May 2011

Week’s Worth

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clearing the Inbox

Spent Monday at Ron Kittle’s Indiana Sports Charities golf outing at beautiful Briar Ridge Country Club in Schereville, Ind.  While our team didn’t break any club records, we did have one golfer, Ruth K. walk away with both Closest To The Pin awards!  A great day — the sun actually was shining — and a great cause.  Thanks to Kitty for again pulling the event together.

Splittorf

Very saddened to hear the news about Kansas City’s Paul Splittorf.  Just this spring, in one of the last games in Arizona, I shared a broadcast booth with him during our game and we talked about both the Royals and White Sox.  At the time, I had no idea he was battling cancer — that news came out later — and he looked and seemed fine.  For him to die less than two months later is shocking.  Paul was a very kind, very gentle man.  If you asked most fans to name the Royals all-time winningest pitcher, I doubt many would offer Paul.  A solid performer on many very good KC teams.

Remembering Daryl

Wednesday, I attended the memorial service for WMAQ-TV’s Daryl Hawks, who passed away on May 12 much too early and surprisingly while covering the Bulls playoff game in Atlanta.  His smile, energy and enthusiasm was contagious.  As part of the service, Art Norman read comments from the various professional teams and he quoted a letter from Kenny Williams.  Here is the note in its entirety:

                                                                                                                           May 25, 2011

 To the Friends, Colleagues & Family of Daryl Hawks,

 The sudden and shocking news of Daryl’s passing on May 12 touched everyone in the Chicago White Sox family.  Such an untimely death naturally leads to sadness, but today’s gathering also should celebrate Daryl, his life and his passion for all things sports.

Just last month, Daryl joined us at a special luncheon and forum at U.S. Cellular Field to commemorate Jackie Robinson’s breaking of Major League Baseball’s “color line” in 1947.  In addition to his usual outstanding job as emcee of the event, Daryl expressed to many of us how honored he was to be asked to play a role in celebrating someone as special as Jackie and an event as historic as the anniversary of Robinson’s debut at Ebbets Field.

Only at the event did we learn that April 15 also was Daryl and Sandy’s anniversary and that he and Sandy had agreed to volunteer his time that afternoon before beginning their own special celebration that evening.  A willingness to sacrifice his own personal schedule for the benefit of others that day says everything about Daryl Hawks and how he approached his too-short life.

To Sandy, the children and all of Daryl’s family members, please know that his smile, his energy and his love for life and for his profession were contagious to all he met.  I am confident that those are personality traits you will carry with you for the rest of your lives, and with each memory, hopefully one day comes a smile.

On behalf of everyone affiliated with the Chicago White Sox organization, please accept our heartfelt sympathy and condolences.  We all have lost a good friend.

 Sincerely,

Ken Williams

Senior Vice President/General Manager

Chicago White Sox

 Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Daryl’s family and his colleagues at WMAQ during this tough time.  Their ability to come together and speak to eloquently about Daryl on Wednesday was so very impressive.

Toronto

I always tell this story about traveling to Toronto.  One year, we twice had to go from Texas to Toronto on a road trip with no off day.  Now, because of the heat in Texas, they avoid day games.  Not just avoid them, they even start their night games at 7:35 pm.  And believe me, when you are flying out after the game, every half hour matters.

So we play our usual three hour, 40 minute game against the Rangers, wait 45 minutes, bus to the airport, wait for the bags to load, take off, fly to Hamilton, Ontario (because Toronto’s airport closes at a certain hour due to noise restrictions), land, go through customs (we once, long ago, had to wait at customs because one of our guys was carrying more than 10K in cash you are allowed … never asked), bus the hour to Toronto, check in and lay my head down on the pillow at 6:15 am with a game that night at 7:05 pm.  The sun was already up by the time we went to bed.

And we did that twice in a season!

ACE Star

Kudos to catcher Blake Hickman of Simeon High School and our Amateur City Elite travel team on national recognition!  A star is about to be born and you read it here first.  The best thing about Blake — and Kenny Williams told Blake’s mother this when they talked earlier this year — is that he was raised correctly and is a gentlemann and a scholar first, baseball player second.

Kids

Leave it to kids.  On the way to the Bulls game last night with my daughters (my son had a mandatory choir concert, so you can imagine how happy that made him!), and my youngest says, “Will we have to park where everybody else does?”  Several thoughts race through my head at once … have I failed as a father?  Is she that spoiled? I am about to start the Joe Black “You ain’t better than nobody and ain’t nobody better than you speech” when I look back and see she and her sister smiling broadly.

Before the game, I spring for “Rose #1″ t-shirts for everybody.  They quickly pull them on for the game.

After the loss, we are walking out to the car and my youngest is not happy.  I figure it was the tough loss combined with the fatigue of staying up til 10:30 p.m.

No, it was the shirt.

“Everytime I buy a shirt, we lose,” she lamented, pointing out that just when she got her 2011 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship shirt, her mom’s team got ousted from the tourney.  “I only get to wear these for one day.”

Life as a 10-year-old.

Finally

We are still trying to figure out what Edwin Jackson was doing.

Only AJ

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If You Missed It

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15111385&topic_id=9780550&c_id=mlb

Sunday Notes

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Odds & Ends

Friday night’s scoreboard video (congrats to Jeff Szynal and company) was terrific as it celebrated Jon Garland and Juan Uribe’s time with the White Sox and thanked them for 2005.

Both Jon and Juan watched the video from the Dodgers dugout and then tipped their caps in response to the standing ovation from the White Sox crowd.

I had the chance to say hello to Jon before BP on Friday.  He was very touched by word that he and Juan were to be honored.

Golf In Venezuela

Thursday and Friday’s fog brought this hilarious story from Ozzie Guillen about golf in Venezuela.

“Where we play, one of the courses,” Guillen recounted, “Is very hilly.  You are in the mountains.

“And it’s always foggy on a few of the holes.  But the caddies are great.  They know the course.

“Here’s what they do.  On the tee, they put down a piece of paper or something to mark your line.  They put it a few feet in front of you and then tell you, ‘hit it here.’

Guillen is demonstrating this on the floor of the coaches’ room as he explains.

“So you tee off by hitting the ball into the dense fog.

“Whack!”

“‘Shhhh.  Listen.’ And everybody stays silent waiting for the sound of the ball to hit.

“Ok, you’re in the fairway,” the caddies say.  “Or, uh-oh, you better hit again.  Or, sand, but you’re safe.

“It’s amazing.”

Too Much Information

So we were surprised to see coach Mike Gellinger head out to coach first base yesterday instead of Harold Baines.

What’s wrong with Harold? everyone asked.

We dutifully call down to the training room to find out what’s wrong.

“He’s been bothered by some tendinitis in his Achilles tendon,” is the report.

So we announce to everyone in the press box and on air that Harold is not coaching first base because of his sore leg.

An inning or two later we get a call from the training room.  While it is true that Harold is suffering from a sore heel, his heel is actually sore and in Baltimore because his son is graduating from college!

So, we explain again.

Today, I saw Harold in the coaches room before the game and congratulate him.

“Three down and one to go,” the proud father said, showing me a photo of his son from the ceremony.

I forgot to ask him about his Achilles tendon.

Moose

Fans may or may not have heard, but our Moose Skowron has had a tough at-bat or two recently as he has been fighting cancer.  Moose has been getting treated, feels great and is confident he’s got this beaten.  Today’s Chicago Tribune features a tremendous story on Moose.  It does a great job of capturing his personality, some of his hilarious stories and just how great an athlete Moose was during his playing career.  Well worth the read.

For any of you who want to send Moose a quick thought or note, feel free to post here and I will deliver.  Moose came out to the game yesterday to say hello and enjoy the White Sox victory and I called him today to congratulate him on the story.  He thought it came out quite well …

Stop, Drop & Roll

Friday, May 20, 2011

Alexei

So at the start of each batting practice, the very first thing the team does, as an entire unit, is follow strength and conditioning coach Allen Thomas in a jog out to center field and back.

Today, on the return trip, Thomas and most of the team fell to the ground in mid run and rolled around in mock agony before getting back to their feet to finish the run.

I can only guess that this was the team mimicking Alexei Ramirez’s reaction last night to getting drilled with a pitch by Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona.  For anyone who saw it, poor Alexei reacted as if he was never going to play again.  Fracture, everyone thought, based on his reaction.  After some kind words from Herm and Ozzie, he dusted himself off, went to first base and then finished the game.

Apparently, someone noticed.  Just a guess.

Starting Interleague

Friday, May 20, 2011

Warming Up

Walking into the ballpark today, I saw the ever-present Joe Pasta and laughed.  For the past few weeks, each day I walk by Joe and he is either wearing a parka, wearing several coats at once or huddled in his car.  Today was different.  The sun was shining and it seemed like spring.

“It’s warming up,” I said to him. 

“Inside the ballpark and outside,” Joe laughed.

Here Come The Dodgers

The White Sox bring a three-game winning streak into tonight’s game with the LA Dodgers as the teams meet for the fifth time in the regular season.  The Sox lead the all-time series, 9-3, going 5-1 in Chicago.

The Sox are 143-104 (.579) all-time in interleague play, going 76-46 at home and 67-58 on the road, the second-best winning percentage in baseball behind the Yankees (.588, 144-102).

Chicago is 11-1 in its last 12 interleague games and 18-3 in the last 21.  The Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 home games against the NL.  The Sox went a major-league best 18-3 in interleague play last year.

The Sox rotation is a combined 48-23 with a 3.27 ERA all-time in interleague play.  Mark Buehrle’s 23 interleague wins are tied for the most all-time with Jaime Moyer, while Gavin Floyd’s 1.71 ERA is the second lowest behind Jason Isringhausen’s 1.69 mark (min. 70.0 IP).

Paul Konerko ranks fourth all-time with 49 interleague home runs, trailing only Jim Thome (57), Ken Griffey Jr. (55) and Carlos Delgado (50).

Heroes

Former Sox players Jon Garland and Juan Uribe, both members of the 2005 World Series championship club, return to U.S. Cellular Field for the first time since leaving the organization (actually Garland was with the Angels but did not pitch; he is scheduled to throw Saturday).

A special video thank you is planned for pregame Friday.  Then, we hope to beat them over the three games.

I may have mentioned it before here, but there is a famous story about Uribe in the Sox clubhouse.

It seems a certain outfielder — since departed — was taunting Uribe about the fact that the outfielder was featured on a bobblehead while Uribe was not.

Uribe silenced the clubhouse abuse and drew cheers from his teammates when he replied: “I have a statue.”

You can’t walk into (or out of for that matter), U.S. Cellular’s Gate 4 main entrance without seeing Uribe’s tremendous catch from Game 4 of the World Series.

Said It All

During a recent golf game with a certain White Sox radio announcer, a PGA Tour caddie, myself and another friend, the friend hit a tough second shot on Hole #15 at Cog Hill’s Dub’s Dread.  His ball ended up behind a tree on the right side of the fairway, blocking his approach to the green on the par 5 hole.

“What would a pro do here?” the friend asked the PGA caddie.

“He wouldn’t be here,” was the reply.  We all broke out in laughter.

Another Big One Tonight

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Big Night For Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy returned to the mound at U.S. Cellular Field and left with an exclamation mark last night, tossing a complete-game shutout as the White Sox beat the Indians, 1-0, in the first game of a key two-game American League Central matchup.

According to John Lombombarda at Elias Sports Bureau, you have to go back in time a bit to find another Sox pitcher as good as Peavy last night:

Jake Peavy threw a three-hit shutout without allowing a walk and striking out eight batters Wednesday night.  The last Chisox pitcher to have such a game, that is, a complete-game shutout, while allowing three or fewer hits, no walks with at least eight strikeouts was rookie Melido Perez at Kansas City on the next to last day of the season in 1988.  Perez blanked the Royals on two hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts.”

Key to preserving the shutout was an amazing catch (yet again) by center fielder Brent Lillibridge.  Watch it here:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?tcid=mm_cws_vid&c_id=cws

Manager Ozzie Guillen was glowing in his postgame comments about Jake.

“All of his pitches were working,” Guillen said.  “That’s fun to watch.  That’s the type of baseball I love and would pay to see.

“It’s great to see a guy perform like that. Everybody was excited in the clubhouse.  Everyone respects how hard this guy worked to get to this point.”

The White Sox had flipped Phil Humber and Gavin Floyd (Floyd goes tonight now) in the rotation, in part, so that Humber could be available in case Peavy ran into trouble or tired.

Jake made sure the bullpen wasn’t needed.

Aging Well

Fans may not have noticed but last night Omar Vizquel became the second oldest player to play shortstop in a Major League game.  He trails only Bobby Wallace of the St. Louis Browns, who played short in 1918.

Gearing Up For the Tribe

Wednesday, May 17, 2011

Big Series

Big opportunity over the next two games to slow down the Indians and start the process of closing ground on the Tribe.  Should be two fun games to watch.

Sergio

Don’t say it too loudly, but Sergio Santos leads all American League relievers with a 0.00 ERA (20.0 IP) and is the only qualifying reliever in baseball yet to allow a run … Santos’ 16 scoreless outings and 20.0 scoreless IP to start the season are both the second-longest streaks by a Sox pitcher, trailing Dustin Hermanson’s 19 games and 21.0 IP in 2005.

Buddy Bell

White Sox director of player development Buddy Bell spent some time on a conference call this afternoon talking to White Sox bloggers who spend a lot of time discussing and dissecting our famr system.

Among the highlights …

On Andre Rienzo, a RHP from Sao Paolo, Brazil, who is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in seven games at Winston-Salem:

“He’s a great story.  This kid’s come really quick, and we need to make sure we don’t move him too quick.  He’s still trying to strike everyone out.”

Bell noted that Rienzo features a good sinker and change and is starting to get a good feel for pitching.

On Jordan Danks:

“Jordan Danks looks better than I’ve ever seen him.  He’s just seeing the ball and getting after it.”

On RHP Dan Romenowsky, who is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA and two saves at Class AA Birmingham:

“He can hit a gnat in the ass on both sides of the plate.” (editor: my favorite quote of the day)

On ever returning to managing:

“No!  I like where I am at too much.  I like the people I’m working with.  I like where I am at.”

You Gotta Be Bleeping Me!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cold

It’s 42 degrees as I write this — 42 degrees in mid May!  When we arrived at Midway Airport last night and got off the plane, the cold wind and temps shocked the system.  As we waited for our luggage to come off the United charter, we turned to popsicles.

“That’s OK,” someone said.  “Texas is coming here and those guys aren’t used to this.  This is our kind of weather!”

Anytime summer wants to show up, that would be fine with me.

Scoring Updates

Sure nice to get those Chicago Bulls scoring updates on the flight home last night.  Big win.

Enthusiasm is Contagious

Guys were certainly pumped coming off that 6-3 trip to the west coast, and Ozzie summed it up well yesterday when he said that our team owes it to our fans to play well at home.  It starts tonight.

Other Stuff

Friday, May 13, 2011

From White Sox pre-game notes:

  • Tom Paciorek, who serves as color analyst in the White Sox TV booth from 1988-99, re-joins former partner Ken Harrelson in the booth for this three-game series in Oakland as Steve Stone takes the weekend off.
  • The Sox are 8-1 in their last nine games played on a Friday the 13th, dating to a 7-2 victory on 7/13/01 at the Cubs.
  • Starting pitcher Phil Humber has allowed three hits or fewer while throwing at least 7.0 IP in three straight starts, one of only two Sox pitchers in history to accomplish the feat, tying the great Bill Pierce (5/30-6/8/57).  No Sox pitcher has ever done it over four starts.  Humber is trying tonight.
  • The Sox have gone 6-5 in their last 11 games in Oakland entering tonight, compared to 6-28 in their previous 34.  The White Sox are 24-19 playing at Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland since 2008, including a 10-7 record since 2010.  By contrast, the Sox were 24-64 (.273) on the road vs. the Mariners, Angels and A’s from 2001-07.

On The Road

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who’s Best

“I’m the best shorstop on this team,” joked manager Ozzie Guillen as he played catch to warm up with Kevin Hickey.  “I can catch better than Vizquel, I can throw better than Vizquel … I just can’t hit.”  Meanwhile, Hall of Famer to be Omar Vizquel stood behind Guillen laughing.

Off Day

Players and staff enjoyed an off day in San Francisco yesterday, many heading to Napa while others took in the sights in the city and others still took on the golf course.

I had mistakenly thought that one by-product of my trip west would be warm weather.  Not.  On Wednesday in Anaheim it was very nice, 75 and sunny, but it was still 20 or so degrees cooler than Chicago.  The Bay Area is now exception as Sox hitters took batting practice in hoodies and we all worn our winter coats.

What was that line about the coldest winter being a summer in San Francisco?

Gelly

You may have noticed Mike Gellinger filling in for Harold Baines as first base coach on this trip.  Harold Baines’ mother underwent some surgery in Maryland and HB returned home to be with her as she recovers.  Here’s to a speedy return to the lineup Mrs. Baines.  My guess is we will see Harold Monday in Chi-town.

One of My Oops-es

I was relating one of those moments from early in my career when I wasn’t sure if I’d have a later in my career.

In Texas one night we were scheduled to make a player move after the game.  The plan was to send Matt Karchner down to Class AAA to make room for someone, I’ve forgotten who.  Anyway, the 7:30 pm start in Arlington and the typical long American League game meant the news of the move wouldn’t make the next day’s newspaper.  So with the beat writers up against their deadlines and a couple of innings left in the game, I told them the move, asking them to not report it until after the game (this being the pre-internet days, the news wouldn’t appear until the next day’s newspaper).

So in comes Karchner to pitch the bottom of the eighth.  The next hitter smokes a line drive off his left knee, and Karchner goes down in a heap.  Instead of being sent out, he was headed to the DL instead.

“Change of plans,” I told the writers.  “I’ll know more after the game.”

Gulp.  “I already sent it in,” one reporter said.  “It’s in the first edition.”

My turn to gulp.  “You’ve got to get it changed and right now or it’s my job,” I explained/yelled.

I remember the sense of panic, but I honestly can’t tell you how it came out.  But I remained employed.

Pregame Changes

It was interesting and fun to note the changes in our players’ pregame activities since when I travelled more extensively with the team.

Each day in Anaheim, a number of young pitchers were out on the field tossing a frisbee to one another.  They had the diamond covered and one toss even went over the center-field fence.  “Home run, it’s outta here.”

Others spend time on their ipads.  At one point in Anaheim, four of our guys sat in a row, intently working on their ipads.

Vizquel can often be found on his computer. and Wednesday was no different.  He was showing Paul Konerko a video.  I had heard about it and wanted to see it firsthand.

The video shows a nature guide on the grassy edge of a body of water.

“This is in Venezuela,” Vizquel explains proudly.

The guide steps into the murky water and pulls out an Anaconda, the snake has wrapped itself around a turtle.

“See, it’s a young one,” Vizquel explains.  The guide pulls the snake out onto a dirt road.

Suddenly, Vizquel enters the frame.  He holds the 10-foot snake by it’s tail as the guide tries to hold it’s head down.

“Don’t hurt it,” Vizquel says on camera and the shortstop/naturalist moves closer to the snake’s head.

“Have you ever done this before?” Konerko asks his teammate as the video rolls.

“No, but I’ve seen it on TV,” Vizquel answers.

And as you watch, Vizquel sneaks up behind the angry snake, crouching down like he is about to steal second, and BANG, grabs the snake behind its head.  The snake writhers around his arm, jaws open, looking for something to bite.

“It’s nervous, it’s scared,” Vizquel explains.

On camera, the snake slowly relaxes, realizing it cannot move.

“See, it looked up and realized Omar Vizquel had caught it,” Konerko laughed.  “It was in safe hands.”

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