April 2008

Catching Up

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tonight’s Lineup

Swish, CF; OC, SS; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Quentin, LF; Crede, 3B; Uribe, 2B.  Contreras pitching.

No A-Rod

The Yankees will be without A-Rod tonight and tomorrow, reportedly, as he has returned to Miami to be with his wife who is delivering the couple’s second child.

Strange Notes

Did you know … the NY Mets have played three times since we last played a game … the Sox lead the AL in runs scored per game at 5.44 and rank last in stolen bases with three … with a .242 team batting average, the club is 13th, but a .336 team OBP is fifth … our .988 fielding percentage is tied for second in the AL … Sox pitching over the last nine games:  starters:  6-2, 1.44 ERA … relievers:  0-1, 2.00 ERA.

Lunch Break

Attended the Children’s Home + Aid society’s annual award luncheon today at the Palmer House Hilton as Andrea and Jim Thome and Jennifer and Paul Konerko were honored before 500-600 guests.

“This might be the first time since I was 12 that I’ve been honored for something other than sports,” Konerko laughed.  “Usually, I’m honored for things I do inside the two white lines.  This feels pretty good.”

Andrea spoke touchingly of meeting and spending time with foster kids and their host families.

“We know we can make a difference in their lives,” she said.  “And they make a difference in ours.”

Konerko spoke of the importance of this cause to both families (his wife Jen’s family has helped raise foster kids) and said he looks forward to remaining involved in the charity — and with the Thomes — long after his playing career is over.

To donate to this year’s Bring Me Home Campaign (which raised $83,000 in 2007 with hopes of topping $100,000 in 2008), visit www.childrenshomeandaid.org.

 

 

Thursday in Baltimore

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today’s Lineup

Same as yesterday …

Swish, CF; OC, SS; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Quentin, LF; Crede, 3B; Uribe, 2B.  Floyd pitching.

 

Gentleman Jim

Silenced the critics quickly last night …

First Place

It’s silly how first place (no matter what time of year) means the water tastes better, showers are warmer, the sun shines brighter, food tastes better, everyone is happier …

Crazy how the performance of 25 players for three hours a day in a game makes or breaks the other 21 hours in the day.  And how the 24 hours after a victory can be so sweet (and go so fast).

 

Taking on the Birds

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tonight’s Lineup

Swish, CF; OC, SS; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Quentin, LF; Crede, 3B; Uribe, 2B; Contreras pitching.

Visitor

I had no idea on the way into the office yesterday morning that Jim Thome would be watching the game with me later that day.

Thome was fined and suspended for a game by MLB.  Suspended players can work out but then need to clear the clubhouse, dugout and field for the game.  They can watch the game from the stands, so Jim took a seat next to us in a suite for yesterday’s game.

“This angle is tough on fly balls,” he noted immediately.  (You do really have to watch the fielders and not the ball to tell depth.)

We explained that the game was much, much easier upstairs than downstairs.

Mr. Thome was also impressed by the food options.

“You can eat your way through the game just on nervous energy,” he laughed.

Midway through the game, Jim decided to visit his suite.  He’s had a suite for friends and family since joining the Sox, but had never visited it.

“I might as well sit in it for awhile.”

Imagine the look on the faces of fans yesterday as Jim Thome strode by on the way to his suite.

Warming Room

Orlando Cabrera mentioned yesterday that this is likely the longest he has ever played in cold weather …

ND vs. NIU

Northern Illinois and Notre Dame’s baseball teams take the field at U.S. Cellular Field tonight with proceeds from the game benefitting the NIU Scholarship Fund.  Tickets are available at the door for $10, parking is free.  It’s a great night — finally — for a ballgame.

 

 

Inside the Interview Room

Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 3:45 pm

Comments From Ozzie After Today’s Win

“That’s the thing about this club right now, they aren’t giving up any at-bats.  They fight for every at-bat they have.”

Guillen pointed to Joe Crede’s two-out RBI as an example.

On John Danks:

“That comes with belief, it comes with confidence.  The stuff is there.  It’s about building confidence day in and day out at the major league level.”

John Danks

Who pitched and won for the second time in his career on his birthday.

“Guys were making plays left and right for me.  I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff.”

“I feel great.  I’m a different pitcher this year.  I expect great things from myself the rest of the year.  I’m taking these steps and growing.”

Defense keyed the victory today, with great plays by Alexi Ramirez, Joe Crede and Orlando Cabrera.

“I felt like I could throw it right down the middle and if it stayed in the yard, it was going to be caught.  That’s what I want to do, pitch and make the defense work for me.”

“I think we have the best defense in the big leagues.  You can’t help but be amazed at the plays they’re making for me.”

Early Tuesday

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today’s Lineup

Swish, 1B; OC, SS; Dye, RF; PK, DH; Crede, 3B; Quentin, LF; Ramirez, CF; Ozuna, 2B; Hall, C.  Danks pitching.

Thoughts

Seems like we’ve seen last night’s movie several times over the past few years … we did have our chances to tie/win that game … last night and Opening Day are the two games so far you feel like we could have won … otherwise, we’ve won the ones we should have and have lost the ones we should have … before everyone bails on a future Hall of Famer (reading a few of your posts), remember Jim’s track record and how he has proven to be a very streaky hitter …when he’s on, he can carry us a long ways.

Trades

A good point was made about trades during a conversation yesterday.  A decision on whether a trade is “good” or “bad” should be made at the time the deal is made.  Afterward, hindsight enters in, as well as many other factors.

Keep a log as this season goes along.  As each team makes a trade, write down what you think of the deal at the time.  Then, check it in November.

Relevence

Critics of the White Sox have recently taken of the chant of irrelevance, as in “The Sox are becoming irrelevant in Chicago.”

As if that hurts …

What these critics never have seemed to grasp — in my opinion — is that the White Sox are incredibly relevant to millions of fans in Chicago and nationwide, fans who live and die with each win, each loss and even every pitch.  Just look at the passion our fans bring to the ballpark, to websites and to this blog every day.

I’ve always felt that cries directed toward the Sox and our fans of “you are irrelevant” actually reveal three key things … 1. betrays how the critic really feels about the team; 2. betrays a sense of arrogrance that their personal belief actually matters to the world; and 3. insults people who find the Sox relevant enough to buy newspapers, watch on television, read on-line and pay to sit in the stands.

Those are the people I care about.

 

Ozzie Thoughts

Monday, April 14, 2008, 5:02 pm

Comments from Ozzie’s Pregame Meeting

On moving Buehrle back a day:

“Some pitchers can deal with it, some can’t.”

On going 7-4 against AL Central competition:

“Look at the past.  We’ve haven’t had too many problems with teams in our division.  It’s others, like Oakland, who have caused us problems.  The AL is tough.  Very tough.”

When asked what has been the best sign for the team this year, scoring runs or pitching?

“Attitude in the dugout.  Attitude in the clubhouse, that’s what’s helped this club play the way it has.  Consistency is a good sign for a ballclub..  So far, we’ve picked each other up.  Guys have been there for their teammates.

“But that’s easy when you are playing well and winning.  How are we going to play, how are we going to respond, when things get tough?  Then I’ll see who and what I’ve got.”

Answer to a Fan Question today

Our last day in first place in 2007 came on 4/24 (11-8).  We were 12-9 after a win on 4/27.  I’ve forgotten most of the rest.

 

Monday’s Lineup vs. A’s

Monday, April 14, 2008, 4:05 pm

Tonight’s Lineup

Swish, CF; OC, SS; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Quentin, LF; Mr. GS, 3B; Uribe, 2B.  Buehrle pitching.

Monday Morning

Monday, April 14, 2008, 10:47 am

Yesterday’s Fireworks

Sunday was the third time in franchise history that the White Sox have hit two grand slams in one game, first time ever at home … the other times were 9/4/95 at Texas (Robin Ventura had both) and 5/19/96 at Detroit (Darren Lewis and Robin Ventura).  For a minute I thought I had been at all three, but turns out I was watching that Detroit game from home and Bob Beghtol was with the team.

We’ve won seven of our last nine overall and now are 42-20 against Detroit since 2005 (20-11 in Chicago).  The Sox have back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 9/26-27/07 vs. KC and have not allowed a run in 22.0 IP.

Javier Vazquez is now 4-0 vs. Detroit since 2007.

Paul Konerko’s grand slam in the third inning was the seventh of his career, while Joe Crede connected on the second of the season and sixth of his career.

Guess These Didn’t Count

According to today’s Chicago Tribune, these wins against the Tigers may not be “real.”  We need to wait and see how we play against the A’s …

Leading Off

White Sox leadoff hitters rank third in all of baseball in OBP at .453. (Oakland enters this series at 26th).  Last year, we ranked 27th (and last in the AL) at .321.

Earlier this season, Nick Swisher walked six straight times, becoming the first MLB player to do so since 2003 and the first Sox player since Chet Lemon in 1980.

Rant

Earlier this month, we were shocked and surprised (in a good way) when the national baseball writer for the Chicago Tribune selected Javier Vazquez as this year’s American League Cy Young Award winner.

That was a gutsy, outside-the-box selection and surprising because this writer has not liked the Vazquez for Chris Young trade and did not like the extension given to Vazquez last March (something about building the rotation from the back forward).

So despite the preseason props, in yesterday’s newspaper it was back to old form as a mini spread of photos and stories repeated the mantra that the trade for Javier has been a bust.

“But the trade for Vazquez hasn’t been a good one for the Sox, who lost 24-year-old center fielder Chris Young in the deal,” to quote the newspaper.  “The Sox were willing to trade Young because they were loaded with outfield prospects at the time … Young had the highest ceiling of the four, but (Ken) Williams thought he was expendable.

“Ouch.” Please note: That ouch is from the Trib.

This was printed before Javy struck out nine, walked none and allowed only five hits over 7.0 shutout innings to improve to 2-1.

If he does indeed win the Cy Young Award this year as the Tribune predicted, will it still be a bad deal for the Sox? 

So I planned on putting together a stastical argument against yesterday’s story but someone beat me to it and did a much better job …

To read it, click here to read that post (second one down)

They say it much better than I can. 

You can make your own judgments.

But I will point out a few things like … why does every trade have to have a winner and a loser?  Can’t a trade help both teams? 

Chris Young is a very, very good young player with a great future ahead of him … but at this point all of us are speculating as to what that long-term future will become.

Last year, Vazquez topped Young in “Win Shares”, which if you buy into that sabermetric analysis, might be a way to compare players.  Javy topped Young, 19-16.  Young’s amazing defense provided 6.8 of his 16 points. (Javy scored 11 Win Shares in 2006 while Young was in the minors).

Finally, for the record, Javy is getting paid 11.5 M this year, not 12.5 …

You (everyone) are/is free to like or dislike the trade, but at least consider all the evidence …

 

 

 

Unveiling Day at Champions Plaza

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Today’s Lineup

Swish, CF; OC, SS; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Quentin, LF; Crede, 3B; Uribe, 2B.  Vazquez pitching.

Champions Plaza

Hope you enjoy the pics above of the new Championship Moments monument located in the new Champions Plaza located outside of Game 4.

Seeing the Sun

No precipitation expected today but it is cold.  Roger Bossard was laughing this morning that he used almost a ton of diamond dry on the infield yesterday, nearly 100 bags.  He and his crew were here at 6:15 am to shovel off much of it and prep the infield for today’s game.  It’s one of the reasons he’s recognized as the best in the business.

Stats and Stuff

With 59 runs scored (in only 10 games), we lead the AL, while our .347 OBP ranks second behind Toronto … with a .251 batting average, the team is tied for 9th … our 4.81 ERA is 12th (which surprised me some) … we’ve allowed only four home runs … our .987 fielding percentage is tied for third, and our 17 double plays (15 against the Tigers) are second … our infield defense has been very, very impressive thus far.

Keep Your Arm Up

I spent part of Friday night talking to Bill Pierce.  I asked him about mechanics and what keys he used as a pitcher.

“We had Ray Berres, one of the best in the game, as our pitching coach,” Bill told me.  “And he wasn’t really big on mechanics.  The one thing he always told us was: ‘Keep your arm up.  Keep your arm up.’

“Because if you get out and around your curve ball or your slider, it just spins.”

I asked Bill about pitching in cold weather.

“I liked it,” he said.  “As a pitcher you can put hot rub on and wear a long-sleeve shirt.  Meanwhile hitters were going up there with cold hands.  And those sliders in on their hands …”

He smiled and his eyes twinkled.

Honoring JR

Six White Sox coaches and players will wear uniform #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson on Tuesday against Oakland.

In addition to Ozzie Guillen, Harold Baines and Jeff Cox, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and Nick Swisher will honor the trailblazer.

In First Place

Who would have thought that Baltimore, the WHITE SOX, Oakland, Florida, St. Louis and Arizona would be leading their divisions at this point?

 

Rainy Saturday

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weather

Just spoke to Roger Bossard, king of all groundskeepers.  Sounds like today (and tomorrow for that matter) will be a lot like Friday night in terms of weather.  He thinks we’ll get both games in but it will be cold and wet.

Today’s Lineup

Swish, CF; OC, SS; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Quentin, LF; Crede, 3B; Uribe, 2B.  Floyd pitching.

Random Thoughts

It takes an awful lot to make Jim Thome that mad …

According to witnesses on that side of the monument, the best part of the unveiling was the looks on our players’ faces as the drape came off.

Best part for me was seeing Paul Konerko pick up his son and have the youngster touch the bronze image of his dad hitting a World Series grand slam.

That granite and bronze, not to mention those memories, will be there forever.

What was the Governor thinking?  Why would he want to address a few thousand White Sox fans on a night like that?

Due to the cold weather, light rain and a faulty sound system, the best-laid plans that were the ceremony quickly fell to the wayside, although in classic South Side fashion, it worked for our fans.

We had planned to play John Rooney’s call of the final out from Game 4 and then have the players pull the covering as the fireworks went off above us.  We also planned to have our players and staff applaud our fans.

It would have been a great moment.  Instead it was still a great moment for our fans.

Lesson learned:  Even I can’t screw up unveiling a World Series Monument.

We probably could have held the ceremony at 3 am in mid January in a blizzard and fans would have attended and been happy.

People really seemed to love the plaza and the monument.

After the ceremony, fans milled around everywhere.

“I found it!” one women shouted, standing over her brick.

Two proposals occurred, with one new couple throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

At 7:30, we snuck back out to have a champagne toast to thank all the workers involved in the project.

Even then, 100 or so fans stood on the plaza, in the light rain.

After the game as we left, fans filled the plaza as lightbulbs flashed.

In 18 years with the club, this is probably my biggest accomplishment, or at least one that hopefully brought the most joy to our fans.  That, or this was going to be my tomb …

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Monument on your next trip to USCF.

It’s for you …

Vent

By the way, reading my Tribune today, there was no photo of the Monument to be found, just a lead note in the sports section.  The Sun-Times ran a separate story with a photo (appreciate the coverage).  But if you’re the Trib, how can this not be worthy of a photo?

I haven’t had a chance yet, but I’m going to go back and see how many photos of the Ernie Banks statue ran when it was unveiled?

And ours was for a World Series title …

Maybe it is because we spelled everything correctly? (at least I haven’t heard of anything yet)

Cheers

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