June 2008

Home Thoughts

Monday, June 9, 2008 — Second Entry

Best Home Records

At 19-9, the White Sox rank third in the American League in home winning percentage.  The top 5:

Boston … 25-6, .813

Tampa Bay … 24-10, .706

White Sox … 19-9, .667

Baltimore … 17-11, .607

Oakland … 21-15, .583

And you might find this article on home winning percentages of interest.

ERA

With a 3.29 ERA, the White Sox lead all of baseball.  In a stat usually dominated by NL clubs, the top three to date actually are AL teams in Chicago, Oakland (3.44), Toronto (3.56), then the Cubs (3.67) and Atlanta (3.70).

Nice Lid

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama went for a lake-side bike ride yesterday with his family, dodging rain drops along the way, and he sported a White Sox cap under his protective helmet.

 

Early Monday

Monday, June 9, 2008

Today’s Lineup

OC, SS; Ramirez, 2B; Q, LF: PK, 1B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; Swish, CF; Crede, 3B; Hall, C.  Danks on the mound.

Notes

The White Sox have won six in a row entering today and 18 of the last 24 to move a season high 10 games over .500 … the AL Central lead now stands at 5.5 games … the Sox have recorded 15 hits in three straight games for the first time since 7/23-24-2/32 (as in 1932) … Sox are 20-8 vs. the Central … with a win today, the White Sox would record just the fourth undefeated homestand of seven games or more in franchise history and first since 9/5-11/83 (7-0) … Chicago also posted 7-0 homestands on 4/18-26/72 and 5/12-16/65 … the Sox are in position to record their first four-game sweep at home since 9/1-4/05 vs. Detroit and first vs. Minnesota since 7/1-3/77 … the last four-game sweep came at Tampa Bay on 6/25-28/07.

“Winning is fun,” one AL manager once said, “and fun is winning.”

It’s sure nice to have warm weather and to play home games.

Rain Delay

As rain came down in waves yesterday, Lee Stern, a member of the White Sox board, spotted three lone sailors sitting in the center field stands.

“We need to do something for those guys,” Stern said.

So we grabbed the three, brought them in out of the rain (no need for North Atlantic Training at a ballgame in June) and invited them up to Jerry Reinsdorf’s VIP suite to watch the game.

The three, one from Chicago, the other two seeing their first MLB game, had just graduated from boot camp and were enjoying a weekend off downtown.

 

Sunday in June

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Today’s Lineup

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

Hmmm …

So after decisively winning our fifth straight game to improve to nine games over .500 and build a 4 1/2-game lead over our nearest pursuer (Minnesota), what does today’s Chicago Tribune report as the lede to the story about our 11-2 victory:

“They may have the worst winning percentage of any team leading a division, but the White Sox have a bigger lead than the best, the Cubs.”

OK, allow me to go FireJoeMorgan on this for a second.

“They may have the worst winning percentage of any team leading a division …”

This is just factually untrue.  We don’t.  The White Sox are 35-26 (.574), while Arizona, the division leader in the National League West, is 34-28 (.548).

” … but the White Sox have a bigger lead than the best, the Cubs.”

Well, we actually have bigger leads than five other division leaders:  Boston (1/2), Philadelphia (3 1/2), the Cubs (2 1/2) and Arizona (4), but it’s the Cubs reference that gets me.  What makes them the best?  Is it subjective or objective, because if you read today’s standings objectively, you’d see that the Angels and Cubs enter today’s game with the exact same record, 39-24 (.619), and LA tops its division by 5 1/2 games.

In the end, not really that big a deal, but where o’ where are the fact checkers?

Three Runs or Less

Given some of the exchanges on the site over the past month, I asked our stand-out interns to pull together information on how teams perform when allowing three runs or less in games.

First, I always think you need to be careful when analyzing statistics with a very limited sample size or when you look at one team and try to extrapolate for the league or for a season.

So here is what we found to date:

All 14 American League teams win 78 percent of their games when allowing three or fewer runs (292-82, .781).

The White Sox are 25-9 in these games, for a .735 winning percentage.  That is the lowest of the three AL division leaders, Boston is 26-5 (.829) and the Angels are 25-5 (.833), but just two more wins or losses in these games would bring the Sox back to the league average. 

While you hate to lose well-pitched games, the fact is the Sox have played more of these than any team in AL except Toronto (26-10, .722) and have won more than all except Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay (26 each).

Finally, if you compare the Sox to the other top two pitching staffs in the AL, you could argue more instances mean a little lower winning percentage (examples:  Toronto and Oakland, which is 24-9, .727).

My take:  We’ve underperformed by a victory or two in this area (based on the league average), but my sense is that 1. this is something that will move toward the league mean over the course of the season for all teams (is it called the Stein Principle?), and 2. the more instances (which is something you want), the tougher it is to have a high, high win percentage in these games.

I’m no statistician, so feel free to offer your own thoughts, criticisms and challenges.

Catching Up

One poster, jdevereaux, wrote at one point recently something like: once a month a sporting figure actually speaks his mind …

Once a month?  HA!

I guess I need to introduce them to Ozzie …

 

 

 

Twins 2

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tonight’s Lineup

OC, SS; AJ, C; Q, LF; PK, 1B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; Swish, CF; Crede, 3B; Ramirez, 2B.  Buehrle pitching.

Windy City

It may have been the windiest I’ve ever seen it at the ballpark last night, although I’ll take it because it certainly seemed to benefit our offense … for once.  Outfielders had some interesting routes to the ball, and JD’s diving catch of our No. 27 seemed right out of our commerical.

The wind at U.S. Cellular Field is an interesting phenomenon.  Robin Ventura first pointed it out to me in the early 90s.

A wind from the south/southwest (i.e. coming into the ballpark in right field), has some interesting effects.  Balls to right-center or center field get knocked down (think Swisher’s shot last night), while balls to left center take a ride.  Right down the line and the ball might be pushed foul unless it is hit on a line.

The most interesting point is how the ball back out to right is helped.  If you check the flags the next time you are at the ballpark and the wind is howling from the south, you’ll notice that the wind actually is blowing out to right.  That seems to be because the wind for the south hits the left field stands and the bowl-shape of the ballpark routes it around behind home plate (notice the swirling wind on pop ups) and then shoots the jet out to right.

I think that’s why Robin noticed it immediately.  A left-handed hitter can actually hit a ball out to right on a day when the wind is blowing in …

Swisher

Hit three balls on the nose last night and must lead the AL in line drives caught … check out the piece on Swisher of 2008 compared to Swisher of 2007.

Lemont

Attended Opening Ceremonies at the new Lemont Park District’s Miracle Field this morning along with Toby Hall and Scott Linebrink.  The guys signed autographs for kids, including the special Challenge Little League players who play the game from their wheelchairs, and then we all took part in on-field ceremonies.

What an honor and priviledge to attend.  This is the sixth Miracle League Field we have funded, in part, through Chicago White Sox Charities.

Several years ago, Jerry Reinsdorf was watching Real Sports at home when he saw a story on the Miracle League and what it means to wheel-chair bound and developmently challenged kids (not to mention wounded veterans), and he came into our offices saying, “This is something we have to do.”

Since then, I am very proud to say we have partnered with many organizations, including the Mircale League of Illinois and Challenger Little League, to build six fields around Chicago and the suburbs.

Those smiles on kid faces as they were introduced next to Major League players are priceless.

 

Twins In For Four

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tonight’s Lineup

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

Odds and Ends

I was out yesterday at Ron Kittle’s Indiana Sports Charities golf outing at Briar Ridge Golf Course in Scherville, Ind.  After a hot, humid afternoon of not golfing particularly well, I had to race back to the ballpark just in time for the first pitch.

Our scouting department is thrilled with our draft.  If you caught ESPN or ESPN2 today, you had a chance to see our first pick, SS Gordon Beckham of Georgia and sixth round pick Kenny Williams Jr. of Wichita State.  Both will play again tomorrow.

Early today, we selected John Danks’ brother, Jordan, an OF from Texas.  Projected to go as high as a sandwich pick, Danks was still available in the seventh round.

Draft day is always fun in that it gives you a sense of re-birth and renewal.  Yesterday and today were no different.

Hmmm …

Fans, the public and members of the media often grouse about salaries paid to professional athletes.  Often, baseball players seem especially called out as targets.

A recent list of the top 50 highest-paid American athletes, in terms of total compensation (salary plus endprsements), shows just nine are baseball players, the top ARod at 35M.

Jeter is 10th (30M), Manny is 20th (22.5M), followed by Giambi (23rd, 21.5), Torii Hunter (28th, 19), Pujols (T41st, 16.5), Delgado (T41st), Pettitte (T41st) and then Jason Schmidt (46th, 16.25).

I guess sometimes it is good to be a Yankee (and this kinda puts the Torii Hunter deal into some kind of perspective).

Ranking No. 1 … Tiger at $127,902,706, more than twice ahead of Phil Mickelson, who ranks second at just over 62M.

 

Return of Esteban

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Esteban Returns

Prior to today’s game, we signed Esteban Loaiza and optioned Ehren Wassermann to Class AAA Charlotte.

Loaiza is in uniform and available for tonight’s game.

KW told the media that Loaiza fills two roles, 1. he will serve as a long man out of the bullpen allowing Ozzie and Don Cooper to use Nick Masset later in games when Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink may not be available, and 2. he gives us more depth and security for the rotation should a need arise over the course of the season.

 

Sound And Fury

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tonight’s Lineup

OC, SS; AJ, C; Q, LF; PK, 1B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; Swish, LF; Crede, 3B; Ramirez, 2B.  Danks pitching.

Answering the Bell

People often ask, why does Ozzie sometimes say what he says …

My answer often is that it sure seems to work.  Either our team responds to the motivation and/or our players are focused on the task at hand and remain oblivious to the swirling rumors around them.  Impressive either way.

I enjoyed reading this from the Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom yesterday.click here

Family Feud

Truly enjoyed Chris DeLuca’s column from today and not-so-veiled shots at a certain other columnist working at his own paper.  To read Chris’s piece, click here and laugh.

Which also brings me to my desktop file.  I recently came across a column from the October 22, 2003 Sun-Times.

Here are some interesting sections and quotes from the piece:

Headline:  Wave Him Home:  Guillen is the right choice for Sox

The lede:  “He fidgets, paces, scratches, spits, shouts, claps his hands and, when the mood strikes, turns and mugs for the fans.  What, you expected Ozzie Guillen to start standing still, just because he’s going on 40 and coaching third base in a World Series?  Some think the box is where he belongs, forevermore, dismissing him as too hot a potato to manage in the big leagues and too zany a character for any serious job.

“Forgive them for not appreciating the energy of this man, this blizzard of Oz.

“He is precisely what the White Sox need in the dugout next season — a fireball with deep roots in the organization, an enduring fan magnet who will sell tickets in a blue ghost of a ballpark, a legitimate conversation piece in a baseball town dominated by Dusty Baker and the Cubs.  Once the Series is over, it would behoove chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to follow up on his recent marathon phone chat with his former shortstop, get general manager Ken Williams on board, lure Guillen from the Florida Marlins and sign him to a deal.”

Some other tidbits …

“The question is whether Williams … will have the guts to choose Guillen in a hire that could make or break him as a GM.”

” … a special hire is necessary.  The Sox need to make a splash that creates an offseason buzz and sells out the home opener at Whatever They’re Calling Comiskey Park.  That would be Guillen …”

Prescient, don’t you think?

(P.S. I really, really had to fight off the urge to, like the guys on FireJoeMorgan.com, add my own comments to this piece as I typed it in …)

Fun Concept

John O’Brien of the Southtown Star came up with this fun idea to promote White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin for a spot on the All-Star Game.

Having been involved in Ozzie’s picking the 2006 AL team, I know how tough it is and how few picks the manager even gets.

Either way, start sending those Q-Tips Tito’s way in Boston.  I’m sure he’ll love it.

And One

From Tony Reali, host of ESPN’s Around The Horn:

“They (the show’s panelists) really do get upset when they don’t win.  I’ve gotten phone calls from columnists after a particularly slow week of points for them.”

Gee, I wonder which columnist on that wonderful show would complain?

Congrats

To Sox fan and Illinois Senator Barack Obama on his historic first as nominee of the Democratic Party.

Reports had Obama leaving his morning basketball game yesterday sporting a White Sox cap.

Keep the Faith.

 

 

Never Dull

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tonight’s Lineup

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

No Fireworks

Many observors seemed to arrive at the ballpark this afternoon expecting fireworks that never materialized.

Ozzie Guillen and KW got together (they meet every day before games when both are in town) and discussed the road trip and Ozzie’s postgame comments from Sunday.

It was, Guillen said, an uncomfortable conversation with KW because he was afraid Williams had taken his comments personally, not the way he had intended when he spoke after the frustrating loss.  Guillen stressed that he and KW did not have a problem with their partnership or friendship.

Guillen’s postgame comments came out of his frustration with the end of a road trip that saw the club drop three of four games to Tampa Bay, all three winnable.

“If people expect me to have a happy face,” Guillen said, “then they have the wrong guy.

“I’m the No. 1 fan of the White Sox.  It hurts when you lose.  Right now, we’re on top, but I want us to get better.  We should be better, especially the way we’ve pitched.

“I need to push us hard — in a positive way — to make my team better.

“I still believe we’ve got a lot of talent on this team.  The people we have here, they’re going to hit.  I know we have the material here.  They’re my friends.  When they struggle, I suffer.  If we start hitting, my life is going to be easier, believe me.”

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