kansas city royals

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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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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With the NBA Finals now finished, medicine all eyes are now on baseball. This is the time of year when many people simply tune-out and wait for the Bears preseason to begin (only 80 days remain until the start of the 2014 NFL season).

The Chicago White Sox can’t make up their mind whether to contend or not.  At times they look like a playoff contending team, sovaldi but two games later they look like the same old losers from last season. As I say every week, there’s plenty of time in the season to make a push if they play like they did in the lastTigers series, but if the bad defensive and offensive team that played the Royals shows up time will run out steam and quickly.

The Sox are a three games under .500 at 34-37 and 4.5 games out of first place behind the surprising Kansas City Royals.

Adam Eaton Triple

Adam Eaton Triple

Quick Review:  John Danks continues to put together a nice bounce back season beating the team with the best winning percentage in the league, the San Francisco Giants 8-2. The south siders were swept by the Kansas City Royals and outscored 22-6 in the three games.  The Royals used big innings to win the games and were helped by poor defense and the pitcher’s inability to get out of the inning.  The Sox took two out of three games from the first place Detroit Tigers.  The offense was able to get to the very beatable Justin Verlander, but they weren’t able to solve the Tigers’ Ace Max Scherzer.

News:  The White Sox have been swept twice in their last three series.  While Adam Eaton has been hot others like Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo have been struggling at the plate.  There were 32 White Sox runners left on base during the Royals series.

Old  friend Buehrle's perfect game

Old friend Buehrle’s perfect game

What’s Next:  The Sox finish up the brief Giants series this afternoon.  Next, the south siders hit the road for 11 games featuring the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and they’ll see their old friend Mark Buehrle and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Special Events:  While the Sox are out of town they will host two great events for you and your family on June 21st.  Family Field Day provides families a chance to play catch in the outfield, warm-up in the bullpen, visit the dugouts and take photos around the field.  Tickets are $30 for adults and $12 for kids.  Visit Whitesox.com to purchase tickets.  You can also get in some shopping if you prefer that over the field day.  The White Sox Garage Sale is free and doesn’t require a Field Day ticket to enter.  From 9am-2pm you can purchase game-used equipment, game-worn jerseys, autographed memorabilia and collectibles.  For more information go to Whitesox.com.  Proceeds from both events will benefit White Sox Charities, so go out and have a good time while supporting a great cause.

Family Field Day

Family Field Day

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There are less than 90 days until the Bears kickoff the 2014 season and the Bulls still haven’t picked up that elusive star, viagra so baseball is still center stage in Chicago.  While the north siders’ struggle to build a new Wrigley and the rumors of a possible Jeff Samardzija trade steal the headlines, the south siders are quietly remaining in the playoff picture.  I think it’s time to shift the focus to the south side boys of summer.

The White Sox sit in 4th place at 32-33 only 3.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers.

Sale against Trout

Sale against Trout

Quick Review:  Here’s all you need to know about what happened last week…it was bad.  The Sox finished off their west coast trip by being swept by the LA Angels.  The series included Chris Sale blowing a 5-0 lead (with the help of an error) and Mike Trout hitting a grand slam off Sale.  Jose Abreu struggled on the trip but hopefully all he needed was to return to the Cell as he hit a two run home run to help the Sox win the first game of the series against the Tigers and move to within 3.5 games of first place.

News:  With the third pick in the draft the Sox picked LHP Carlos Rondon from North Carolina State.  Rondon was considered by some to be the best pitcher in the draft and there are thoughts that we may see him sooner rather than later in the big leagues.

LHP Carlos Rondon

LHP Carlos Rondon

What’s Next:  The Sox will finish their four game series versus the Tigers and then welcome in the Royals for three games starting June 13th.  They will finish the home stand with 2 games versus the Major League Leading San Francisco Giants starting June 17th.  The upcoming promotions are going to be fun so get out there, especially this weekend with nice weather on the way.  June 12-K-Zone cards, June 13-Mullet Night and fireworks, June 14-White Sox Cap and Father Daughter Day and June 14-Father’s Day

My Thoughts:  Every week I write about the surprising White Sox who have overcome injuries, a bad start by the bullpen and spotty defense to be right in the thick of things.  I guess at this point the surprise will be if they don’t remain in the playoff race for the remainder of the season.  The only thing that can stop them is a catastrophic injury to a major player.  With the American League being so unpredictable; there’s plenty of opportunity for the Sox to make a move and sneak into the playoffs.  So with many games remaining in the season all I can suggest is that we enjoy the ride wherever it may take us.

Two Keys To The Surprising Sox, Eaton and Ramirez

Two Keys To The Surprising Sox, Eaton and Ramirez

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Looking for a place to hang out with your girls this Friday night? I’ve got one for you – it’s capsule May 23rd vs. New York Yankees” href=”http://sportsdivasinc.com/2014/05/white-sox-host-annual-ladies-night-friday-may-23rd-vs-new-york-yankees/” target=”_blank”>Ladies Night at US Cellular on Friday, search May 23rd.  The game starts at 7:10 pm, and but get there early for the activities like:   Zumba, massage therapy, discount shopping at Chicago Sports Depot, Girl Band performs and a lucky lady and three of her friends will be randomly selected to take a picture on the field.

After all of that fun you get to see the White Sox take on the New York Yankees when the Yankees begin their 3-game series at the Cell after wrapping up on the North Side against the Cubs. This will be the last time you’ll find Mr. Derek Jeter play at games at the Cell, before baseball’s most eligible bachelor retires from the game.  Get a big group together for a perfect girls night out with music, food, drinks, baseball, fireworks and plenty of eye candy on the field!  For heavily discounted tickets to this premiere matchup, head over to www.whitesox.com/ladies

The White Sox are still under .500 at 22-24 and are eight games behind Central Division leading Detroit Tigers.  They definitely didn’t take full advantage of their schedule last week.

Week In Review:  The Sox took game one of the 3-game series at Kansas City Royals thanks to a go ahead 2-run home run by Paul Konerko.  His improving offense will be needed in Jose Abreu’s absence.  The south siders lost two of three against the team with the worst record in the American League, the Houston Astros.  They also lost 2 out of 3 against the hottest team the Oakland Athletics.  They lost games and their young star Jose Abreu.

Micah Johnson

Micah Johnson

Sox Notes:  Jose Abreu was placed on the 15-day disabled list with ankle tendinitis.  The Sox were relieved after getting the MRI results that it is nothing more to the injury.  He will remain on anti-inflammatory medication and wear a walking boot and there is no timeline for his return.  To take his place on the roster the Sox activated the sparkplug Adam Eaton.

Chris Sale continues his rehab and a decision on his return date could come after his next bullpen session.  Closer Matt Lindstrom left Monday’s game with a leg injury he suffered trying to field a bunt.  The Sox are hoping they will not have to add him to the list of the walking wounded.  Jeff Keppinger was designated for assignment and it may cost the team $7.5 million but with the emergence of the youngsters it was a move that needed to be made.  In triple A news, 2nd baseman Micah Johnson was promoted to Charlotte and is looking good on and off the field.

What’s On Deck:  After finishing up in KC the Sox will come home for four games against the Yankees.  May 23rd is Ladies Night and fireworks, May 24th is Chris Sale bobblehead and May 25th is Family Day.

Much improved Alexei Ramirez

Much improved Alexei Ramirez

My Thoughts:  Even the Sox aren’t much better record wise this year there is still something different about this team that gives you hope (not including this past week).  The defense isn’t great, but it is still much better than last year (couldn’t get much worse).  Jose Abreu is emerging as a rookie of the year candidate and is adjusting quite well to major league baseball.  Newcomer Adam Eaton has added a spark to the top of the lineup that reminds many of Scotty Pods from the ’05 season.  Other players like Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Flowers, Conor Gillaspie, Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo have greatly improved their numbers and hopefully have figured it all out.  Those are just some of the reasons I feel different writing about this team.

Chicago White Sox Women's Grey V-Neck Triblend Tee with Navy Batterman Logo by 5th & Ocean, Clark Street Sports: $29.99

Chicago White Sox Women’s Grey V-Neck Triblend Tee with Navy Batterman Logo by 5th & Ocean, Clark Street Sports: $29.99

Yes, I still write a lot about losing, but I don’t feel like the losing will drag on forever like it did last year.  Last year was hard to take and I could be proven wrong by the end of the year, but with the way this team is playing and fighting every game I just don’t think I will be wrong.  Well at least I hope I’ll be right!

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The first week of White Sox baseball offered a glimmer of hope for fans.There’s excitement surrounding the fast start by the offense, online  Chris Sale continuing his dominance, health Jose Abreu living up to expectations, look Adam Eaton setting the table and playing highlight reel defense and the unexpected power of Alejandro De Aza. Now hold on because even though there are signs of improvement there are also some concerns with the defense and a shaky bullpen.

Chris Sale after another great outing

Chris Sale after another great outing

The South Siders sit at 4-4 eight games into the 2014 season. After their Opening Day 7-6 win against the Twins last Monday, they dropped the follow-up game on Tuesday, and then lost two of three against the Royals and are 1-1 so far in the series against the Rockies. Considering that most experts predicted between 75-80 wins, technically this is not too bad of a start, but things definitely need to improve.

The Sox don’t have an easy road in the beginning with the following series on deck:  April 9: @ Rockies, April 10-13: vs Indians, April 15-17: vs Red Sox, April 18-20: @ Rangers, April 21-24:@ Tigers

White Sox White Women's Triblend Batterman Tee, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

White Sox White Women’s Triblend Batterman Tee, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

A quick look back at last week’s action: Along with the Sox win over the Twins and the great opening day weather in Chicago, the new food, beverages and attractions were also a hit on Opening Day.  The bacon on the stick was crisp, the new beers were refreshing, the hot chocolate kept you warm and the team won. So it was an all-around great day for the White Sox faithful.  On Thursday it was so cold that team officials decided to reward fans in attendance by giving them a ticket to a game in April.  Fans were able to redeem their ticket stubs and will receive another ticket. This incredible act of kindness just demonstrates how wiling the White Sox are to make fans happy and just how well they treat their fans, so get out there and support them.

Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu

Fans are cautiously optimistic and with good reason. Luckily there is plenty of time to shore up the defense and get solid outings from the bullpen. I know I’m just happy that baseball is back and the weather is improving. Now that the pageantry of opening week is over we can all begin to really evaluate what is right and what is wrong with the White Sox. Sit back, relax and enjoy the long season.

 

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