October 2005

Game 3 Afterthoughts

Saturday, October 15, 8:28 am

Jon


Photo by Andrew T. Malana / MLB.com

Huge Game

What a game!

It was incredibly important to win Game 3 like we did last night, especially knowing we have Games 6-7 at U.S. Cellular Field in front of our fans.  After last night’s victory, everyone was reminding one another that there was still a long way to go and a lot of baseball to be played.  Focus on one day at a time, one game at a time.  Our pitching has been fantastic, but the Angels remain dangerous.  As Ozzie says, "Let’s not wake the monster."

Instead, let’s keep this momentum going into Freddy Garcia’s start tonight.

Ozzie also had a great comment before the game yesterday … "Our goal is to not wake the monkey."

Pk

Speaking of …

In addition to giving us the 3-0 first inning lead last night, Paul Konerko’s home run took the Anaheim crowd and its thundersticks right out of the game.  Their only loud moment came on Cabrera’s home run in sixth inning.  Did anyone else notice his pose after the swing?  I think Jon Garland did.

Duke_1Sea of Red

As I am sure you all saw (in person or on television), Angels fans do love to sport the team’s colors.  I mentioned to Brooks Boyer, our VP of Marketing, that we should have a "Wear Black and White Night" next season.

Congrats

After each victory, baseball tradition has the guys already in the clubhouse meet the team at the door exchanging high fives and fist knocks.  Same thing happened last night.  As the members of the bullpen trickled in, several Sox good naturedly congratulated the bullpen on a great job.

PK

On our starting pitching …

"I think each one of our starters has pitched like an ace at some point in the season.  I don’t think too many teams can say that."

Tadahito

Came up big with a bunt, two hits and a teriffic double play in the first inning.

How Hospitable

The Orange County Register has been Questionmarkrunning, on the top of its front page, a photo and brite titled, "87 Seasons of White Sox Futility."  Yesterday the newspaper had a note about the Black Sox scandal, "draping a cloud of shame on the national pastime."  Today, it ran a photo from when Eric Dybas assaulted umpire Laz Diaz in 2003 with the text, "Crazed fans are part of Sox lore.  In 2003, an umpire was attacked on the field for no reason; in 2002, a drunk man and his son went after a rival coach."

So nice of them to describe the team and its fans in this way.  But I am not sure what they are trying to accomplish.  Do they want to anger us?  Instill fear of Chicagoans in their fans? Or just make the Angels look bad when (and if) they lose to a franchise as futile as ours (sarcasm is intended).

On The Bus

after the game, a commentator asked, "what do you think Chicago is like tonight?"  Our guess was rocking.  Enjoy and let’s get them again in Game 4.

Ajgar

Game 3 Pregame

Friday, October 12, 2005, 1:15 pm

Game 3 Lineup

Same as the first two games … Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Dye, RF … PK, 1B … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … AJ, C … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Gar, RHP.

Sorry

In the rush to leave after Game 2, I left my wireless modem in Chicago, so was unable to post yesterday.  Currently, I am sitting in the trainer’s room using the ballpark network to send, so thanks to Herm Schneider and Brian Ball for the assist.

Trip

We left right after the game Tuesday and arrived at the hotel around 4 am CT yesterday.  The team worked out for about 1:15 at 3 pm.

Ozzie_5Ozzie on Scioscia

Ozzie had nothing but praise and respect for how Angels manager Mike Scioscia handled the postgame fallout Tuesday, saying "both teams need to turn the page, get this behind them and play baseball."

Coop

Don Cooper was again the target for clubhouse jokes after New York’s Mel Stottlemyre resigned as Yankee pitching coach yesterday.

"Coop," Ozzie said.  "Now you can go home, live with your mother and sleep in the same bed you slept in as a kid.

"They’ll need a new monument at Yankee Stadium," Ozzie razzed.  "Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle and Coop."

All in fun …

Sprints

As the team came off the field yesterday after working out, Ozzie called to the players … "Time for sprints … everyone line up and run around Coop three times."

Japanese Media

As yesterday’s workout ended, Tadahito Iguchi held an impromptu press conference on the field with about 25 Japanese journalists.  ABC 7’s Mark Giangreco stuck his microphone into the mix.  I’m sure it made for good TV.

Weather

Unbelievably warm.  91 degrees yesterday.  Hotter today.  More seasonable Saturday and Sunday.

Garland_2Gar at Home

Tonight’s starter, Jon Garland, will be pitching just miles from where he grew up.  But Jon, who rarely gets too high or too low emotionally, didn’t seem to think it would make much of a difference to him.

"I’m just happy to be pitching," he said.

Who Would Have Thought …

That a strikeout might turn out to be the most important offensive play of the season …

Mistake-Prone

Today’s Sun-Times (inside back page) contains a correction to a column in some of Thursday’s print editions.  It seems a certain red-faced columnist assumed Jerry Reinsdorf was at the ballpark Wednesday night (and not observing Yom Kippur) when in fact he stayed for batting practice and then went home (Yom Kippur began at sundown).  Hate it when facts get in the way.  Obviously, it was very important to Jerry, as with most members of the Jewish faith, to observe Yom Kippur regardless of if the team was playing and fairly irresponsible of the columnist to make the claim without checking his facts.  Several other reporters, at least one from his paper, asked if Jerry had gone home.  We appreciate the paper’s correction but wish the initial incorrect claim had never been made.  But this is the same guy who once wrote that Freddy Garcia throws left-handed, so consider the source.

Five-Game Series

Tonight turns out to be Game 1 of a five-game series. 

Pods_2

Scotty Pods

A young fan stayed up last night trying to catch Scott Podsednik in the lobby of the team hotel.  He fell asleep on a couch with his dad beside him.

This morning at breakfast, the six-year-old, wearing Podsednik’s uniform had Jerry Reinsdorf introduce him to Scotty P, who then signed an autograph for the youngster and posed for a photo.

Go Sox!

Post Game 2

Wednesday, October 12, 2005, 10:40 pm

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky and good.

1-1.  See you in Anaheim.

Aj1

Aj2

Aj3

Photos by Ron Vesely / MLB.com

Game 2

Wednesday, October 12, 2005, 6:30 pm

Sox Lineup

Same as last night … Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Dye, RF … PK, 1B … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … AJ, C … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Buehrle, LHP.

Travel Plans

The White Sox will fly to Anaheim after tonight’s game, expecting to arrive at 2 am PT (4 am CT).  The team will workout Thursday at Angels Stadium at 3 pm.

Coop

Verbose pitching coach Don Cooper visited the Interview Room prior to the game to talk about the team’s pitching.  All televisions in the clubhouse were turned to the in-house feed and players enjoyed the show.

"Coop, the new Yankees pitching coach," Konerko joked.  "They asked him three questions and he talked for half an hour."

Game 1 Aftermath

Wednesday, October 12, 2005, 10:30 am

Credehomer
Ron Vesely / MLB.com

Random Thoughts

Now that is a game that will leave a bad taste in your mouth.  It seemed that just about every time we had the opportunity to make a play or execute in a way to change the game, we failed.  That failure to execute killed us in the end.  Ozzie said it after the game.  The players know it.  Game 2 needs to be different.

Mark Buehrle is certainly the guy I want on the mound tonight

Kudos to Jose Contreras for his pitching performance last evening.  Jose rose to the occasion.

ALCS Trends … Chicago Hope

In the 35 previous ALCS matchups, the team winning Game 1 has gone on to win 21 times (60 percent), but since the introduction of the seven-game series in 1985, 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) of teams winning Game 1 have gone on to win the series.  In four of the last five ALCS, the team losing Game 1 has gone on to win the series: New York in 2000, Anaheim in 2002, New York in 2003 and Boston in 2004.

Lucky Number Nine?

We just can’t seem to win that ninth game in a row this season …

Media Coverage

During the past few weeks, the Chicago media has truly done an exceptional job covering the team (in my bias opinion), and the national media has come around to admiring our Sox.  Take the time today to read (hard copy or on-line) all the coverage of the Sox in the various sections of the newspapers.  Enjoy it.  I have tried to be fair all season in pointing out negatives and positives.  The past few weeks have certainly been incredibly positive.

Most Revolutionary Blog

A reader congratulated this MLBlog on being named "Most Revolutionary" by MLBAM.  Thanks, but I sent an email off to BAM asking what in the world "Most Revolutionary" meant (i.e. "Most Likely to Anger Someone and Risk Job Security" seemed more like it).  They said this blog is very popular and it rivals, in style, one done by Mark Cuban of the Mavericks, so they created a category and named this the "winner."  I tend to think this honor is more like winning Miss Congenialty — but failing to win the crown.  Anyway, the true honors go to those of you who have enjoyed this blog since June and who keep coming back to comment and respond.  Your input has helped shape this site.  I hear from so many people who check in now and then.  More than one media person has commented to me that I am able to say things and point out things that they want to but cannot.  Not sure that makes me "Miss Congeniality" all the time, but at least it makes for an interesting read.  But the thanks truly go to the readers out there who care enough about the Sox to track down any little bit of information on the team and find this site a fun resource.  Thank you.

BudseligFunny and True

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was mingling with the media last night in the press box when he was approached by an usher, who did not recognize him and was just doing his job, and asked to leave since he did not have the appropriate credentials.  The situation was quickly corrected and everyone enjoyed a good laugh.

Must Win

Can’t say it any other way.  We need to win tonight.  Go Sox!

More later …

Pregame Game 1

Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 1:50 pm

Sox Lineup for Game 1 of ALCS

Pods, LF … Iguchi, 2B … Dye, RF … PK, 1B … Everett, DH … Rowand, CF … AJ, C … Crede, 3B … Uribe, SS … Contreras, RHP.

Early Riser

As usual, Paul Konerko and Aaron Rowand are among the earliest to arrive in the White Sox clubhouse.  You can always find PK sitting in the lunch room working on that day’s crossword puzzle.

Don Cooper and Greg Walker are always around.  Coop was running through his reports with advance scout Bryan "Twig" Little.

I told Coop I was surprised to see him given several newspaper reports that he was under consideration to be the next pitching coach for the Yankees, but I was happy that he came in to work for the White Sox today.

"Yeah," Coop said with his Long Island accent and a smirk.  "I thought I just might see this one through."

By the way, Coop is safely under contract with the White Sox through 2006.

ALCS Game 1

Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 9:35 am

Game Day

Time to get loud.  Our crowds for Games 1 and 2 of the LogoforscottDivision Series might have been the loudest we have ever heard at U.S. Cellular Field.  We need to be even louder tonight.

Wake-Up Call

My good friend Tim Mead, VP of Communications for the Angels, called me this morning at 6:15 to tell me they had just arrived at their hotel.  Sunday night, he called me when the Angels were leading 2-1 to say they were doing their best to get to Chicago.  I told Tim that despite our friendship, I was cheering for the Yankees to win Game 4, that I really didn’t care who won Game 5, but that I hoped it went extra innings.  What, after all, are friends for?

Details

Gates to the ballpark open at 5 pm and the parking lots open at 4 pm for tailgating.  Because of traffic, we suggest fans holding tickets arrive early.

Cigars

Some readers asked about the celebratory cigars.  They came to the team courtesy of Mike Mazza in the ticket office.  They were from Smokey Bear Cigar Store in Evergreen Park, and each one featured the script, "Congratulations Chicago White Sox" on the side.  I swear it made them smoke better.

Preparations

In preparation for today’s game, we made two sets of media plans … one for the Yankees and one for the Angels.  While there still will be a lot of media here for this series, it won’t be as bad as when the Yankees swarm into town.  Interesting note:  in the middle of the day yesterday, the YES Network (Yankees) showed up at the ballpark wanting to wire and prepare for today.  A little presumptuous, don’t you think?  MLB representatives sent them away.  Given how last night went, they should have let them do all the advance work on behalf of the Angels.

Kid At Heart

Two very cool items arrived in my office on Friday thanks to Wilson Sporting Goods.  I had asked Scott Paulson at Wilson if they still had old patterns for gloves and would they have the old die cuts for Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio.  He did me one better.  It turns out the gentleman who cuts the patterns and made the gloves for both players still lives in Ohio.  Wilson re-made a Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio model glove and both are sitting in my office.  Very cool.

One thought is to make these available to fans for purchase, maybe on a nice stand with a ball, with proceeds benefitting Chicago White Sox Charities.  Is there any interest?  Would fans want replica gloves for their offices or homes?  Let me know.

Contreras

Was 15-7, 3.61 on the season, 35-18, 4.28 lifetime, 0-1, 3.46 ERA in 2005 vs. LAA and 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his career against the Angels.

Faced LAA in back-to-back starts on 5/26 (L, 3 ER/7.0 IP, 9 SO) and 6/1 (2 ER/6.0 IP).

Makes his 10th career postseason appearance tonight, second start.  Has gone 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA.

Went 11-2 with a 2.96 ERA in the second half and earned victory in Game 1 of the Division SeriesJose against Boston (2 ER/7.2 IP).

Angels vs. Contreras …

Anderson, .571 (4-7)

Kennedy, .429 (3-7)

Finley, .375 (3-8)

Erstad, .286 (2-7)

DaVanon, .250 (1-4)

Cabrera, .222 (2-9)

Figgins, .143 (1-7)

Guerrero, .000 (0-2)

B. Molina, .000 (0-6)

Kotchman, .000 (0-3)

Hopefully, more later once lineups are out.

Johnwayne1011_1

Welcome Home

Sunday, October 8, 2005, 10:30 pm

ALCS Ticket Information | 1917

Soxwelcome3


Some of the faces back home. (Photo: Damon Young/MLB.com)

White Sox Welcome

What a surprise?  When the team charter flight, named Soxwelcome"White Sox 1", touched down Saturday around 1 pm at Miway airport, the team was met by 500-1,000 fans who lined the access road and bent onto 63rd Street.

Flags were flying, police had shut off the street and people cheered their Sox as the players and staff pulled onto the street.  It was a great showing and a great feeling.  Can’t speak for everyone, but it sent chills down my spine to drive by everyone.

Thanks.

HawksBlackhawks

Ozzie, Joey Cora, Paul Konerko and Chris Widger took in tonight’s Blackhawks game at the United Center.  Ozzie just wanted to be near the glass (was it the action or the fights?).  PK is a huge hockey fan and was (maybe is) a season ticket holder for the Coyotes.

LAA or NYY

Everyone is debating the question of which team do we want to face next?  I think there are pros and cons to both (which others are much more qualified to discuss than I am).  I was rooting for a Yankee win tonight, long, close games, even extra innings, and definitely a Game 5 (and I don’t care which team wins that one).  Indeed, the Yanks won after I originally posted this so it’s a Game 5.  Something like today’s 18-inning affair tomorrow night in Los Angeles would be perfect.  After all, we earned the right to host games 1-2 with our regular-season record, and we earned this break by sweeping the Red Sox.

Elduque

Jeff Roberson / AP

Workout

Today’s 10 am workout started late because so many players had a tough time working their way through traffic caused by this morning’s Marathon.  Chicagoans all know the shortcuts and back ways, but our players aren’t necessarily that familiar with concepts like Canal Street.

Terry SavariseSmileyface

Our Senior VP of Stadium Operations saw me before Friday’s game in Boston and said, "If we win tonight, you’ll see me smile for the first time this year." (I had been giving him a hard time about his demeanor in recent weeks).  "Then, you can put it in your blog."  So he saw me after the game and we both had a laugh.  Now, it is in the blog.

Oops

Friday also was my mother’s birthday … which I forgot.  "Well, at least I had a good reason," I sheepishly told my wife.  "Yeah, right," she answered.  "Good luck." At least my dad will enjoy the ALCS tickets.  I need to figure out how to make amends with my mom.

David Ortega

A former Sox employee now living in NYC, David ran today’s marathon wearing a Go Sox headband and sporting "Go" on one calf and "Sox" on the other.  He said the response from spectators was great.  It was David’s 13th marathon, which I salute, since getting up from the couch and going to the fridge is exercise for me.

A Rant

So ignore this if you really don’t care how the sausage is made.  I chose not to write about it when it happened because I don’t necessarily think the public cares.  However, columnists at the Sun-Times twice have chosen to mention it, so I think the other side deserves to be heard (even if only on this insignificant, amateurish blog).

On Thursday in Boston, Aaron Rowand was approached at his locker after our workout by Greg Couch, a columnist/reporter for the Sun-Times.  Greg inquired if he could ask the center fielder for a few comments.

According to Aaron, he never really had the chance this year to speak with Greg one-on-one (it was always in a group setting), so he took this opportunity to express his season-long displeasure with several of Greg’s columns, including one from April 17 headlined, "Don’t Buy What Sox are Selling."  Several other media reps in the clubhouse confirmed the content of the exchange, many with smiles on their faces.

Aaron’s soliloquy to Couch ended with … "I’ll Rowand_3talk to every single media person in Chicago, but I won’t ever talk to you."  Of course, anyone who knows Aaron knows he indeed will speak to just about any media person or fan.  It takes a lot to get under his skin.  He is a kid at heart.  And he cares.

And Greg seems to say today in print that Aaron’s being focused on this is "petty" and "small-minded."  In my opinion, players have every right to speak to a media person who they think has treated them unfairly or written something that is inaccurate.  And the media person has every right to believe what they want and to continue to stand by their opinion.  In the end, both may agree to disagree, but both should benefit from having the conversation.  I don’t think it is "petty" or "small-minded" at all.  It is interesting and amusing that the harshest writers often seem to have the thinnest skin.

Players tend to have the most respect for writers who, if they have written something critical of the team, manager or player, have the guts to show up in the clubhouse the next day and show their face.  Often, nothing will ever be said between the two, but the fact that a reporter showed up counts for a great deal in the clubhouse culture.

Everyone also should know that the writers don’t write the headlines, but headlines are, in theory, suppose to give a sense of what the story is about.  Headlines above other columns by Greg this summer include:

"Sox Unwilling to Accept that they might need help" (8/29)

"Lead Sinking … Time for Choke Thinking" (8/24)

"As skid grows, eruption can’t be far off" (8/21)

"Sox OK, but slip is showing" (8/18)

"Sox Could Use Burnett or Vizquel/In Theory, small ball works, but Ozzie’s Men Aren’t Executing" (7/24)

"Sox Always Find a Way to Shoot themselves in foot" (6/19)

"I love Buehrle, Garcia, rest of starters — and Twins" (5/1)

"Don’t Buy What Sox are Selling" (4/17)

Now, I find it interesting that after Jay Mariotti first referred to the conversation in his Friday column, Couch waited two more days to tack it onto his Sunday article (you may not have bothered to read his entire piece.  It was at the very end).

I don’t want to get into a he said/she said over the Aaron/Greg conversation, but Greg today wrote that Aaron’s reaction to his columns was "creepy" and "very sad."  Now, I must assume that Greg doesn’t think it is creepy or very sad to actually read all of his columns or even save them, so he must be referring to Aaron’s using the printed word as motivation to prove someone wrong.  Seems to me, this has been happening in sports and life for a very long time and will continue to happen well into the future.

"This is a little strange, but very sad," Couch writes.  "And it’s also entirely unfair to White Sox fans."

I don’t see the connection to Sox fans that Greg does, but maybe he feels better wrapping himself in the cloak of defending the fan (something another at his paper often claims to do).  Personally, I think our fans do a very good job of defending themselves, thank you very much. 

Columns like Couch’s April piece have been on our bulletin board all year long, along with those by other doubters.  If this type of motivation helps us win games, great.  Maybe the team will vote to give Couch a postseason share.

Either way, after talking to Greg, Aaron said to me, "I feel great!  I’ve been wanting to say that to him all year!"

And then he went 2-for-4 as we won the Division Series.

We Did It!

Friday, October 7, 2005, 11:03 pm ET

Soxcelebrate1

Brita Meng Outzen / MLB.com

Put that one on the board!

Congratulations to all those White Sox fans as your (our) team captured its first postseason series since 1917.  How sweet it is …

So typical of the team that you would struggle to choose a Division Series MVP.  Konerko (two homers), AJ, Iguchi, Jenks, Contreras, El Duque … all merit consideration.

To a man, our clubhouse tonight was in awe of Orlando Hernandez’s performance in the sixth inning (and beyond).  Bases loaded and no outs .. clutch, clutch, clutch.  As GM Kenny Williams entered the postgame clubhouse celebration, El Duque met him with a cigar and a smile, saying "I told you El Duque could do it.  I told you." (Think Waterboy)

As Ozzie pointed out after the game, only El Duque has that type of postseason experience and poise.  Ozzie went on to explain that if he had taken McCarthy instead of El Duque, not one pitcher in our bullpen would have entered this series with playoff experience.  Heavily debated and criticized by some, the move paid huge dividends tonight.

Soxcelebrate2

Celebrate Good Times

Enjoy this moment.  At the team party following the game, Roland Hemond told a crowd of about 200 staff, players and employees to savor this experience.  "Enjoy it," he said.  "Appreciate it.  Caress it.  Tonight, we own Boston!  Tonight, we own Chicago."

Everyone in attendance then toasted the victory.

It was very cool of so many players — most of the roster — to stop by the party and join in the festivities.

Not Done Yet

To quote Joey Cora, "I’m not ready to celebrate yet.  We’re not done."

Gutsy Pitch

How about that 3-2 pitch Hernandez threw to get Graffanino in the sixth inning?

Hey, What Do You Know?

We actually led off SportsCenter tonight.  And now Jeff Brantley likes us.  Will wonders ever cease?

Soxcelebrate3

Crowd

Sox fans in attendance could not say enough about how courteous and friendly the Red Sox fans were after the game.  One complimented me on our team and then added, "Beat those Yankees … or Angels."

White Sox fans stayed well after the game, celebrating around our dugout.  Players came back out to join the fans, the team posed for an impromptu team photo and Mark Buehrle sprayed the fans with champagne.  How great for our players to share the moment with our fans?

Crede T-Shirt

Some have noticed that one version of the Division Championship t-shirt on sale at the ballpark omits Joe Crede’s name from the roster.  The shirts were produced by an MLB supplier at the time Joe was on the disabled list, so when they pulled the roster for the t-shirt, his name did not show up.

Just prior to game time, Joe was busy with a white magic marker adding his name to thousands of shirts.  We figured they would be worth more this way.

Huh?

"It’s not always the best team that wins, it’s the team that gets the hottest." — Tim Wakefield.

Tim must have missed those 99 victories and the combined 102-63 record.  We’re just hot right now.

Forgot This Yesterday

On the bus ride back to the hotel after the workout, one player snagged Man So Lee’s English/Korean computer translator.  You can imagine the words guys inputed as everyone roared with laughter as a semi sexy female voice repeated the words out loud.  Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny.

Best Press Box Quote of the Night

From a national reporter:

"Do you think Jay Mariotti will rip the White Sox in his column tomorrow for choking and not winning this series in two games?"

Notes

Each day, I try to jot down notes and ideas for this blog on a sheet of folded notebook paper.  Tonight, I am trying to read the ink since it was smearedJohnwayne_1 by champagne.  I like this problem.

The Duke

John Wayne was watching tonight’s game on television from Chicago.

To White Sox Fans Everywhere, Enjoy Tonight.  You have earned it.  Your team is going to the American League Championship Series.

Sweet Caroline.  Oh-Oh-Oh.

Offday Thoughts

Thursday, October 6, 2005, 10:10 pm

Caution

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.

RowandbpSound Byte

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.

OzzieoffdayWorkout

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 …

Dinner

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).

Media

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.

Front Office

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. 

JohnwayneThe 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."

Games Times

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.

9 to go.

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