April 2009

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Sox Lineup

Getz 4, Fields 5, Quentin 7, Thome dh, Dye 9, PK 3, AJ 2, Ramirez 6, Wise 8.  Buehrle pitching.

Sun-Times

Anyone see in the Sun-Times today, that sports fans voted Mark Buehrle the most popular athlete in Chicago?

Lineup Changes

A few posters yesterday chuckled — dare I say mocked — Ozzie’s lineup.  One day does not a trend make, but you have to like eight runs, and more importantly, a shutout with 6.0 IP by Bartolo Colon.  While our offense has been frustrating to date, it is showing very positive signs, and our pitching has to leave everyone pretty pleased.

On To Detroit

Pitching

AT DETROIT TIGERS

 

Monday: 12:05 p.m. CDT, CSN

RHP Gavin Floyd (0-1, 2.57) vs.

RHP Zach Miner (1-0, 1.59)

Tuesday: 12:05 p.m. CDT, CSN

LHP John Danks  vs.

RHP Rick Porcello

Wednesday: 12:05 p.m. CDT, WGN

RHP Jose Contreras vs.

RHP Armando Galarraga

Saturday in the Sun

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sox Lineup

Changeup of sorts vs. Liriano:

Lillibridge 4, Fields 5, Quentin 7, Dye 9, Konerko dh, Betemit 3, Ramirez 6, Anderson 8, Miller 2. Colon pitching.

Cold Friday

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sox vs. Twins

Lineup

Getz 4, Fields 5, Q 7, Thome dh, Dye 9, PK 3, AJ 2, Ram 6, Wise 9.  Jose returns to the mound.

Joe Crede

As I was walking in from lunch, three Twins players climbed out of a cab and walked in Gate 4 with me.

“Is that Crede?” one asked.

“Yes,” I explained.  “Give him a hard time.  Tell him you thought Juan Uribe’s (behind) was more attractive on the monument.”

I saw Joe in the tunnel outside our clubhouse around 3:30 and got a chance to say hello and ask about the kids.

He looked good.  Hair was a little long, though.

In addition to a one minute video tribute before the game and what I assume will be a standing ovation from our crowd before his first at-bat, I am sure his friends in our clubhouse have some fun planned for tonight.  Then we need to beat the Twins three times.

Lineup, Game 3

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sox vs. KC

Getz 4, AJ 2, Q 7, Thome dh, Dye 9, PK 3, Ramirez 6, Wise 8, Fields 5.  Danks pitching.

Amazing Moose

Wednesday, April 9, 2009

The Great Moose Skowron

Everyone knows how I feel about Moose Skowron.  He is the funniest guy at the ballpark most days.  Sometimes, he is even trying to be funny.

I wandered out to watch BP and catch some fresh air.  Moose was there and we talked as the Sox finished hitting and the Kansas City Royals warmed up.

“Look at that,” Moose said as the Royals players stretched with large rubber bands during their pregame.  “When I played, we didn’t do (bleep).”

“What did the Yankees do to prepare for a game?” I asked.  “Did you stretch or play catch?”

“We played catch to get ready for batting practice,” Moose replied.  “And we always took infield.  When Ted Williams took batting practice, we all stopped and watched.  That’s how much respect we had for him.”

“How about spring training?”

“We never ran,” he said.  “When you came out of a game, you ran three sprints and then walked back to the clubhouse.  That was it.

“Now, I walk through the clubhouse and see all those machines, geez,” Skowron said.  “In spring training, we had one field, a half field and one batting cage to hit in.  Joe DiMaggio brought Marilyn one time to watch us take batting practice.”

Skowron toured the Sox new hydrotherapy room, which features a hot tub, cold tub and underwater treadmill.

“I can’t swim,” Moose said.  “If I played today, I’d drown.”

Skowron said he gave Dewayne Wise a pat on the back today.

“I told him I went 0-40 once, then got a broken bat hit and went 1-21 … 1-61 overall and still hit .319 for the season.  It was my second year.  I went 19-21 at one point in Cleveland.”

Trivia 2

This question from Jerry Reinsdorf today at lunch (eventually, I nailed it):

Name the player who played for one franchise in three different cities?

Pitching Matchups for Twins

VS. MINNESOTA TWINS

 

Friday: 7:11 p.m. CDT, CSN

RHP R.A. Dickey (5-8, 5.21) vs.

RHP Jose Contreras (7-6, 4.54)

 

Saturday: 3:05 p.m. CDT, FOX

LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1, 5.14) vs.

RHP Bartolo Colon (4-2, 3.92)

 

Sunday: 1:05 p.m. CDT, CSN+

RHP Nick Blackburn (0-0, 7.20) vs.

LHP Mark Buehrle (0-0, 3.60)

Trivia Question

Wednesday, April 10, 2009

Good Trivia

This from the Elias Sports Bureau:

 

Jim Thome has now homered in consecutive Opening Days (two last year, one yesterday).  Name the last Sox player to homer in consecutive openers?

Answer will come later …

Two Moments

Monday, April 7, 2009

Sox Win!

Nothing quite like a dramatic Opening Day victory, except maybe a late October victory (I heard that somewhere).

Two moments stuck with me from today’s game.

Obviously, the second was Jim Thome’s three-run, game-winning blast.

I saw Jim in the clubhouse long after the game had ended.

“That had to feel good,” I offered.

“Yeeaahh,” he said with a big grin.

Remember how much Jim said he liked to play baseball.

It shows.

The second came earlier in the afternoon.

82-year-old Billy Pierce was introduced to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  He stopped short of the mound.  Wearing his 1959 No. 19 uniform, he dipped down to touch his fingers to the ground and then rubbed up the baseball.

He fired the pitch to open the 2009 season.

But that wasn’t the moment.

The moment came next.

As Pierce walked off the mound to cheers, manager Ozzie Guillen stopped him. 

“Stand here,” Ozzie said, indicating he wanted Billy to stand at home plate for the National Anthem.

Pierce demurred.

“He didn’t want to stay,” Guillen said later.  “But I told him he had to.  He deserved it.”

So as the scoreboard ran a tribute to former Sox players/executives and media who passed away over the last year and as the National Anthem played for the very first time this summer, Billy Pierce stood in a spot he earned and deserved.

At home plate at Sox Park.

For a minute he was 25 years old and it was 1952.

That was the first moment I’ll remember from 2009.

 

Second Try

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opening Day II

Nothing like being inside a ballpark on Opening Day as the sun rises over left-field, the stands glowing in the early-morning light.  There is a crispness to the air, but it feels like spring, like Opening Day, like baseball.

This is 18 White Sox Opening Days for me, and it never loses its special feel.

Players are here early, some working out, some playing cards, some getting organized for the day ahead.  I stopped by to see Herm Schneider and Brian Ball to wish them a Happy Opening Day.

The next neat point of the day is when the ballpark opens to fans and the early arrivers stream into the seats.  That’s when the ballpark comes to life.  From that moment to first pitch the day just picks up momentum.

Let’s hope it ends with the White Sox victory and 40,000 happy fans.

 

 

Wintered Out, Red Rocks and Presidential Hats

Monday, April 6, 2009

Snow

Nothing like arriving at the ballpark this morning to three inches of snow.

Roger Bossard and his crew of 12 arrived at 6 a.m. to begin shoveling off the field.  They finished around 1 p.m. and a few of their methods were, well, unorthodox to say the least.

“There’s inches of snow on the field, guys are shoveling and they have the water on,” laughed bullpen catcher Mark Salas.  “I’ve NEVER seen that.”

“City of Chicago water comes out at 48 to 50 degrees,” explains Bossard.  “So a trick I have is to use the water to help melt off the snow.  We literally had tons of snow on the field this morning.”

And because of the drainage system, the outfield does not turn into a skating rink a la the Winter Classic.

Players took batting practice in the cages under the stands and a few brave ones ventured out to play catch or run on the field.

All wore long underwear and stocking caps.

Alexei Ramirez, of all guys, played catch and fielded a few ground balls on the warning track.  He fired a few snowballs for fun, the very first time he had ever seen snow.

“Hace mucho frio”

Forecast

Things look good for tomorrow, according to Bossard.  Chilly but good.  The winds will come down a little, and it should be in the low 40s.  Not perfect.  But it will work for baseball.

The last time we lost Opening Day to weather at home was 1982, a snow storm that basically wiped out the first week of the season.

Milestones

Quite a few Sox players are approaching some memorable career milestones in early 2009, including:

Mark Buehrle needs 15 strikeouts to tie Gary Peters for fifth in club history

JD needs two home runs for 300 and nine RBI for 1,000

Ozzie Guillen needs 67 victories for 500

PK needs two home runs for 300 and 43 RBI for 1,000, five runs scored to tie Aparicio for fifth, 32 hits to tie Minoso for eighth and 13 xbh to tie Baines for third

AJ needs two home runs for 100 (ask Uribe about that)

Jim Thome needs seven HR to tie Mike Schmidt for 13th all-time, nine walks to tie Harmon Killebrew for 14th all-time, 12 RBI for 2,000 in his career and three doubles for 400

Near Death

I have taken some abuse from friends and family members for glossing over my spring training “hike” in Sedona.  So, thanks to the weather postponing today’s Opener, I will take this chance to bore many of you with an elaboration.

First off, you must understand I am not a hiker.  My family hikes.  When they start to talk about camping, I start to look for the nearest Ritz or Four Seasons.

But in the spirit of family time and adventure, I agreed to hike in Sedona this March on our off day.  After driving up a dirt road (first warning sign) we reach the trail head.  Winds were gusting to 40-50 mph (no joke), but the hike took us along Oak Creek, through populars and up to the base of a mountain called Cathedral Peak.  It was fine.  Pleasant.  Nice.  A good 45-minute walk.

Then my eight-year-old said the famous words, “let’s climb the mountain.”

Up we go.  Now, I work out most days, elliptical, bike, treadmill, stairmaster.  I was not prepared for this.  As my three kids and young-at-heart spouse scampered up the pretty barren rock, I plodded along behind, occasionally gasping.

Finally, we all reached a point I can only call … the tree line. 

If you haven’t seen the red rocks in Sedona, think BIG barren mountains with little vegetation.  We had reached a point where you needed to climb, hand over foot, using pre-cut grooves in the rock provided by the U.S. Forestry Service.  I am thinking, “Into Thin Air.”

We work our way up one crevase until we really cannot go any higher.  We’ve reached a point where we’ve come out into the wind and it is howling.  You could get blown off the mountain and it is a long way down.

So at this point, we head down.  Two kids ahead of me, then me, my wife and youngest in the trail.  We are working our way, single file, back down the side of the mountain, step by step down that crevase.  My two kids make it down and are safe below me.

I start down by myself.  Suddenly, a strong, strong gust catches me (this is the strongest burst of wind I’ve ever experienced, and I lived through a Hurricane long ago), blinds me with rock and dust, rips my hat off my head and up into the air (I apologize for littering in a National Park but my Ruffled Feathers golf hat is high up on some Red Rock somewhere in Arizona) and sends me hard up against the rock.

Then I hear it coming.  More rocks.

Something, the wind, a wild animal, an angry former Sun-Times columnist.  Something sends a pile of rocks tumbling and pouring down the side of the mountain at me.

It happens so fast I don’t really think.  I cover my head with my arms and hug the side of the rock.  Hundreds of small pieces, some the size of soccer balls, bounce by and over me.

My wife, a spectator above, and my kids, standing safely below, watch without even a “heads up.”  It all happened too quickly.

I was fine, but really was lucky an errant rock didn’t clock me cleanly and give a whole new meaning to “visiting Red Rock country.”

It wasn’t over.

Once we reached flat ground, we headed back to the rental car.  The wind was howling through all those beautiful popular trees which looked great as we walked in and now became weapons of family destruction.

Tree limbs crashed and fell.  With the other four ahead of me, I suddenly heard a loud crack and then heard this limb (how big?) crashing through other trees.

“I might die,” I thought, trying to hide myself up against the biggest, nearest tree I can find.

I hear it coming closer.  All of this happens within seconds.

Bang, I feel and hear the mid-sized branch strike up against the very tree I am cowering behind.  I feel the entire tree shake and vibrate with the collision.

I’m done.

With the kids hiking confidently ahead of me back to the car, I stumble along in my own kind of “Near-death march,” finally reaching the safety of the white Impala.

“That was fun,” my son offered.

“I need a margarita,” I replied.  “And a Resort.  And a hot tub.  And a computer.  And a cell phone.  And an internet hookup.  And a big screen TV.”

The next day, we woke up at the Hilton Resort to hike around two big rocks, The Courthouse and Bell Rock.  It was pretty, once again, but every step was painful and enough was enough.

We reached a sign that read, “Entering Back Country,” or something like that.

“What’s that mean,” my daughter asked.

“It’s where I’m going to die,” I said, imagining a big diamondback rattlesnake just waiting for me.

An hour or two later, we finish the hike (aren’t I a trooper?) and reach Bell Rock. 

“Let’s climb it,” my 8-year-old excitedly asks.

Fool me once, fool me twice.  “Go ahead,” I offer.  “I’ll wait by the car.”

So if anyone happened to see a middle aged man (be kind), happy to be alive, laying on a picnic table beside the trail to Bell Rock one random day in March, it was just me, waiting safely for my family to go up and down yet another Red Rock.

So that’s my story, and most of it is true.

Sox Caps

If you didn’t read it in the Sun-Times, we mailed out Sox caps to leaders of 16 other countries in the world, inviting them to become — like President Obama — fans of our club.  Why not? I figured.  If even one enjoys the gift, has a sense of fun and decides to wear it when meeting with our President, it is international news.  Worth a shot, don’t you think?

Click here to read Elliott Harris’ column from today.

And, of course, President Obama has an open invitation to throw out a ceremonial first pitch any time he can make it.  Name the date (and I hope it’s in October).

Click here to link to a USA Today article about President Obama and his Sox fandom.

 

 

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