Sunday, July 8, 2012
Return of the Blogger
My apologies for not blogging much over the past month. The fault is entirely mine (“it’s not you, it’s me”). I just found myself so crazily busy (Gold Medal, #TakeJake, etc) that I never seemed to have the 45 minutes it takes to sit down and write. The result is a lot of my information went out on twitter (@whitesox) or Facebook.
During the second half, my goal will be to write two or three times a week, collecting stories and such along the way to keep it interesting. If there is news or something worth posting in the interim, I may ask a staff member to throw the info up at Inside The Sox.
So that is the plan (and my hope is this season just keeps getting busier and busier!)
Where We Stand
Shows what I know. I looked at our schedule from New York to the All-Star Break and thought, “that’s pretty tough, I hope we can play .500 baseball into the break.”
We’ve gone 7-2 over that span (with one to play today), and have almost reached the point of wishing the break didn’t arrive to challenge our momentum (almost!)
So here are some of manager Robin Ventura’s thoughts heading into the break …
On the ups and downs of the season:
“That stuff’s fun. I think that’s part of going through a season – you’re going to have different things. You add a guy like (Kevin) Youk(ilis) and it just changes the mentality of where we started and where we’re at now.”
On the confidence of the players:
“You feel you can play with anybody; how it’s going to end up, nobody knows that. You can control your effort. You can control your concentration and things like that. The things that we work on is we’re working on the defense and being cognizant of that kind of stuff as opposed to things you can’t control so that’s the stuff you stay focused on.”
On his message to the players about the All-Star Break:
“Yeah they get to enjoy it, but when they get back be ready to go the same as it was before they left. It’s going to be the same when they get back in regards to expectations and the focus shifts back to playing games. Enjoy the four days; guys going to the All-Star Game enjoy it; when we get back we still have more to do.”
On what to be concerned about with rookies in the second half:
“Again, it’s just about making things simple. If you think too much about the consequences of what can happen two weeks down the road it can overwhelm you as a young player so it’s more about staying focused on the day-to-day stuff. It’s really no different. That’s my focus and it might as well be theirs.”
On if it takes a lot of guys having a good year to win it all:
“I don’t think anybody’s overachieving. I think guys are just playing to their capabilities and they’re playing well as a team. They’re getting hits at the right time. Guys are getting on base when we need a guy to get on base. In games that are closer, if we need a guy to get on we get him on, get him over and get him in. That’s the best part of it is that we’re all working together. But I don’t see anyone that’s overachieving, I just see guys that are playing to their capabilities.”
On how he would evaluate himself from Opening Day until now:
“Me? I’m probably better than I was on Opening Day. I won a few games so that would be natural. I don’t think I lost any games early on.”
On his focus on the fundamentals:
“In baseball you sometimes try and take things a little further and then it gets confusing. You can forget about one thing and add three or four more things. It’s always been a simpler approach for me, even on the teams that I was on that could probably do a little bit more, it’s just easier to make sure you do the simple things, fundamental things, and the rest of it is just playing baseball.”
On if he needs to safeguard anyone in the second half:
“We’ll figure it out. I just want them to play. I don’t want them going in thinking anything different than what they are right now. I want them to be ready to play.”
On if he thinks about pennant races:
“No, I do not. Just get them through today and get ready for the start of it. If you start thinking too far down the line then you just lose focus on what you can actually control, even for me. Guys can sit in there and talk about it, but if they see me thinking two weeks down the road then they’re going to think two weeks down. You have to think about it as a manager, but I don’t do it around anybody.”
On if it’s been a fun for him thus far:
“I’m in a place where I want to be, with a staff that I enjoy being around and the players have been great. I got a good group. I got lucky for a first year. I got bros.”
On if he evaluates himself at all:
“I have a boss that does that. I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to try to assess myself, but they let me know.”
On if he’s learning as a manager so far:
“You’re always learning. Even guys that have been around a long time, many different situations come up. I don’t think I know it all. You continue every day to get a little more comfortable and learn new things.”
On his toughest decision as a manager:
“Pitchers – when you’re pulling a pitcher, when to leave him, when to take him out, those are always the hardest ones because you never know. Whether you take him out or leave him in you’re still going to have the same result, but the effect on the guy of when you take him out or leave him in is just as much a part of the story as whether he got the batters out or not.”
On the mental break that comes with the All-Star Break:
“It is (mentally taxing). It’s good for us to get that break. We’ve got guys that have been around long enough, that get it, and it’s up to us to make sure they’re focused enough to stay on task of what we’re trying to do.”
Heading Out of Town
Staff and players have flights booked to various locations for the All-Star Break, while PK, Chris Sale and Adam Dunn head for Kansas City. Most seem to be looking forward to sleeping in their own beds and a break in the baseball routine before returning to action Friday against the Royals.
Speaking of Sale, the lefty and Addison Reed visited MLB’s Fan Cave recently when the team was in New York. The two had fun in front of the camera and meeting the Fan Cave contestants.
Best Line of the Week
Adam Dunn about Snoop Dog (to MLB Network):
“He makes Chris Sale look fat!”
©Ron Vesely/Chicago White Sox
Double Duty Classic
The White Sox again hosted the Double Duty Classic at the end of June. The Classic, the club’s annual homage to the old East-West Negro League game played at OCP from the 1930s-60s, now features some of the top amateur minority players in the country (White Sox 2012 first round pick Courtney Hawkins played in the 2011 game).
The teams were comprised of players from 10 states and the District of Columbia. 31 players hailed from Illinois. The West All-Star team prevailed this year shutting out the East All-Stars 4-0.
Few could believe it in New York the other day as the White Sox took an entire infield without a baseball. This “shadow or phantom infield” is something high school and college teams sometimes do for fun (and to learn where/how to take infield without the errors and misthrows). Some say Negro League teams did it to entertain fans, but you rarely see a professional team do it before a game, and never a major league team … until the Sox (and in Yankee Stadium no less).
Keith Olberman happened to be there and caught the infield on tape: http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/2012/06/29/phantom-ball-with-video-and-monty/
Speaks to how loose this club is with Ventura as manager.
Caught in Translation
With Cuban Dayan Viciedo about to hit against a new Yankees pitcher on June 28 in New York, hitting coach Jeff Manto grabbed a translator and approached Viciedo in the dugout. Manto went through the “book” on Dave Robertson as Viciedo repeatedly nodded his head in agreement.
“Do you think he understood what I said?” Manto asked the interpreter as Viciedo approached the plate.
BOOM! A game winning home run to left field, stunning Yankee Stadium’s crowd.
“I think he understood,” the interpreter said after high fives were exchanged.
Heading to Twin Orchard Country Club in Long Grove tomorrow for the annual Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities outing. Word is I get to play with Mr. Bill Pierce and former Cub Gene Heiser. I told them that means I am either extremely honored or no one else wanted to play with me. I’m going with the first answer, regardless of the truth! Looking fun, as always, to playing with Billy.
Doesn’t matter what the final Final Man vote todals say, we won. Jake Peavy may not have passed Texas’ Yu Darvish on the last day, but the White Sox won. We won because once again our fan base responded beyond all belief (a city took on and was gaining on Texas and the entire country of Japan), our clubhouse rallied around a teammate (see the great Beckham video of Jake) and Jake (and the rest of our players felt how our organization, and our fans, supported them. Jake may not be in KC this Tuesday, but we won the Final Man vote in so many ways.
Thank you fans for once again responding to the online vote and for a deafening response on Twitter and Facebook. There is a reason we get a final man candidate each year, it is because our fans respond to the challenge. We cannot say enough.