April 2011

Homestand Opener

Friday, April 29, 2011

Waiting is the hardest part …

We are waiting to hear what, if any, penalty manager Ozzie Guillen receives from Major League Baseball related to his ejection/tweets from Wednesday night …

First Day to Vote in Park

Tonight (and this entire homestand) marks the first chance White Sox fans have to vote in-park for their 2011 All-Stars … of course, you can go online to whitesox.com and vote early and often.

Volunteer Corps

Members of the White Sox Volunteer Corps, White Sox employeesm employees from Constellation Energy and Mark Teahen will volunteer tomorrow from 10 am until 1 pm to plant trees in Armour Park (3300 S. Shields, just north of the ballpark) as part of a joint service day.

The service event is part of the new envoronmental sustainability partnership (say that fast three times) between Constellation Energy and the White Sox.  Tomorrow night’s “Green Game” will be powered by Constellation’s purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to cover the typical energy usage on a game day.

Volunteers will place mulch and fibar on the playground, clean up the park and plant trees.

I always assume that everyone is aware of our White Sox Volunteer Corps.  I shouldn’t make that assumption.  If you want to join almost 5,000 other fans and volunteer for various service events throughout the season — often side-by-side with our players, then visit here and sign up.

Finally

I mentioned that Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham visited MLB’s Fan Cave yesterday in NYC.  Here’s an interview with Gordon (not David) Backham …

The Hawk

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Celebrating The Hawk

We are going to honor “The Hawk,” Ken Harrelson before tomorrow night’s game when we unveil a plaque naming the broadcast level at U.S. Cellular Field the “Hawk Harrelson Broadcast Level” of the ballpark.  The honor is well deserved given Hawk’s long tenure calling White Sox games.

During his broadcast career, Harrelson has earned five Emmy awards, two “Illinois Sportscaster of the Year” awards, been selected as a finalist for Major League Baseball’s “Ford Frick Award” and been honored with the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Comcast SportsNet Awards dinner, benefitting March of Dimes. 

 On June 8, 2010, the White Sox celebrated “Hawk Harrelson Night” and presented Harrelson with a crystal microphone in honor of his years of service in the White Sox broadcasting booth.

Hawk was recently featured in Shore magazine. Read it here.

Jinx Fix

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reverse Jinx

Silly as it may be, I do believe in baseball jinxes.  Maybe it’s superstition, maybe it’s medieval thinking, but here’s my feeble attempt to assist Mark Buehrle tonight (like he needs my help) by pointing out how poorly he has done in his career against the Yankees.

Mark is making his fifth attempt at career victory No. 150 tonight.  He ranks seventh in White Sox history in wins behind Ed Cicotte, who won 156 games before being unceremoniously removed from baseball.

To say that Buehrle has struggled against the Yankees is an understatement.  Tonight will be his 12th career start, and the left-hander is 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA lifetime vs. NY.  His lone win?  April 10, 2004 (when he threw 8.0 scoreless IP).

So by pointing out his struggles with the Bronz Bombers, maybe, just maybe Mark will gain a little karma tonight.

Wow!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brent Lillibridge (or Lilly Bridge as some might say)

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen two plays by one player like that to end a baseball game.  Just talked to Ed Farmer and he is still buzzing about them.  If you missed them, here is the video.

Leave it to Ozzie for the last laugh … “I’ve found my closer, it’s Brent Lillibridge!”  Classic.

If you want to share your excitement with Brent, he is very active on Twitter @BSLillibridge

ESPN E:60

Did you happen to catch the segment on Ozzie on ESPN’s E:60 last night?  It’s worth a quick watch when you have a second.  Jeremy Schaap takes a fun look into the mind of Ozzie Guillen.

Glovework

A couple of weeks ago, I teased a video story we were doing on players and their gloves.  The video is now live and you can watch it here.

I also asked readers to submit their favorite stories about their own gloves.  Here are a couple I received:

 My 7 year old son Cal will only use Wilson gloves that are enclosed around the hand but have an outer hole for the index finger.  He has gone through 3 gloves already due to outgrowing them.  To break them in we rub shaving cream in them and bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 325 for 5 minutes.  It works like a charm every time, and he loves to tell all his friends that we baked his glove to break it in.  He will then take it to bed with him for the next couple of nights and put it on a pillow next to him!

 GO SOX!!!

Michael — Crown Point, IN

And another:

I started playing softball when I was 6. Every Easter when most little girls were getting dolls and stuffed animals in their Easter baskets, I always received a new glove…or new spikes or the like. Needless to say playing baseball/softball has always been a staple in my family.

One year, when I was probably about 8 years old, I happened to forget my glove at the main fields in Oak Lawn (99th + Central). That evening after our games (and before I realized it was still at the fields), it was a downpour of rain. We returned to the fields to find my glove – soaked. I was in tears. My parents were understandably unhappy. Boy did I ever get in trouble!  And it was then that I was told some of the most memorable advice I’d receive in sports: “Nicole, I don’t care what you do, or where you go…but your glove is an extension of your arm. Don’t ever let it out of your sight” (needless to say that was the last time I “forgot” my glove)

Fast forward about 13 years , I was still playing softball. I had moved from 3rd base to catcher. I was playing on travel leagues and the pitchers were throwing a bit harder than they had when I was younger. My hand was throbbing after each practice and game. But it was a time before they really sold softball catchers mitts in the stores. My parents were divorced and I didn’t see my dad much. So finding and breaking in mitts was really up to me to figure out.

It just so happened that my best friend’s dad was a very notable catcher for the White Sox…and he and his wife were kind enough to track down a softball catchers mitt for me. But Mr. Fisk didn’t stop there. He dug into his bag of equipment and other baseball “stuff” and pulled out a tin of mink oil donning “72″ across all sides and gave it to me. He then educated me on the best way(s) to break in my new mitt: Lather it up with mink oil. Toss it in the tub. Run it over with a truck. Play catch. Put a softball in it at night, and tie it up with a string. Do whatever you need to do. Just keep it well oiled…and keep working it in.

After a quick toss back and forth and some tips on how NOT to get my fingers broken when catching (remember to always hook your free hand in the back of your cleat) I was on my way with my new catchers mitt and instructions on how to break it in.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that my friend’s dad is/was a world-class catcher was pretty cool. It isn’t lost on me in the slightest. But the more meaningful part to me is that in that moment, when I needed that father-figure because my own wasn’t there, he treated me like he treated any of his own kids. That memory – and that mitt – will stay with me forever.

Nichole — Chicago

Feel free to share any other stories by posting to this blog or emailing me at sreifert@chisox.com.

 

Catching Up

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Impressive Performance

Great outing by Phil Humber (pronounced “Umber”) last night, limiting the Yankees to one hit over 7.0 scoreless IP in a much-needed 2-0 White Sox victory.  He struck out five and walked only two.

Why we love the Elias Sports Bureau … Humber no-hit the Yankees last night for 6.1 IP, which according to the Elias Sports Bureau is the 18th time since 2001 a White Sox pitcher has carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning or later.  In addition to Humber, Mark Buehrle has accomplished the feat five times, including one no-hitter and one perfect game, Gavin Floyd three times, John Danks and Freddy Garcia twice each, and Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, Esteban Loaiza, Javier Vazquez and Dan Wright once apiece.

Comments from Kenny Williams

White Sox general manager Ken Williams was in NYC with the team and offered these comments to the media prior to the game:
“Well, I have no choice but to look at them as 8-14 right now (now 9-14), because that’s what we are.  We’ve earned every bit of it.  We have not hit, not pitched consistently and have not caught the ball.  We’ve played probably as poorly as we could possibly play.”
On the reason of the team’s recent failures:
“If there was an obvious reason, it would be fixed right now.  All I can do is come to the clubhouse and offer some hugs and support in that way.

“The good thing is that we have the ability and the talent.  It’s one thing when we’ve been down the road where we weren’t playing very well, and we had to look in the mirror and know that we just didn’t have the talent.  This is a quite different scenario where we’ve got guys that have proven themselves in the major leagues and proven themselves on a championship club. We just have to weather the storm and come out on the other side of it hopefully sooner rather than later.”
On the coaching staff:
“The coaching staff is not throwing the baseball, they’re not hitting the baseball.  They’re doing what they’ve always done.  The first 10 games of the season, people talk about how well our offense was performing — we were hitting off the charts in some of the statistical categories.  When it turns around, you have to stand up and take the heat.  ‘Walk’ (hitting coach Greg Walker) is used to taking the heat, and I think he’s been consistent over the years and the ways the teams have rebounded offensively.  ‘Coop’ (Don Cooper) has taken his share, Ozzie, too.  You’re in professional sports, if you don’t produce, fingers are going to be pointed your way.  But none of them have gotten any dumber in the last number of weeks, they’re the same guys and I’ve got confidence in all of them.”
On this being the worst possible scenario for getting fans to the ballpark:
“I’ve said for quite some time now, Chicago White Sox fans — you’ve got to earn their patronage, and we haven’t earned it.  I don’t expect people to show up in droves when we get back until we earn it. I suspect at some point — we have a lot of games, this is the third week of April — we will earn their patronage, but until then, I wouldn’t expect them (to be here).”
On comparing ‘the plan’ going into the season to how things are unfolding now:


“ Call me crazy, but I happen to think we have a pretty good team.  We just wait day-to-day for it all to click.  That’s the great thing about baseball, we play 162 (games), so I’m not going to draw too many conclusions after this start that we’re having right now.  They are what we think they are.”

On what he knows about the slump:
 “The one thing that I’m absolutely sure of is that the more pressure you put on guys to turn it around, to flip the switch, instead of building it back up to where you were, that’s a process you have to go through.  Going through that process with the GM condemning everyone, or thinking that I’m going to say something that’s magically going to flip that switch? You’re kidding yourself.  It’s got to come from them.  They’ve got to lighten up, not tighten up.”
On how the Sox go through this sort of slump every year:
“It seems like we’ve got to go through something to get on the other side and to turn the ship around.  The good news is, again, if we’re sitting here and we don’t have the ability, the talent to right the ship, then it’s a whole different conversation.   But when you do have the talent, you just keep pushing forward, and to keep their head down, and know that I think it will carry you.  Whatever difficulties they’re dealing with now, will carry them through the rest of the season, and they will know how to deal with it because they’ve already experienced it.
“It’s not easy, we have… it’s been a collective effort from the general manager, the manager, the coaches, the players, on down… and I think the grounds crew even had a bad day last week in Chicago. We’re all in it together, and right now, we’re not looking too great.”
On personally pledging not to worry about the team until July:
“It’s not working out.  I did tell Herm (Schneider), and he called me on it, saying that’s what I told him last year.  It’s not working out so well right now. It’s a whole different stress level when you look at what we have.  It’s been 22 games and I refuse to be anything more than optimistic.”
On spending two and a half hours at Chicago airport:
“Sox fans were telling me who to get, to trade, to bench.  I gave them all Ozzie’s number and told them to call him.”
On Adam Dunn and the rest of the offense:


“I’m not going to say horrible, but he had his spring training. Power hitters have a difficult time anyway starting out. They’ve got to take their hits, they’ve got to take what the pitcher gives them.  He was swinging the bat well, had the blip with appendicitis and then he was out.  It takes a 6-6, 280-pound guy a little while to get his timing and his swing back.  This isn’t unexpected. What’s unexpected is that we were so locked in, particularly staying inside of the baseball offensively, and we lost him.  But if you look at the pitchers that we’ve faced, no excuses, but it is what it is. Those are some of the best in the game that we’ve come up against.  I would like to run up against them when we’re swinging the bat a little bit better, I think we’re going to come out a little bit better on some things, but we’re still only going to come out so good against a lot of guys that we faced.  It’s been a tough road.  That has nothing to do with catching the baseball and giving the guys extra outs or being successful on stolen bases and some of the other things that we’ve done.  We’ve simply got to play better in that area.”

Blake Hickman

Congratulations to catcher Blake Hickman of Simeon, who gave his verbal agreement to play baseball at the University of Iowa.  Hickman, a veteran of the White Sox Amateur City Elite youth baseball program, has starred at the Double Duty Classic and has impressed scouts nationally with his talent.

Happy Birthday

Omar Vizquel celebrated birthday No. 44 on Sunday, and we made sure his birthday celebration included a cake.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one player in major-league history has played a game at shortstop after his 44th birthday … Bobby Wallace of the St. Louis Cardinals was 44 years and 295 days old when he played his final game as a shortstop on 8/26/18 vs. the New York Giants.

Great Chicago Sports Night

Good luck to the Chicago Bulls (Game 5) and Chicago Blackhawks (Game 7) tonight.  In addition to the White Sox game on CSN and mlb.com at 6:05 pm CT, set your DVRs to catch ESPN’s E;60 feature on Ozzie Guillen shot during spring training (also at 6 CT).

MLB FanCave

Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham are scheduled to stop by MLB’s FanCave in Times Square on Thursday.

Tampa

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peavy

Still awaiting information on Jake Peavy from today’s examination.  The pitcher left last night’s rehab start for the Barons in Birmingham with discomfort.  He returned to Chicago today, and we are waiting for information from our training staff.

Familiar Faces

Former White Sox manager Jeff Torborg and longtime coach Art Kusnyer stopped by the Sox clubhouse before today’s game in Tampa.

The Guys Talk Gloves

In this video, various players such as Buehrle, Quentin, Rios, and Santos go into detail about their gloves. The interviews cover the types of gloves they use, how they prepare them for the season and any sentimental value their gloves have. View it, here

This Date In History

ESPN’s Keith Law makes a great point in his blog today.  On April 19 of last year, the Marlins had the best record in baseball at 11-1, the Jays the best in the AL at 10-4 and the Royals were tied for the AL Central lead at 7-5.

Today In History

A couple of cool facts about April 19ths past …

1960  A record Opening Day crowd at Chicago’s Comiskey Park enthusiastically greet their American League champs, and the patrons warmly welcomes the return of Minnie Minoso to the team after his three-year exile to Cleveland. The 34-year old outfielder doesn’t disappoint the South Side fans when, in addition to hitting a grand slam in the fourth, he blasts a ninth inning walk-off home run giving the White Sox 10-9 victory over Kansas City.
1969  Ken Harrelson, along with Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro, is traded by the Red Sox to the Indians for Joe Azcue, Vicente Romo and Sonny Siebert. The 27-year old ‘Hawk’, now a White Sox broadcaster, decides to retire, but reluctantly returns to the game following conversations with commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who will later say, “the loss of Ken Harrelson would be a tragedy for baseball.”
1972  The demolition of Crosley Field begins when two-year old Pete Rose, Jr. — now a manager at Advanced Rookie Bristol in the White Sox farm system — pulls a lever that sends a wrecking ball into the side of the former home of the Reds.

(Source: nationalpastime.com)

And of Course …

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of New Comiskey Park (now U.S. Cellular Field).

Sports Saturday

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Clubhouse

Every television in the White Sox clubhouse was tuned to the Chicago Bulls game at noon Saturday.  Then I walked into our PR offices and Pat O’Connell had Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold game on his television. 

Warming Up?

Despite the frigid temps and wet weather so far, it appears Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez is adjusting to playing baseball in the winter.

After hitting .121-0-2 during April of his rookie year, .214-1-9 in 2009 and .221-1-8 in 2010, the Silver Slugger is batting .292 with three home runs and eight RBI in 12 games so far this April.

Peavy Update

Right-hander Jake Peavy threw a bullpen session today in preparation for his next rehab start with Class AA Birmingham on Monday (plans are for another next Saturday with Class AAA Charlotte).  “Nice and easy today,” Peavy said afterward.  “Nothing crazy.” 

Notes

The White Sox have led at some point in all 12 games this season.

Paul Konerko needs one home run to tie Ralph Kiner for 69th place all-time with 369, and Adam Dunn needs two to tie Yogi Berra for 74th all-time with 358.

White Sox starters are 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA on the homestand and have allowed just seven earned runs in 39.2 IP over the last six games.

The White Sox have begun a stretch where they play 20 consecutive days from 4/15-5/4 (0-2 thus far).  Then, after an offday on 5/5, the Sox play 26 games in 27 days from 5/6-6/1.

White Sox Honor Jackie Robinson’s Legacy

Friday, April 15, 2011


Today, the White Sox joined Major League Baseball in commemorating the legacy of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson by hosting a Jackie Robinson Day luncheon and forum. Attendees included various prominent African American business leaders, White Sox Amateur City Elite youth team members, Jackie Robinson Scholars, White Sox legend Minnie Miñoso, and current players Juan Pierre and Edwin Jackson.

After the luncheon, a panel discussion was conducted focusing on Robinson’s impact on society and the game of baseball then and now. The discussion was moderated by Daryl Hawks of NBC Chicago and featured White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, senior vice president and general manager Ken Williams, author of Opening Day: Jackie Robinson’s First Season, Jonathan Eig, and former National League President and current Jackie Robinson Foundation board member Len Coleman.

The forum began with a short video  highlighting Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments as the first African American to play Major League Baseball. Next, Eig read a passage from his book. This led into a discussion on Robinson as a role model to young people today, his place in the eyes of Brooklyn fans and African American fans during his career, baseball’s progress since then and its current challenges.  See Reinsdorf reflect on the playing style of Jackie Robinson, here.

To conclude the panel discussion, Len Coleman and Sonya Pankey, granddaughter of Jackie Robinson, presented Jerry Reinsdorf with the first Jackie Robinson Foundation Chairman’s Award which recognizes outstanding leaders in the sports industry who have promoted the values embodied in the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson.


Said In Stone

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Off Day

Many of us tried to take advantage of today’s off day to hit the links — despite the cool temps and wind chills that sure felt like they were in the 30s!

We all just needed a day away …

Said In Stone

Television colorman Steve Stone has released a brand new book, Said In Stone, that has just appeared in bookstores.  In fact, Steve is appearing at the Borders bookstore at 150 N. State Street on Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m., so stop by and say hello.

We caught up with Steve on Tuesday night and asked him about the book. 

Q:  Can you take us through the process of writing a book?

Stone: This is the third book that I’ve done, and I think what you have to do first is you have to have a pretty good idea about where you want to go with it.  Then, you put together an outline, then you really flesh in your outline with chapters.  In my case, with this book being the third, I wrote a serious book the first time and a funny book the second time.  The funny book sold a lot more than the serious book, so I decided to combine the two in this book.  It’s very informational on the game of baseball in every aspect of it, from every position on the field to the dugout to the front office through the Commissioner’s office and the challenges of every position and every aspect of the game.  It’s kind of a look back and a look at present day and some predictions for the future of the game and where I believe it’s going.

Q: You’ve talked a little bit about using humor.  You’ve obviously been pretty close to some legendary baseball personalities over the years.  Do you touch on those at all?

Stone:  Well, because this was a book that really had nothing to do with broadcasting, I didn’t deal with any of the broadcasters I’ve worked with because I’ve had right around 100 play-by-play men in my years as an analyst.  But what I did was take the various positions and then I would tell either funny stories or funny anecdotes about people who played those positions, guys I played against, guys I played with and numerous stories that fit into the various sections that the reader had a chance to learn something but also laugh a little bit, which is my object.

Q:  So if a fan reads Said In Stone, they can take away some anecdotes and knowledge, sounds like a nice combination?

Stone:  I think if you do just a serious book, then you have a limited audience because there are a lot of people who would read it and their eyes would begin to close through the second chapter.  But this one treats some serious subjects with a light touch.  And it’s educational because there are going to be some things in there that the average fan doesn’t know.  But there are also things in there for the aficionado of the game who might not know, but have a clearer understanding of how baseball works.  And then the stories about some of the real characters in the books are going to be entertaining, and they’re going to learn something about some really unique people who have played this game.

Q:  Did you work with anyone?  Did you call anyone before starting this book?  Was there any consulting?  Or was this just your idea that you wanted to see through?

Stone:  It was my idea, and then I worked with Mark Gonzales, who did a nice job of arranging my thoughts and doing a lot of research.  Mark was invaluable being a writer.  I don’t spell very well, and he does a great job of it.  He really did a lot in putting this together, but they are all my words and we didn’t do it in the interview format.  I would write a lot of it on yellow legal pads and then I would use a tape recorder.  Next, I would go through the sections by myself and then Mark would get all of the words arrange them and put into writer’s speak. 

Q:  So who gets the first couple of copies? 

Stone:  What happened was, the fine folks from Triumph gave me 6 books, and because Jerry Reinsdorf’s quote is on the front of the book, I decided to give Jerry the first copy because I felt him being my employer and all, that would be a wise move to make.  I then gave a second copy to my step mother because the dedication of the book is to my father who passed away recently at the end of January.  I also then gave a copy of the book to Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Mathews when we were in Kansas City and to the Cleveland Indians’ Tom Hamilton, the radio broadcaster who I’ve really grown to like.  Before you know it, the books are gone.  I do have one left that I can use to show people and say, yes indeed, I did write a book and here’s what it looks like.  The one suggestion I did make to the people at Triumph was the back page of the book had a picture of me pitching for the Cubs, so I suggested, because I do work for the White Sox, and I actually pitched as many years for the White Sox as I did the Cubs, that they split that page and show two pictures of me pitching for both the Sox and the Cubs.  And I actually played for the Sox two different times so I think it’s more balanced because I don’t want to exclude either fan.

The book is going to serve a couple of different purposes.  For the baseball aficionado he’s really going to get something out of it that he didn’t know before.  For the casual fans, they’re going to understand the game a little bit more.  I link baseball to chess, in that once you learn the way the players move, it’s a very simple game.  But when you start to really dive into it, it’s infinitely complex and the slightest move by a player in the game of baseball can affect the outcome of the game just as in chess the grand masters are actually thinking 6,7,8,9 moves down the road and when they make a move, it’s to set up a move much later on.  It’s much like a manager does when he tries to work out a certain situation where he has a certain pinch hitter and he wants to face a reliever at a given time when the game is on the line, usually in the 8th or 9th inning, he will maneuver his bench to get that matchup.  That’s exactly as grand masters in chess do to get their opponent in a certain situation and force him to make moves.

Pregame Wednesday

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pregame Notes for Today

  John Danks is 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA (11 ER/40.0 IP) in six career starts vs. Oakland
  White Sox starters are 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA (9 ER/40.2 IP) on the homestand, with 27 hits allowed and 35 strikeouts.
  The Sox have led in all 11 games this season, with two of their four losses coming when leading entering the ninth inning.
  Chicago’s bullpen has converted one of six save chances.
  A.J. Pierzynski needs 2.2 IC to tie Terry Kennedy for 24th all-time with 11,178.1.
  Paul Konerko needs one home run to tie Ralph Kiner for 69th place all-time with 369.
  Carlos Quentin has 99 career homers.

LAST NIGHT’S RECAP
  Alexei Ramirez recorded his first career multihomer game, including the first game-ending shot of his career, to give the White Sox a 6-5 victory over Oakland in 10 innings.
  Ramirez, who finished with four RBI, became the first shortstop in Sox history with a multihomer game, including a game-ender (Elias) … it was the 40th “walkoff” home run in U.S. Cellular Field history and first since Alex Rios on 4/24/10 vs. Seattle.
  Sergio Santos threw 2.0 IP for his fifth straight scoreless outing to open the season (7.2 IP), and Chris Sale earned the victory with 2.0 scoreless IP to close the game.
  Adam Dunn (appendectomy) went 1-4 with a walk in his return to the lineup after missing six games, and 43-year-old Omar Vizquel collected three hits.

MORE ABOUT ALEXEI
  Alexei Ramirez has hit three home runs in 40 at-bats, one more than his career March/April total of two in 180 at-bats entering the season.
  Prior to this season, Ramirez’s only other career April homers came on 4/25/09 vs. Toronto and 4/15/10 at Toronto.

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