One Era Ends, Another Begins
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Paul Konerko Day
It was a momentous and bittersweet night on the South Side. We at the White Sox along with 38,160 of our loyal fans gathered at U.S. Cellular Field to pay tribute to our captain, Paul Konerko, who has meant so much to the franchise for the past 16 seasons. Today, Paulie plays the last game of his career in the season finale and there’s no doubt there will be more standing ovations, curtain calls and goose bumps.
Furthermore, with Jose Abreu breaking the club’s all-time rookie home run record in last night’s 5-4 victory over the Royals, along with so many other positive signs during the course of this season, it certainly feels like the torch is being passed on to a new era of White Sox Baseball.
Here are some of the sights and sounds from last evening’s festivities:
–An emotional introduction by Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was followed by the unveiling of a Konerko statue on the outfield concourse representing his grand slam pose from the 2005 World Series.
–The dramatic presentation of the World Series grand slam ball to Paulie from Sox fan Chris Claeys, who caught it during Game 2 of the ’05 Series. Believe it or not, he also caught a Konerko foul ball last night.
–Former teammates Sean Lowe, Chris Getz, Greg Norton, Jim Thome, Brian Anderson, Ross Gload and Cliff Politte were also on hand. Others such as Joe Crede and Scott Podsednik had planned to be there, but couldn’t make it because of the air traffic issue in Chicago.
–There were video tributes from the likes of Crede, Podsednik, Derek Jeter, Derrick Rose, Jonathan Toews, Torii Hunter, C.C. Sabathia, Gordon Beckham, Jermaine Dye, Jose Uribe, Ozzie Guillen, Juan Uribe, Mark Buehrle, A.J. Pierzynski, Aaron Rowand, Jon Garland and James Hetfield from Metallica. Paulie’s longtime walkup music was from the band’s song, “Harvester of Sorrow.”
–Paulie received a framing of baseballs in the shape of the number 14 signed by his 2005 World Champion teammates, a pair of vintage guitars (a 1976 Gibson, the year he was born, and a 1963 Fender Stratocaster), an oil painting of his swing and a bench made of bats, bases and balls from his 2014 mates with “Our Teammate” and “Our Captain” written on it. Governor Pat Quinn, a huge Sox fan also in attendance, proclaimed it Paul Konerko Day in the state of Illinois.
–The announcement that Paulie’s No. 14 will be retired next season.
–PK to the fans, calling them “friends”: “When you look at that statue and that number that is going up right there, your fingerprints are all over it.”
–Konerko was replaced by Andy Wilkins at first base in the top of the seventh. Take a look at what happened.
–And here’s the pregame ceremony in its entirety:
A Photo Gallery
MLB Tonight’s Tribute to Konerko
Plays of the Day
Abreu broke Ron Kittle‘s Sox rookie record with his 36th homer, a two-run shot, in the first inning of last night’s victory (click on top link below). Jose now has 107 RBI on the season with a game to go…Josh Phegley hit a pair of solo homers, his second and third long ones of the year and first career multi-homer game (click on middle link below)…John Danks continued his success against the Royals (7-0, 2.43 lifetime). He allowed just a pair of runs, five hits and a couple of walks in seven innings of work, finishing the season with 11 wins…Javy Guerra came on for Jake Petricka in the ninth and earned his first save…and take a look at the dazzling Alexei Ramirez to Carlos Sanchez to Wilkins double play in the eighth (click on bottom link below):
Quote of the Day
Respected baseball writer Jayson Stark on his choice for American League Rookie of the Year, written prior to last night’s game:
“Have we talked enough this season about how great Jose Abreu has been? Of course we haven’t. I recognize that he’s 27, and he’s played a lot more baseball than, say, Rougned Odor. But the rules still say the guy is a “rookie.” And since he is, he’s had one of the greatest rookie seasons in the history of rookies. Here’s his slash line: .315/.379/.576/.956. Over the past 75 years, exactly two rookies have matched or beaten it — Ted Williams in 1939 and Albert Pujols in 2001. Now add Abreu’s 35 home runs and 72 extra-base hits to that slash line, and you know how many rookies have ever had this season? Two — Pujols and Hal Trosky (in 1934). And here’s the money ball: Abreu’s Adjusted OPS-Plus is an incredible 167. Which, according to baseball-reference.com ranks No. 3 among all rookies in modern history. The only rookies who ever topped it? How ’bout Shoeless Joe Jackson (193) — over a century ago (in 1911) — and Mike Trout (168) two years ago. So I’d like to thank Jose Abreu for his help in writing this column. Even in a year when a half-dozen rookies in this league have had a better season than any rookie in the other league, he made this easy.”
This Afternoon’s Game
White Sox vs. Royals at U.S. Cellular Field (1:10 p.m., CT, CSN) in the finale of the four-game series, the final game of the 2014 season and Konerko’s last game in a Sox uniform as we aim for the split. Starters: RHP Chris Bassitt (1-1, 3.65) for the Sox, RHP Yordany Ventura (14-10, 3.07) for Kansas City.
Excited About the Future
While No. 14 will be missing when spring training commences in February, we’ll turn the page with a lot of optimism as a new era of White Sox Baseball begins. Want some thoughts to keep you warm (and positive) during the cold winter months? Think about Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Alexei Ramirez, Avi Garcia and others who will be part of a winning White Sox future.
Look forward to seeing you at SoxFest, January 23-25 at the Hilton Chicago. Check whitesox.com for details.
Opening Day 2015
The Sox open the 2015 season in Kansas City against the Royals on Monday, April 6. The home opener is Friday, April 10, vs. the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field–see you then and there.
With the regular season ending, this is my last daily post. Keep in mind that I’ll be in touch during what promises to be an active and exciting offseason.
Photos of the Day
Expecting more of this in 2015.