MLB

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
Pink's Pulse

Missed a few headlines this week? Worry not, look I’ve got my finger on the sports pulse for you. Below is my weekly round-up of what’s trending or what’s coming up in sports: perfect for sports bars, cocktail parties, board rooms, and well…just knowing your week in sports.

HOT

  • Bulls preseason begins: The wait is over folks. Derrick Rose returns to the court for the Chicago Bulls on Saturday when the Bulls face the Pacers in their first preseason contest of the year. This will be his first NBA game in 17 months. I recommend not putting all your eyes on Rose, as there are plenty of things to note. Rookies Eric Murphy and Tony Snell will definitely be players to watch. It took Jimmy Butler a whole year to fully come out of his shell, but maybe one of the Bulls rookies can make a difference quicker. Get ready for NBA season! By the way, happy birthday Derrick Rose!
  • Cubs possibly getting Joe Girardi: The Chicago Cubs need help. Their plan of cleaning house and starting off new is a huge project, but you need the right coach to develop those young players. Monday the Cubs fired head coach Dale Sveum. Before Sveum had even cleared out his locker, rumors immediately began swirling that the Cubs were targeting Yankees coach Joe Girardi as their next manager. The Yanks failed to make the postseason this year so Girardi is fair bait. Negotiations between Girardi and the Yankees haven’t begun, but when they do they could proceed quickly. To pile even more on, the Cincinnati Reds fired former Cubs head coach Dusty Baker this week. Sources say that the Reds are also interested in Girardi. The Cubs need Girardi, and I’m glad they’re making the effort to get him. They will pay a pretty penny for him, but this organization needs a turning point bad.
  • The Blackhawks get their championship rings: It did happen in the past week, but I just need to point out how awesome these rings are. Below is the side by side comparison. The 2010 ring is so boring with so little color. The 2013 ring not only has the beautiful mascot covering in diamonds, but has rubies behind it. The ’13 ring has five diamond studded trophies for all of the Blackhawks Stanley Cups. An even cooler fact: this 2013 Blackhawks ring is the first since 2003 to take the Stanley Cup off the face. If you get a chance to take a picture with one on, don’t miss out.

COLD

  • Israel Idonije, the Bears traitor: There was speculation after the Chicago Bears 40-

    From Chicagotribune.com

    32 loss to the Detroit Lions that former Bear and current Lion, Israel Idonije tipped the Lions off on the Bears defensive calls. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said after the game to the press that that was ridiculous. But when asked about whether he had a role in the game plan Idonije responded, “I mean, I did anything anyone would do in a transition situation. Nothing out of the ordinary or unique to any situation.” For those that don’t know, teams do this all the time. They sign someone to their team that was on an opponent’s team to get inside information. So he’s right, it wasn’t out of the ordinary. But it’s still pretty low. Lessen learned: someone needs to take out Israel Idonije and the Bears need to punish the Lions the next time around. Traitor.

  • Alex Rodriguez sues MLB: New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez has had enough of Major League Baseball and the Commissioner Bud Selig. Rodriguez is accusing them of improperly gathering evidence to destroy his reputation and career. Even though Rodriguez has been suspended 211 games for doping, he claims all this has hurt his business relationships. It just seems to me that A-Rod wants more money. He saw an opportunity to exploit the Selig and the MLB and is capitalizing on it. I’m curious how this will end up. Because if A-Rod wins, there’s a chance that many other players will step up and do the same…
  • All this crap about taking fighting out of hockey: Recently, there have been talks about whether the NHL should get rid of fighting during games. This talk spurred after a scary scene on Monday as Canadians puncher George Parros tumbled and smacked his face off the ice. Chicago Blackhawks Joe Quennville says ‘Keep it [hockey] the way it is.’ Well said Coach Q. I always knew this debate would come. But fighting is one of the reasons why the NHL is unique to other sports, not to mention how awesome it is. A hockey player knows the ramifications of taking his helmet off to fit. Leave it at that.
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Pink's Pulse

Missed a few headlines this week? Worry not, cure I’ve got my finger on the sports pulse for you. Below is my weekly roundup of what’s trending or what’s coming up in sports: perfect for sports bars, healing cocktail parties, board rooms, and well…just knowing your week in sports.

HOT

  • Mr. Jon Bostic: While all eyes were meticulously watching the new workings of the Trestman offense on Thursday night, the star of the night was on defense. Chicago was mesmerized by Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic. Bostic, who might be taken as a little undersized for a linebacker, turned heads with big hits and his athletic ability on Thursday. Starting alongside Lance Briggs, he lived up to the big question mark most Bears fans had. He wasn’t the only rookie that might have proved his potential…because rookie guard Kyle Long definitely showed that he’s ready to play. I was impressed and pleased. Beware, the Bears are coming!

  • Boxing meets ballpark: For the first time since 1962, boxing will be showcased at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday. The match will feature Chicago favorite Andrzej Fonfara and Gabriel Camprillo. It’s a rarity, no doubt. If you’re planning a night out in Chicago, I recommend trying to check this out.
  • Honest Toews in PED testing: Gotta love my favorite radio station 670 The Score making headlines (I used to intern). Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews went on The Score to talk about what the PED situation is like in the NHL. Here’s just one of the quotes from the interview:

” I think guys that apologize and plead that they didn’t know what they were doing, I think they know exactly what they’re doing. So the more tests the better.”

All I have to say is good for you Toews. The NHL is the league with the loosest drug policy. I’m glad the captain is stepping up and saying something.

COLD

  • MLB expands with video challenges: America’s favorite pastime is starting to get a facelift…with video challenges. The debate in the MLB has been whether to upgrade to a replay system like other professional sports. MLB managers can challenge reviewable plays, and there’s a bunch of little rules on the big rule. Listen, the last few minutes of an NBA game sometimes can be brutal. Between the fouls and replays it makes me want to turn the game off. What are the fans going to do during this time? Dear Bud Selig, you’re giving fans another reason to stay at home.
  • KISS + football + Los Angeles: Football is finally coming to Los Angeles.

    From Rapgenius.com

    On Thursday, the Arena Football League announced it was awarding an expansion team to the members of the band KISS. The team will be called the LA KISS, and will begin playing in the Honda Center in Anaheim in March. First of all, these uniforms and helmets are going to be the ugliest thing we’ve ever seen. And I honestly can’t imagine that playing a team named after a band that wore ridiculously right leather pants is intimidating. Just saying.

  • The Tom Brady scare: The sports world essentially stopped on Wednesday when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went down in practice and limped off the field.  Seriously people? There are 31 other quarterbacks in the league, and 32 if you want to continue to count Tim Tebow. Reports came out that Brady will play in his preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. Absolutely ridiculous.
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matt-garza traded

The Matt Garza era came to an end yesterday when the Cubs pitcher was traded to the Texas Rangers in a multi-player trade, capsule officially ending the “Garza Watch”.

Ironically, levitra within hours of the news breaking, the other ‘watch’ that captured headlines for almost the same amount of time – nine long months – ended with a new royal heir when Kate Middelton delivered a baby boy.

The Rangers were rumored to be the front runners in a trade for Garza, and many thought he would be dealt over the weekend. The weekend came and went without any activity with Manager Dale Sveum claiming Garza was “100%” guaranteed to start on Monday.

Mid-Monday afternoon it was announced that Chris Rusin would be starting in Garza’s place against the Diamondbacks, confirming suspicions that Garza had finally been traded.

Garza has been strong since his return from the DL earlier this summer after starting the season with an injured shoulder. Garza is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts. He’s scheduled to join the Rangers today and start Wednesday against the New York Yankees.

In return for the highly sought-after Garza, the Cubs get four of the Rangers best prospects; Third Baseman Mike Olt, right-handed Pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and a fourth (and potentially fifth) unnamed player. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is pleased with the Cubs’ recent acquisitions.

“At the least, we added three pitchers, if not four, in addition to Mike Olt, and that’s the kind of depth we need both in power arms and some talented players,” said Hoyer. “Any time you trade a guy like Matt Garza, it doesn’t feel good because it’s a hard decision and you know that guys like Matt are the kind of guys you want to acquire, but we feel good about the depth and talent that we acquired for the Cubs today.”

Mike Olt

Mike Olt was named as the Rangers’ number 2 prospect heading into the season as has been mentioned as the foundation of the deal. According to CSN Chicago, “Olt has 40 home runs and 116 RBI in 163 Double and Triple-A games.” He was hit in the head by a pitch in a game and experienced concussion-like symptoms, including problems with his vision. If he stays healthy, Olt strong defense could make him great addition at third base. He’ll head to Iowa to join the team’s Triple-A affiliate.

Joining him in Iowa will be Justin Grimm. Grimm was drafted by Theo and Jed in 2007 during their tenure with the Red Sox. The other pitcher in the deal, C.J. Edwards, will head to Daytona. According to mlb.com’s Carrie Muskat, Edwards hasn’t given up a homerun in his last 160 innings.

Garza, a free agent after this year, will be heading to a playoff contending team in the Texas Rangers (55-44), who are currently second in the AL West. The Rangers last made appearances in the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Known for his wacky off-field antics (and his shaving cream pies), Garza will be missed by his teammates, several of whom tweeted their support for the veteran pitcher.

 

 

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Category: Cubs
Chris Sale

Speed and strength are not the first things that come to mind upon first glance of White Sox pitcher Chris Sale. At 6’6″ and 180 lbs, look the lanky lefty exudes a quiet confidence that is backed by the ability to shut down offenses and sink pitches that average around 96 mph.

If you’re a fan of the game, view then there’s a good chance you know of Chris Sale. But let’s take a closer look at Sale and what makes the 24-year old ace so special as one of the anchors of the White Sox organization, demonstrated by the huge contract extension he received this off-season. Can Sale live up to the ace expectations?

Chris Sale was born in Lakeland, Florida where he attended high school.  Sale was originally drafted by the Rockies in 2007, but decided not to sign and instead played baseball at Florida Gulf Coast University (yes, the same Cinderella FGCU that beat Georgetown and San Diego State in the 2013 NCAA Tournament before losing to Florida in the Sweet 16).  In 2010 he was named the NCAA pitcher of the year with a record of 11-0.   The Sox saw the amazing potential and drafted Sale 13th overall in 2010.

Chris Sale

Sale spent very little time in the White Sox minors’ before being called up in August of 2010 becoming one of only five players in MLB history to play the same year he was drafted.

Sale  started in the bullpen, notching his first save against the Cleveland Indians.  Even though he began to have success as a closer he always longed to be a starter.  Sale got his opportunity in 2012 and in his first season as a starter he went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA.  It was at this point that management saw the future and that future was the left-hander with 4 strong pitches in his repertoire.

However, mid-season 2012 Sale was once again relegated to bullpen duty, but this time it was due to left elbow tenderness.  He blew his one and only save opportunity and moved back into the starting rotation and earned his first of hopefully many All-Star appearances.

This past off-season Chris got his first taste of dealing with the business aspect of baseball…the contract extension.  Both sides wanted the same thing for a long career right here on the south side.  In March 2013, both sides agreed to a 5-year $32 million dollar contract with 2 team options.

WIth a long-term contract now behind him, Sale has been getting down to business this season going 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA. Sale is pitching lights out; giving his team a chance to win when he’s on the mound.  He is the stopper during a losing streak and gives his coaches and teammates confidence when he’s on the mound.  But what makes Sale so unique is that he doesn’t just throw hard; he changes speeds and with his funky side arm throwing motion he keeps hitters off balance.

Chris Sale has the faith of his wife and son, his teammates, the White Sox coaches, the entire organization and Chicago White Sox fans.  With Sale locked in for at least the next 5 years, the future on the south side is bright!

Injury Note:  Chris Sale threw a bullpen session Sunday and had no problems after experiencing tendonitis last week and sitting out his last start. Sale gets the start in Game 2 against the Chicago Cubs in the Crosstown Classic Tuesday night at 7:10PM.

1 comment
Category: White Sox
Anthony Rizzo

After their 101-loss season, for sale dozens of questions loom around the Cubs as they attempt to rebuild and become a respected team instead of a regular MLB punching bag. With nine Spring Training games now in the books, Cubs chatter is starting to heat up with just one month to go until the regular season begins on April 1st.  Below are 5 questions Cubs fans will be discussing, and therefore should be on your radar.

1. Will Alfonso Soriano Get Traded? 

Coming off a career season, Soriano is a valuable trade prospect. With the Cubs looking to rebuild with young talent, odds are the team will try and trade the aging outfielder. However, as we’ve seen over the last few years, trading Soriano will be quite a challenge. The left fielder has two years and $36 million remaining on his contract, as well as 10-5 veto power, which means he can reject any proposed trade. There has been speculation that Soriano would be traded to the Yankees after outfielder Curtis Granderson broke his arm. Soriano has told reporters he would prefer to stay with the Cubs.

Alfonso Soriano, Source: SI.com

“I just want to play here and make the playoffs and go to the World Series with this team. I want to feel good, but my dream is winning here,” said Soriano.

Considering a trip to the World Series by the Cubs is highly unlikely in the next two years, at which point Soriano will be 38 years old, there’s a very good chance that Soriano will be retiring as a Cub. If he plays at the level he did last year, this won’t be an issue. If anything, Soriano’s experience as a veteran player is an asset inside the 20-something clubhouse.

2. Will Any Hot-Shot Prospects Get Called Up This Season?

Theo Epstein and crew have made it no secret that they are putting their faith in the young, undeveloped talent to bring the Cubs back to relevancy. The Cubs just recently traded the popular Tony Capana for two teenage pitchers, showing how serious they are about young prospects. Cubs’ management has talked about how excited they are about several of their young prospects, though many are still several years away from the majors.

The top prospects this season to watch for are Brett Jackson and Javier Baez. Jackson, a outfielder and former HAM, played in 44 games last season with the Cubs but with dismal results. He will be sent back down to the Cubs Triple-A team (the Iowa Cubs) to incubate longer as he works out the kinks in his swing.

Brett Jackson, Source: espn.go.com

Baez is a 20-year old infielder that is being eyed as a backup to shortstop. Whether one or both of these hot prospects gets called up this season or not, expect these names to be constantly part of the Cubs’ chatter – just like Anthony Rizzo was all last season until he finally got called up once the Cubs’ playoff hopes were shot.

 3. How Will Anthony Rizzo’s First Full Season Go? 

After finally being called up in the middle of last season, the 23-year old gave fans an exciting look at the future. Rizzo hit 15 home runs in 87 games with the Cubs last seasonto give the team a much-need offensive spark.

Get it for $19.99 from Clark Street Sports

Look for another great season from Rizzo, both offensively and defensively. Rizzo is part of the team’s young core, so fans can expect him to become more of a leader on and off the field.

 

4. Who Will Be The Starting Third Baseman?  

Ian Stewart

Third Base is one of the Cubs’ weakest positions heading into the season. After missing most of the 2012 season with a wrist injury, the Cubs resigned Ian Stewart to a low-risk, one year deal during the off-season. Stewart has struggled to stay healthy, missing most of Spring Training with a strained quad. Luis Valbuena has been pretty productive as Stewart’s replacement, so he seems to be the most logical choice to start at Third Base. However, former White Sox utility man Brent Lillibridge could make the team if Stewart fails to get healthy or gets cut before the season starts.  

5. Is This The Year For The Cubs?

Unfortunately, no. But the franchise is moving in the right direction! With the “Theo Regime” in their second year, fans have a lot to be excited about, even if a World Series is several years away. The Cubs still have a long way to go talent-wise, but look for exciting young prospects Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Brett Jackson to move into the majors in the next two seasons. It might not be our year, but hang in their Cubs fans, the end of the curse may be near!

 

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