Minnesota Twins

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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Oh, tadalafil the Chicago White Sox, the team you just can’t figure out.  Every time you think they’re going to take a step forward in the division, they blow it and take six steps back. The Sox are currently in last place and it’s the same consistent issues killing this team:  shaky bullpen and a lackluster defense.

What did I really expect as far as improved defense?  Adam Eaton is an improvement, but other than that, it’s about the same team as last year.  This team hasn’t had a good third baseman since Joe Crede, and that’s sad.  Sox fans, I preach not to compare your team to the Cubs, but I will in this instance.  The Sox have lost one less game than the Cubs and what really makes that sad is that at least you knew the Cubs would be horrendous, but did you really expect this with the south siders?  I didn’t expect playoffs, but never did I think last place.  I know I sound all gloom and doom, so I must remind myself that there’s still a lot of baseball left and this team features the best pitcher in baseball and a potential rookie of the year.

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

As we enter July it is time to wonder will this team be a seller or a buyer and the answer is, if they have more series like the last two they’ll try to sell everyone but Chris Sale and Jose Abreu.

Chris Sale congratulates Jose Abreu

Chris Sale congratulates Jose Abreu

The Sox are 7.5 games out of first place and 6 games under .500, not a good position, but since no one is running away in their division there’s still time to turn it around (which I say every week).

Quick Review:  The Sox snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win in Baltimore a night after blowing a ninth inning lead.  The White Sox were swept in four games by the Minnesota Twins.  One of the losses was to a pitcher, Yohan Pino who spent 10 years in the minors.  Although the team hasn’t played well, their rookie of the year candidate, Jose Abreu continues to tee off on major league pitching. He became the third youngest player to reach 20 home runs this quickly.   His 20th home run came a day after meeting with the coaches to discuss him not running on a dropped third strike.

All-Star? Alexi Ramirez

All-Star? Alexi Ramirez

News:  Scott Carroll will replace Andre Rienzo in the starting lineup after Rienzo lost his last five starts.  Minor leaguers Micah Johnson and Francellis Montas will participate in the All-Star Futures game.  Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez are in second place at their positions in All-Star voting.  They need your help Sox fans, go to mlb.com and vote.  You can submit 25 online ballots so do the Chicago thing-vote and vote often.

What’s Next:  Mark Buehrle awaits his former team as the Sox head to Toronto for four games against the Blue Jays.  They will return to US Cellular on June 30th to face the Angels.

ballot

 

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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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CT 0404_spt_sox_twins_23.JPG

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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us cell

Alright ladies, sovaldi this Monday at 3:10 pm the south siders return to action.  The Chicago White Sox open the 2014 season at US Cellular Field against the Minnesota Twins.  This year can be considered The Year of Redemption, The Paulie Farewell Tour, Let’s Make a Deal or The Youth Takeover; but none of those subplots matter to this team.

The White Sox are only worried about winning baseball games, clinching their division and making noise in the playoffs.  That may be wishful thinking but the fans can’t get much lower than last year’s 99 losses, so they want to see a competitive team that will develop talent, win games, make the smart play and give them something to cheer about all summer long.

As I said there are some fresh faces mixed in with some of our returning favorites.  Let’s meet the team:

Starting Pitchers:  Chris Sale-Opening Day Starter, Felipe Paulino, Jose Quintana, Erik Johnson and John Danks

Opening Day Starter, Chris Sale

Opening Day Starter, Chris Sale

Bullpen:  Matt Lindstrom, Scott Downs, Ronald Bellisario, Nate Jones, Daniel Webb, Maikel Cleto and Donnie Veal

Infielders:  Paul Konerko-1B/DH, Jose Abreu-1B, Marcus Semien-2B, Alexei Raqmirez-SS, Conor Gillaspie-3B, Leury Garcia-IF, Tyler Flowers-C and Adrian Nieto-C

Outfielders:  Adam Eaton-CF, Avisail Garcia-RF, Dayan Viciedo-LF and Alejandro De Aza-OF

DH:  Adam Dunn

*Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger will start the season on the disabled list.*

The White Sox are going through a semi-rebuilding period with 17 players on their 40-man roster the age of 25 or younger and five of their players starting on opening day for the first time.

Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko

The veteran and undisputed leader of the team Paul Konerko declined to start opening day because as he said it goes against the plan.  He will be a part-time player and full-time mentor to Jose Abreu and the other young players.  The White Sox will look to get back to winning consistently by infusing youth on the team.

The young players are not the only thing new at the Cell; there is also new food, beer and attractions to enhance the fan experience.

New Food On The Menu

New Food On The Menu

Food:  The 100/500 Levels will serve pork chop sandwiches, adobe mango chicken sausages, Beggars pizza and bacon on a stick.  The 300 Club Level/Diamond Suite and Stadium Club will serve bacon macaroni and cheeseburger, chicken and waffle sandwich, cinnamon bites and 3 pound banana split sundae in a helmet.  The Xfinity Zone will serve made to order sandwiches.

Beer:  New premium craft beer like:  Revolution Anti-Hero IPA, Lagunitas IPA, MillerCoors Smith & Forge Hard Cider, Miller Fortune Veteran Beer Company, Blonde Bomber Ale and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale will be served.

At The Park:  Oversized Foam Heads of the White Sox TV and radio announcers will race at every Sunday home game.  Section 154 is now the K-Zone for Chris Sale; every fan will be equipped with a K-card and can pick up a t-shirt.  The Technology center will feature flat screen monitors playing other sporting events, social media center and charging station

White Sox Women's White/Navy 3/4 Raglan Burnout Tee with Distressed Batterman Logo by 5th & Ocean, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

White Sox Women’s White/Navy 3/4 Raglan Burnout Tee with Distressed Batterman Logo by 5th & Ocean, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

There are still tickets available and it looks like the weather will cooperate to make for a great day of baseball celebration.  Gina Glockson from American Idol will sing the national anthem and US Olympic bobsled bronze medalist and native south sider Aja Evans will throw out the first pitch.  So, take a day off from work and get to the Cell to see the new and improved 2014 Chicago White Sox.

 

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Frank Thomas, clinic HOF

Congratulations to former White Sox Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas who was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Thomas earned the prestigious award after receiving 83.7% first ballot votes and joins the other baseball greats in Cooperstown, NY, making many Chicago White Sox fans – and baseball fans – very, very happy.

Thomas joins other greats, former Cub Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.  He is the first DH to be elected to the Hall.  Frank is considered one the guys who played the game clean during the so-called “steroid era”.  He was outspoken about is desire to clean up the game and was the only active player to participate in the Mitchell Report. He even suggested that his production might have led players to use PEDs.

Thomas was at a loss for words when he got the call that he had been elected.  He always felt he would get enough votes, but to actually hear the words was amazing and he says it’ll take a few days before he absorbs it all.

Thomas is one of the greatest hitters in White Sox history and one of the greatest right-handed hitters in the history of baseball.  There were ups and downs in his career that he has admitted he was the cause of some of those problems with teammates and the organization especially in his final year with the Sox.  He didn’t appreciate being replaced by Jim Thome, which caused then GM Kenny Williams to tell Frank to stay out of White Sox business.  All has been forgiven and Frank said he is so happy to be back with the organization as White Sox analyst for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and is proud to enter the Hall as a White Sox.

The Big Hurt

His career is full of achievements and highlights:

-played with Sox:  1990-2005; Oakland A’s:  2006 & 2008; Toronto Blue Jays:  2007-08

-first HR at Minnesota Twins versus Gary Wayne in August 1990

-stats:  301 AVG; 521 HR; 2,468 HITS; 1,704 RBIs, 1,667 BB, 419 OBP

-5 time All-Star:  1993-97

-4 time Silver Slugger:  1991, 1993-94, 2000

-2 time MVP:  1993-94

-MLB Comeback Player:  2000

-HR Derby Winner:  1995

-AL Batting Champ:  1997

-World Series Champion:  2005

-#35 Retired by White Sox

-Hall of Fame:  2014

So, please join SDI in congratulating #35, Frank Thomas.  You are a baseball legend.  Check him out on twitter:  @TheBigHurt_35

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