Thursday, December 20, 2007
To one and all. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season. Our offices "close" (a relative term, remember that Christmas Eve trade for Tim Raines many years ago) tomorrow and the baseball industry shuts down until January 3.
I will be flying to Connecticut to join my family on Saturday and plan to only post over the break if we have news to announce. We’re driving back to Chicago after Christmas, so wish me luck (thank God for DVDs, Ipods and books on tape).
To get everyone in the holiday spirit, we asked fans to send us their favorite Christmas stories. You’ll find them on whitesox.com, but since I’ve recently learned to link, you also click here to read them. Thanks to everyone who submitted a story.
With January comes the annual Hall of Fame announcement from Cooperstown. I came across this interesting blog on Harold and his credentials for the Hall. Thought you might be interested in reading this blog on the subject.
That warm, kind side of AJ will show up Thursday after Christmas when he joins Johnny Damon, Dale Torborg and others in visiting children at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children near AJ’s home in Orlando. Nothing like spreading cheer for kids who, sadly, needed to be hospitalized at Christmas.
Ozzie Guillen held his annual holiday party for kids battling cancer and other illnesses last week in Venezuela. We are trying to get photos of the event, which I believe was in Caracas.
Plans are underway for Jim, his dad, and his newborn son to visit the Hall of Fame in early February to hand over the baseball from his 500th home run. Stay tuned for details.
I stopped by the Rotblatt-Amrany Art Studio in Highwood this morning to check out progress on a few of the sculptures that will be unveiled as part of our Champions Plaza at Gate 4. It looks very, very good. We hope our fans love the tribute.
To Steve Stone, who will join our radio team for all home Friday broadcasts.
Merry Christmas to All
Peace on earth.
Friday, December 14, 2007
What A Week!?
Well, that wasn’t a normal December week in the baseball industry.
First, we all dealt with the disappointment of Fukudome signing with the Cubs. We were told that while we were not outbid in terms of the contract offer, Fukudome’s decision came down to non-financial factors such as playing RF (vs. CF for us) and being the first Japanese native to play for a franchise (obviously, we have had Shingo and Tadahito in Sox uniforms).
Then, Aaron Rowand signed with the Giants, reportedly for five years and $60 million dollars. I am happy for Aaron, his wife and his family, but … (you know)
We held our annual front office Christmas party Wednesday night at the Stadium Club and many of us had a hard time feeling overly festive given the week’s events.
But I have also learned over the years that you never get too high and never too low and sometimes, the moves that don’t get made end up being more impactful than the ones you do. No one can be sure in December.
KW spoke to Scott Merkin of whitesox.com about his reaction to the week and plans moving forward.
Yesterday, the Mitchell Report dominated the day and the news.
For me (I know others said they got bored), it was interesting to watch all three press conferences, Senator Mitchell, then Commissioner Selig and finally Don Fehr of the Players Association, one after another.
I was very impressed by Senator Mitchell’s presentation and his ESPN interview afterward.
Two things he said resonated with me. First, that the "principal victims" (I believe that was the term he used) were the majority of players who did not cheat. They were put in a position where they had to make a decision to either join players using performance-enhancing drugs, or knowlingly, and ethically, decide to compete for jobs, livelihoods and on-field victories on an unlevel playing field.
Secondly, Senator Mitchell pointed out that we (collectively) need to press to stay up with the latest trends in designer-drugs. Judging by test results, the drug testing policy related to steroids is working. But as an industry, we need to find a joint solution that will allow us to keep pace with the designers, who may now feature HgH and five years from now likely will be featuring something even newer. The game needs to keep pace.
As someone outside baseball said to me the other day,
"My guess is that as long as you have chemists, millions of dollars and competition, you are going to have cheating … not just in baseball but in any sport."
Maybe I am naive, but I was struck by doctors who were allegedly willing to write fake prescriptions for side income. My personal experience has certainly been that doctors are among the most ethical and privacy/legally conscious professionals I know. I was amazed at what I read yesterday and last evening related to false scripts and people allegedly buying drugs in pharmacy parking lots.
I certainly was not surprised by Frank Thomas’ commitment and willingness to speak out. As we learn more and more about abuses of the 1990s and early 2000s, Frank’s clean performances should stand out and be recognized. He deserved to win a third MVP (which, if there is any question of whether he belongs in the HOF would have ended that debate) and his career numbers take on even larger scale.
Finally, since I do point out issues I have with media from time to time, it’s only right to point out how great it was yesterday to sit and watch all of those press conferences live and to be able to pull down, print out and read the report. It’s not that long ago that news and information would have been disseminated much differently (and taken much longer) to reach the fan. That’s good for everyone and credit to the media outlets who made it possible.
Also, I thought the Tribune’s sports page today did an excellent job of covering the story thoroughly and fairly.
This morning on Mike & Mike, they were talking to Bob Costas about the steroids issue and whether it mattered to baseball fans (or was it just a media concern).
I’d love to hear what readers of this blog think about the topic. Do you care? Does it matter to you in terms of how you feel about players who allegedly used? Does it make you any less of a fan of a player, team or the game? What do you think about the game’s records and statistics?
I know that’s a lot of questions to throw at you at once, but I would like to hear your thoughts …
Have a nice weekend
Friday, December 7, 2007
Back In The Office
All of my best-laid plans to blog during the week from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville fell by the wayside with my crazy schedule of meetings, so sorry again to stay dark for much of the week.
I caught myself many times thinking I should blog but could never get to my room and my computer at decent hour with any energy left.
I have to be honest that I was stunned by today’s tabloid and then to hear other reaction to KW’s quote that the Miguel Cabrera trade only put the Tigers in better position to contend with us. I took the comment completely as dry humor both when he said it to Chicago writers and later on when he did a bone-chilling outdoor interview with Chicago Tribune Live. I really am stunned that people took this comment literally …
Sometimes you have to laugh through the grimace.
When the Tigers added Gary Sheffield to a pennant-winning club and yet missed the playoffs in 07? No one wins on paper.
And it’s December 7
It seems ludicrous to pick a division-winner the first week of December when there are still nine weeks of offseason to go (unless no one holds you responsible). My guess is that on Feb. 15 rosters will have changed considerably. Let’s avoid rushing to judgment.
I’m not sure how the "Miguel Cabrera is a lock to go to the White Sox opinion" became so entrenched. We certainly inquired and talked to the Marlins about Cabrera, but in the end, the Tigers were able to put together a better package than any other club (not just us) to claim the young slugger. On the day of the trade, no one with the White Sox in Nashville felt we were even close to getting him. By then, it was obvious we couldn’t better the offer. Many teams realized that, not just us.
But we certainly were in the conversation. And in some way, that might be the issue …
Personally, I would prefer to work here when we annually are involved in conversations for the very best players available with a GM who is more than willing to be aggressive and explore all our options to get a marquee player. But it also means you are going to miss more often. And the misses are going to be public.
To me, that sure beats not even being in the discussion. So in the end, maybe all the disappointment is a good sign because it means all of our expectations are raised.
I also loved the comment this week that we low-balled Torii Hunter. No one was writing that when our offer of $75 million for five years looked like it would be enough. Actually, we had the highest offer until the Angels came in and offered $18 million per year for five years and gave Hunter 24 hours to make a decision. It’s a stretch to call that low balling.
Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about:
"Learning nothing from the Torii Hunter debacle," one columnist wrote. " You’ll recall how the Sox made a Spiderman-like recruiting video of Hunter climbing the skyline, told everyone how badly they wanted him, then lowballed him and watched the Angels steal him at $90 million — Ozzie Guillen was in full babble mode Tuesday afternoon in Nashville. He eagerly told reporters at baseball’s winter meetings that fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, the sport’s most gifted young hitter, was all but Sox property. Describing the 24-year-old third baseman as his “fourth son,” the Blizzard raved how Cabrera has lost 30 pounds and adopted a new attitude. He went so far to predict he’d hit 50 home runs with U.S. Cellular Field as his new home base.
“I think he is going to bring more leadership to the ballclub,” said Guillen, using present tense.
Once again, the Sox were making it sound like a done deal, just as they’d made the Hunter “signing” sound like a done deal two weeks ago.
However, according to MLB’s official transcript of Guillen’s formal press conference, the question and Ozzie’s full answer went like this:
Q. How would you project him homerun-wise at your ballpark?
OZZIE GUILLEN: Cabrera? It’s hard because the pitching in his division in the National League is little bit different than what we are. Every day you got to face a pretty good pitching staff no matter what team come in town. This kid is a natural hitter. This kid, I’ll say will hit about 50. I think going to bring another leadership to the ball club, but whoever this kid play for earnings, he’s going to be fine. With all my respect with Cabby, I don’t think Cabby worth seven prospects for one guy. They want to do it, that’s fine.
I, this is Scott writing again (and I was sitting near Ozzie when he said this), struggle to see how this could fairly be interpreted as “making it sound like a done deal” when the same sentence includes the words, “but whoever this kid play for.”
But when you are sitting and reading your sources on the internet two degrees removed from reality, it’s easy to make comments fit your agenda.
Our clubhouse sale was a huge success last weekend with many fans coming out just to check out the home clubhouse (thanks, in those cases, for the donation to Chicago White Sox Charities). Many others bought early Xmas presents, ordered bricks and picked up a few game-used baseballs our Charities group was selling.
When MLB announced on Monday that the White Sox would play the Mets in the second annual Civil Rights Game in Memphis, Tenn. on March 29, the five men on the dais were Ozzie Guillen, Ken Williams, Jimmie Lee Solomon, Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph.
To quote the great Benjamin Franklin (not to mention another Patriot, Tom Brady):
"Well done is better than well said."
Hey, maybe that applies to baseball offseason’s as well …
Hang In There
It is early December, our club is far from complete yet and we continue to be very aggressive. Someone called our offseason a "failure." With the addition of a Gold Glove shortstop, the best middle reliever available on the free agent market and a good young offensive outfielder, don’t believe the critics. Let’s make our judgments when camps open in February.
Do we still need to improve? Absolutely, and I think we will. Games don’t start until April.