September 2006

The End

Tuesday, September 26, 2006, 10 am

Official

As all are painfully aware, last night was the official end of the race.

While many had written us off sometime in August (or earlier), it was just this weekend that I felt we weren’t going to get it done.  Even as late as Thursday/Friday of last week, when the Twins dropped two games, we had the opportunity to pull within 3 1/2.  We didn’t get it done.

Jimjosejermaine
As I was saying, I felt like I had prepared myself mentally and emotionally for last night, but this morning, I found myself angry, disappointed and frustrated all over again.

During the weekend’s games, we talked about how the season seemed to break down into three parts.  The first, say until about mid May, was our best.  It was the closest we came to playing to our potential.  We pitched pretty well.  We slugged our way to the division lead.

Then our starting pitching faltered and became inconsistent.  Our bullpen became exposed, and we made some moves to address that issue.  We kind of treaded water through that time.

The third "act" came after the All-Star Break.  Our offense became very inconsistent while our starting pitching bounced back to give us hope.

This all set us up for September.  Most of us entered the month hoping things could come together.  Entering the month, there was the feeling that a good run of 10-15 games would bring us right back to where we felt (rightly or wrongly) this team belonged.  But we just could not rise to that opportunity, be it performance-based, injury-based, or no gas left in the tank based.  The fault is ours.

Everyone here certainly is frustrated.  We need to re-group this offseason, evaluate the team, and address the appropriate weaknesses/issues/changes.  I promise you that Kenny Williams and his staff has already started this process.

Robert Johnson At The Crossroads

During the weekend, a longtime Chicago columnist asked me, "If you had the opportunity before last year, wouldn’t you have agreed to suffer through 2006 if it meant a World Series title in 2005?"

I would, but today still hurts.

Thanks

Not sure when I will have the enthusiasm to post for a while, so to everyone who read and contributed to this blog during the season (praise and criticism), thanks so much.

One of the goals when I started this two years ago was to create a method for us to communicate directly with our fans.  I hope we’ve delivered.  And I hope you understand we care right along with you.

Thanks and Go Sox.

Sunday Regular Season Finale

Sunday, September 24, 2006, 9:53 am

Today’s Lineup

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

Thoughts

Let’s hope Freddy stays on his roll today.  As bleak as things have looked at times over the past 10 days, had we won Thursday and Friday (given Twins losses), think how tight things would be now.  Let’s win today, hope Baltimore defeats Minnesota, and see what the final week brings.  It’s a longshot, but to quote Joaquin Andujar (I think), in baseball "Youneverknow."

Good to see Dye in today’s lineup.

Attendance

With an attendance total of 2,919,896 entering today’s game, the White Sox should (weather permitting the game is played) set a franchise record for single-season attendance today.  The current mark is 2,934,154, set in 1991 when the new ballpark opened. UPDATED 12:02 pm 9/26: Here is the press release on the record.

Thanks to each and every one of our fans who helped make this year so special at the turnstile.  Your support and enthusiasm for this team is appreciated and never taken for granted.  It is something we need to earn each and every day.

Thanks.

Hope

Let’s hope for some dramatics this week and a very interesting and important series next weekend in Minneapolis.

Go Sox …

Different Look Saturday

Saturday, September 23, 2006, 10:27 am

Today’s Lineup

Gload, LF; Uribe, SS; Dye, RF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Cintron, 2B; BA, CF.  Buehrle takes the mound.

Satur-DAY

Today’s game was originally supposed to be our last Fireworks Saturday night of the season, but the game was moved to a 12:25 pm start to accommodate the national FOX TV broadcast.

Friday Fireworks

Friday, September 22, 2006, 2:40 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

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

Ozzie Being Ozzie

It was pretty clear from Ozzie’s postgame comments last night how he feels.  I am sure you all read them this morning or heard them on radio/TV.  Everyone is frustrated.

My wife chided me last night that I should have posted more.  I countered by telling her, "I’m not really sure what to say at this point.  It all comes down to the games each night and everyone can see the results."

Obviously, miracles do happen and we do have a mathematical chance to reach the postseason.  You can’t give up hope but you do need to be a realist about it.  If we don’t start winning games — like tonight — soon, it won’t really matter.  But I think I have written that line a few times this year, already.

I can’t speak for you all, but the frustration for me is in thinking that we really are the best team in the division … or at least certainly should be in the playoffs.  Maybe that seems like hubris to fans of Detroit and Minnesota, but that’s where my frustration stems from.  It’s our own fault, no one else is to blame, but this team is too good to not be playing in October.

As much as we have struggled since the break (28-37) and as poorly as we have played in September, we still have the sixth-best record in baseball. 

New York-AL … 92-60

New York-NL … 92-60

Detroit … 91-62

Minnesota … 90-62

Oakland … 89-63

White Sox … 85-68

Dead Greeks

Just messing around today with the statistical package, I figured out winning percentages based on Bill James’ pythagorean theorem (your runs squared divided by your runs squared + your opponents runs squared).

By that equation (and based on our runs scored and opponents runs scored totals), we should have 85 wins as of today and should end the year with 90.  (We also should have won 92 games in 2005, not 99).  Detroit is right on schedule with 91 wins as of today on pace to capture 97, while Minnesota has overperformed to date with 90 wins when the equation says 88.  They are "suppose" to win 93.

Some other statistical items jump at you:

While it seems like we should lead the AL in GIDP, we actually rank 11th with only 114 (Oakland leads with 157)

You would struggle to believe it based on the past two weeks, but we lead the major leagues with a .308 batting average with runners in scoring position (but we are hitless in our last 15 plate appearances and 6-43 (.140) in the last seven games).

We outscored the opposition by 96 runs in 2005 and have outscored them by 88 this year.

We have allowed just 46 unearned runs, lowest in the AL.  The league average is 56.

We are tied for second in the AL with a .986 fielding percentage, which would set a franchise mark.  Our error total is fifth.

Our ERA is 4.54 which is just slightly above the league mark of 4.53.  Last year, our team ERA was 3.61, while the league mark was lower than this year at 4.35.

Tribune Musings

I chuckled today, in a sad kinda way, at two stories on the Chicago Tribune sports page.  There at the bottom of the front page was a story headlined, "Recent History Bodes Ill for Sox’s Chances Next Year."  Jeez, and we can’t even let this year end before writing us off for next season, I thought.

Then, I opened the jump to Page 4.  There was Cubs beat reporter Paul Sullivan’s tongue-in-check story (at least I thought so) headlined, "Changing Cubs’ Karma In 10 Easy Steps."

One inch away, the White Sox story ended with, "Will there be another title for the Sox in 2007?  Not if recent history is any indication."

Nice.  I wonder how recent history bodes for the Cubs chances next year? (nothing against the Cubs, just the way the story was portrayed).

Razor

Class AAA Manager Razor Shines is heading to Venezuela this winter to run the same team Joey Cora did last winter.  Josh Fields and Brian Anderson will both play for Razor.

Instructional League

Started this week in Tucson with top Sox prospects, injured players or guys looking to make a position change all working out at our complex.

SI

Check out SI.com where White Sox games at U.S. Cellular Field rank eighth overall in value among the 30 Major League clubs.  This is not a rating of the experience, but a ranking based on bang for your buck.

SoxFest

Two-night packages at the Palmer House Hilton went on sale this morning at 10 and availability was gone in just over two hours.  These packages were the only way to get weekend passes to the Jan. 26-28 event, but we will be putting individual-day passes and room nites on sale later this offseason.  We will keep you posted.

Our goal here is to avoid some of the overcrowding we experienced at last SoxFest and to make sure as many different Sox fans as possible get a chance to enjoy the weekend (without overwhelming the facilities).  We could have sold out SoxFest with just weekend passes, but this way, we hope more fans get to attend, and we can keep the price point reasonable for more fans.  Those are our goals.

We are sorry if you could not purchase a two-night stay during today’s sale, but more opportunities to attend SoxFest will be coming.

Thursday Night

Thursday, September 21, 2006, 5:28 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

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

Wednesday News

Wednesday, September 20, 2006, 4:32 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Dye, RF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Sweeney, CF; Uribe, SS.  Jon Garland on the mound, looking for No. 18.

Note

With a 3.11 ERA, White Sox starting pitchers rank second in the AL this month in ERA, trailing Toronto (2.67).

Tonight’s Lineup

Tuesday, September 19, 2006, 2:22 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

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

I was remiss in not mentioning that we announced our 2007 schedule (tentative) in yesterday’s blog.  Yes, we do play at Pittsburgh again in 2007.  We travel to Oakland twice, play the Yankees 10 times (seven at home), face Houston again and play Florida and Philadelphia on the road.  The NL Central always causes scheduling problems, and this year, it’s our schedule that is a bit mixed and matched.

Tonight’s Lineup

Monday, September 18, 2006, 3:15 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Ozuna, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Dye, RF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Crede, 3B; AJ, C; BA, CF; Uribe, SS; Buehrle pitching.

Optimism

Our three starters in this series are a combined 37-16 lifetime against the Tigers:

Buehrle, 11-6, 2.80

Garcia, 14-5, 3.81

Garland, 12-5, 4.21

Solar Plexus

Monday, September 18, 2006, 1:08 pm

Last Weekend

Was like a swift punch to the solar plexus.  I am still trying to catch my breath.

Our backs are certainly against the wall and we have no one to blame.  We need to start winning games … tonight.

Motivation

So, this morning, in an attempt to get the juices flowing and motivate myself, I went onto a few websites looking for quotes about overcoming adversity.

Here are some of the best (in my humble opinion.  Feel free to post any you like):

"A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."

– Anonymous

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."

– Napoleon Hill

"Out of difficulties grow miracles."

– Jean De La Bruyere

"The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune."

–Plutarch

"Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records."

– William A. Ward

Winstonchurchill
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

– Winston Churchill

"When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars."

– Lee Salk

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant."

– Horace

"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

– Walt Disney

"You become a champion by fighting one more round.  When things are tough, you fight one more round."

– James J. Corbett

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

– Thomas Paine

Oakland Weekend

Friday, September 15, 2006, 2:35 pm

Weekend Ahead

The weekend ahead will be fun.  Let’s take 2-of-3 or sweep and then see what the Tigers series brings next week.  Of course, there is that haunting stat of past performances in the Bay Area that looms over our heads … like we have won four of the last 24 games we have played there since going 4-2 in 2000.  To recap the memorable moments, we were 0-3 in 2001; 0-6 in 2002; 1-2 in 2003; 1-5 in 2004 and 2-4 in 2005.  So the publicist in me draws the line at 2003 … we are 4-7 since then (not quite as bad).  Realistically, none of past performances by prior teams in Oakland really matter.  It’s all of us who remember sitting up late at night watching all of these debacles who are haunted.  I don’t think Pablo Ozuna or Javier Vazquez care a whit.

September Morning

Until last season’s September heroics (or great escape depending upon your glass full/glass empty approach to life), most winning White Sox seasons lacked pennant race drama (again a good thing or bad thing depending upon your point of view).  Well, this year, we certainly have a three-headed race and it looks like it’s going down to the wire.  It really is a charge to wake up each morning, read the newspapers (or online sites for anyone under 35), watch television and catch up on all the news impacting your team.  Who won?  Who lost?

There is something special about a pennant race.

Which Brings Me To …

Sitting in my car last night listening to the Indians/Twins game on XM (what a gift from the gods) swearing and hanging on every pitch.  Then wondering what has come of my life that I am spending an off day (evening, really) letting my blood pressure rise and fall based on the Indians bullpen (I assume Cleveland fans can empathize).

But such was our lot …

Hawk And The Heinie Bird

What a great headline!  Kudos to the Trib copy writer who came up with that one.  If you haven’t seen it, give John Kass’s column a read today in the Chicago Tribune.  It’s a hoot (ornithology references for 500 please, Alex).

By now, everyone has weighed in on whether Hawk was right or wrong to mention Freddy’s emag tcefrep Wednesday.

This letter from Bob Vorwald of WGN TV went to Jay Mariotti at the Sun-Times in response to Jay’s column yesterday (don’t bother reading it, you can pretty much imagine what he wrote). 

Dear Jay

I read with amusement this morning your latest attempt to go after Hawk Harrelson and I couldn’t disagree with your premise more. Your stated fact that it is a "traditional code" for a baseball announcer to not mention a no-hitter in progress is simply not true. You fail to mention Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray in your article, both of whom are Hall of Fame baseball play-by-play legends and both of whom did exactly that. I don’t seem to remember Brick’s accurate description of the game and use of the word "no-hitter" on WGN telecasts denying Don Cardwell, Ken Holtzman, Burt Hooten, and Milt Pappas their place in the record books. You also inaccurately twist the story of Len Kasper and Bob Brenly calling Glendon Rusch’s game last year when they were obviously having fun with this "taboo" by using every phrase possible except "no-hitter" or "perfect game".

When ESPN cuts into programming to show us a no-hitter or perfect game in progress, are they breaking this "rule" as well? How in the world was Nolan Ryan, for example, ever able to pitch his last few no-hitters while such transgressions occurred? Is it your opinion that a broadcaster should do a disservice to the viewers and not fully inform them of possible history in progress? Fine, those are the type of arguments that make baseball a wonderful sport. However, that doesn’t mean that we should ever avoid our responsibility to fully inform our viewers, especially those that might be tuning in late to see an afternoon game from the West Coast, of everything that is transpiring on the field.

The superstitions of the baseball dugout make for wonderful stories and are great to follow, but that’s where they belong – in the dugout. Hawk was doing his job in accurately informing our viewers about an exciting storyline in what was otherwise a blowout win by the White Sox. Baseball announcers have many different styles, preferences, and beliefs. Again, that’s what makes the game so great. To say that Hawk and WGN were "committing the ultimate sin" and "violating a traditional code" is simply untrue.

Sincerely,

Bob Vorwald
Executive Producer
WGN Sports

Thanks to Bob for permission to reprint this letter.

Anyway … what do you, the fans, think? What would you like out of a telecast in that situation?

I’d be interested in hearing from you.

Friday Nights

And while I am on that topic, visit whitesox.com to vote on your preference, 7:05 pm starts on Friday nights or 7:30 pm?

We moved the start times back 30 minutes this year because of our concerns about construction delays on the Dan Ryan with folks trying to get home and then to the ballpark on already busy Friday nights.

As we plan for 2007, we want to hear what you think.  Feel free to vote (but unlike the Final Man vote, please vote just once).

By the way, what are the chances that the powers that be will ever let another Sox player onto that list? We will be victims of our own success …

September 23

A reminder that FOX TV will now televise next Saturday’s game against the Mariners, so game time is 12:25 pm. Please mark your calendars. Friday’s game will now feature fireworks.

Let’s enjoy a big, big weekend in the Bay.

See you Monday.

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