Thursday, October 6, 2005, 10:10 pm
You probably read all of the comments from our players, AJ and Mark Buehrle in particular, about how a 2-0 lead against a team like the Boston Red Sox means nothing. I was pleased to see how cautious our team appears heading into tomorrow’s game because it should be. Our players well understand how difficult that third victory can be, especially with two games on tap at Fenway Park, and we are taking nothing for granted.
The approach of our staff and players all summer has been to stay consistent and stay focused on the present. We haven’t gotten too high with the highs or too low with the lows. The same is true now.
I was struck on the flight out late last night by how workman-like the mood was. No one was celebrating or feeling overconfident. We haven’t won anything yet.
What a Difference …
A week can make. Remember the mood of respondents to this blog after we dropped the first two games to the Tigers? People were burning their Sox gear, were embarassed by this team and were never going to cheer for the team again. Seems like a long time ago and underscores why we need to remain consistent … not too high, not too low.
Center fielder Aaron Rowand wore a microphone for MLB Productions during Game 1 of this series. The results had the producers from MLB Productions roaring. "This might have been the best stuff of the season," one told me.
During the game, Aaron dove back into second base (to a thud), was involved in a slide at home plate, and then ran headlong into the left center field fence.
After colliding with the fence, Aaron was heard to mutter to himself, "Wow, that hurt. That really, really hurt."
When I told him today about how much MLB enjoyed his comments, Aaron laughed. "I didn’t even remember I had the mike on. I was just talking to myself."
Earlier this year, as the Sox were going through a particularly tough inning, Rowand leaned into the mic and muttered, "Uncle."
Hitting the Knuckleball
With knuckballer Tim Wakefield on the mound tomorrow, I spoke with White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker about how to approach the knuckleball.
"You need to hit it with technique, not power," Walker explained. "We have quite a few guys who do that well. You can’t try to hit it the other way or necessarily pull it because you don’t know which way it will break. You just need to put a solid swing on it."
Walker, who hit knuckleballers like Phil Niekro, Tom Candiotti and Charlie Hough well during his career, said hitting the ball squarely was the key. "I may have hit 10 home runs, but each one barely went over. You don’t want to drive the ball, just meet it."
Several Sox took an extra round of batting practice as Kevin Hickey threw knuckleballs to them.
White Sox Wire
For those of you who are whitesox.com registered users, the last White Sox Wire (sent Monday) featured two neat items: 1. the recent highlight video that played on the ballpark’s scoreboard during the last homestand; and 2. a montage of all the magazine covers and newspaper photos from the year. Check it out when you have the chance. I know a lot of people were looking for a copy of that video.
Tickets On Sale
Tickets to potential LCS games at U.S. Cellular Field went on sale today at noon. Demand was intense. Close to 40,000 tickets were sold to the general public in 48 minutes via on-line and TicketMaster phone lines. At peak time, 137,000 people were in line on their computers to purchase tickets. That type of demand is through the roof, but it also means many Sox fans ended up disappointed and without tickets to one of the four possible games. There were no problem with the system, just incredible demand for tickets.
The team arrived in Boston late last night (2:30 am-ish). We worked out today at 4 pm at Fenway. A "workout" means about 1:15 of infield practice (to get use to the infield) and batting practice. Fenway Park used to have one of the worst infields in the American League (remember the year Robin Ventura started the season with something like four errors in the first week), but Roger Bossard, our groundskeeper extraordinaire, replaced the entire field last offseason. The playing surface now looks a lot like U.S. Cellular Field.
The mood was light and relaxed to the point where Boston television reporters were shocked by the mood. Ozzie Guillen can do that to you …
The White Sox media relations staff and several MLB executives took in dinner tonight at The Capital Grille. Also in the restaurant were Jose Contreras and Bronson Arroyo. No truth to the ugly rumor that one MLB broadcasting executive ordered four bottles of wine (please note, this is not true but is placed in the blog so that some mischevious employees at MLB can give another a very hard time).
A friend called today from Chicago and asked how hard the Boston media was on the Red Sox after last night’s loss.
I told him it was quite the opposite. Boston television and media spent the day reminding Bostonians about how the Red Sox have repeatedly rallied from 0-2 deficits in Division Series play and how fans needed to not panic and support the "hometown team."
They certainly are not anywhere close to giving up yet.
Kudos to Tony Graffanino, a great guy. He stood and faced the media, explaining how badly he felt in making that play. To a man, the Sox were ecstatic with the victory but sorry that it came at the expense of a friend and person like Tony. He gains everyone’s respect with how he handled himself after misplaying that ball.
A charter with White Sox front office employees and Sox family arrives tomorrow midday in time for the 4 pm game. They will bring enthusiasm.
It will be interesting to see how well White Sox fans are represented at Fenway Park. When we played here in August, Sox fan turnout was impressive.
The Power of John Wayne
Not sure if you saw the feature on Comcast Sports Net Chicago but it merits explanation.
When we were struggling in September, a good friend of Jerry Reinsdorf sent him a painted porcelin mannequin of John Wayne (about 18 inches high), saying it brought good luck, so Jerry should use it. The statue was damaged in shipping and its legs mangled, so it remains in its cardboard box.
Willing to try anything (or desperate if that is the term you prefer), Jerry took it to his suite for a game. We won. And then won again. The mannequin is now propped up in Jerry’s suite for each and every game.
The stranger part is this.
When Jerry went to Detroit on Thursday, he decided not to risk fate. He placed the mannequin in front of the television at his house with the channel turned to Comcast. Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Bulls and White Sox, then placed a note on his television set telling anyone who approached over the next five days (Mrs. Reinsdorf?, the maid? a grandchild?) to not dare turn off the television.
"When the season is over, I probably need to return the statue," Jerry said. "But if we are fortunate enough to win this all, there is no way it’s going back. It’s mine."
Saturday, if necessary, is now set for 1 pm ET (noon in Chicago). Sunday, if necessary, will be at 3 pm CT if the Yankees and Angels are still playing, or at 6 pm CT if that series has ended.