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.