White Sox

As the regular season for Major League Baseball comes to a close this weekend, stuff (thank god for the White Sox faithful), cure the race to the playoffs is still on.  In the American League (AL) picture, the Kansas City Royals have clinched the Central division title, the Toronto Blue Jays secured their playoff spot with the division title in the East and the New York Yankees have solidified the first wild card spot.  What’s still up for grabs is the Western division title and the second wild card spot.

Currently in the West you have the Texas Rangers, who guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason last night with a win over the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels, with that loss, were eliminated from the division race, but they, along with the Minnesota Twins, still have an outside shot at the second AL Wild Card spot.  The Rangers have all but locked down the division with a three game lead over the Houston Astros with three games to play, meaning Texas would have to lose all three of their games while the Astros would have to win out just to force a one-game playoff for the division crown.  Maybe this isn’t the most probable scenario, but as a fan, being able to watch that exciting tie-breaker is something I’m rooting for.

To this day, nothing beats the Chicago White Sox “Blackout” game of 2008 for the AL Central division title against the Minnesota Twins.  Prior to the game, the White Sox and the Twins ended their regular season with equal 88-74 records.  I was lucky enough to score a ticket to this game and it was the greatest baseball game I had ever seen.  There was an excitement in the air at the ball park that was electrifying! The game had excellent pitching by John Danks, who pitched into the 7th inning and a rock-solid closing performance by Bobby Jenks.  The White Sox fielding was amazing including an outstanding defensive play by Ken Griffey Jr. and A. J. Pierzynski teaming up to throw out Michael Cuddyer at home plate.  The White Sox went on to win the game 1-0 on the strength of a solo home run by Jim Thome in the 7th inning.

The reason it was call the “blackout” game was because the nearly 40,000 fans in attendance were encouraged to wear all black during the game to show their support for the team.  I was also told that it was called the blackout game because it was the only game being played in the MLB that night and the outfield MLB scoreboard was blacked out.

What made the blackout game more memorable than any other game in recent history was that White Sox fans were able to celebrate an amazing victory with the team they all loved at home.  As you may remember, the White Sox clinched both the Central Division and World Series Championships on the road three years prior, so for fans this was a time to celebrate with the team and boy did we celebrate with “high-fives” dance-offs in the stands and a big salute from the players.

With a few more regular season scenarios to be play out this weekend, we can rest soundly knowing that October baseball is upon us and baseball fans are in for an exciting post-season.

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As an avid White Sox fan my whole life, unhealthy I need to vent on how the past season has gone.  I realize there are a few more games to be played in the 2015, tadalafil but really…is it going to make any difference?   As of this morning the White Sox are sitting in second-to-last place in the Central division with a record of 72-81.  Is this really the best we can do with the crappy hand we were dealt?

Yesterday the Kansas City Royals clinched the American League Central Division earning them a ticket to the playoffs.  THE ROYALS, SERIOUSLY?  Their yearly payroll is $2M less than the White Sox.  They found a way to pay their players less money and achieve more wins. Come on, White Sox, we can do better!

More frustrating than that, the White Sox overall team batting average is .251, which is higher than the Cubs at .245 but clearly the north siders can figure out a way to get it done as they are on the brink of clinching a playoff spot, possibly tonight.  I’m sure my social media feeds will be blowing up with Cubby “W” flags galore! YUCK!

I believe there are three key areas of improvement for the White Sox in order to make 2016 a season fans will want to watch.

1 – A Manager with passion for the game, their players and staff.  As I’ve said before a great player doesn’t necessarily make for a great manager – but we’ve got to get someone on the bench who makes strategic moves during the game for a better outcome at the end of the season.  If we cannot get a manager with passion for their job and team how about the White Sox fan who sit behind home plate and verbally managing Ventura and the team from his plush leather chair every game?  I bet he’s up for the challenge.

2 – Chris Sale cannot carry the team on his back for an entire season.  Is he really the only gem that we can write home about?  Maybe we need a new approach to how we are scouting and training our pitching staff.

3 – Back to basics! Did we totally forget fundamental baseball this year?  Was laying down a bunt, calling out pop flies and turning double plays not on our practice agendas this year?  The basics are how you win games, period.

As a fan I want to watch a team with passion and who wants to make it to the post season, not one who skates by in the fall.  I realize, like most White Sox fans, that 2005 seems like a lifetime ago, but the fire the fans have for a winning team on the Southside still burns.  I want the opportunity to take my son to a game and encourage him to have favorite player that he can cheer for not just a rotation of average guys who didn’t really make an impact on the game.

We cannot have a season when one of the biggest stories for White Sox fans is how Shoeless Joe Jackson STILL will not be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It’s time to wave the white flag, Sox Fans.  The season has been over since July 4th.  Maybe we can save a little bit of our dignity and start with a clean slate for 2016.  Please, cue the press conference…

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Category: White Sox

This week the sports blogs were all a buzz over the potential (or inevitable) dismissal of a few MLB managers. According to a Sports Illustrated story out this week, help Robin Ventura was among five MLB Managers likely to be let go at the end of the 2015 season.  Sox fans have been out for the head of Robin Ventura for the past two years because of sub par seasons. As one of my friends said, advice Uncle Jerry (Reinsdorf) is too reliant on past players becoming managers for the club. Which made me think, has there ever been good player that has proven to be good manager for the White Sox? Let’s take a look the last four managers the White Sox have had to see if their player stats can hold up to their managerial ones.

Terry Bevington
Years managed: 1995-1997
Games managed: 436
Record: 222 W vs. 214 L

Sadly, Terry Bevington had a rather forgettable time in Chicago, and he never managed at the major league level after being dismissed by the White Sox following two and a half seasons at the helm. As a player, he tooled around in the minor leagues for a few seasons after being drafted by the New York Yankees in 1974. He played in 368 minor league games between 1974 and 1980 with a career batting average of .247, but was never able to break into the big leagues. One of Bevington’s more infamous moments as the White Sox Manager happened in 1995 when the Brewers manager Phil Garner and Bevington got into a fight near third base. The funny part of this clip are announcers talking about the overreaction by the player on third base, Ozzie Guillen.  Foreshadowing perhaps…

Jerry Manuel
Years managed: 1998-2003
Games managed: 971
Record: 500 W vs. 471 L

One of the more notable names on the list, Jerry Manuel had a decent career in the MLB as a manager for the White Sox and, later, with the New York Mets. As a player from 1975-1982 Manuel played in less than 100 games over five major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the Montreal Expos and the San Diego Padres before starting his coaching career. Manuel’s 2004 Topps card highlights his place in a lesser-known equal-rights milestone.

Ozzie Guillen
Years managed: 2004-2011
Games managed: 1,295
Record: 678 W vs. 617 L

Known for managing the third most games in White Sox history, Guillen was passionate and emotional as both a player and a manager. He was originally signed by the San Diego Padres in 1980 as an amateur free agent before being traded to the White Sox where he spent the next 13 seasons.  Guillen’s passion made him a fan favorite on the South Side while he earned the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year award, three All-Star appearances and a Gold Glove Award. In his later career he was traded to the Baltimore Oriels, the Atlanta Braves and then finally to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000 where he retired as a player at the end of the season. Guillen played in 1,993 games with a career batting average of .264.  In his eight years at the helm of the White Sox, Guillen led the team to a .524 overall winning percentage, highlighted by the team’s first World Series Championship in 88 years.

Robin Ventura
Years managed: 2012-Present (maybe 2015…)
Games managed: 468
Record: 221 W vs. 265 L

As a player, Ventura was drafted by the White Sox in 1988 and was called up to the majors in 1989.  He played for the White Sox for 10 years and spent the six seasons from 1999 through 2004 with the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.  At the end of his White Sox days, Ventura had collected a .274 batting average, one All-Star appearance, five Gold Glove Awards and the franchise’s record for most career grand slams with nine.

As you can see from recent White Sox history, a players past stats do not seem to make a difference on their managerial wins and losses.

In January of 2014, the White Sox announced they’d agreed to a “multi-year” contract extension with manager Robin Ventura. No further details on amounts or years were mentioned at that time. My hunch is that these key details were left out of any press release as a potential future exit strategy. There’s only a few more games left in the season until we’ll see what Uncle Jerry will do. If history proves itself in the same pattern of hiring from within the organization, my bet is on Bobby Tigpen who is the current a bullpen coach for the White Sox or Julio Vinas and Tommy Thompson who are managing with White Sox minor league affiliates.  But for now, we’ll just need to wait it out until the final game of the 2015 season to see if 2016 can be a more productive year on the southside.

Who would you replace Robin with? Tweet me your feedback at @colreaney

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Category: White Sox
Photo credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Guess who’s back?  Back again…. Colleen’s back….tell a friend!

While I’m very happy to return to SDI as their White Sox blogger, here it’s with mixed emotions that my first blog is on this day.  On September 11th 2001, pharm I was in my final semester at Eastern Illinois University working for WEIU-TV, sale probably planning on covering a small town story in the Charleston-Mattoon area when everything stood still on our small campus and the world watched the television in disbelief at what was happening to our great country.

I thought it would be a little bit of a #FlashbackFriday moment for me to chat with personnel from the White Sox to hear their experiences on September 11, 2001.  With the help of a few great people at the White Sox organization I was able to have a phone interview with White Sox Manger Robin Ventura to recall his experience during the attacks and afterwards.

Ground Zero on 9/11/01 Photo By: www.upi.com

What was your experience like on 9/11/01?

During the 2001 season, Ventura was playing for the New York Mets and was on the road in Pittsburgh to play the Pirates that Tuesday evening.  When he woke up in the morning and turned on The Today Show, Ventura and other Mets players saw the attacks and were shocked.  The Mets players immediately gathered in the lobby to leave the hotel and get on buses to New York.  When they came over the bridge from New Jersey to New York, they could see the smoke from lower Manhattan and Ventura recalled the smell in the air from the devastation that took place at ground zero.

The MLB response to the attacks

Being a Tuesday, the MLB had a full roster of games to be played by all teams.  Right after the attacks, the MLB Commissioner Bud Selig canceled baseball for the evening, and eventually for the week.  I asked Robin what they did during that week.  He told me that Shea Stadium was turned into a staging ground for relief personnel and equipment.  Many firefighters, emergency personnel and other volunteers came to Shea to help build relief packages.  He remembers having one practice and hitting around once, but most of the time the players were sent out around town for moral support to lift the spirits of New Yorkers.  He remembers watching the news often, as everyone did, anxiously awaiting news of survivors from the attacks, which sadly never came.

Shea Stadium Scoreboard Photo by: USA Today

Returning to normalcy, if possible

On Monday, September 17th the Mets returned to Pittsburgh to play the series that was postponed.  This was the first game back for the team and a very emotional day for the players.  The Mets ended up beating the Pirates that day 4-1, which started them on a winning streaking heading home to New York.  September 21st was the team’s first game back at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves and in front of all their fans.  This pregame video from 9/21/2001 encapsulates the mood of the evening.

Robin remembers the bagpipers and the emotion that the game had as it was the first sporting event to return back to New York after the attacks. The Mets went on to beat the Braves that evening 3-2.

I asked him if he could recall any one thing that stood out most for him.  He said that he remembers during the Mets home games there were kids who would attend the game who’d lost parents during the 9/11 attacks.  He stated that watching the kids was really tough on the players and the organization.

In a press release yesterday, Major League Baseball announced that there will be a league-wide commemoration of September 11, 2001 with tributes at all Major League games on Friday, September 11, 2015. This remembrance is part of Baseball’s ongoing effort to honor those whose lives were lost and affected on that tragic day.

On-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires, will wear caps with a side patch of an American flag during games. All MLB proceeds from sales of these caps will be donated to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Pentagon Memorial and the Flight 93 Memorial.  Home clubs will mark the date with pre-game ceremonies, including a moment of silence, and the “We Shall Not Forget” MLB silhouetted batter ribbon will be displayed throughout ballparks. Additionally, special lineup cards and base jewels will be used for every game played.

The Toronto Blue Jays will wear customized caps recognizing both the United States and Canada for their game in New York against the Yankees on MLB Network Showcase at 7:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network will also feature coverage of the day’s events across MLB in its studio programming. MLB.com and MLBCommunity.org will provide complete coverage of the day’s ceremonies and perspectives through columns, news articles, multimedia and photos across the country.

According to Bob Beghtol, Sr. Director of Media Relations for the White Sox, On Friday, September 11th, the Warrior Watch Riders will participate in a pregame parade, riding the ballpark warning track on their motorcycles with American flags.  Members of the U.S. Armed Services will be recognized on field during a pregame ceremony and take the field to meet White Sox players at their positions.

As I sit here reflecting on the conversation I had this evening with Robin, I’m reminded of the human side of the players and managers we watch on TV and from the stands.  Sure, there are days when I want to throw the remote through the TV in anger at the choices Robin makes while managing my White Sox or sit and stew over the fact that the Cubs may have a good shot at the playoffs (which will no doubt anger me further when their games are on ABC interrupting my #ShondaThursdays this fall).  But for today, one day, we all come together as Americans to remember the lives lost on 9/11 as well as the great unity and resilience that brought neighbors together in solidarity for their country.

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Category: MLB, White Sox

It’s been a long time since I last spoke to you.  So much has happened in Chicago sports.  Here’s a look at the busy and unpredictable Chicago sports landscape.

Blackhawks keep winning

Blackhawks keep winning

Blackhawks:  They just keep doing what they do best, see win.  They lost their goalie Corey Crawford after an accident at a concert, but didn’t skip a beat.  Patrick Sharp returned to the ice and their winning ways have continued.  Right now, this organization is a blue print for the other teams in the city.

Derrick Rose makes a statement

Derrick Rose makes a statement

Bulls:  So much was written about the man the team needs in order to win a championship-Derrick Rose.  As long as he is healthy for the playoff run I don’t care if he sits every other game.  He is back, but not completely healed so he takes what the defense gives him.  It seems others are following his lead of letting their bodies heal to be ready for the games that matter.  DRose also made headlines when he showed support for the Garner family by wearing the I Can’t Breathe shirt.  Some local sports media questioned his intelligence and motives.  He knows what he’s doing and the implications; please stop insulting the young man’s intelligence.  Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler are the team’s MVP and Niko Mirotic has been as good as advertised.  Biggest problem besides health is the defense; they’re giving up more points so far this year.

The newest member of the Sox.

The newest member of the Sox.

White Sox:  The south siders are making moves this off season.  They have signed reliever Zach Duke, closer David Robertson and first baseman/DH Adam LaRoche.  They completed a six player trade with the Oakland Athletics getting starter Jeff Samardzija.  Pitching coach Don Cooper was downright giddy after learning about the move.  So they have strengthened their bullpen, starting rotation and hitting; now the question is will they catch the ball or will they throw away games this season.

The first step in competing in 2015

The first step in competing in 2015

Cubs:  Theo and company made a huge splash getting the best free agent pitcher Jon Lester for 6 years for $155 million, $30 million signing bonus and no trade clause.  There are many who think now that the team signed Lester they will speed up their clock to compete and look to acquire a big bat.  They signed pitcher Jason Hammel and acquired catcher Miguel Montero, with that move some expect Wellington Castillo to be traded.  Theo said they aren’t looking to trade him and apparently he told other teams that shortstop Starlin Castro is not available.  Cubs need offense so keeping Starlin makes sense.

Bears leaders searching for answers

Bears leaders searching for answers

Bears:  I saved the worst for last.  The coaches and players are bad, the front office is bad and the field is bad.  It’s just an all-around bad team.  Mel Tucker may be the fall guy, but I don’t think fans will think that is enough.  After this year many faces will be gone, and I’m not sure any of the young players are any good.  Thankfully the misery of this season ends in 3 weeks.

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While most of Chicago is focused on Melo and the ridiculous (and downright disrespectful) stories coming out about Derrick Rose, health there’s still baseball being played in this city.  Now granted, doctor it’s not very good baseball but it is baseball.  The White Sox are under .500, sovaldi they are struggling to score, struggling to close out games and struggling to get fans in the park; even though it has been a struggle there are still plenty of good things to see.  Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez were voted to the All-Star Game by the players and #TargetSale to get Ace Chris Sale to the game.

White Sox All-Stars Ramirez and Abreu

White Sox All-Stars
Ramirez and Abreu

Chris Sale and Jose Abreu are must see TV and even better in person.  Adam Eaton is a steadying force in the outfield and a catalyst at leadoff.  Paul Konerko is “sparingly” playing his final season and pitchers Hector Noesi and John Danks are bringing it each time they pitch.  You have all that and a chance for a great experience in the sun with friends and family, good food, good drinks and plenty to do for the kids.  So, why do I still have to talk about this each week, each season?  Don’t give me that it’s because they’re not winning, because this problem existed with a winning record.  Don’t give me it’s the neighborhood, are you watching it on someone’s front porch?  You’re not there for the neighborhood, you’re there for a game.  Watch the game and then go home, you’ll be safe.  Another excuse is the cost but there are so many discounted tickets and plans that you can find a game you can afford.  So, you’re out of excuses it’s time to get a group together get out to the Cell and support the men in black.

35th on the all-time home run list, Adam Dunn

35th on the all-time home run list, Adam Dunn

Notes:  Adam Dunn passed Carl Yastrzemski to move into 35th place on the all-time home run list with 453.  Paul Konerko has entered the closure phase of his retirement tour as he hit Fenway Park for a final series.  He says it is hitting him now as his family is in town and will take some games.  Will the Sox be sellers at the trade deadline?  It is pretty known some of the players who could be moved like:  Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham, Alejandro DeAza, Adam Dunn, Tyler Flowers and others.  What the Sox are looking for in return is more bullpen and rotation help.  How much can any of these players return in a trade?  I don’t think much, you would probably need to offer a team Alexei Ramirez to get a positive return, but we’ll see.

The White Sox are 44-47; seven and a half games behind the Detroit Tigers.

Red Tank Top with Batterman Logo by 5th & Ocean, Clark Street Sports: $24.99

Red Tank Top with Batterman Logo by 5th & Ocean, Clark Street Sports: $24.99

Games Review:  The White Sox beat the Red Sox in the first two games of the series.  The 2013 World Series Champs are in last place in the American League East and look awful.  Sox took the holiday weekend series against the Mariners including a complete game by Chris Sale and the 27th home run by Jose Abreu.  The bullpen couldn’t close out a game leading to an extra inning defeat in the series.

What’s Next:  There are three more games in Boston and they will close out the first half of the season with three games in Cleveland.  They return from the All-Star break with a home stand against the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals.

Don’t forget:  #TargetSale…let’s get him to the All-Star game like he deserves!

All-Star? Chris Sale

All-Star?
Chris Sale

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