May 2006

A Day In The Life

Wednesday, May 10, 2006, 5:04 pm

Random Sights and Sounds Before a Sox Game

There is nothing in the world like sitting in Ozzie Guillen’s office about five hours before a baseball game.

Ozzie sits behind his little glass desk in his long underwear (when he installed the desk two years ago, he took some good-natured ragging about his South Beach desk).  Pictures of his wife, family and friends surround him on the walls.  The United States and Venezuelan flags share a single flagpole.  Awards and trophies are arrayed around the room, along with a great many books, all in Spanish.  A refrigerator sits in the corner, just below a television that is constantly turned on — alternating among Spanish-language TV, ESPN and local news.

Two couches in Ozzie’s office are filled with people, often me, Kenny Williams, Joey Cora, one of Ozzie’s sons, visitors from Venezuela (some who can speak English, others who cannot … it appears).  Players wander in and out.  Coaches wander in and out.  Others poke their heads into his office to say hOzzie_8ello or ask a quick question.  Sometimes Ozzie hops up and walks outside into the clubhouse to talk to someone or ask a question.  The phone rings.  Music plays.  We could be at the
corner market in Caracas, hanging out on Ozzie’s porch in Miami or in the ballpark in Chicago.

And it is constant Ozzie.  Ozzie on the team.  Ozzie on what he did last night.  Ozzie on his kids — and his kids give it back to Ozzie — but with respect.  Ozzie on the game that night.  Ozzie on a story from 1984, 1994 or 2004 … sometimes all at once (today his stream-of-consciousness covered Robert Valido, Juan Agosto, Julio Cruz, Tony La Russa, Kenny Williams … ).  Ozzie doing impersonations, Ozzie doing imitations (many of AJ), Ozzie making pointed comments, and somewhere in there Ozzie offering a very lucid commentary on his 2006 White Sox.

I wish I could bring a camera into his space and let you see Ozzie in casual action among his friends and teammates.

Then, he often goes outside and repeats the performance for the media.

It really is amazing to see and most days, we leave the room laughing … which I think I read somewhere is the way you should always leave a room.

Barbs

Yesterday, as he bantered with the media, Ozzie inadvertantly (or intentionally) paid us the greatest compliment.

"The marketing and PR departments around here," he said with a twinkle in his eye and his head tilted slightly.  "All they care about are the fans.  They don’t care about the manager.  Fans come first.  The manager is last."

Well, he’s certainly not last.  But he’s right that we do try and place the fans first.  I think he knows that is the right order — despite what he might say.

Contreras

Continues to feel better and will undergo an epidural tomorrow.  The only epidural I experienced (well, watched), came past midnight under quite a bit of duress (at least for my wife, less so for me), but the effects and relief were amazing.  Here’s to hoping that Jose feels the same way tomorrow afternoon.

Gamer

White Sox scouting analyst Mike Gellinger (who also throws BP and works on the field during practice) took a richocet line drive off the wall of the batting cage and went down today.  After receiving treatment for the cut and bruise, Mike headed back out to batting practice on the field.

The ricochets in our cages are infamous.

Media

Always a fun topic for all …

Last night, a member of the media I hadn’t seen for awhile asked me how the blog was going.

"Everywhere I go, people are talking about it," he offered, with a mix of smart aleck, mild threat, veiled animosity, deep baloney. 

I relayed the comment to a friend later.

"Well, at least you know they are reading," he said with a laugh.

530

With Jim Thome home run blasts reaching amazing distances into the right field stands even in the cool April and May weather, talk has turned to how far balls might fly when the weather turns warm.

We had a team of students from IIT (next door) survey the ballpark prior to the 2003 All-Star Game so that we would know distances to the newly renovated ballpark was accurate.

As part of the study, the team surveyed all the way up the back walls of the ballpark.

"Just in case," they told me then. 

"Yeah, right," I replied.

Well, thankfully, we now know that a home run off the top of the LaSalle Bank sign in right field would have travelled 530 feet had it not hit the sign.  That might be good to know come June-July-August.

Here is an AP shot from before Game 1 of the last World Series that shows roughly what that poke would look like to a batter:

Lasalle

Here’s to …

May Charlie’s knuckleball dance tonight …

Tonight’s Lineup

Wednesday, May 10, 2006, 1:52 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Uribe, 3B; Anderson, CF.  Charlie Haeger makes his big league debut.

Charliehaeger
Welcome

I happened to be in the clubhouse talking to Greg Walker at about 1 pm when Charlie Haeger arrived with his equipment bag slung over his shoulder.

We both welcomed him to Chicago with a handshake.

Charlie is a great guy, and hopefully tonight’s start goes well.  A native of Plymouth, Mich., Charlie "retired" in 2003 and went home to coach golf at Livonia State (I believe was the school).  A very good golfer, he won our annual Pro-Am this February in Tucson.

Last Night’s Leftovers

The White Sox are 12-1 over their last 13 home games … the Sox have won eight straight over the Angels (including postseason) and are 7-2 against the AL West … Freddy Garcia extended his winning streak to five games, his longest since winning six in a row in 2005 … he did not walk a batter last night for his second straight outing … threw 52 pitches in the first three innings but just 54 in the final five … retired the final 16 batters he faced … is 5-0 with a 3.49 ERA in his last six starts … Sox starting pitchers have gone 15-2 with a 2.69 ERA and 18 quality starts in the last 22 games.

Contreras Update

Tuesday, May 9, 2006, 5:18 pm

Titan of Bronze

Jose is going to be placed on the 15-day disabled list with sciatica, or inflammation in his back that is causing the stiffness.  Knuckleball specialist Charlie Haeger will be recalled from Class AAA Charlotte and start tomorrow’s game.

Ozzie and Kenny addressed the media within the past hour, while Jose and Herm Schneider will be available between now and game time.

Ozzie said his prefers to have Haeger start because he is concerned that McCartney may only be able to give him 2-3 innings.  Haeger, who has been starting for Charlotte, can go deeper into the game.

Also, Ozzie hopes that with the time off, Contreras can return in time for the series with the Cubs.

Jose is obviously down and disappointed.

Kenny remarked that even before talking to the pitcher, they had decided today that he would be given the time off to avoid risking anything further.

Conan

For those late owls, tonight’s episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien will feature a segment with Jermaine Dye that was taped early last week. 

Tuesday Afternoon

Tuesday, May 9, 2006, 4:03 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF; Garcia, pitching.

Note the return of Jermaine Dye to the starting lineup tonight.

Contreras Update

Jose arrived at the ballpark and was called into a meeting with Ozzie Guillen, Kenny Williams, Don Cooper and Joey Cora.

We should have more information soon.

Habitat Build

Is it a good sign if I am already sore?  But the frame of a house is up, the experience was pretty cool and there definitely is some group pride in building something together for another.

The Konerkos, Thomes and Podsedniks stopped by to stay hello, drive a few nails (no injuries to report) and sign pieces of the construction.

Tuesday AM

Jose_2

Tuesday, May 9, 2006, 10:27 pm

Jose Contreras

Despite alarming reports to the contrary, Jose Contreras really is alive and kicking.  My off day of golf (I know, I hear all of your sympathy through the internet) and Little League practice was interrupted by a flurry of calls from the media after one news outlet reported that he was headed to the DL.  The rumors seemed to range from serious arm problems to a sore hip.

This was news to me (us) … which sometimes can happen, but doesn’t very often.  So I quickly made a couple of calls.

What I found out was that Jose felt some stiffness in his back on Sunday.  The decision was made to wait and see how he feels today before we decide how to proceed.  Options range from doing nothing, to skipping a start to DL, but again, no decision has been made.  Ken Williams, Ozzie Guillen, Herm Schneider, Jose and Don Cooper will probably all get together later this afternoon and decide on next steps.

Anything beyond that would be premature and speculative at this point.

Which brings me to a bit of a pet peeve.

When I was in journalism school (now about 20 years ago, yikes), you could not print or report a fact unless you had two sources to verify the information.  This made sure the information was correct and also protected the journalist from sources intent on using the media to promote their opinion of someone or something as opposed to supporting factual information.

It amazes me how often this "rule" is ignored now.

Take this report, for example.  No one contacted the White Sox to verify any of the information before it was reported.  Don’t you think someone should have checked?  It may ultimately turn out to be correct, Jose could have to go onto the disabled list, but it may also turn out to be incorrect, he may be absolutely fine.  Will the reporter and his/her single source be accountable?

In a rush to be first, being accurate and correct becomes secondary, or worse, unimportant.

Making the situation worse is that once one news organization reports information, all the rest follow, potentially repeating the error made by the first.  We ran into this last night.  In the age we now live in, this information passes through media with lightning speed, whether it is accurate and sourced or if it is just speculative rumor.

Sorry to rant.

Let’s see how Jose feels later today, we’ll decide on a course of action, and we will let our fans know as soon as we can.

Build

PK, Pods, Jim Thome, AJ and their wives will stop by and take part in the MLB/White Sox Habitat for Humanity House Build that is taking place today across the streHfhiet in Armour Park.  White Sox employees and the players are donating their time and expertise (insert joke here) to help build a house that will be donated to a family that has been re-located to the Chicago area (Lake County) due to Hurricane Katrina. 

I plan to head out there this afternoon to help, but my guess is after they see me drive one nail, I might get moved to the refreshments team.

Sunday in the Park

Sunday, May 7, 2006, 12:05 pm

Today’s Lineup

Ozuna, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Crede, 3B; Mack, RF; Uribe, SS; Widger, C; Anderson, CF; Buehrle, P.

International Reach

An employee here received an email from his friend showing a clothing store front window in Maastricht, The Netherlands.  Call it Sox appeal …

Maastricht_2006_035

Reception

For those of you who weren’t in the ballpark, earlier in the week, Carl Everett received a very mixed reception from Sox fans, while Jim Thome received polite, but not overwhelming applause. 

We do have a pregame video planned for when Frank Thomas returns to USCF with Oakland on May 22.  Our game operations staff also has a one-time wrinkle planned that I think fans will enjoy.

WCIU Telecasts

You are correct in noticing that White Sox home games on WCIU are now available in HD.  In fact, all Sox home games — whether on WGN, Comcast or WCIU — are now in HD.

I made the jump to HD in July last year.  It is truly amazing for sporting events.  Other times, I catch myself and my kids watching HD programming we would never generally watch but the picture is just so compelling.  The other day, I was watching something like "A day in the life of the rain forest" when I had to catch myself.

Speaking of catches

People around here were still talking about Brian Anderson’s layout catch in center field the other night.  Amazing: 350K

Thomehomer
AP Photo

Sellouts

Congratulations to our fans … we just sold out two early May games against the KC Royals.  Attendance for the three-game series against the Angels are strong.  Tickets do remain, so act quickly and act now.

Diversityinbusiness_1Self Promotion

Allow me to toot our own horn for a minute …

MLB and diversityinbusiness.com
have partnered to recognize America’s Best Diverse Suppliers, and the White Sox (and our top 10 suppliers) are featured.

We consistently rank among MLB’s leaders in dollars spent with minority and female-owned companies.

"It’s really simple," says chairman Jerry Reinsdorf every time he is asked.  "It is good business.  Like anyone, the White Sox want as many qualified suppliers as possible bidding on our business."

Saturday Night

Saturday, May 6, 2006, 5:31 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Gload, RF; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF.  Javier pitches.

Happy Cinqo de Mayo

Friday, May 5, 2006, 2:51 pm

Today’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Mack, CF; Cintron, SS; Gload, RF; Garland, RHP.

Don’t Blow Our Secret

We have a little surprise planned for Ozzie Guillen today, so please, don’t spoil it. 

Ozzie went to the BBWAA dinner this winter in New York to "accept" his manager of the year trophy.  Only they didn’t have a trophy ready for him yet.

So since, Ozzie has been griping, mostly in fun, that he was manager of the year and didn’t get (blank).

On the last road trip a package arrived for me … his trophy.  Initially, I was going to head into his office and drop it off.  But then I thought there was no way I could stop with that.

So tonight, at 4:50 pm as the team stretches in the outfield and Ozzie meets with the media, a charter bus with the words "Ozzie’s Bus" is going to pull onto the warning track in center field.  The scoreboard and video board will congratulate Ozzie Guillen on being the 2005 American League Manager of the Year, and AJ Pierzynski will get off the bus and deliver Ozzie’s trophy to him with pomp and circumstance. 

Let’s see if we can pull this off.

Victor’s Welcome

As Pablo Ozuna entered the United Center to join his teammates in watching the Bulls playoff game, fans recognized the super sub and began chanting his name.

More Later …

Thursday Pregame

Thursday, May 4, 2006, 11:06 am

Today’s Lineup (same as yesterday)

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Mackowiak, CF; Uribe, SS; Gload, RF; Contreras on the mound.

Jeez, what does a guy like Pablo Ozuna need to do to get in the lineup?

Oops

So helpful me goes into the clubhouse this morning and erases the lineup off the grease board because it is the same one as last night.

I go and find Joey.

"Hey," I say, "no one updated the board so I erased it."

"It’s the same lineup," he said.  "You’re going to owe me for this one."

And he re-wrote the lineup.

"Sorry."

Crazy Game

Amazing, isn’t it, how sometimes you win games but they feel like you lost and sometimes you lose games but they feel like victories?

After last night’s wild game — each team tried to win and lose that game multiple times — I am glad today is a day game.  Let’s get Seattle back on the field while they are still thinking about last night.

Bulls
Go Bulls

Many of the Sox coaches and players are heading to the UC after today’s game to catch Game 6 of the Bulls/Heat.  Ozzie always wants to be close to the action, so he and Harold will be near the court.  Everyone else will be taking the game in from the suites.

Congrats

To both Joe Goddard and Ron Rapoport, who are retiring from the Sun-Times after decades of service.

Joe was one of the original beat writers when I began in 1991.  There was a time when the baseball beat was the prize at any paper.  Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.  The baseball beat is a Antietam
lot of work … 162 games, spring training, travel, no real offseason … that younger reporters now do it for a few years before moving on to something easier or in hopes of becoming a columnist.

Joe is among the last of a breed of guys who covered baseball year and year.  They knew the industry and had better sources than anyone else.  There are very few of those lifers left.

To Ron and Joe, enjoy the well-deserved retirement.  For Ron, it sounds like sun and books.  For Joe, I know retirement means gardening and visiting Civil War battlefields to walk through history.

Enjoy.

Postgame Reax from the Interview Room

Wednesday, May 3, 2006, 10:39 pm

Ozzie Guillen on Pablo Ozuna

On the HR to tie the game …

"We just were hoping for a single, stolen base and then figured we would take a shot with Uribe.  I’m not that smart.

"The last at-bat from him is the way people should play the game.  To take the extra base like he did, you need to do it from the go-get, as soon as you leave the batter’s box.

"To me, it’s exciting to see this guy play.  That’s the way Pablo plays.  He hustles and plays hard."

Pablo
Pablo Ozuna on the home run and scoring the winning run

"As soon as I hit the ball, I realized the second baseman and center fielder were slow to the all and decided to take a chance.

on his first career home run …

"I had been ready to go since the fourth inning because I knew there were a lot of left-handers in their bullpen.  I just wanted to swing the bat and hit the ball hard somewhere.  I was looking for a pitch to hit in the strike zone.  I got it.  I knew it was gone when I hit it.

"It was my best moment personally.  I was excited I did my job."

Juan Uribe on his game-winning hit

"I was glad.  The AB before, I tried to do too much.  I knew the CF was deep and knew the ball had a chance to drop in. 

"I tried to calm myself down before the AB and just try to put the ball in play.  When you put the ball in play, good things can happen.

"Personally, Ozzie Guillen has pushed me to be all that I can be, which is an every day player in the major leagues.  I really like that he pushes me and rides me because it pays off."

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