June 2006

Road Tripping

Monday, June 12, 2006, 3:15 pm

Jose_3
Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Ozuna, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF.  Contreras takes the mound.

Late Night

The Sox arrived in Texas at about 2:30 this morning thanks to the late Sunday game, courtesy of ESPN.  Tonight’s game is also on ESPN (Comcast Sports Net locally), so the game time moves up to 6:05 CT.  Tonight marks the third straight national telecast for the Sox.

Soccer Thoughts

Nice of ESPN last night to show Neal, Cliff and our poster wishing the U.S. Soccer team Good Luck in the World Cup.  Our karma didn’t seem to help much today, however.  The Czechs were too much …

Sunday Night

Sunday, June 11, 2006, 3:58 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

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

Joe Crede‘s back.

Sox Everywhere

I remember at one point last summer when a lot of us, front office and fans alike, were questionning why our Sox were being ignored nationally.

Well, I think October and this offseason took care of any of those concerns.  You can’t open a magazineSoxwin_2

or listen to Chicago radio without running into your Sox.

A picture of our team celebrating on the field after Game 4 runs as a full-page photo in the most recent Sports Business Journal with the headline, "Major League Baseball Owns October."  The ad promotes the ratings numbers for baseball in October.

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This week’s Sports Illustrated contains two full-page ads with Sox players.  Scott Podsednik is advertised as making an appearance downtown (it was Friday) at a major store, and A.J. Pierzynski is shown selling MLB Authentic Nike Pro baseball underwear.

And you can’t turn on the radio without hearing Don Cooper or Ozzie Guillen selling hi-fi, automobiles, steak houses or Training Camps.

It’s all Sox, all the time.

Let’s go for a sweep tonight …

Saturday Mornings

Saturday, June 10, 2006, 9:57 am

Today’s Lineup

Ozuna, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Cintron, 3B; Widger, C; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF.  Buehrle takes the mound against Sabathia and Cleveland … again.

According to Roger Bossard, the rain will stop soon and we will be OK with our 12:25 start time.

Mr. Clutch

Jermaine

Friday, June 9, 2006, 10:44 pm

So, how clutch is Jermaine Dye?

After tonight’s game, Ozzie Guillen announced that after lengthy pregame conversations, the club had decided to continue to go with Brian Anderson in center field.

"This team is built around pitching and defense," Guillen said.

The decision was made before Anderson’s amazing, run-saving catch against the left-center field wall. 350K

Friday

Friday, June 9, 2006, 3:02 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

A little different look against the left-hander …

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

Afternoon Well Spent

I joined Ozzie Guillen and Chris Singleton this afternoon at the Polo Cafe (just north of 35th and Morgan) for the monthly meeting of the Windy City Sox Fans.

The food was great, as was the company, and as usual, Mr. Guillen was quite entertaining with his answers.  Both Ozzie and Chris signed for everyone in attendance at the well-run event.  Kudos to the WCSF club.

Inside the Mind of Don Cooper

Don’t mind the dust and the cobwebs …

Rick Hahn (our assistant GM) and I were speaking to Coop yesterday before the game, and he made a really good observation.  The comedian in me wants to point out that this rarely happens, but that would be too mean to Coop, who indeed is very good at his job (just look at the track record).  But Coop is also from Long Island, so it is very easy to give him a hard time.

Anyway, his point was this:

Confidence is so important to pitchers, especially closers.  One of the things he has learned (actually, we all have learned) is how fleeting confidence is.  That’s probably not just true about sports figures.  It’s probably also true about humans in general. Our pitching staff last year — especially last October — performed on the largest stage in the world and did just survive … they starred.

Doncooper"You would think pitching like we did throughout the playoffs and World Series would give you confidence for the rest of your life," Coop said. 

But one of the things we have all learned is how fragile confidence is and how it needs to be nutured and built up over time.  Five great outings can be destroyed by one bad pitch … and then you start all over.

Which took us to closers.  Coop talked about how important confidence is in the back of the bullpen.  He pointed out closers through the years who succeeded even though their stuff did not fit the typical image of a closer.

For me, certainly Matt Karchner and Keith Foulke fit that description.  They both turned in fantastic roles in the bullpen, in Keith’s case for years, without having dominating, overwhelming stuff.  They did it with confidence in themselves and in their ability to pitch.  By this argument, guys can create their own persona on the mound, a persona that might even make them better than their physical abilities.

Not really sure what, if any, conclusions I am trying to draw.  Just thought the point was an interesting one.

Friday Night

We moved Friday night start times back 30 minutes to 7:30 pm this year because of our expectations for construction on the Dan Ryan and general, Chicago traffic on a Friday night.

Has it helped?  Has it made a difference for you?  Let me know.  I would love to hear from you.

Thursday

Thursday, June 8, 2006, 3:13 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; Konerko, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Mack, CF; Cintron, SS.  Garland takes the mound.

Juan Uribe’s wife, Ana, had the couple’s baby today.  It was a boy.  No word yet on name or details.

Tickets

Given our big crowds recently, I think there is a perception that you can’t get a ticket to a White Sox game.  Not true.  Several thousand remain for Friday and Sunday this weekend, while you can still get tickets to the Cardinals and Astros series.

Only 14 tickets remain for our blog night in August, so you had better act soon if you want those tix.  Call Dustin at 312-674-5186.

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Vote, Vote and Vote Again

For your favorite players, preferably White Sox, for the All-Star Game on July 11 in Pittsburgh.

Sox Pride Club

Several thousand Sox fans have taken advantage of special ticket availability by joining the Sox Pride Club.  We have set aside tickets just for members to each Sox home game.

Ring

Sales continue in our Chicago White Sox Charities ring raffle through the end of July.  Don’t wait to purchase your chances because we won’t sell more than 100,000 (three people will win).  Tickets can be purchased online (by Illinois residents) or at the ballpark.

Good luck

Neal Cotts and Cliff Politte posed for a photo last night with a poster wishing the U.S. Soccer team good luck in the World Cup, which begins tomorrow.

Fireworks

Alexcintron

Tuesday, June 6, 2006, 10:07 pm

Turnaround

Oh, for a clutch hit with runners in scoring position.

Wait, we just got one, a big one.

Alex Cintron, tonight’s hero, wasn’t listed in the original starting lineup but was inserted after Juan Uribe’s wife went into labor here in Chicago.

Comments from the Postgame Interview Room

From Ozzie Guillen:

"It’s always great to win, especially that way."

"In my view, we should have more than that.  We are still missing the little things.

"It’s great to win the first game."

"A three-run home run coming from Cintron … not too many people expect that."

"We’re not swinging the bats well with runners in scoring position right now.  We had a chance a couple of times tonight."

"We still need to do better with execution."Alexwaves

"We’re not playing as good as we can, but we’re hanging in there.  We need to be better."

"That (Cintron’s homer) happens when you get guys playing time.  When you play them a lot, they’re ready any time they are needed.  On my ballclub, everyone is important.  We have 12 hitters we can count on.  To me, they’re all big."

"When you (Freddy Garcia) allow three runs, it means you pitched pretty well.  He battled.  He threw 100-something pitches in the first few innings."

"Mac has been on and off.  Thank God he was on today."

From Alex CIntron:

"The pitch before I was looking for a changeup and I fouled it off.  This pitch was a fastball middle in.  The best shot I have to hit a home run is middle in."

"I was looking for a hit.  I wasn’t looking for a home run."

"I know my job is backing up Uribe and Iguchi.  When they tell me to play, I’ll be ready to try and help us win."

Tonight’s Lineup

Tonight’s Lineup vs. Detroit

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

Draft Day

First-Year Player Draft

Today is one of MLBAM’s biggest days of on-line activity … draft day.

I cannot come close to the amount of coverage and insight BAM provides on the amateur draft.  If you want that, check out mlb.com or whitesox.com.

What I can give you is a look into the draft room during the first round …

First, the facts from our press release:

The Chicago White Sox selected right-handed pitcher Kyle McCulloch of the University of Texas with their first-round pick (29th overall) in today’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

McCulloch, 21, was named the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 8-5 with a 3.61 ERA (44 ER/109.2 IP) and one save in 19 games (18 starts) during his junior season with the Longhorns in 2006.  The right-hander led Texas to a 41-21 record and a berth in the NCAA Regionals.

 Kyle is someone we have followed now for a number of years,” said Duane Shaffer, White Sox Senior Director of Player Personnel.  “He’s enjoyed success at every level, he’s consistently exceeded the competition in every league and at every level, and we are very confident in his ability to help in the big leagues in the near future.

The Houston native led the Longhorns in wins, IP, starts and strikeouts (82) in 2006.  The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder also earned his second straight First-Team All-Big 12 selection and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second-Team.  McCulloch was the winning pitcher in the 2005 College World Series national championship game vs. the University of Florida, striking out eight over 6.2 IP.

“I am very excited to have been selected by the World Champion Chicago White Sox,” said McCulloch, who pitched on the USA Baseball National Team last summer.  “I cannot wait to start my professional career with such a great organization.”

 McCulloch joins right-handed pitcher Lance Broadway (2005, 15th overall), infielder Josh Fields (2004, 18th), outfielder Brian Anderson (2003, 15th), left-handed pitcher Royce Ring (2002, 18th) and right-handed pitcher Kris Honel (2001, 16th) as the last six first-round picks.  McCulloch was recommended by White Sox scout Keith Staab.

Now the behind-the-scenes stuff …

McCulloch was our player all along.  Our scouting staff was hoping he would still be available and on the board when we picked, late in the first round, at 29.

Everyone in the conference room, about 20 people in all, including Ken Williams, Rick Hahn and Duane Shaffer, held their breath late in the first round, especially when the Red Sox had back-to-back picks at 27 and 28.

"Congratulations," Williams said to Shaffer once it was clear we got our guy.

Twice during the 30 minute wait, Williams called Shaffer and assistant general manager Rick Hahn into private conferences to discuss the team’s options.

When Scott Merkin, a reporter for whitesox.com entered the conference room, which has its walls covered with MLB rosters, evaluations and our entire draft board, Williams joked (or half joked): "You are not allowed to look at that wall, only this one.  We have video cameras and snipers trained on you."

As others in our division selected their picks, Williams commented, "this division isn’t getting any easier."

Our draft board is set up with hundereds of magnets, each representing a player.  First round picks are lined up on the left, followed by second and third.  Mid round players are grouped in the middle of the board by position, and the right side of the board has a number of draft and follows or players we would like to sign if they are not drafted.

As names are called off on the MLB conference call, Andrew Pinter and scout Nathan Durst remove the magnet from one board and place him on a second board that shows the day’s results.

Quickly — at least in the first few rounds — and then more slowly later, the one board empties while the other fills up.

All of these rankings are based on our scouts’ evaluations of players they have been following for years.

I am always surprised when teams select a player, some pretty high, that do not appear anywhere on our board because out scouts have watched him play and not turned him in as a prospect.  This is probably true, though, of every single team in baseball.  It is pretty rare that a player is taken who no one on our scouting staff has seen.  The coverage of this country is amazing.  If you are a high school, junior college or college player with skills, chances are someone saw you and evaluated you at some point.

Anyway, the funniest thing today was that it turns out Mr. McCulloch is (was) an Astros fan.

"Tell him to hang with it …" someone laughed.

Honors

Just before the draft began, Jerry Reinsdorf popped into the room and presented Shaffer with a Gold pass for Long & Meritorious Service.  The passes are presented to anyone who has worked in the game for 25 years.

"After 25 years at most businesses, they give you a gold watch or a trip," Reinsdorf said.  "Only in baseball do we reward a scout for 25 years in the game with a lifetime pass to watch more baseball."

Sunday, Sunday

Sunday, June 4, 2006, 11:24 am

Today’s Lineup

Ozuna, LF; Iguchi, 2B; PK, DH; Dye, RF; Crede, 3B; Gload, 1B; Widger, C; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF … Buehrle pitching.

Laughs

Today’s feature in the Sun-Times comparing White Sox players and staff to their celebrity, real-life look-alikes was the talk of the clubhouse.  Of course, Cliff Politte bore the brunt of the abuse.

Draft Think

Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams and the Sox scouting staff met this morning to discuss the club’s options in Tuesday’s First-Year Player Draft.

Congrats

To Ozney Guillen for throwing a no-hitter Friday in amateur baseball action in Miami.  Kenny Williams Jr. homered from both sides of the plate in his first game of summer league action in Wichita.

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