Preview: ChiSox Rants
News, notes, stats, and thoughts about the Chicago White Sox
If you haven't checked out Carl Skanberg's "Palehose Six" yet, you really are missing out. His entry today
is easily one of the funniest yet. I put a link up to his blog (on the right) within a couple weeks of the sites inception back in February, but I haven't remebered to mention it in a post until now. The strip is now published every week in the Sunday Southtown.
Unless you were stuck under a rock the for the last two days you’ve undoubtedly seen Aaron Rowand’s game-saving catch and subsequent crash/face plant into the centerfield wall during the first inning of Philly’s game vs. the Mets on Thursday night. If you have not, you can read a setup of the situation and watch the video of it here. He broke his nose in three places, required 15 stitches to close up the multiple lacerations to his face and also suffered non-displaced fractures around his left eye. Ouch. The play exemplifies why Rowand became one of my and many other Sox fan’s favorite players on the team over the past couple of seasons. I can remember rooting for him back in the Manuel days when he struggled to get playing time, then broke both his wrists in an off-season dirt bike crash. The play on Thursday also illustrates why the Sox added extra padding to their outfield walls when he started manning center field full time on the South Side, something the Phillies had reportedly planned on doing as soon as the team left on their next road trip. On the same day that Rowand went down, the other player whose career with the Sox ended due to the Thome trade, Frank Thomas, injured his right quad running from first to third and is listed as day-to-day. The two players whose loss over the off-season bothered me the most and they both get hurt hours apart from each other. While both players’ injuries can be expected, Rowand’s time out will definitely be temporary but I fear that Thomas’ problems with injuries this year have just begun. It’s only 6 weeks into the long season and there is no doubt that the Thome trade has ended up being a great deal for the Sox, even if in the future the pitching prospects given up in the deal by the Sox end up having as high of a ceiling as predicted. Although Brian Anderson has yet to come around offensively, no one can dispute that he has more than adequately supplanted Rowand's nearly irreplaceable glove in center. At DH, Thome has had no problem replacing the best hitter ever to wear a Sox uniform and has been hitting the ball out of the park at a rate even higher than the Big Hurt in his prime. That just scratches the surface though…Even if Thomas and Thomas were both at 100% for the entire season this year I think it would be safe to say that based on what we’ve seen from Thome so far this year he would have no problem out-producing the numbers Thomas will end up posting, and if he can remain healthy, out-producing him for the next couple of years….especially if Big Frank isn’t able to play at all come next season. With Thomas having had recurring foot problems the past two years and given his size (at least 275lbs), bringing him back and counting on above average production out of him for an entire season would have been foolish. For the Sox, who now can afford to spend a bit more, it wasn’t even worth the bargain and safety-net that an incentive-laden contract would have offered them.As sad as it was to see Frank's career on the Sox come to an end, it became inevitable when he could not remain healthy for the second consecutive season because of the same injury. Regardless of what traspired following his departure from the Sox, I will gladly stand up and applaud him during the first at bat I see him have as a visitor in Comiskey. And now back to my point...The events that transpired Thursday are just more proof to the fact that the Sox trade for Thome has turned out to be a great move….And also serves as a reminder of how much I still miss watching Aaron Rowand play center field. Here's to hoping him a speedy recovery.*****Had some prime Club Level seats to Thursday nights rainout and wouldn't you have it, the only Sox starter I have yet to see start in person this season (save Heager) was scheduled to take the hill. (Garland) With the way he pitched against the Twins, it looks as if I probably was sprared from being disappointed.On a brigter note...This afternoon I was delighted to hear that[...]
Ozzie Guillen; Bonehead
Ozzie Guillen once again made an attempt at emulating Tony Larussa and this time it complely blew up in his face. Ozzie may handle his starters with a golden touch, but at times his bullpen management makes one wonder how he led this team to a championship. Due to Ozzie's overmanaging in the 9th inning of tonights game the Angels scored 6 runs, and every one crossed the plate with 2 outs.
Going into the 9th, the Sox were trailing 6-5.
After relieving Heager in the 5th and pitching 3.2 scoreless innings, McCarthy started the 9th and recorded the first out of the inning before allowing a double to Cabrera. With first base open, Vlad Guerrero due up next and Anderson on deck, Ozzie elected to intentionally walk Guerrero and bring Cotts on to pitch to the left-handed Anderson.
Cotts comes on to strike out Anderson on just 4 pitches. So it’s the 9th inning with 2 out, 2 on, and the score is still 6-5. With the right-handed Salmon due up, Ozzie decided to then bring in Jenks to try and close out the inning.
5 batters, 6 runs and one more pitching change later, the Sox trail 12-5.
Pulling Cotts is understandable when looking at the numbers...right-handed batters are hitting at a .389 clip against him and Salmon is hitting .393 vs. left-handing pitching this season. While I'd much rather see Cotts just go after the righty than burn up another arm in the bullpen, I can't argue with the logic in the numbers behind this move. One guys weakness to the others strenghth. My question is, why go to Jenks? Was Pollite unavailable to pitch the remaining 1/3 of the inning because of pitching an just 1 inning Tuesday night?
I would have rather seen Ozzie just leave McCarthy in to go at Anderson and try to get the double play ground ball. If he isn't able to get the DP but gets Anderson anyway, leave him in to finish the inning and face Salmon. Although Anderson has done most of his damage this season against right-handed pitching, hitting .325 with all 4 of his HR's against them, McCarthy was plowing through the Angel lineup with ease since entering the game and still looked fresh in the 9th.
McCarthy had thrown 54 pitches up to that point, and 4 of them were on the intentional walk. I read him being quoted in yesterdays paper as saying that he could go up to around 60 pitches right now if he were called upon to make a start in Jose's absence. He should have had about 10 more pitches to work with.
Even after removing McCarthy and going to Cotts, what reason did Cotts provide in his performance to warrant being pulled? Other than this seasons splits which are based on such small sample sizes that they're almost irrelevant, there was no reason. He sat Anderson down on 4 pitches, and those were the only pitches he has thrown in a game since Saturday, so he is well rested. On top of that, since the second week of the season he has been one of the more consistent guys in a rather shaky bullpen.
Instead, Ozzie unnecessarily goes to Jenks in a non-save situation and he blows any remaining chance the Sox had at coming back. Oz used 4 pitchers in order to record the 3 outs in the inning, leaving the bullpen a bit taxed during stretch were there isn't a schedualed off day for another 2 weeks. If the Sox don't get some long outings from their starters in the next couple of games we'll be witnessing a ripple effect from this game for days to come.
Contreras Signs 3-Year Extension
The Sox have signed Jose Contreras to a three-year, $29 million extension through the 2009 season. The deal is just about exactly the same in length and overall value as what Sox signed Garland to over the winter.
Honestly, I was much more surprised when the Sox were able to sign Garland to an extension than I am with them being able to sign Contreras. With Garland being so young and having no history of injuries, he could have easily commanded at least a 5-year deal had he decided to just play out his final year of arbitration and file for free agency next winter. I doubted that he would turn down those extra guaranteed years and dollars that he wasn't going to get from the Sox given their reluctance to give such long-term contracts to pitchers. I figured that given his age, Contreras would settle for fewer years, so that would be the route the Sox went.
What is shocking to me is that the Sox were able to sign both of them, and neither one for more than the teams preferred 3-year maximum contract length for pitchers. I never thought we would be able to sign both of them.
In signing with the Sox Contreras has shown the same loyalty Garland showed back in December in that they both could have definitely been offered longer, more lucrative deals in free agency next year if they were to have strong seasons in '06. They both took less money to be with a team that has stood behind them while they struggled before breaking through last season.
The Sox now have all of their starters signed through the 2007 season, meaning McCarthy will be in the bullpen for the next two years it everything stays as is. If there is a trade made, I see KW trading whichever starter (except Buehrle) that will get us the best return in quality relief pitching, and then put McCarthy into the rotation.
Bought tickets to next Tuesdays game/ring ceremony a couple weeks ago...then on Thursday was offered tickets to the Season Opener on Sunday. It will be the first opening day I've been to since waiting out a 3 hour rain delay in 2003. Loaiza pitched, beating Detroit and earning the first win of his Cy Young caliber season. It was also the first win of the season for the Sox as they were coming off of being swept by KC. (Thanks in large part to Billy Koch, IIRC. Here's to hoping that Bobby Jenks and his declining velocity aren't turning into a reincarnation of that guy.)
Inside the Sunday Tribune...
Buried inside the Ads of today's Chicago Tribune is a nice poster of their front page from October 27, 2005.
The Sox have agreed to terms with 1B Paul Konerko on a $60 million, 5-year deal.
The Sox have sent Aaron Rowand and two minor league left-handed pitchers, Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood, to Philly in exchange for former Sox-killer Jim Thome pending the players passing physicals. The Sox will also receive cash considerations to pay for some of the remaining $43.5 million due to Thome over the next 3 seasons.
So the Sox are sending a proven rock-solid center fielder and their two best young left handed arms, and in return we get a 35 year old, injury riddled slugger on the downside of his career. Peachy. I know we need a LH power hitter, but wouldn't it be wise to try and get one who we can count on being healthy for the entire season next year? Before going down with a season ending elbow injury which required surgery in August, Thome hit .207 with seven homers and 30 RBI in 193 at-bats. He also has battled back and shoulder problems in years prior to this season.
This trade should pretty much officially end Frank Thomas era on the South Side. In my opinion, counting on Thome to be healthy all year next season is just as much of a risk as depending on Frank to be healthy next year would be. If anything, Thome is a more of a risk because he is under contract for 3 more years. Thomas could have been had for a incentive laden 1-year deal that I guarantee would cost less than 1 year of Thome's salary, even with the Phillies paying a huge portion of it. Granted, KW probably felt his hand was forced if he wanted a LH slugger after Delgado went to the Mets this morning.
I'm upset about this in every way possible. We are giving up way too much, including one of my favorite players in Aaron Rowand. Throwing two of our top 10 prospects in the trade is absolutely insane. Not only two top 10 prospects, but two LHP's if early reports are accurate. I don't like getting Thome at his age with the history of injury problems that he has had. As if all that weren't enough, the move will most likely force my favorite White Sox player of all-time (Frank Thomas) out the door. I hate to say it, but I hope Thome fails his physical so this whole thing doesn't go down.
Now This Is A Sox Fan
My uncle painted this on to his VW Passat during the playoffs. I'm an even bigger Sox fan than him, but I'm not that crazy. Looks pretty good if you ask me. I'd drive it.
It's Over, Over There!
One of the most glaring differences between the '05 Sox and the Sox teams of the last few seasons was the ability of this years club to win on the road. The '05 Sox won an MLB best 52 regular season games on the road, 15 games better than the 37 wins they won on the road last season. (At home in '05 the Sox won 47 games, just one more than the 46 wins they had at home in '04)
The '05 Sox clinched the division on the road, in Detroit. They followed that up and finished off the regular season with a 3-game sweep of the wild-card contending Indians, again on the road in Cleveland. Then they clinched the ALDS in Boston against a Red Sox team that had best home record in baseball. After that they went on to Anaheim to sweep all 3 games played there to clinch the ALCS and their first World Series appearance since 1959. To top all that off, they went on to win the World Series by taking both games in Houston to finish off their 4 game sweep of the Astro's.
Not to discredit any of the other improvements the Sox have made this season (better defense/pitching, adopting an unselfish "team" attitude, bringing in a catcher who knows how to call a game and can actually hit, upgrading at 2B, etc.), but if this team were not such Road Warriors I doubt that we would be able to call them 2005 World Champions.
Last night in Game 3 of World Series the Sox issued 12 walks, committed 3 errors and stranded 15 men on base. Despite all that they persevered to a 7-5 victory in 14 innings and now own a 3-0 game lead over Houston.
The game was without a doubt an instant classic. It was not pretty with multiple mistakes and poor situational hitting by both teams, but it was one of the most entertaining games I've ever seen. At 5 hours and 41 minutes in length, it was the longest World Series game in MLB history. It also tied the longest World Series game in terms of innings at 14.
There were so many unforgettable moments in the game that it would be impossible to go over every one of them. The bad call home run for the Astro's in the 4th, the Sox 5 run 5th off Oswalt, Duque getting out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings, the list goes on and on. And on and on.
The biggest hit of the game came from Geoff Blum, Kenny Williams lone trade deadline acquisition, who broke a 5-5 tie with his solo home run with 2 out in the 14th inning. This comes in the very next game after Scott Posednik hit a walk-off homer to win in the 9th on Sunday. Talk about losing in one of the worst ways possible. It's one thing to be beaten by a teams best player, but it has to be gut wrenching to give up game deciding homers to guys who had hit a combined 2 home runs all season, including the playoffs.
The Sox used 9 pitchers in all, and if that sounds like one more pitcher than the Sox had in their pen, you're right. After an error by Uribe at short put runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 out in the 14th, Ozzie had to turn to Mark Buehrle to get the final out of the game and record the save. I'll write that one more time so its clear that is not a typo. Mark Buehrle recorded the save. As if that is not strange enough, when you look in the record books to find the winners of the two longest games in World Series history, you'll find Damaso Marte's name next to Babe Ruth's. Yes, that Babe Ruth. He was the winning pitcher for the Red Sox in the only other World Series game that went as long as 14 innings. (He pitched all 14 innings)
It seems like after every game since the playoffs started I feel like I just saw one of the best games of the year. Then it seems like the next game is even better than the one before. Hopefully that trend holds true tonight and our Sox pull off the sweep to earn their first World Championship in 88 years.
More Good Reads
Dayn Perry at Fox Sports lists 5 reasons
why the Sox will win.
ESPN employs a Sox fan? Who would have thought? Dave Revsine wrote this piece about growing up a Sox fan in Cubs territory.
Here's a small sample. His stance on the Scrubs:
"The truth is, no Sox story is complete without exploring our relationship with that far more popular team from the North Side. The short version -- can't stand them. Most of my life has been spent in perpetual fear that they might make the World Series before the White Sox, which, in hindsight, is akin to fearing that the five-year old with the cap gun next door might develop nuclear capabilities."
On attempting to go with the crowd when at Scrub games:
"The point is, my heart wasn't in it. These just weren't my people: perennially sunny dispositions; ceaseless, unyielding optimism; a sincere belief that things will actually be better next year despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It's really quite nauseating.
So, a Sox fan I've stayed -- fated to root for a team that can literally lay claim to being an afterthought in its own city. Until now, that is."
World Series Tickets
Need a kidney? Perhaps a portion of a liver? Maybe you are in search of someone's first born child? Well, if you've got a spare ticket to the World Series, I'm you're man. (As if there is such a thing as a spare ticket to the World Series, unless you're a $broker$ of course).
For $1000 per ticket to sit in the top row of the UD down the line, that ticket better come with free drinks and food, a waitress to bring them to you, a private bathroom with no line, a game-worn jersey from one of the Sox players that is autographed by the entire team, and a limo to and from the game. I can understand tickets being scalped for 3 or 4 times face value (around $400 or $500 per ticket), but 8 times face? Ridiculous. Even more insane is that the Scout Seats are going for $10,000 a seat.
(Oh, if you're looking for a first born child in exchange for a ticket, you'll have to take an IOU.)
A Few Good Pieces on The Sox
Here is a great story on the Big Man, "Mr. White Sox", Frank Thomas.
Hey Gov. Blago...STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM COMISKEY!!!
To me, the defining moment of this dirt bags term as Governor came after Game 6 of the NLCS two years ago. (As far as baseball allegiances are concerned). When asked after the game about the Bartman foul ball, he replied "That guy is never going to get a pardon from this Governor".Here is another decent piece
making a case for why the Sox should be "America's Team" this year. It's a bit stale, but an OK read none the less.
The best quote from the article:
"But true, die-hard White Sox fans might be the most resilient in sports. They have sat through a lot of bad baseball, ignoring the hipper crowd, cooler building and more popular team on the other side of town."
I guess I'll take that as a compliment. Personally, I would call it a lot of mediocre baseball, not bad baseball. It was the team on the other side of town that, until last season, hadn't posted a winning record in consecutive seasons in decades. The Sox are usually competitive year in and year out.
Shock and Awe
The Sox are going to the World Series. The Chicago White Sox. No words can do justice to what this means for this City, this team and all their fans. No sporting event that I've ever seen has made me feel the way that I did last night. (I was 2 months shy of my 1st birthday when the Bears won the SuperBowl, as if that could come close to the Sox going to the World Series) For me, a Die-Hard Sox Fan, I've never felt more alive than I did while watching that game. During the later innings my heart was beating out of my chest. My palms were sweating. I was all fidgety and smoking like a chimney.
When we finally got that last out on that grounder to Konerko at first I jumped out of my seat, let out a huge sigh of relief, then turned and hugged my girlfriend. Thank God that I've been able to get her to love and enjoy the Sox nearly as much as I do. (When we first started dating a few years ago, she loved to watch the Bears with me but she could not stand watching baseball. Now she hates watching football and is always reminding me to go back to the Sox game when I change the channel during a commercial.)
During the game I listened to the radio broadcast by Rooney and Farmer instead of the Fox crew of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. I'm so glad I did because Rooney's call of the final out in the 9th is unforgettable. If you haven't heard it, here is the link.
Click on "White Sox win the ALCS" next to the picture of Konerko in the middle of the page. If you are a Sox fan and that does not send chills down your spine, nothing will.
On The Brink
Tonight our White Sox find themselves just a single victory away from a trip to the Fall Classic after Freddy Garcia put up the 3rd consecutive complete game for the Pale Hose in their 8-2 victory over LAAOA. It is the first time that a team has thrown 3 straight CG's in an LCS series since 1973 (Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman).
The Sox caught a couple of breaks in tonight's game, having seemingly every call go their way. AJ got away with catcher interference, a replay showed that Pods was picked off at 1st but he was called safe, then on the next pitch he stole second where again a replay showed he was tagged out but again he was called safe. With the Sox having scored 8 runs, all these calls that went against the Halo's weren't as detrimental to their chances of winning as some in the L.A. and national media would lead you to believe. You can talk all you want about momentum, but 7 runs were not scored or prevented because of those lucky breaks. (For the Angels to have won, they would have had to score 7 more or allow 7 less.)
The Sox rotation of Jose, Buehrle, Garland and Freddy have pitched all but 2/3 of an inning thus far in the ALCS and have allowed a combined total of just 8 runs. Sox fans, we are witnessing what is in my mind without a doubt the best pitching staff ever assembled on the South Side of Chicago. Not only the starting rotation, but also the bullpen that has not seen any action since Neal Cotts recorded the final 2 outs of the 9th in Game 1. Our guys might not be the big name, well-known, flashy and sexy type's that the boy's in Bristol would love them to be, but collectively they are one hell of a pitching staff. As they say, what counts is not the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog.
Tomorrow nights starters will be a rematch of Game 1 with Contreras going up against the Halo's Paul Byrd. Lets show the Scrubs what you're supposed to do with a 3-1 game lead in an LCS. Catch my drift?
PK Sighting At The Hawks Game Tonight
Tonight at the Blackhawks game my girlfriend and I ran into Paul Konerko (above) and Chris Widger, who had glass seats behind one of the nets. The picture sucks, but what do you expect from a camera on a cell phone. Maybe you would have been able to see them on TV but Hawks ownership still refuses to air home games in Chicago. Speaking of Big Bill Wirtz, on our way out of the stadium just a few minutes before the end of the game we were walking right along side the man himself in the main concourse. He was walking with a security guard (smart man) and someone who looked to be his brother. I don't know if anyone calls him Big Bill, but the nickname would be fitting as he looked to be about 300 lbs. Maybe he just keeps his wallet in his front belt line. Thank God he doesn't own the Sox.
The New Sox Seats
(image) Seats from the new Comiskey Park, opened in 1991.
Well, they're not really new. I bought them back in April but I just mounted them this week. They're in the garage, but on the opposite wall I've got an old projection TV to watch games on.
Chris Berman Sucks
I know that I am not in the minority when I say that hearing Chris Berman call the Sox vs. Sawx series was one of the most annoying and tilted nationally broadcast play-by-play jobs of all time. I got so fed up by him during every game that I listened to each one on the radio while watching the muted TV. It was worth dealing with the 2 or 3 second delay of the TV behind the radio to avoid hearing some of his calls and comments. Well that, and I enjoy Rooney and Farmer's call of a game.
Now I can relate to all the baseball fans nationally who cannot stand the play-by-play calls of the Hawk. Still though, its one thing to be a clubs broadcasting guy and blatantly favor the team that you work for. Most of the games you do are only aired in your own teams market. You're not catering to fans of both of the teams that are playing, so you can afford to be a homer like the Hawk. Its another thing when you are the only television crew broadcasting a series and you're making the game and series more about a Boston loss than a White Sox win. These guys are supposed to come across as fair and impartial. Berman and ESPN were anything but.