Friday, March 31, 2006, 5:18 pm
Crazy here at work today, so sorry to post very late in the day. (My wife wanted to know where my post was since she finally bothered to check this blog out). Finishing touches are going up around the ballpark and things look very cool. Inside the re-decorated reception area is a lighted trophy box and also some memorabilia from the postseason. A must see for all.
Also very neat is the new Scout Lounge, which features a wall full of memorabilia and museum items on display.
A few of the other things we worked on today:
Arranging for a media walkthrough of our home clubhouse for tomorrow and a tour of the new Scout lounge. Our 2006 home uniforms feature a World Champions patch on the sleeve. I joked with a couple people that some teams — think Astros — might see the patch as a target.
We also are arranging to bring into town the last 10 World Series rings for all the morning shows Tuesday AM, thanks to the Hall of Fame. We have called Bill Pierce to see if we can borrow his 1959 AL Championship ring as well.
By the way, make sure to wish Mr. Pierce (he hates it when I call him that) a Happy Birthday on Sunday night. Nice Opening Night/Birthday treat.
KW at the Mic
Kenny Williams will be on the air tomorrow at 11:30 CT on White Sox Weekly on WSCR Radio (670 AM).
Be forewarned that no one knows what to expect with the Dan Ryan Expressway construction beginning this weekend. We have warned the players to add time to their trip and fans planning to attend games this series should see our website and danryanexpressway.com for updates and recommended alternate routes. Be prepared.
We announced a very nice offer yesterday, called the Sox Pride Club. We are trying to build a White Sox fan club. By becoming a member, you get a number of perks, including access to tickets set aside especially for you, Gameday Audio from MLB.com and video from our postgame interview room after each home game (think Ozzie live and unedited after every Sox game). Check it out as it only costs $9.95.
Remember to start your own MLBlog with one of the three different White Sox logos so you can chronicle another big season.
Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:22 am
We break camp in Tucson today and head for two exhibition games in Atlanta. The last day in camp is always hectic. The game is moved up an hour to help with flights. You are trying to pack up the office, prepare for a game and usually have your own luggage to worry about. Thankfully, this year, I am in Chicago and our media relations staff, Bob Beghtol and Pat O’Connell, have to deal with the headaches. Pat will travel with the team to Atlanta, while Bob will return to Chicago as we prepare for Opening Night.
It is hard to describe the feeling as the plane lifts off from the runway. Some guys are thrilled to have made the team, some guys are excited that the season is about to begin. It is a mix of emotions that are hard to explain.
As is typical, we will bring a handful of minor league players along with us to Atlanta. They might end up playing quite a bit because you don’t want guys playing all nine innings right before the regular season starts.
In Chicago, we are busy setting up the media facilities and arranging credentials for Sunday Night. Official first pitch will be at 7:13 pm to accommodate national television.
Earlier this spring, ESPN was in camp taping footage with the team for their open Sunday Night. You may want to make sure you turn on the coverage right at 7 pm or that you TiVo the game. You can also subscribe to MLB.TV ($14.95 month/$79.95 season) and watch all season live over the Internet if you are among the many Sox fans who live outside the Chicago area.
Also Comcast Sports Net is going to have a one hour pregame Sunday Night and will show a lot of the festivities. Again, make sure you see it or make sure you TiVo/tape it.
Everyone is giving Chris Widger a hard time for all the media coverage he is getting for attending George Mason. Who knew he was such a college basketball expert.
Both SI and The Sporting News have us beating the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series. While I will certainly take that result, please don’t jinx us.
A poster asked about why we don’t provide giveaways to all fans (as opposed to first 20,000, etc.). I checked with our sponsorship people and their explanation made sense to me. We try — and hopefully you will agree — to have pretty high quality items as our premium giveaways. For example, the replica trophy on Wednesday is apparently very cool (I am told, I haven’t seen). These come with a cost. If we were to try and give away 40,000 items, the cost would just go too high for a potential sponsor, whose willingness to pay for the items on a given day is how we can pull the giveaways off. 10,000 or 20,000 is a more manageable figure. Make sense?
Cleveland and Minnesota Fans
A Tribe fan posted saying they are a frequent reader of the site. We always appreciate anyone who wants to stop by … maybe we will even convert you.
What I really like is that you guys (the readers) have seemed to create a community here that enjoys one another, loves the Sox and doesn’t need to scream at one another or lower the conversation to sharing insults. Thanks, because we all benefit from it.
All I am trying to accomplish is to give you an inside look at the team, provide a live face for the organization, maybe give you our side of the story now and then and try to answer your questions when I can. I try to be funny every now and then, but that is subjective and my three kids would certainly tell you I DEFINITELY am not funny.
Everyone seems to enjoy the mix right now — I thank you for all the compliments — so let’s try to keep this going.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006, 11:41 am
Thanks for all the feedback on Monday’s post. Kudos to Mark Newman and the guys (and gals) behind the scenes at MLBlogs for tying the video to my list. 2005 truly was amazing for all of us. Now, it’s time to start a new list.
I just compiled a chart of all the members of the White Sox family who passed away since last year’s Opening Day. We mention each on the scoreboard and Jeff Szynal, who runs our scoreboard room, and I always compare notes on the list. It’s sad and interesting at the same time. There are always some names on the list who I need to look up. And then there are the personal ones, like Chico, that bring a pause.
Here is our list for Opening Day 2006 (let us know if we missed anyone):
Bob Kennedy, INF, 1940s-50s
Pete Gebrian, P, 1947
Don Rowe, coach, 1988
Jake Wade, P, 1930s-40s
Sandy Consuerga, P, 1953-54
Carlos Martinez, 1B, 1980s
Chico Carrasquel, SS, 1950s
Al Lopez, MGR, 1950s
Pat Kelly, OF, 1970s
And some other notables … Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, Mark Staehly (a young Sox fan who became famous for his charitable efforts even as he fought a life-long battle with cancer), Charles Williams (a Chicago native who was the first Black to umpire a World Series Game), The Coach, Ray Meyer and Hall of Famer and Chicagoan, Kirby Puckett.
Some lived to see a White Sox World Series title, some did not.
The Legend of Boone Logan
So 21-year-old Boone Logan arrives in Tucson this spring in time for early instructional camp for Sox minor leaguers.
Once major league games start on March 1, extra pitchers are brought along just in case we run out of pitchers. Boone Logan gets to come to a game at Colorado.
In that game, every one of our auditioning left-handed relievers is awful. I happen to be sitting next to Ken Williams, Rick Hahn and Dan Fabian as inning after inning, our pitchers are not very good. Tentative. Afraid to throw strikes. It wasn’t pretty.
Around the eighth inning, we look down in the bullpen and see this tall left-hander warming up. "Put him in," Kenny says, half jokingly.
But Boone doesn’t pitch that day. That night, I go out to dinner with Kirk Champion, our minor league pitching coordinator.
"How about that game today?" he asks me and we laugh. "The kid in the bullpen threw better than all the others. We just had him up to get some work."
"Funny you should say that," I told Champ.
The next day, at the morning meeting, Boone Logan’s name was up for discussion. Quietly, he moved his uniform and locker into the big league clubhouse as a non-roster invitee.
Inning after inning this spring, he just kept getting people out.
One game, Rick Hahn, our assistant GM and I watched him throw while Kenny was at another game.
Kenny called. "How did he throw?" Kenny asked. "How did his stuff look?"
"Well," Rick answered. "He only threw six pitches in the inning. Tough to tell how good or bad his stuff was because he just kept getting guys out … quickly."
It was the story all spring. And now, he is going to be at U.S. Cellular Field for Opening Night.
Over the years, several Sox pitchers have made the jump from Class A ball to the majors. Rich Gossage and Terry Forster both did. Scott Radinsky (Rad Dog) did. And Carlos Castillo did as well in 1997.
But really look at what Logan has done. After spending his firs two years as a starter (with limited success) at Rookie League Great Falls (thanks to their website for this picture), Champion and Curt Hasler (Has) switched him to the bullpen and lowered his arm angle some.
Because of where he lets go of the ball, his stuff is sneaky quick. He throws strikes and keeps the ball down.
Last year, in 21 games at Rookie Great Falls, he went 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA, walked four and struck out 29 in 35.1 IP. He then was promoted to Class A Winston-Salem at the very end of the season and appeared in four games.
This guy really is jumping from Rookie ball to the major leagues.
It is a long way from Great Falls.
One of the fun things about this blog are the number of emails and comments I receive from people outside the United States.
For example, I understand one college student in Italy for the semester to "study" relies on this site for all her White Sox news (which is sad for her). So, it is kinda cool to know that this blog is being read around the clock.
But I do need to point out that if I was a young college student studying abroad in Italy, birthplace of Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, etc., home of Florence and Roma, I don’t think I would feel the need to take "spring break" in the Canary Islands.
But have a good time anyway, Jacqueline.
In the spirit of whitesox.com and the day-long "Soxabration" that will happen there today, a bunch of us (I can’t take sole credit) sat around and listed the top moments from 2005. Our intention was to make it a Top 10, but it soon became apparent that our list was much longer. So, here is our unofficial list in ascending order:
20. Hitting four home runs to beat Randy Johnson and the Yankees on Aug. 21.
18. Mark Buehrle’s 1-0 win over Cleveland on Opening Day.
17. The four-game sweep of the Indians to open the second half.
Obviously, this is extremely subjective and maybe we forgot something. We’d love to hear from you if you want to comment on this post to make additions or argue for deletions.
What was your best moment from 2005?
Jerry Reinsdorf: "When Paul Konerko presented me with the game ball from the final out of the World Series."
Kenny Williams: "For me, it was as the National Anthem was being sung before Game 1, and I stood and watched the crowd at U.S. Cellular Field surge and swell."
Ozzie Guillen: "Believe it or not, when we won the division in Detroit because I told people after that, we were not going to be stopped."
Harold Baines: "There really were too many moments to pick just one."
Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland: "Had to be the final out. As players, you always want to be able to charge the field after the last out of the last game of the season."
Scott Podsednik: "Celebrating with my team after we won Game 2 of the World Series."
Joe Crede: "Scott Podsednik’s home run."
A.J. Pierzynski: "There were almost too many. The four straight complete games in the ALCS were pretty amazing."
Jermaine Dye: "The parade."
Juan Uribe: "I am most proud of the catch falling into the stands."
Bobby Jenks: "No question. The last out of Game 4."
Pablo Ozuna: "Scoring the run to win Game 2 of the ALCS vs. the Angels."
Tadahito Iguchi: "The feeling when the ball left my bat for the ALDS home run against Boston."
Sunday, March 26, 2006, 9:45 am
Mackowiak, CF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Uribe, SS; Crede, 3B; Gload, 1B; Ozuna, LF; Jon Garland starting.
Dustin Hermanson is scheduled to throw today against the Royals.
Both Jose Contreras and Bobby Jenks threw well yesterday in minor-league stints vs. the Rockies at the Hi Corbett Field complex. No physical complaints from Jose.
A lot of the media stuff our guys did months ago during the offseason is showing up now. Stories on Ozzie Guillen are set to appear in Playboy, Men’s Health and GQ Magazine. This issue of The Sporting News shows Ozzie, as head chef, stirring the ingredients for another AL pennant. TSN picks the Sox to win the Central, beat the Red Sox in the ALDS, beat the Yankees in the ALCS and then beat the Cardinals in the World Series. October seems a long way away right now. Let’s worry about next Sunday.
Check out this blog and whitesox.com tomorrow for a few thoughts from folks about the 2005 season. After that, we turn the page to 2006.
Saturday, March 25, 2006, 11:50 pm
Jose Contreras will test his right elbow on the mound against Colorado in a minor league game at 1:05 pm today at the Hi Corbett contest. Bobby Jenks will also throw in the game.
Pitching For The Week
Assuming all goes well with Contreras today, our pitching rotation for the next week shapes up as:
Sunday: Hideo Nomo vs. Kansas City while Jon Garland pitches in a minor league game.
Monday: Mark Beuhrle at the Cubs
Tuesday: Javier Vazquez at Arizona
Wednesday: Freddy Garcia vs. the Brewers
Thursday: Jose Contreras vs. Colorado
Friday: TBD at Atlanta
Saturday: Jon Garland and Javier Vazquez will both pitch against the Braves
Sunday: Mark Buehrle opens the season against Cleveland at U.S. Cellular Field
Pitching coach Don Cooper made a good point today. "It is always so touch to evaluate pitching here in Tucson," he said. "And when you add into it that last October every game was over the top. Then, we come here having lost a month of your usual offseason preparation. It’s been hard to manufacture much adrenaline this spring. We are looking forward to heading to Atlanta and then home. It doesn’t even matter where the plane is heading, when you leave Tucson your breaking ball gets much better. It will be neat to see all our fans and the reception will be great. Adrenaline won’t be a problem."
Cooper, Contreras and Bob Beghtol planned to hop into whitesox.com writer Scott Merkin’s car once Contreras was done with his start today. I am not sure how Contreras will fit into Merkin’s little rental.
Check out the whitesox.com homepage on Monday. The power that is at MLBAM happened to read on this blog some time ago about the family of Sox fans who planned the big celebratory party to re-live the 2005 season (the Kamholz’s if I remember correctly). They liked the idea and on Monday, are going to feature a celebration of 2005 on the site. They have assembled a landing page that will have lots of text, videos, merchandise, final-out ringtone, official DVD, auction items, etc. They tell me they also will promote this blog (which may not be a good thing).
So I decided to go around and ask key people (Jerry, Kenny, Ozzie, players, etc) their best memory from 2005 and I am going to compile a Top 10 list of my own. I will post it all on Monday AM, so come visit and add your favorites to the list.
I fly home to Chicago tomorrow — thank you, God, so my posts will start to look more toward Opening Night.
Thursday, March 23, 2006, 3:36 pm
This is the second time now that my left ankle has swelled into a grapefruit. The pain is indescribable. I tore my achilles tendon in 2000 (it was well documented then because I was playing a pick-up basketball game that included women and my wife … Division I basketball-caliber women I repeatedly try to remind people), and the pain doesn’t come close to gout.
So anyway, doubt you all care, but I do have sympathy for any of you out there who suffer from gout. I ended up in the Emergency Room yesterday morning, but by 8 pm last night felt much better. You have to love it when the doctor gives you medicine and says, take this until you get sick. But it worked.
I was able to limp in to the office today and get some work done … and at least it is not the plague. I have now been sick twice, been on antibiotics for five days, had prescriptions for two anti-inflammatories, the sick drug, and Vicatin. No offense to Tucson, but I really just want to go home right now. I am on a plane Sunday.
Minor League Games
Enough of my whining.
One of the best things about spring training is that each day, minor league games between organizations are taking place on back fields. I love to go watch. You see a mix of young players, with major leaguers sprinkled in, and you are just feet away.
Today, we had Javier Vazquez and Matt Thornton play in a Class AAA game against the Dbacks. AJ (2-4, RBI) caught and Pablo Ozuna had three at-bats (2-3). Vazquez was virtually unhittable, allowing one run (homer) on three hits over 7.0 IP. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
Thornton threw a great first inning (two strikeouts) and then struggled in the second, allowing three runs on five hits. Four of the hits were hard-hit ground balls and one was a double off the wall. He did not talk a batter, struck out five and was throwing gas. There is a lot of talent here, and hopefully, Don Cooper can straighten him out. The ball jumps at you.
Meanwhile in the Class AA game, Rob Mackowiak was 2-4 with a double and Jim Thome went 2-6 with a home run and two walks (he batted second each inning).
As he walked back past us, we laughed and told him to go over to the Dbacks dugout and grab a bat so he could face Thornton.
"No way," he smiled. "I’m ending today on a high note (the homer)."
I spent some time the other day messing with a few stats trying to provide you all with an argument that put our spring record in context. After several futile attempts, I quit. Right now, I have no defense. I thought the ERAs of our regular staff would show pretty well. They are not great. I thought we seemed to give up a lot of runs late in the games to lose leads. Not really. Surprisingly, we give up about a third of our runs in innings 7-8-9. So I quit.
I was talking about my quest with Ken Williams and Rick Hahn, our assistant GM, and Kenny summed it up well …
"We really can’t explain it," he said, "year after year when the jet’s wheels leave the ground in Tucson, our pitchers just seem to suddenly get better."
Ozzie laughing at a comment by Joey Cora during an exhibition Thursday (AP Photo).
Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 12:15 pm
Mackowiak, LF; Uribe, SS; Konerko, 1B; Dye, RF; Iguchi, 2B; Crede, 3B; Widger, C; Anderson, CF; Blakely, DH. Jon Garland is pitching, followed by Javier Lopez, Sean Tracey, Tim Redding and newly acquired Matt Thornton.
Due to our rainout on 3/11, WSCR Radio 670 will broadcast the White Sox vs. Brewers game on 3/29 at TEP.
Geoff Blum ( 350K) stopped in the clubhouse today to say hello and goodbye to everyone.
Monday, March 20, 2006, 2:50 pm
First, the Good News
Scott Podsednik played in a Class AAA game today at our complex. He led off each of the first six innings, going 1-5 with a home run, walk and stolen base. Consider it a first step toward Opening Day.
Second, the Elephant in the Room
A poster this weekend mentioned that we are bringing up the rear in the Cactus League standings, really in all of baseball, and he/she is right. Early this spring, we did not look very good. We were flat. No one was hitting, and our pitching, specifically our bullpen, was horrid. We have played much better of late. You really don’t worry so much about wins and losses down here as you do how you are playing. You want to stay healthy. You do want to see the team start to play crisp, winning baseball the last 10 days or so each spring, although last year, we ended the spring by going 4-10.
I will try to pull together some statistical points that might provide some comfort (look at the ERAs of our starting rotation, scores of games after six innings, etc.). The other good thing is that with so many games on Comcast Sports Net this spring, and with all of them live on MLB.TV, you really can see — and judge — for yourself.
Sporting a walking cast, Robin Ventura wandered into camp today. He had been using a cane to help with his surgically repaired right foot, but he told me there was no way he was visiting the White Sox with a cane.
Each year, RV helps promote Cap Cure in helping find a cure for prostate cancer. He comes to spring training camps and then spends a weekend in June flying to major league games with a bevy of sports stars.
We sat in the trainer’s room for 45 minutes talking with Robin, asst trainer Brian Ball and Jim Thome.
I told (threatened) Robin that I would post some of the highlights (lowlights) of his offseason on this blog … I got the sense he is a reader.
Tough life … he spent a month in Hawaii this summer, "just relaxing." Then, he and a few friends/family flew to Alaska to fish for salmon. The experience was very cool. They were so far from civiliazation — and so close to the bears — that you had to stay alert. "We flew in on those little planes with the pontoons," he said, "and you had to fish with a gun on your back just in case the bears came too close." The group fly fished to catch the "silvers", which were filleted and packaged right on the banks.
Thome said Alaska is on his "to-do" list once his playing career is over.
RV did have surgery to improve his right ankle, the same one he injured so seriously with us in 1997 (one of the worst on-field events I have ever personally witnessed). He is in a walking cast for three months (two to go) and then should be running sprints soon afterward.
He remains very proud of his accomplishments as a junior high girls basketball coach.
"I had a few local high school ADs call me about coaching," Ventura said. "And I said, ‘girls basketball?’ … No, they replied, we wondered if you might want to coach baseball."
Someone posted that this blog was bookmarked on Senator Barack Obama’s new website. I looked but couldn’t find it. I have had the chance to meet the Senator several times, and he is a great guy.
We met for the first time when he threw out a first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field. He seemed a bit nervous about the ceremonial first pitch but threw fairly well (for a Senator not named Bunning). Later, I saw highlights of the Senator playing basketball with the troops in Iraq. I think basketball might be his sport.
The next time I saw the Senator was as we both dropped off our daughters at preschool. Our daughters have become very good friends … with my daughter much preferring a "play date" at the Obama house to one at her own (she certainly is not stupid). The littlest Obama claims to be a Cubs fan — something about being friends with Sarge Mathews — so we are working on converting her baseball politics.
Anyway, if the Senator from Illinois occasionally finds time to read this blog, I am truly honored.
I just received a book I ordered that is a quasi biography of sabermetrician Bill James. It is an enjoyable read through the first 90 pages or so. I will keep you posted when I finish.
Another book that landed on my desk this spring is Fantasyland by Sam Walker of the Wall Street Journal. I definitely recommend it. The concept is unique. Sam gains entrance into the toughest Rotisserie Baseball League in the country and uses his superpowers and keen media-credentialled insight to take on the League’s greats. You will have to read the book, which is discussed in this issue of Sports Illustrated. (Please note: the cartoon image of Sam in SI is a pretty close version of what he really looks like, regardless of what he will tell you).
In fairness, I know Sam (since that it my job), and he was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the book and thank me in the author’s notes.
I do not receive any compensation for mentioning the book here, however, which reminds me, quite randomly, that I was too stupid to negotiate additonal compensation for doing this blog all of last year.
Maybe a Soxblog book contract is in the works? Any chance, Newman?
Monday, March 20, 2006, 9:22 am
Joe Borchard Traded
The White Sox traded outfielder Joe Borchard to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for left-handed pitcher Matt Thornton this morning.
Borchard was told before he climbed on the 7:15 am bus for Surprise, Ariz., where the Sox play the Royals at 1:05 pm.
With his wife and dog waiting in his truck outside, Joe cleared out his locker, said goodbye to clubhouse staff and minor league coaches.
I wished him the best of luck and said we would see him down the line (like next week in Peoria, Ariz.)
Borchard, who was out of options and was a former first-round pick by the Sox, was traded for a fellow first round pick. Thornton was selected 22nd overall by the Mariners in 1998.
He gives the Sox yet another left-handed option over the spring’s final two weeks.