September 2007

Final Day

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Fields, 3B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Pods, LF; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Hall, C.  Contreras pitching.

Day In The Life

So to give you a sense of the season’s last day in the clubhouse, here was my Sunday morning …

I grabbed a quick breakfast in the clubhouse lunch room, sitting down with PK.  We talked a little about his new house in Phoenix, which should be finished sometime in November.

I stopped in to see Ozzie and the coaches.  A gaggle of Venezuelan journalists are in town (mainly to cover Magglio, who will be the second of their countrymen to win a batting title in the big leagues) but also to see Ozzie.  He held court for nearly an hour.  Several of the journalists commented on our Spanish-language site and the possibility of adding content to it.

I wandered back to the training room to say hello to Herm Schneider and Jim Thome.  I asked Jim if he liked the ceremony last night and what he thought of the special ring Jerry had commissioned to commemorate the milestone.

"Complete class," Jim said.  "How about my daughter singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballpark?’  Man …"

"Consider it all practice for 600," I said and we shared a laugh.

I worked the clubhouse, saying goodbye to everyone.  Saw AJ and congratulated him on the contract extension.

Several of our players ducked outside to say hello to a few special fans and greet a group of ballpark employees who were being recognized.

Ozzie came into the dugout for his final media session of the season.

"Two things in baseball," he said.  "Don’t believe what you see in spring training or in September.

"If you are in it in September, every game counts.  If you are out of it, nothing counts."

Boxes and packing were everywhere as players, staff and media worked their way around the clubhouse.

Ed Farmer walked by and I wished him a quick flight home.  Many of our guys are out of here later tonight, while a few will hang around until Monday.

I don’t care how poorly your season went (and this one was tough), it is always melancholy to see it end and to see a team part ways.  You never know who among the group will be back for spring training 2008.

KW

Ken Williams addressed the media in a season-ending session yesterday.  You read many of the comments in today’s newspaper.  I took notes (and we took video).  My plan for tomorrow and the coming days is to send this out for you so you all know where we are hoping to head this offseason.

Stay tuned.

Otherwise, enjoy the final pitches of today’s game and start planning for Opening Day 2008.

Honoring Jim

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Fields, 3B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; Erstad, 1B; Pods, LF; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Lucy, C.  Gavin Floyd on the mound.

Pregame

Reminder to watch Comcast Sport Net’s pregame show for the on-field honoring of Jim Thome on reaching 500 career home runs.

Counting Down

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Fields, 3B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Erstad, CF; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Hall, C.  Vazquez pitching.

Bulls-eye

Mark Buehrle and Scott Podsednik were out in the left field stands hours early today shooting their bow and arrows at a target set up in the home team’s bullpen.

"Did you get it?" I asked Mark as he walked past.

Org Meetings

Each fall, the entire baseball operations group, front office, managers, coaches, staff, player development staff, trainers, scouts, etc., get together, evaluate our major league club, other major league teams, our minor league organization and other minor league organization in several days’ worth of meetings.

This year, the meeting will be held in mid October.

"I just want people to tell us the truth," manager Ozzie Guillen said of the get together.  "Our goal is to make the organization better."

Blog Night 2

Thanks to everyone who attended Blog Night 2.  Judging from comments and reaction last night, it sounded like everyone enjoyed hearing stories from Moose Skowron, comments from Ed Farmer and analysis of the season and team from assistant GM Rick Hahn.

Hopefully, readers enjoyed the t-shirts, gift packs, raffle items (lucky Tom Quaid walked away with an Ozzie Guillen-signed jersey) and most-of-all, a Lance Broadway shutout (I guess his worries about his truck and belongings didn’t take his focus away from his first start).

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those who attended (and of course, who read this blather all season long) and your passion for this team.  My goal is to never take a moment of that support for granted.

I trust last night showed a little of our passion and commitment to getting this team back to where we were in 2005.

Pregame Festivities

I can’t blow the cover, but Bobby Jenks and Mark Buehrle are going to be honored before tonight’s game for their extra special accomplishments this season.  Tomorrow night, it is Jim Thome’s turn.  If you are coming to tomorrow’s game, make sure you are here in time for the festivities.  They are can’t miss.

Kudos To You

We have drawn 2.588 million fans to USCF this season, the fourth-highest total in franchise history with a chance to move to third-best by the end of this weekend.  Even down to the end, our crowds have been vocal and fantastic.  We cannot thank our fans enough.

Cool Night in September

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Fields, 3B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Pods, LF; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Hall, C.  Garland pitching.

Blog Night 2

I am looking forward to tomorrow night’s Blog Night 2 event before our game with the Kansas City Royals at 7:11 pm.

Moose Skowron, Ed Farmer and assistant GM Rick Hahn will join us for a 45-minute session before the game.  And of course there will be giveaways for the group.

Pressure

Many years ago, Jerry Reinsdorf received an autographed Mickey Mantle Yankees jersey.  The framed uniform hangs in his suite at the ballpark.

Since then, each time Jerry has had the chance, he’s had members of the 500 home run club sign the jersey.  21 members are on the uniform, including Ted Williams, Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, etc.  Earlier this year, Frank Thomas signed when the Blue Jays were in town.

Today was Jim Thome’s turn.  It’s fun to see the guys get very, very nervous as they hold that permanent sharpie above the cloth.  They get a kick adding their name to a Hall-of-Fame list.

Jim signed without a hitch.

"That was more pressure than hitting the home run," he joked.

Class Act

And while we still are on the topic of Thome, White Sox employees, from Jerry Reinsdorf to the newest intern, arrived at work Tuesday to find personalized signed photos of Jim’s 500th home run swing sitting on everyone’s desk.

His idea, Jim ordered the re-prints and then spent hours of his off day on Monday inscribing and signing the pictures.  Employees were stunned.

What a class act.

Richard Roeper

Sox fan Richard Roeper penned a funny column in Tuesday’s Sun-Times, titled, "Many in city are immune to Cubs fever; Even if this is finally the year, Sox fans still got there first."

It’s worth the read.

Thome Bobblehead Day

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Fields, LF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Gonzo, 3B; Hall, C.  Buehrle pitching.

Omen?

Today’s date, 9/16 equals 25.  Hopefully, that, along with a ballpark full of fans with bobblehead dolls is good karma.

Saturday Night in September

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Pods, LF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Gonzo, 3B.  Garland pitching.

Not a good day for the Hawkeyes.

Thome Anticipation

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Fields, LF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Gonzo, 3B.  Contreras pitching.

Hooray!

We finally got the team photo done today after three other weather-aborted attempts (when you’re having a bad year it impacts everything you try to do).  This is the latest we’ve ever taken the official team photo.  The last time we tried to take it, the skies above US Cellular Field looked like Kansas from the Wizard of Oz.  We pride ourselves on taking efficient team photos, and this year’s was no different, thanks to team photographer Ron Vesely and crew.

One new wrinkle, we invited all front office employees to pose for an organization photo out on the infield.  Let’s hope it turns out well.

Big Jim

Man, I really wanted him to get 500 against the Tribe, but now, for his sake and the sake of Andrea and Chuck Thome, I hope it comes in his first at-bat tonight.

Jim is just such a class act.  Per his request, we’ve worked up a special thank you from Jim to the fans when he does connect.  And Jim wanted to make sure that whoever catches his home run ball really receives a special package of gifts from Jim and his family.

His at-bats Wednesday (after his first-inning homer for 499) were a lot of fun.  You could feel the buzz, excitement and anticipation in the stands.  It’s the first time I’ve heard a crowd be disappointed by a two-run, bases-loaded single.  You could hear the collective moan when Jim’s bat shattered on the single.

The clubhouse is excited about sharing the moment with Jim when he hits it.  Guys were discussing how and where to greet him once he touches home plate.

This will be a lot of fun when it happens.  Hopefully tonight.

Lunch

A couple of great stories from lunch today with Moose Skowron, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ed Farmer and others.

Jerry recounted a story by Joe Garagiola about teammate Joe Black and Willie Mays.  We had been talking about pitchers who were rumored to doctor the baseball.

"Willie stepped into the box against Joe and asked the umpire to check the ball," Jerry said.  "So Joe tosses it to his catcher, Garagiola.

"Then Joe fires a pitch.  Willie asks the umpire to check it again.  Joe’s next pitch is right at Willie’s head.  As he dives out of the way, the ball screams between Willie’s head and his hat.

"Joe walked from the mound and asked, ‘Did you get a good look at it that time?’"

Then Moose got going on a wide range of topics.

"I got pinch hit for at Yankee Stadium in the first inning with the bases loaded," Moose recalled, angry as if it was yesterday.  "And I was the clean-up hitter."

What?

Sure enough.  The first three hitters reached.  The opposing team changed pitchers to a right-hander, and so Casey Stengel whistled Skowron back to the dugout in favor of a pinch hitter. 

"I threw my bat down and went into the clubhouse," Moose recounted.  "The next day, Casey called me into his office, shut the door and told me never to show him up again.

"And I hit right-handers better than left-handers," Moose said to laughter.  He’s still mad about Stengel’s move.  The Yankees won, 3-0.

Two years later with the bases loaded in the World Series, Moose went to the plate and heard Stengel’s whistle.

"I told (Roy) Campanella, ‘There’s no way he’s going to pinch hit for me," Moose said.  "Casey told me, ‘This guy (Roger Craig) likes to throw sliders away.  Try to take it to right field.’

"So the first pitch he throws me is a slider down and away that I pull over the left-field wall for a grand slam.  When I got back to the dugout, Casey said, ‘Way to go, Moose, way to pull the ball.’"

Moose claims to be one of the few, if not only, prep athlete to play at Chicago Stadium, Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park and Soldier Field.  Any takers?

Blog Night

Don’t forget!  Order your tickets to Blog Night 2 (Sept. 27) by calling Dustin at 312-674-5186.  We’ll spend some time together before the game (you can call me names, idiot, sophomoric, etc … it’ll be great) and I’ll have a few guest speakers for you.  Call today …

Wednesday Afternoon

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Pods, CF; Fields, LF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; AJ, C; Uribe, SS; Erstad, RF; Gonzo, 3B; Richar, 2B.  Vazquez pitching.

Fan Appreciation

In his reply to my post of last night, Tom Quaid commented about MLB play beginning again post 9/11 and the huge banner displayed by Sox fans when the New York Yankees played here at US Cellular Field.

If you go to the Fan Forum section of whitesox.com, you’ll see a special feature we are running over the next two weeks on White Sox fans.  We have compiled a number of interesting, hopefully moving stories about Sox fans and their connection to the team.  The first one debuted yesterday — appropriately, we think — and is about the couple who created the memorable sign in the outfield that night … Chicago "hearts" New York.

The idea actually came from the great feedback I received here when I asked for suburban mom fans to submit their experiences here at the ballpark.  The response was overwhelming, so we thought there might be something to this connection with fans, and we looked for a way leading up to Fan Appreciation Day to tell some terrific stories.  Keep checking the site for additions every day or so.

As for the winning experience story, you can read that (and see the photos, in the last edition of the game program, page 155.  The winner was Marie McDowell with a story of taking her daughter, Kelsey, and son, Matt, to Sox games.

If you are interested in submitting a story for the Fan Forum section, email it to fenfeedback@whitesox.mlb.com by Wednesday, September 19.

Impressive Support

On the first day of school for our kids, there was Senator Barack Obama proudly sporting his White Sox baseball cap.  Given his current pursuit and the way our season has gone, I give the man a lot of credit for loyalty.

You Knew It Was Coming

Usually, I try to ignore the rantings and hysterics of one specific funny-that-he’s-not-featured-as-often-as-he-used-to-be columnist in town, mainly because he truly is irrelevant to Sox fans (you have told us so through the years in mountains of feedback), but you had to laugh at today’s offering.

We all know this column has been written for quite some time, months maybe, and someone was just waiting to hit the send button.  The jist of the matter, to save you having to read the same stuff that has been written over and over again in that space, is that the White Sox are irrelevant nobodies, and that the extension of Ozzie just reinforced our status in town.

My guess is that quite a few people would disagree with that opinion.

But a few thoughts to mull around (full disclosure: I do realize that by even writing this I also am guilty — as many of you have pointed out — of making the columnist way more relevant than he truly is) …

Didn’t Ozzie’s extension just guarantee the hater five more years of easily re-written columns?  If all politics is local, shouldn’t he be happy about five years worth of re-printing the same drivel? (Someone also did point out to me that this might also be like five more years of job security for PR types, so I may have a personal bias here).

Notice that the columnist always includes Jerry Reinsdorf’s age as an issue?  Really, who is obsessed now?

He writes that "They’ve conveniently ignored that a $109 million payroll, without major injuries or calamity, has produced a ghastly 61 wins this season …"

At least he can’t call us cheap anymore.  No one here is blaming our season on injuries (we should be good enough to overcome them), but how can you ignore losing Joe Crede, Scott Pods, Darin Erstad and Jim Thome to injuries for large chunks of time and not say it impacted our season?  Whatever.

And most of us who have watched Sox games in 2007 would probably categorize our bullpen woes, particularly in May and early June, as a calamity.

Another recurring rhetorical question … if we truly aren’t relevant to Chicago, White Sox fans or his diminishing-daily readership, then why write the column in the first place?

Finally, I am not sure that newspaper columnists of any type, particularly this one, should be challenging the relevancy of professional sports franchises given the way that industry is heading.  This might be a column to save.  It might be interesting and fun to see in three years who is still relevant as manager of the White Sox and if a certain columnist has been able to keep his relevancy (and job) by printing the same old worn-out rants and day-old information on costly newsprint as technology, new media and a new world of one-on-one, direct communications race past staggering newspapers.  How come now, every time you go to a newspaper website, you see and read blogs?

My favorite columnist may not have been rooting for Ozzie to get an extension, but my guess is he better be rooting that the automobile industry and grocery stores don’t quit advertising in newspapers any time soon.

A battle of relevancy to the very end.

(Note:  I love newspapers and value them greatly in my life.  The problem is my kids and their friends don’t.  The newspaper industry is struggling to maintain its relevancy in this era, hence the irony of today’s topic.  Humans thrive on information, and I believe there always will be a need for great reporters doing great work … they just might be delivering that information in a wireless, deadline-less, ever-changing world.  The dinosaur is the columnist who doesn’t interview anyone, rarely even attends games and sits at home offering only his opinion on the day’s issue.  He is in danger because any idiot with a computer can match him in opinion and output and maybe even have more readers.  I certainly am proof of that … at least the idiot part.  And please, Mr. Columnist, no hateful, curse-filled voicemails.  Tomorrow is an off day.) 

Never Forget

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11

Before we worry about, complain about, cheer or obsess about baseball, let’s take a moment to remember the tragedy that was 9/11, the Americans who died that day in Manhattan and the heroes who gave their lives then and in the years since so that we can enjoy our lives in freedom and spend precious time worrying about if Juan Uribe is our shortstop next season.

As you all know, the White Sox were in New York that day (I was not).  That experience stays with many of our staff, coaches and players to this very day.  One unique thing about baseball is that every single day is the same.  Same schedule.  Same routine.  The same.  Today is different.  It probably will always be while those of us who lived it remain alive (think Pearl Harbor or JFK’s assassination).  But today at the ballpark WAS different.  It just felt different.

So, let’s all stop and remember.

Today’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Pods, LF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Gonzo, 3B; Lucy, C.  Danks pitching.

How special would it be for Jim Thome to collect his 500th against the Tribe?  Particularly given the reception Cleveland fans had for him last year.

Jim mentioned how he wanted to share the moment with his family and friends.  And he plans on taking the ball, assuming he hits 500 and is fortunate enough to get the ball back, to Cooperstown with his dad.

Big News

As Ozzie said, "It’s good news for the reporters.  They have me to give them stories and quotes for the next five years."

You likely are aware that Ozzie’s contract has been extended through the 2012 season, meaning he’s with us (which is also great for me because it means lots of laughs and no dull days or moments).

As Ozzie quipped when we congratulated him on the news, "Congratulate me or send me sympathy the way this year has gone.  Not sure which you should do."

That’s Ozzie.

You can read all his official comments and comments from KW on our website.

Superstitious

Jerry Reinsdorf and Steve Stone were talking before today’s game.

"I still blame myself for the Dodgers losing in 1951," Reinsdorf explained.  "I was watching the game on TV — we just had purchased a TV — and my mom called me from the market to tell me she would be home soon.  I told her, ‘By the time you get home, the Dodgers will be NL Champions.’"

That afternoon didn’t work out so well for Ralph Branca, the Dodgers and a young Jerry Reinsdorf.  Good to know 56 years and a World Series title in 2005 still haven’t erased that painful memory …

Saturday Musings

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Today’s Lineup

Owens, CF; Pods, LF; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Cintron, 3B; Uribe, SS; Richar, 2B; Hall, C.  Contreras pitching.

Congratulations to Lance Broadway on his major-league debut and Heath Phillips on his first career win in last night’s wild contest.

Last night’s game marked the first time in major league history that both teams entered the inning tied, scored at least six runs, and ended the inning still tied (courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau).  Given the thousands of baseball games played over the years, anytime something happens for the first time, I am amazed.  Credit to the guys at Elias for finding this so quickly, and credit to Pat O’Connell of our media relations staff for staying at the ballpark past 1 am to finish off last night’s game and prepare to todays.

Of course you start a nine-game September home game with a 13-inning contest. 

Last night also marked the first time a White Sox team down by six or more runs in the ninth inning came back to tie the game (research thanks again to Elias).

Jim Thome hit is 496th home run as part of the exciting ninth inning.  The LaSalle Bank sign above right field now features a "Thome Meter" countdown to his historic 500th home run.

Juan Uribe, "Profundo" connected on his 100th career home run in the second inning.

Road Trip

I stopped into the clubhouse to say hello to Ozzie before the game and ask how he was doing.

He is still very frustrated and angry about the season.  He’d just reached a point in the season where he exploded during his postgame tirade in Texas.

"I have to be myself," Guillen told me, saying he couldn’t keep the anger inside any longer.  "All during the trip, I saw fans cheering us on.  In Texas, we were down by like 10 runs and there were guys in the stands urging us on, chanting, ‘Let’s Go White Sox.’  I felt awful, embarrassed by how we’ve played and that we let ourselves, Jerry, Kenny, our fans, everyone, down."

Guillen said his email after his eruption ran 10-to-1 positive.  "Fans were writing saying, ‘What took you so long.  We knew you cared.  Way to go.’

"I’ve just got to be myself."

Tigers

Anyone else think the 2007 Tigers are eerily like the 2006 White Sox trying to repeat?

Been There Before

We spent a lot of time over lunch last week trying to think of a comparison to this season.  The closest we could come was 1995 when our team came out of the work stoppage of 1994/1995 and fell completely flat.  It was the end of the 1990-1994 team.  Our expectations then certainly didn’t match this year’s team (we hadn’t tasted a World Series yet), but the overall disappointment in not even being competitive was there.

Change

I’ve written many times here about the development occuring around the ballpark, both in Bridgeport and Bronzeville.  Many fans know what I’m talking about, but many other fans and our critics judge our neighborhood based on 1970 stereotypes.  I chuckled this week when I turned the corner at State and 35th to see a Starbucks sign up as part of new construction.  The sign read, "Open in 3 Days."  (Opens Monday).  Times to change.  I can’t wait to see our neighborhood in 3-5 years.

College Football Saturday

Darin Erstad sat intensely in front of his locker several hours before today’s game watching his alma mater take on Wake Forest.

With Erstad, Jerry Owens (WR, UCLA) and Josh Fields (QB, Oklahoma State) in our clubhouse, we have the skilled positions covered.  I know Scotty P was a high school football running back growing up in Texas.

Sorry

I haven’t been a real consistent correspondent lately.  Work has been busy … we already are planning for 2008 … and my spouse (whose soccer team is 3-0 entering today’s game) seriously hurt her ankle last weekend.  With school starting on Monday for my kids, the past week has been insane.  Sorry to not write much during the last road trip.

Finally

Don’t forget to buy your tickets for Blog Night 2007 on Sept. 27.  Tickets are $31 and can be ordered through Dustin at 312-674-5186.

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