Friday, March 23, 2007
I return home on Sunday to prepare for Opening Day on April 2, so this is my last weekend in Tucson before wheels up Sunday night. So it’s time once again to pack up the office. Sure will be nice to sleep in my own bed, sit on my own couch and watch a big-screen television. I admit it, I’m soft.
Return of the Newman
Thanks again to Mark Newman of MLBAM. He’s the creative guy who adds all the photos and clip art to my wall of text. Given all he is responsible for, I am honored he has the time to read and work on this little experiment.
Pods, LF; Ozuna, 3B; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Cintron, 2B; Hall, C; Uribe, SS, BA, CF; Danks, P. Floyd will also throw for us.
It rained yesterday, rained last night, rained this morning and is expected to rain again this afternoon. Comcast is carrying the game, as well as WSCR Radio, so hopefully you can listen to White Sox baseball.
Only In A Baseball Clubhouse
I walked into our clubhouse this morning, and Jim Thome walked up to me.
"Here, try this," he said, holding out a ziploc bag with a slice of meat in it. "It’s good."
Never knowing what jokes could be happening but also knowing Jim is pretty straight up, I figure, what the heck. So I try it.
"It’s smoked deer pastrami from a deer I shot this winter," Jim said proudly.
I look at the clock. It’s 8:45 am, way to early to be eating pastrami of any kind, let alone deer pastrami.
So I finish the piece, immediately look for a Gatorade, and sit here writing this with the taste of deer pastrami in my mouth. I wonder how long it will linger?
Fun With Numbers
Sensing the usual cynicism among some of my readers about our spring training stats, I had my super interns in Chicago pull our numbers for the last nine years here in Tucson compared to our regular season figures.
Here’s what I saw …
We average scoring 1.3 more runs per game in March than during the regular season. Our spring training range has been from -2.5 (2002) to 0.2 in 2006. (Yes, we actually scored more runs in the regular season than spring training last year).
Spring training appears to add about 40 points, on average, to the team batting average with a range of .010 (2006) to .073 (2002).
And our pitching staffs have averaged spring ERAs 1.31 higher in March than the regular season with a range of 0.23 (1998 when our ERA actually went up in the regular season) to -3.42 in 2002 (a pretty amazing number).
The size of the ranges surprised me. We have ended springs with ERAs above 6.00 three times since 1998 (1999, 2000 and 2002) and above 5.00 in eight of the nine years. The only exception was 2003 (4.27).
During the same period, our regular season ERAs have ranged from 3.61 to 5.24. Last year, our ERA was 1.18 higher in spring training than the season and in 2005 it was 1.98 higher (5.59 to 3.61).
So then I looked at today’s team statistics for this spring.
In the American League, the top five offensive teams (and six of seven) in terms of BA play in the Cactus League. We rank third with a .309 team mark. Only Detroit, sixth at .290, cracks the Cactus League teams.
Pitching is even more pronounced. The top eight teams based on ERA all pitch in Florida. The bottom six are all based in Arizona. We currently are last with a mark of 6.75.
Let’s see where we end up at the conclusion of spring play and what those numbers tell us, if anything, during the regular season.
Topping 2 Million
We just went over 2 million tickets sold for this year. While demand is high, there still are tickets to be had for great games on our schedule. Don’t wait. Act now.
With just over 2 million sold in 2007, we already rank eighth-best in club history.
Last Six Years
Putzing around, I pulled together our division W-L records for the past six years.
Of course, the Twins lead easily with a 540-431 (.577) mark, 18 1/2 games ahead of us. We are second at 522-450 (.537), and the Sox are 38 games ahead of third-place Cleveland, who has gone 484-488 (.498) over the six-season span.
For those of you who have not checked it out, we are selling legacy bricks that will become part of a very cool Gate 4 plaza next Opening Day. In the center of this plaza will be a granite and bronze sculpture celebrating the 2005 World Champions. It’s your chance to leave your name immortalized outside U.S. Cellular Field surrounded by other Sox fans who lived that moment.
Many fans are buying bricks to memorialize a deceased Sox fan, some are buying them as gifts and others are listing names of their family members. Prices range from $175 and you also receive a replica brick for your home or office.
Supplies are limited, so act soon. You can find more info by checking out of homepage at whitesox.com.
Someone asked what team we would take to Birmingham for the exhibition game next Thursday. Probably the only players not going to Birmingham will be starting pitchers who stay here to remain on schedule. Otherwise, you will get our regulars and probably some extra guys to cover us for that game.
After Thursday night’s game in Birmingham, we fly on to Atlanta for games on Friday night and Saturday.
This is far from official (because it is based on our memories), but to the best of our recollection, there have been two for certain concourse shots at U.S. Cellular and two that were borderline (and that we think would likely count).
The two for sure were Joe Borchard’s (2004) and Mark McGwire’s (1996). The two right on the edge were Frank Thomas (2002), which hit right on the railing of a handicap section in left center field, and Cecil Fielder’s (1998) that hit off a beer stand in left/left center.
Some say Dan Pasqua’s in 1991 also hit the beer stand in right field. His shot stood for the longest in ballpark history for quite a while, but I didn’t personally see it, so I can’t comment. I’ll ask "the Hammer" next time I see him.