team’s theme song. After we clinched, AJ grabbed me and said, “Do
whatever you can to get Steve Perry here for the World Series.”
Well, Steve found out about our
search and called me the other day. A huge baseball fan, he follows the
SF Giants (and now the White Sox), Perry was touched by our team’s
reaction to his song.
He and a friend hopped on an
airplane yesterday and flew in for the game. We snuck him into a room
behind our clubhouse and surprised Joe, Aaron and AJ. They loved meeting
Steve and everyone posed for photos.
Often, World Series crowds are known
to be much more quiet and less partisan than a normal regular-season crowd
because so many of MLB’s tickets go to out-of-town sponsors and
guests. That certainly wasn’t the case last night. You guys
were great, so loud, so enthusiastic. The team couldn’t ask for
more. How cool were the flashbulbs? How great was it that the crowd
stuck around so long? Bask in this, because you guys deserve this.
Bring it again tonight.
The team leaves tonight for Houston and is set to
arrive at about 2:30 am. We work out at Minute Maid Field on Monday at 1
No, we’re not
superstitious. While in Anaheim,
Herm Schneider (head trainer), Jerry Reinsdorf,
Phyllis Merhige (of MLB) and I happened to get together for breakfast one
day. We won (obviously), so we all met again for breakfast the next day,
and the next … we will need to find a place in Houston.
Since my face has been on television
so much lately (for good and for bad), it seems more and more people are
recognizing me at the ballpark. A few have stopped me and told me how
much they enjoy reading this blog. I can’t tell you how much I
appreciate it and how good it makes me feel. This has been a magical
season, and if this gives you even a little more enjoyment and insight into the
team, that makes me feel great.
Two weeks ago, I received a report
on how many people visit and read this blog. The numbers shocked me (in a
good way). I sent them along to a couple of people within the office (one
with the initials JMR), along with a smart aleck remark about how if I was only
smarter, I might have negotiated separate compensation for becoming a blogger.
Then I could retire along with Jerry and Ozzie if we do just happen to win this
thing … (joking …)
Saturday, October 22, 2005, 11:12 pm
White Sox Win
One down and three to go. Anxious moments tonight but we held on thanks to Joe Crede’s glovework and great relief pitching from Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks.
The White Sox bullpen has not allowed a run in the postseason, working 10.0 scoreless IP.
Chicago has won its last five games since losing to the Angels in Game 1 of the ALCS. The Sox have won 13 of their last 14 dating to the regular season.
According to reports, the team that wins Game 1 of the World Series goes on to win the series 61 percent of the time.
This was the first White Sox victory in the World Series since Oct. 6, 1959 (Game 5) when the Sox beat Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 1-0, in Los Angeles. This was our first home victory since Game 1 of the 1959 World Series.
Friday, October 21, 2005, 7:12 am
Sorry that I have not posted since I can’t remember when. That’s not fair to people who look forward to reading my inside-the-clubhouse info, but we have been overwhelmed with media requests, calls, activities, etc. over the last four days. Each day, I keep a list of things to write about, but by the time the day ends for my first job, I don’t have any gas left to write. I am sorry. I will try to go back once this is all over and fill in some spots. Maybe you will enjoy re-living the past couple of weeks …
I also try to read people’s posts and responses to this blog, but I must confess I have not in over a week, so I am going to have to guess at what you are asking …
World Series Tickets
A friend at MLB warned me that World Series tickets will be the worst thing we deal with during the week. "It always is, every year, no matter which teams are involved," he said. "What we’ve learned is that there is no ballpark big enough to accommodate the demand. There will always be more disappointed fans than fans with tickets."
That has proven true once again. I’ve gotten quite a few questions about how the tickets are distributed. The White Sox get our allotment for STH, etc. Then MLB takes a big chunk for the following: MLB sponsors, licensees, broadcasting partners, the media, all other 28 teams, every MLB player, umpire, etc.
What’s left goes on sale to the public, which was just over 10,000 tickets available to the general public for the four games. If you figure there were 140,000 people trying to get 2,500 opportunities (since each could buy four tickets), you can determine how tough the odds are and how many fans were disappointed.
Beginning in July, we began to encourage fans to buy season tickets for 2005 and/or 2006 because that was the best was to gurantee postseason tickets. We ran a couple of campaigns, the last of which ended in early September. On Monday, we decided to continue the offer until midday Tuesday while our supply of WS and ST lasted. The response was overwhelming, far exceeding supply. We sent everyone who had applied for ST under this plan, an email informing them of this and explaining that if you did receive ST (and WS tickets), you would get a call from a season ticket rep by noon today. If not, you would receive a refund of your online fee, and would receive a call from a ticket rep later to see if you still wanted 2006 season tickets (some people have already called to say they wanted 2006 tickets regardless of if they received the WS tickets). We hope this was clear to everyone, and while we understand it might have created a few more anxious days for everyone, we are continuing to process and call purchasers (and we continue to scrounge for tickets ourselves for this program because obviously we want as many fans to buy into this as possible).
No one could prepare us for the crush of media calls and requests the media services folks have received over the past few days. We cannot keep up with the number of emails (hundreds a day) or the voice mails (about 100 per day). No one wants to hear how busy someone else is, and I am so, so happy to be working this hard on October 20.
No connection yet, but word is he is a big baseball fan. Has to work in our favor.
Road Game Viewing
We have been working for some time to come up with a venue where fans can gather to view our World Series home games. We think we are on to something and hope to announce very soon …
To the Konerkos on the arrival of son, Nicholas. Pretty good week, reaching the World Series and having your first child born. Can it get better? We all hope it does.
In some ways, it doesn’t yet seem real to me that we are going to be playing in the World Series Saturday night. I think it will hit me then. Someone around the office joked that it seems like someone is going to come along and kick us out or at least wake us up. They can wake me up after November 1.
My first Wow moment came on Wednesday while Ozzie Guillen was in the interview room. I was late into the room and headed up the back stairs. Turning the corner, there was Ozzie, illuminated by the TV lights, with the World Series banner glowing behind him. I stopped short. "Holy (smoke). We are in the World Series."
We held a conference call with Jim Landis, Bill Pierce and Jim Rivera the other day to let those guys talk about the 1959 World Series. It was great to listen in. Eventually, the media became irrelevant on the call as the three exchanged barbs and news. "I got a hole in one yesterday," Rivera said. "You always say that," countered Pierce. "It’s my fourth. 171 yards. I hit a five iron," Rivera countered.
46 years later and they are still so amazingly comfortable together.
Robin Ventura and his wife Stephanie are going to be in town for the first two games.
Our pitching will remain the same … Contreras, Buehrle, Garland and Garcia. Houston’s … Clemens, Pettitte, Oswalt and Backe.
Sounds like this weekend will provide some good, old Chicago weather for us all. I think it should benefit us.
I received several calls and notes from members of the Angels front office, congratulating us and reminding us to stop and enjoy the experience.
With our daily newsclipping report running to 180 pages, I have not had a chance to keep up with my reading. I also have a stack of newspapers in my office. I can’t wait (actually I can wait, but I will look forward with anticipation) until November to go back through and re-live this.
Let’s all enjoy this experience to its fullest. We are in the World Series.
Monday, October 17, 2005, 4:05 pm
Sorry to not post until now and sorry it will be short (I need to go home and go to bed).
Words can’t express how we all felt last night. The energy was amazing. Standing on the field in Anaheim surrounded by celebrating players, media and friends in the front office — as well as cheering fans in the stands — you could literally feel generations of Sox fans. You could feel the passion. The disappointments. The hope. The joy.
The emotions were almost too strong, and certainly too strong to express adequately here.
Thank you, Sox fans. I hope you enjoyed last night as much as we all did. You deserved it. Revel in it.
I will try to write more tomorrow morning, hopefully with a few stories, laughs and insights.
Sunday, October 15, 2005, 3:15 pm
Same as the first four games ("If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it") …
Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Dye, RF … PK, 1B … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … AJ, C … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Jose, RHP.
Yesterday, about 45 minutes before game time, a huge roar went out from the White Sox clubhouse as USC beat Notre Dame on the last play of the game. After the last play, Ozzie shouted, "OK, we have a baseball game to win." And the salsa music immediately began to play.
As I walked out of the "closed" clubhouse, a lobby full of media looked at me and asked, "What just happened in there?"
"Just our pregame routine."
Today, players did Soduku, watched NFL football and talked fantasy football moves. All in all, a pretty loose clubhouse.
Aaron Rowand was talking to me about friends he knows in the military. I mentioned to him that many of the readers of this blog seem to be overseas in the U.S. military and are following the Sox via internet. "Cool," he said. "It’s too bad they can’t be in Chicago or here to watch, but tell them we appreciate what they are doing and thank them for all the support." So thanks.
Our ad agency, 2 X 4, came up with a very cool idea that ran last Thursday in the Sun-Times and Tribune. If you didn’t see it, the ad for 2006 season tickets showed images of El Duque during his amazing inning against the Red Sox. Many people have written me about it. I will try and get a copy posted here as soon as I get back to Chicago.
Updated 10/19: Click on these two links and you can see those creatives:
Win or lose, we will be traveling tonight after the game. This means we will be arriving sometime between 4-6 am at Midway.
This series is not over yet. One win to the W.S.
Saturday, October 15, 2005, 11:50 pm
You can almost taste it now. One victory from winning the American League Championship Series. (I can’t bring myself to write the other words, yet, there is still one game to win). As great as tonight’s victory felt, remember that in each of the last two seasons, other teams have had this same feeling, enjoyed the same euphoria and entertained the same thoughts about tomorrow. They all were beaten … the Cubs in 2003 and the Yankees in 2004.
We have not won anything yet, but we are close, very close. With the next victory comes a well-deserved explosion of joy … 46 years worth of suffering for White Sox fans and the city of Chicago. Then, it will be on to the next challenge.
Thoughts from tonight
How key to come out and score three runs in the first inning …
How clutch is Paul Konerko …
What a great pitching performance by Freddy …
You gotta love AJ, both for his annoynance and his ability to rise to the occasion with his home run …
How happy are we to see the "old" Scotty Pods back?
Let’s Go White Sox
As Angel fans departed, White Sox fans, with their chants of "Let’s Go White Sox" and "Paulie, Paulie" were audible inside the ballpark. Way to go Sox fans. As the game wore on, the sections of Sox fans — including Sox chef Roy Rivas spelling out S-O-X with his body — grew exponentially as other Sox fans from around the ballpark joined the cheering section. Fans exchanged high fives and hugs as each out was recorded. Strangers, except for their pinstripes, embraced. How great was this?
Afterward many of us wondered what the mood was like in thousands of homes, bars and restaurants around Chicago. Are you enjoying this as much as we are?
Let’s close this out tomorrow behind Jose Contreras, celebrate and head for Sweet Home Chicago. Let’s make tomorrow a memory for Sox fans forever. You’ve earned it.
Saturday, October 15, 2005, 2:30 pm
Same as the last three games … Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Dye, RF … PK, 1B … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … AJ, C … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Garcia, RHP.
Guys have been coming to the ballpark early in the postseason with so much nervous energy circulating. Today, most sat and watched college football … ND vs. USC on the screen except for when AJ snagged the remote to flip to Florida Gators vs. LSU.
"I hate football," Ozzie Guillen said. "I don’t know anything about it, college or pro, don’t know who plays or when they play. I did get on Notre Dame yesterday because I knew it would make Ed Farmer mad."
Needless to say, the Astros vs. Cardinals game was on in Ozzie’s office.
Who got to know GM Kenny Williams when he played Chicago earlier this summer will be a guest of KW’s in the club suite tonight. He’d better be wearing Sox gear …
White Sox employees and investors were located down the right field line at last night’s game (and again tonight) and tried their very best to be visible and vocal.