Thursday, January 31, 2008
Cold, Snowy Thursday
I have some catching up to do, I realize. SoxFest so dominates our Januarys that it’s hard to work on anything else. The weekend was a big hit with fans (so the feedback tells us), although much of the media appeared disappointed that the anticipated fireworks never materialized.
But first, this story …
My phone just rang.
"Niiiicccee weather." It was Ozzie.
"Are you here?"
"BLEEP, no," he laughed. "I’m at home. Hey, I just stepped outside. Look at that beautiful boat sailing past. It’s 85 degrees. Sunny. You really should be here."
I won’t print my response.
Among the funny stories and overheard comments from three days at the Palmer House Hilton:
Ed Farmer, voice of the White Sox on WSCR, recounted a story from last season. Two Sox relievers were working on the USA Today crossword puzzle in the clubhouse before a game.
"Moe’s brother." One said.
"Larry," said another. "You know, the three stooges. Look, it fits."
"Let me see," Farmer interrupted. "No, it says, MOSES’ brother."
Friday of SoxFest was highlighted by the annual media session just before Opening Ceremonies. That morning’s papers were filled with anticipation of the annual fan seminar with Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen. The Sun-Times back cover read … "Fire Away." Instead, of all the questions (I lost count), only one was confrontational. Another questioner praised Williams and then asked a fairly tough question. All the other questions were conversational. So what did every television outlet carry? The one tough question, of course.
So on Saturday, the media again attended waiting for blood.
"Yesterday was the countryclub set, wait until today," one writer said.
What happened? Nothing.
On Sunday, Kenny arrived early to his seminar and just sat down to start taking questions from fans. The atmosphere was tremendous. And to the credit of the Sun-Times and Tribune, on Monday they finally acknowledged that perhaps public perception and media perception stood far, far apart. Imagine that.
Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski attended one Williams-Guillen seminar to listen in. At one point, Ozzie was talking about changes to our spring training regimen and how we were going to run the bases aggressively, particularly working on going from first to third.
At that, Paulie raised his eyebrows and said, "I’ll go first to third. It just won’t be very fast."
In another seminar, Bobby Jenks talked about the mechanics of pitching and how he works on balancing on one foot in front of a mirror all winter.
"You look ready for the ballet," said Chris Singleton.
"I look great in tights," countered Jenks.
Bobby’s newborn son attended his first SoxFest. Congrats to the growing Jenks family.
I walked into Saturday’s Family Party to see a live band on stage pounded out a rock classic. They’re pretty good, I thought, although my kids covered their ears. As I walked closer to the stage, I realized the "lead" singer of the Kareoke band was non other than employee Carrie McDonald.
The White Sox and Diamondbacks travel to Hermosillo, Mexico this March for an exhibition game South of the Border. We plan to send all-time great Minnie Minoso along as a dignitary. Minoso starred in the Mexican League during his playing days and will receive a well-deserved hero’s welcome back in Hermosillo.
On Friday, I travelled to Highwood with a former player and his wife to check out the newest sculpture. It is always unnerving to see yourself in clay (so I’m told), and it was fun to watch his and her reaction. As emails of the sculpture were sent out to children, the couple laughed at the positive responses. Unveiling is tentatively scheduled for July 20 for this year’s addition to the outfield walk of fame.
SoxFest quote of the year:
"SoxFest is great," the employee said. "I’m just glad there are 365 days to recover."
We appreciate the understanding of everyone at our cancellation of Jim Thome’s autograph session on Sunday.
Jim and his family attended a Saturday night wedding in Peoria and they were trying to get back (with two-month old and all) in time for the signing Sunday afternoon. Jim insisted on trying. I insisted that he was crazy. It was just too complicated, and we told him to stay in Peoria. Instead, Jim agreed to sign 400 photos and we will randomly pick names from among Sunday’s attendees to receive the photo in the mail. I realize some of the people who came to lineup very early for the afternoon signing session were not happy, but we felt this was the fairest way to distribute the autographs.
Jim still feels badly that he didn’t make it. He called me today, and we talked about SoxFest 09.
For the first time ever, players posed at SoxFest for photographs with fans in a special photo-only line. The addition was praised by fans and players alike. It was a pretty cool feature.
Receiving praise was the perk of allowing access to hotel guests only on Friday night. The special access alowed people to collect more autographs in a shorter period of time.
Many other fans enjoyed the VIP fast pass access to autograph lines. We wish there was a logistical way to create more of these opportunities next year.
I’d love to hear comments, complaints and ideas for improving SoxFest from anyone who attended.
I’ll be shoveling snow tomorrow while Ozzie sits in a recliner watching the boats sail past.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
To Rich "Goose" Gossage on being elected today to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. The intimidating reliever got his start with the White Sox, debuting in 1972 as he jumped from Class A Appleton to the big leagues. Gossage, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., went 18-2 with 149 strikeouts and a 1.83 ERA at Appleton in 1971 and then opened his major-league career by going 7-1 as a 20-year-old rookie. He pitched with the Sox until 1976 as he began when became a 22-year-career.
Read more about his election at whitesox.com.
To assist media covering the announcement, Bob Beghtol from our media relations staff reached both Roland Hemond and Chuck Tanner for their comments. Here’s what the duo had to say:
Roland Hemond, former White Sox general manager:
“This is really a thrill for me. I think the world of Goose. I’ve been agonizing over this for the last four or five years, so it was very fulfilling to hear the good news. He is certainly worthy of the honor, and I can’t wait to see him in Cooperstown to congratulate him.”
“A lot of people forget that Goose went directly from “A” ball to the big leagues. He went 18-2 at Appleton in 1971 and at the end of the season he asked me what I thought. I said ‘I think you better get ready for the big leagues next year.’”
Chuck Tanner, who managed Gossage in Chicago from 1972-75 and with Pittsburgh in 1977:
“I was fortunate as a manager to have a lot of quality guys out of the bullpen. I had Rollie Fingers, Kent Tekulve and Bruce Sutter, and without question Goose was the best. He was always in such command, he could throw 100 miles per hour and he had that intimidating look with the Fu Manchu mustache. He looked like John Wayne coming out of the corral.
“And the thing about Goose was he never had an easy save. It wasn’t uncommon for him to throw 2 or 3 innings at a time to get a save. He should have been chosen the first year he was eligible. In my opinion there shouldn’t be a Hall of Fame if Goose is not in it.
“I was at a banquet several years ago in Colorado, and one of his former pitching coaches said that he always hated to go out to the mound to talk to Goose because he would tear his head off. My reaction was, ‘Why the heck would you ever want to take Goose out of the game.’ That’s the kind of pitcher he was.”
SoxFest ’08 Weekend Passes on sale at whitesox.com at 10 am Chicago time.
Monday, January 7, 2008
A group of us from the front office attended the funeral service for devoted White Sox fan and Tribune sports/celebrity columnist Terry Armour on Friday morning. Turnout was overwhelming.
Terry’s mom, Elaine, was the cause of his lifetime Sox fandom.
"He loved his White Sox," she said. "Did you know that when they won the World Series, he cried. He actually cried."
And she added with a chuckle that she wanted one flower arrangement to read, "Now that you’re up there, put in a good word for us to win another."
I was saddened this weekend to learn of the passing of pitcher Gerry Staley, one of the bullpen stars from the 1959 pennant-winning White Sox team.
You can read the article from his local newspaper here
by clicking on this link.
I also took a trip up to Highwood on Friday to check out the latest work on the art piece that will be installed in the middle of our Gate 4 brick plaza in early April.
The bronze and black granite piece is really going to look great.
Weekend passes to SoxFest go on sale tomorrow at $70 each. In the past, we offered single-day passes, but we felt fans who did not have weekend-long passes would prefer to have two-day passes rather than single day. And we’re able to offer a few more this year, so we actually will take care of more fans. Visit whitesox.com for the info.
A Tale of Two Players
Let’s see if you can figure out who the following two players are (these are their averages over the past three years in the majors):
Here is a list of minor-league pitchers traded by the White Sox since October 2000 (let me know if we missed any):
Fautino De Los Santos
I guess my point is this. I don’t think many White Sox fans have lost sleep over trading the pitchers on this list. Off the top of my head, I remember gnashing of teeth when we traded Myette, Fogg, Guerrier, Valentine, Meyer and Lumsden. Josh Fogg has been the most successful ex-Sox minor-league pitcher, but even Josh has moved on from Pittsburgh to Colorado since originally being dealt.
Fans and critics are concerned about trading away prospects. From what I have experienced, reality seems to consistently fall short of promise when it comes to actualizing potential.
The best Sox minor-league-pitcher-to-successful-big-league-pitcher in my time here is Mark Buehrle. And it’s safe to say he was "below the radar" for almost all of his career.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
We acquired outfielder Nick Swisher today in a trade with the Oakland A’s, sending them Gio Gonzalez, Fautino De Los Santos and Ryan Sweeney in return.
A switch-hitter, Swisher has pop (22 home runs, 36 2B in 2007) and gets on base, which has been one of our needs. He can play all three outfield positions, as well as first base, and played center field in 2007.
Start playing around with our potential lineup for 2008, and you have to like it’s depth. It’s a lineup that can score some runs.
For a team that suposedly has a shallow farm system, we sure have a lot of interest in our minor leaguers … and a lot of angst about losing Class A pitchers.
Can’t speak for everyone, but I definitely take a Keynesian approach to the future …"In the long run, we are all dead." (I am sure I butchered the quote, but you get the idea).
For a very long time, we worred about our farm system with a long list of pitchers we would never trade (I won’t name them all, but Scott Ruffcorn is on that list). Not much to show for that approach. At least with KW, he is going to be aggressive and try to win. I always challenge critics to name a player we regret trading. I think it’s too early yet to make a determination on Chris Young, but even if you grant the outfielder, I’ll trade one regret for a World Series title. I definitely do not fall in the "worry about the future" crowd. Let’s win in 2008 and worry about 2009 then …
With Swisher, Carlos Quentin, Jerry Owens, Danny Richar and Josh Fields, you can start to see a core group of mid to late 20-year-old position players coming together.
Certainly, we have a veteran group in Dye, Konerko, AJ and Thome in place, but a young core is also starting to form.
My thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and family of great Sox fan Terry Armour, who passed away much too soon last week. A great, great Sox fan, Terry will be missed by us all.
He was always the life of every party and every game.