Tuesday, July 25, 2006, 5:45 pm CT
Ozzie made a great point — in my opinion — during his pregame talk with the media.
When asked about staying positive during a losing stretch like this, he answered:
"If I break, the team breaks. And I believe too much in this team to have that happen. We are too good for that, with too much talent.
"People don’t see how much these guys care and how much they want to win. I am the guy who goes into the clubhouse after a tough loss and turns the music on. When you are playing poorly, when a guy is struggling, that’s when you need to put your arm around him and help him up. And when you are playing well, that’s when you need to push them harder. That’s my job."
I wrote about this last August, but it seems relevant again now. Skip it if you want.
Professional athletes, at least baseball players in my experience, aren’t negative. They aren’t beaten. They expect to win every at-bat, every pitch, every game.
From the outside, people might look at that and call it cockiness or arrogance. Some may call it being blindly unrealistic.
In my opinion, it’s what makes them successful. It is what places them among the top 750 professionals in their field.
And I haven’t been smart enough to figure out what comes first … the attitude or the performance. But I do know that it seems to me that when the attitude is gone, when an athlete begins to expect defeat or failure, they are done. I have seen it personally often enough to believe in its dangers.
So tonight, as we take the field to face Johan Santana with "no chance", I know our guys are expecting to win. Each hitter goes to the plate expecting to succeed. He may not in the end, we may not in the end, but his attitude as he steps into the batter’s box is that he is going to succeed.
It is what makes him a major league player. It is what has made him successful at what he does.
I don’t know if every human is wired that way … and everyone is certainly different (thank goodness).
And again, take this or leave it (since it is just my opinion but it also is my blog so I am allowed to pontificate at times), but the easiest thing in the world is to be part of something, to be a fan, to be a player, to be an employee, to be a boss, to be (fill in the blank) when things are going well. Where are you when things get tough?
And the second-easiest thing in the world is to be the critic who constantly forecasts doom and gloom. You know why? Because eventually, that one time, that one day, that one year … you will be right. Because that is life. Eventually, we all fail. And we probably fail more than we succeed, certainly that’s true in baseball. So the safest play is to always expect the worst. You will be right more than you are wrong. If that’s your raison d’etre, then be negative.
But regardless of where I work or what I do, I don’t ever want to be that critic or necessarily surround myself with people who think that way, who have that world view. I don’t want to live and think with that type of negativity. I would rather take the risk of being the optimist, understanding that I might be wrong much more than I am right in the end, but knowing that when I am right, even if it is just once, it will be glorious. And along the way, I can look at myself in the mirror with integrity.
And I think, to sound like Don Cooper a little bit here, those critics live for those moments when they can claim they were "right."
I can’t speak for anyone else — you all can decide for yourselves — but I prefer to wait until October 1 to make that decision. And along the way, I am going to expect to win.
To quote Ozzie Guillen again, "if the season ended today, our biggest decision would be who would sing the National Anthem before Game 1 of the playoffs. A lot of people would trade places with us right now …"
Sorry if this post offended anyone, but authorship has its privileges.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006, 2:15 pm CT
Ozuna, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; Crede, 3B; Uribe, SS; Alomar, C; Anderson, CF. Jose Contreras on the hill.
Kenny and July: Ken Williams became the 11th general manager in White Sox history on 10/24/00 and has guided the club to a 491-417 (.541) record during his tenure, including the team’s third World Series title in 2005 … in his six seasons as general manager, Williams has made 16 trades in July involving the major-league roster, including the acquisitions of Sandy Alomar Jr. and Mike MacDougal this week … the following is a look at Williams’ trades in July since 2001:
- 7/23 – Acquired C Sandy Alomar Jr. from Los Angeles-NL in exchange for RHP B.J. LaMura
- 7/24 – Acquired RHP Mike MacDougal from Kansas City in exchange for LHP Tyler Lumsden and RHP Daniel Cortes
- 7/31 – Acquired INF Geoff Blum from San Diego in exchange for LHP Ryan Meaux
- 7/18 – Acquired OF Carl Everett and cash from Montreal in exchange for RHP Gary Majewski and RHP Jon Rauch
- 7/31 – Acquired RHP Jose Contreras from New York-AL in exchange for RHP Esteban Loaiza
- 7/1 – Acquired INF Roberto Alomar and cash from New York-NL in exchange for RHP Edwin Almonte, RHP Royce Ring and INF Andrew Salvo
- 7/1 – Acquired OF Carl Everett and cash from Texas in exchange for RHP Frankie Francisco, RHP Josh Rupe and OF Anthony Webster
- 7/6 – Acquired RHP Scott Dunn from Cincinnati in exchange for INF D’Angelo Jimenez
- 7/29 – Acquired LHP Scott Schoeneweis and RHP Doug Nickle from Anaheim in exchange for RHP Gary Glover, RHP Tim Bittner and RHP Scott Dunn
- 7/12 – Acquired INF D’Angelo Jimenez from San Diego in exchange for OF Alex Fernandez and C Humberto Quintero
- 7/23 – Acquired RHP Jon Adkins from Oakland in exchange for 2B Ray Durham and cash
- 7/28 – Acquired RHP Felix Diaz and LHP Ryan Meaux from San Francisco in exchange for OF Kenny Lofton and cash
- 7/29 – Acquired RHP Enemencio Pacheco from Colorado in exchange for C Sandy Alomar Jr. and cash
- 7/31 – Acquired LHP Byeong Hak An and RHP Frankie Francisco from Boston in exchange for RHP Bob Howry
- 7/13 – Acquired RHP Wade Parrish from Los Angeles-NL in exchange for OF McKay Christensen
- 7/26 – Acquired LHP Onan Masaoka, RHP Gary Majewski and OF Jeff Barry from Los Angeles-NL in exchange for RHP James Baldwin and cash
They don’t look great on paper, but here are our guys’ numbers against the Twins left-hander (who is 11-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 2006 and 8-5 with a 3.32 ERA against the White Sox in his career).
Cintron, .286 (2-6)
Ozuna, .286 (6-21)
Alomar, .250 (2-8)
Dye, .229 (8-35)
Iguchi, .227 (5-22)
Crede, .200 (6-30), HR
Uribe, .152 (5-33), HR
Anderson, .143 (1-7)
Konerko, .139 (5-36), 2 HR
Thome, .133 (2-15), 2 HR
Pods, .111 (1-9)
AJ, .091 (1-11)
As you can see, I am trying to reverse the baseball curse. By pointing out our batting averages against Santana, I am hoping to ensure us a big offensive night … kinda like jinxing the no-hitter …
W, L, L, W, L, W, W, L, W, W, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, W, L, W, W, W, W, L, L, L, W, L (and no, it’s not Mark Newman’s creative title for this blog from a couple weeks ago).
It’s last August for the World Champion Chicago White Sox.
And how about this:
L, L, L, L, W, L, L, W, L, W, L, W, L, L … that’s last September 8 through the 22nd.
Now, how about this:
W, W, W, W, W, W, W, W, L (even heroes need a night off), W, W, W, W, W, W, W, W …
That’s September 28 until that wonderful night in Houston (isn’t Houston beautiful in October?).
We aren’t playing well right now. Every team goes through it. Hawk last night compared it to a virus. You don’t know how long it’s going to last, it’s not going to kill you, you just need to fight your way through it. I think that is a appropos comparison.
We will snap out of it and will play better. Will we win the division or make the playoffs? … It’s too early to say one way or the other. There are too many games to play between now and October 1.
But we’ve all been through this before, like 10 months ago, and things turned out pretty darn well. Take it day by day, game by game and let’s see where we end up. No one benefits from panicking, certainly not within our clubhouse. Defeatism doesn’t really seem to accomplish much prodcutive (in my opinion). I think the most productive approach in this situation is to live in the moment and focus on the moment. If you start to think about big pictures and what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week, then our goals appear much too daunting, too steep. Focus on the next step, the next pitch, and let’s see where we end up.
Monday, July 24, 2006, 8:22 pm CT
Ozzie wanted to give Jermaine Dye a start off. We justed Paul Konerko yesterday, and after the win, it was obvious Paulie had been the issue (sarcasm).
The TV schedule (Cubs/Sox/Bulls/Hawks) is predetermined each year. I don’t know all the intracacies to it, but my bet is it balances out over the course of the season on Comcast (in terms of which team is televised when and where). I will doublecheck tomorrow with Bob Grim of our broadcasting staff.
Said hello to Sandy Alomar before the game. Seems strange to see him wearing uniform No. 26. Mike MacDougal was supposed to land at 7:20 pm and head right to the ballpark. He will wear uniform No. 47. The Royals had an off day today, so I wonder where Mike was when he heard the news (golfing? asleep?).
I remember when Bill Simas (pictured) arrived at the ballpark one night in the middle of the game and was pitching by the eighth inning.
Simas was one of the funniest guys around. Kirk McCaskill used to keep a computer file of all the strange/stupid/funny things Simas would say in the bullpen. I wish I still had that file.
Our annual Picnic In The Park was last night after the game. The Charity event, which helps Chicago White Sox Charities raise nearly $200,000 each summer, was a smash hit.
Bobby Jenks stole the show. He and his family stayed the entire night, as did several players, including Ozzie Guillen, Freddy Garcia and their families, to see the fireworks show at dusk.
Bobby was like the pied piper, standing out in the outfield surrounded by every kid in the ballpark. He ran with them. Threw candy to them. Played catch with them by throwing the ball into the air. My guess is that there is a new generation of Jenks fans this morning after the time he spent with all the young Sox fans.
I wonder who was the biggest kid in the bunch?
Saturday, July 22, 2006, 3:58 pm
Ozuna, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF. Garcia takes the hill.
Ozzie held a quick team meeting after the game last night and pregame today gave the media some idea of what he told the club. He stressed that this team has 58 wins as of July 21 and had nothing to hang its head about. He wants to see guys having fun for nine innings and playing with enthusiasm.
We went through a streak like this last year that was even longer. We need to learn from that. The difference is that last year we had built up a large lead. This year, the Tigers have played better than us. Tip your cap to them. But nothing is over. Last year definitely should have taught us that lesson.
Ozzie thinks some of our guys put too much pressure on themselves when the team is playing poorly. Everyone goes through stretches like this during the season, it is just a matter of how quickly you can snap out of it.
Ozzie also stressed that our starting pitching needs to be more consistent. "They know it, Ken Williams knows it, I know it, Don Cooper knows it, the media knows it and our fans know it," he said.
Several players were out early again today working on bunting skills and situational hitting. Working with the guys were Ozzie, Joey Cora and Tim Raines, all renown bunters in their day.
"We are going to keep working on this until we get it right," Guillen said. "And the reason all these guys are out here is because we are a team. If one fails, we all fail."
Guillen promised extra work Monday and Tuesday before night games if he doesn’t see improvement in execution.
Roland Hemond Award
Tonight, the 2006 Roland Hemond Award is formally presented to Ryan Devlin, the Sox fan who sold his World Series tickets in order to pay for a trip to New Orleans last year to deliver relief supplies he had collected himself.
Roland will be in tonight to present the award himself.
Luis and Nellie
Tomorrow, we will unveil this year’s sculptures in right center field. The two statues show Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio turning a double play around second base. Joanne Fox and the Aparicios will attend the pregame ceremony.
Early reviews of the sculptures have been outstanding (if we say so ourselves). Tomorrow, you can judge.
Our special night on August 15 is now sold out. Thanks for your support. I look forward to seeing you (meeting you in some cases) there.
Friday, July 21, 2006, 7:40 pm CT
So about one hour before the game, I asked pitching coach Don Cooper what the keys were to Mark Buehrle’s outing tonight …
"He needs to throw strikes early down in the zone. He needs to get ahead of hitters and then come inside with his cutter. He needs to be able to throw inside whenever he wants. He is one start away from being the old Mark Buehrle we know."
Coop talked a little more about his starting pitchers:
"I’m an optimist. I look at it like this. I think each of our guys is capable of winning seven to 10 more games this year. That’s 35 to 45 victories. That’s 93 to whatever victories. If we win 95 games and don’t make the playoffs, we will have to tip our caps to someone. But I think we are going to be OK.
"In my opinion, there are two types of people in the world. If you are lucky enough to wake up each morning, you have a choice. You can wake up, be positive and optimistic, or you can wake up and act like someone (relieved themselves) in your cereal. I make a conscious choice to be an optimist."
Put succinctly as only Coop can … think about that over your Wheaties tomorrow morning.
Friday, July 21, 2006, 3:55 pm CT
Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF. Buehrle on the mound.
With the quick turnaround yesterday, I wasn’t able to steal time to post before yesterday’s game. Then that quick flight home from Detroit yesterday afternoon seemed to take forever … something about flight backup because of AM weather in Chicago and the overall mood in the plane.
Guys are angry, frustrated and disappointed. Not necessarily in the way we played in Detroit, oh for the clutch hit, but in the result. I take this frustration as a good thing, as a motivating emotion. I think a team like us, that could have (coulda, woulda, shoulda) been 4-2 on this trip with clutch hitting, is dangerous. But speculation is pretty worthless. We need to get the job done on this homestand, pure and simple.
Ozzie and Kenny certainly know that. They are feeling the same emotions we all are at this moment. The question for a manager at times like this is how do you respond? Do you jump your team, scream and turn over tables? Do you remain quiet and stay the course, or do you give guys a re-assuring pat on the back?
Ozzie’s going to choose what he thinks is best for this team and for individual players on the team. I do believe that some teams respond positively to times like this by being chewed out, while other clubs would react negatively to that. Each team has its very own personality from one season to the next and each should be handled differently. The 2004 White Sox had a different personality than the 2005, and the 2006 … you get the idea.
Deciding how do handle these situations is Ozzie’s job. And there is no one better at reading a clubhouse (at least in my experience) than Ozzie. And after what the core of this team went through last postseason together, I will always place my bets with Paul, Jermaine, A.J., Joe, et al.
Which leads me to …
We have gone 10-52 (.192) with runners in scoring position over our last six games and 16-77 (.208) over the last eight … and the right guys have been getting the opportunities. Can’t speak on behalf of our nervous (or getting more nervous with each passing game) fans, but I think our 3-4-5-6-7 guys will start coming through again, and probably soon. On the year, we still lead the majors with a .308 average with runners in scoring position.
A good friend and frequent reader sent me a note this morning pointing out that our current .617 winning percentage (tied for third best in baseball with Boston) is better than our final mark in 2005 (.611). The .617 mark equates to 100 victories over a 162-game season.
Brian Anderson was impressive both at the plate and in the field in Detroit … our starting pitching, much maligned recently, turned in three strong performances in the last turn through the rotation.
Our makeup game with the Angels re-scheduled for August 7 has been picked up by ESPN nationally (I know, not great news since we always seem to play poorly in those games) and now will begin at 6:05 pm CT. It can be seen locally on Comcast Sports Net.
The Sox are 14-6 against the AL West and 33-14 at home (including 32 of our last 43) … Chicago leads the AL with 139 home runs and is tied with Baltimore for second in the AL with 27 sacrifice hits (that one surprises me) … we are tied for second in the AL with 28 come-from-behind wins, one behind league-leading Boston.
Just got off the phone with Roger Bossard. Light to medium rain until 8 pm is expected but thought we would be fine after that.
By the way, someone on this blog asked about a weather link. I sent that idea along to MLBAM. No one got back to me, but I noticed today that BAM is offering a link to a weather site. Let’s assume the idea came from a reader on this blog. Congratulations.
Since I haven’t been home much this month, I am in dire need of a haircut (for what hair I do have). Wednesday in Detroit I saw a sign in the clubhouse saying you could get a haircut. Well, Don Cooper, Ozzie Jr. and Chris Widger were among the guys to visit the barber. After seeing their military buzz cuts, I am glad I passed on the offer.
"I blame it on Riske (who does sport a buzz cut)," Ozzie Guillen Sr. said. "Before he got here, I had a good-looking club. Now, everyone looks like a convict."
Several years ago, I ruptured my Achilles playing basketball (long story, not a great day in my life … or my wife’s for that matter). Anyway, I had a great ortho do the repair work. His receptionist is a huge White Sox fan. A friend of ours just injured himself. When my wife called to see if our ortho could check him out, the receptionist said she loves this blog but gets mad when I don’t publish.
So, just in case I ever need to visit the good doctor again, I apologize and promise to try and post more often. I do not want skilled medical personnel angry with me, especially if I ever have to visit them again, hobbling in great pain.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 1:35 pm ET
Random Notes/Thoughts From Last Night
I guess the defending World Champions are not dead yet …
There is still a little thunder left in the champions’ bats …
Kudos to Jon Garland’s performance on the mound …
Let’s see if Javier Vazquez can follow suit tonight against Jeremy Bonderman …
After the weekend that was, it had to feel good for PK to homer twice. He appeared to be feeling good as well, as members of our squad fight a head cold that is going around the clubhouse.
Leave it to Dad
I went with Ozzie Guillen and Jim Thome this morning as they visited a local Cosi restaurant where Mike North was broadcasting his morning show on WSCR.
The two followed Ed Farmer and Don Cooper and were on the air with Mike for a full hour.
One of Jim’s comments left everyone in laughter …
"I can hit two home runs to right field and not hear from my dad, but if I get a single to left field (like last night) he calls me and says ‘Way to go’ since he knows it means my swing is on track."
Added Guillen …
"Here I am, a guy with something like five career home runs, and I’m telling Jim Thome, with 450-something, to hit it to left field."
Just two tickets remain for our special blog outing on August 15 (note I have the date correct this time). If you are interested in the last two openings, please call Dustin at 312-674-5186 ASAP. See you that night.
Our favorite columnist took to the airwaves on WSCR earlier this week to explain that he is, indeed, on vacation.
During the interview, he again criticized me (imagine that) when responding to a question from North about his contact with the team. North quoted from a recent article in the Chicago Reader that mentioned "emails" that had been sent to me.
To clarify, the columnist has never sent me an email. His preferred method of communication is voicemail, and I have received some strong ones over the years (imagine that). Many probably wouldn’t get past the MLBAM censor to be posted here, but there have been a couple recently that we have debated making public, solely to show everyone just who and what we deal with when it is not vacation season.
We might have that debate once again …
During his interview, the columnist also criticized the Chicago Tribune’s media writer for not calling him or his editor before writing articles about the issue. I can’t speak for the general public, but I sense some irony here. Is he asking the Tribune writer to talk personally to his sources (in a sense to "show up")?
Is that ironic or is it just me?
Tuesday, July 18, 2006, 6:18 pm ET
Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Thome, DH; PK, 1B; Dye, RF; AJ, C; Crede, 3B; Uribe, SS; Anderson, CF; Gar on the mound.
Granderson, CF; Polanco, 2B; IRod, C; Ord, RF; Guillen, SS; Thames, LF; Infante, DH; Shelton, 1B; Inge, 3B. Robertson on the hill.
Ozzie Before the Game
Said there is pressure on booth teams. For Detroit, this is their chance to extend their lead and prove to people who might doubt them that they are for real. For us, the pressure is that we not let the Tigers get any further ahead.
He stressed that we need to have better pitching. We went through a streak like this last year in August and rebounded. Hopefully, what we have just gone through is our streak for 2006. He is going to take it game by game but we need to be better.
Ozzie also said it was important for the team to maintain its intensity, and he thought the combination of New York followed by Detroit would make that happen. Tonight will tell.
Ozzie felt like we played well enough to win on Friday and Sunday, and just were beaten (if only for a clutch hit or two in each game). Saturday he called the "ugliest" White Sox game since he became manager.
KW in the Dugout
Kenny Williams said before the game that right now, things were quiet on the trade front. "You have to find someone to dance with …", he said.
Both Scott Podsednik and Tadahito Iguchi were roughed up even before BP started tonight. Gooch took a ricochet in the batting cage off his lip, and Pods stepped onto the field only to take a Juan Uribe throw off the back of his head. Both appeared to be fine and took regular batting practice.
Pods might need a bigger cap size if he has a welt on the back of his head. Can you imagine if Uribe was throwing the ball as hard as he could?
They expect all three games to be sellouts here. It will be interesting to hear how loud this place will be when it is full. I saw a few Sox fans in the crowd pregame, but with a mid week series, you have to figure it will be a predominantly pro Tigers crowd.
Despite not playing well this weekend, Sox fan turnout in New York was stunning. Chants of "Let’s Go White Sox" echoed around Yankee Stadium several times over the weekend. That is a first time in my experience.
Guys laid low here or played golf yesterday, enjoying the offday before gearing up for this series.
Saturday, July 15, 2006, 9:53 am
It Had to End Eventually
Jose Contreras’ amazing 17-game winning streak came to an end last night (note the disappearance of the W’s). It had to end eventually. After the game, Jose was less concerned with his streak than with the fact the team lost.
The game ended with A.J.’s tough at-bat against Mariano Rivera with the potential tying run on third base.
"It wasn’t a good at bat because of the result," AJ said.
White Sox fans made their presence felt last night at the Stadium. I have never heard our fans so loud here. It’s impressive how our fans have travelled in support of the Sox this season. Thanks.
I am sitting here in the visiting clubhouse (in part because it is air conditioned). There is something special about this ballpark. As you walk underneath the stands to the clubhouses, you can almost feel the history, and it is a little awe-inspiring to think about all the visiting players who dressed here over the decades.
Ozzie is under the weather. A head cold continues to bother him, and he spent much of the pregame wrapped in towels trying to sleep.