October 2009

Sox-wise and Otherwise…

My weekly off-season musings about the White Sox and more…

*  While most of the baseball world is focused on the World Series, true Sox fans have an eye on Arizona Fall League action. The way it looks, the South Siders will have a brother combination on their roster before too long. John Danks‘ younger brother Jordan is making quite a splash for the first-place Peoria Javelinas. He’s hitting .400, has clouted two homers, driven in 12, has a remarkable .518 on-base percentage and just ended an 11-game hitting streak. Don’t be surprised if he’s patrolling one of the outfield positions at The Cell some time in 2010 or ’11.

Jordan’s teammate in AA Birmingham and the Fall League, infielder C.J. Retherford, is the kind of grinder that Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen love. He’s turning some heads as well with a .333 average, nine RBI and a .400 on-base percentage.

*  Most experts are predicting that Rick Porcello, the Tigers’ pitcher who burst on the scene in 2009 with great success, will be chosen by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the AL Rookie of the Year. Even though the BBWAA award is the official one, if Porcello wins it won’t overshadow what Sox standout Gordon Beckham has already won. He got the AL Rookie nod from both the Sporting News and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Both votes were taken from a pool of players, a clear indication of how his peers feel about the Georgian’s first-year performance.

*  It’s been irritating to live in the New York area and see how Nick Swisher has captivated Yankee fans this season after he moped around when taken out of the Sox lineup late last year. The bloom may be off the rose, however, as Swisher has been a non-factor in the Yanks’ postseason success and was benched in favor of Jerry Hairston Jr. last night.

It was sort of a win-win for me. I certainly wasn’t unhappy that Swisher got a bit of come-uppance and I was very happy that Hairston Jr. got the opportunity to start. In my travels I’ve gotten to know former Sox pinch-hitter extraordinaire Jerry Sr., even played against him in a fantasy camp at old Comiskey. He’s a terrific guy and I know it’s a proud moment for him to see the first member of his three-generation major league family get to the World Series.

*  He’s not out of the woods yet, but I’m happy to say that loyal Sox fan Seymour Berke, my Dad, is improving daily with spring training definitely in his sights.

Let Ozzie Be Ozzie

There was our Ozzie at Yankee Stadium last night with his Fox Sports World Series pre- and post-game partners Chris Rose and former major leaguers Eric Karros and Mark Grace.

My first impression is that Ozzie is a natural and I applaud the Fox folks for including him in the coverage. He looked great and showed glimpses of his unique knack for humor that certainly will be more apparent as he gets used to his new role.

That said, I do have one suggestion–let Ozzie be Ozzie. It seems that the back and forth among the four is too programmed, too rehearsed. It’s fine for Rose, Karros and Grace because they have the experience and know-how to banter. But the beauty of Ozzie is his spontaneity. The producers should let the others follow a script, but let Ozzie freelance. That’s when the real Guillen charisma will show up.

A pet peeve of mine for years is that the nation only knows Ozzie for his outbursts, because that’s how the national media portrays him. The truth is that he’s an outstanding manager and the kind of personality that baseball sorely needs. And it appears that this faulty portrayal was a factor in Ozzie agreeing to work with Fox.

“I want to prove that I’m not the guy they see curse or be mad at the players or be mad at something,” Guillen said. “I have a little knowledge. I know about the game. And I want to show people another way to look at Ozzie Guillen. It might be the last time I do it, but at least I can say I did it. I’m having fun. It’s not easy.”

Stay tuned.

What Will the Outside World Think of Our Ozzie?

Brace yourself, America. Baseball fans throughout the country will get a dose of our Ozzie Guillen tonight as the hilarious, unpredictable, entertaining and sometimes X-rated White Sox manager will make his debut on Fox’s pre- and post-game coverage of the World Series.

I, for one, can’t wait. I’m actually looking forward to it more than the Yankees-Phillies matchup.

Come back here tomorrow and I’ll share the highlights.

Some Great Moments in Sox World Series History

The five appearances our Sox have made in the Fall Classic pales in comparison to, let’s say, the Yankees, who will be making their 40th beginning tonight in The Bronx.

That said, we are who we are and should be proud of the Series accomplishments we do have.

Here are 10 great Sox World Series moments to remember, in chronological order:

*  Lefty Doc White pitched a complete game seven-hitter in the Sox’ 8-3 victory over the Cubs in the deciding Game 6 of the 1906 Series. Called the Trolley Car Series, The Sox upset their crosstown rivals who won 116 games during the regular season and were heavily favored.

*  Future Hall of Famer Red Faber hurled a six-hit, complete game masterpiece as the Sox beat the New York Giants, 4-2, and clinched the world title in Game 6 of the 1917 Classic.

*  The 1919 World Series was the darkest moment in White Sox history as the South Siders were the culprits in the “Black Sox Scandal.” There was one major positive, however, when Dickie Kerr, one of the Sox players not in on the fix, pitched the Sox to a 3-0 triumph in Game 3.

*  Even though they eventually lost to the LA Dodgers, the Sox started off the 1959 Series at Comiskey with an 11-0 whitewash of their NL foes. Recently acquired Ted Kluszewski led the offense with two homers and Early Wynn and Gerry Staley combined for the shutout.

*  The Sox won Game 5 of the ’59 Series behind Bob Shaw and Dick Donovan, who combined for a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax.

*  Ah, Game 2 of the 2005 Series. How can we forget Paul Konerko slamming the 18th grand slam in the history of the Fall Classic to put the Sox ahead 6-4 in the seventh inning.

*  And, of course, Scott Podsednik‘s game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth of Game 2 in ’05 to give the Sox a thrilling 7-6 victory and a 2-0 lead in the Series.

*  A mid-season acquisition with only one prior postseason at bat, Geoff Blum was the unlikely hero in Game 3 in ’05 with a solo homer in the 14th inning to put the Sox ahead. The South Siders eventually won 7-5 in the longest World Series game every played.

Jermaine Dye’s 8th inning single off of Brad Lidge scoring Willie Harris in the deciding Game 4, gave the Sox the exciting 1-0 win and their first Series title since 1917.

*  If there was an unsung hero in Game 4 of the ’05 World Series for the Sox it undoubtedly was Juan Uribe, who made two great plays in the ninth to preserve the win. He jumped into the stands to record one out and ran in to field the now legendary ground ball off of the bat of Orlando Palmiero for the last out of the game and the Series.

October 26, 2005: A Day to Remember

Happy Anniversary, Sox fans. Four years today we were all celebrating our first World Series title in 88 years. For me, the wonderful memories are still as vivid as if it were yesterday.

Yankees-Phillies? Nah, I’m going to be watching the ’05 World Series DVD for the next few days.

Sox-wise and Otherwise…

My weekly off-season musings about the White Sox and more…

* America, fasten your seat belts. Our Ozzie Guillen will be part of the Fox pre- and post-game announcing crew for the World Series. 
* How impressed are Sox prospects Jordan Danks and C.J. Retherford with No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg? Not so much, it seems. In yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action, Danks and Retherford went 4 for 4 against the $15 million man of the Washington Nationals as their Peoria Javelina’s beat the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 9-6. John Danks‘ brother Jordan collected two singles and the gritty Retherford smashed a homer and a single. The duo’s performance was no fluke either. Danks is currently hitting .385 and Retherford .421 in Fall League action. Dayan Viciedo, who didn’t play yesterday, is at .333.
* The Sox picked up Alejandro De Aza this week off of waivers from the Marlins. His role? Probably a candidate for a spot as a backup outfielder. We’ll just have to trust the Sox front office on this one.
*  While the Yanks are still in the driver’s seat to get to the World Series, ex-Sox mope Nick Swisher hasn’t helped a lick. If the former “Dirty 30” doesn’t snap out of it soon, his love affair with Yankee fans will be over in a hurry.
*  One of the most loyal and passionate Sox fans I know, my dad Seymour Berke, is in intensive care at a Hammond, Indiana, hospital. We all want him to be ready for spring training so please say a prayer.

Sporting News Names Beckham AL Rookie of the Year

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards are the most prestigious of all the postseason honors. So, we’ll have to wait until next month to see if Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham will receive the nod as the BBWAA American League Rookie of the Year. However, the good news came out today that the Sporting News, through the 338 major league players who voted, has selected GBeck as its AL rookie pick.

The choice of Beckham is especially welcome because he’s no sure bet to win the writers’ award. From all I’ve read and heard, Detroit’s Rick Porcello and Oakland’s Andrew Bailey, two outstanding rookie pitchers, seem to be the frontrunners. That said, maybe today’s news will prove to be a good omen for Gordon.

For the record, Beckham reached the majors on June 4 and hit .270 with 28 doubles, 14 homers and 63 RBI in 103 games for the Pale Hose.

Sox-wise and Otherwise…

My weekly off-season musings about the White Sox and more…

* With the White Sox out of the playoffs, “Sox-wise” it’s really very boring these days. Other teams are competing and not a lot of Sox news. Anxious for the post-World Series rumors and deals.

*  One bit of promising Sox news is that yesterday, in an Arizona Fall League game, Sox prospect Dayan Viciedo went 3 for 5 with a homer.

*  If you’re like me, you get annoyed when TV shows and movies set in Chicago try to show the flavor of the town by having the actors wear Cubs gear. It happened this week on the CBS series, The Good Wife, when one of the lead characters donned a Cubs cap. Not sure if I’ll watch another episode–yes, for that reason.

* I’m waiting for a Hollywood ending where Jim Thome comes off the bench and hits a championship series-ending homer for the Dodgers against his former Phillie teammates to enable LA to reach the World Series.

* The best news for TV viewers watching Yankees-Angels is that Chip Caray is broadcasting the National League series.

* I’m sticking with the Yankees in the ALCS, but not with a lot of enthusiasm. Those Angels can be piranhas on steroids.

* Maybe it’s because I’ve seen him consistently kill the Sox,  but I always thought that Raul Ibanez would look great in a Sox uniform.

* While we’re on the subject of wanting players, I want Chone Figgins on the South Side next season.

* The more I think about it, the more I think Paul Konerko will be traded this winter. He’ll never be forgotten and has always been a pro’s pro, but I get the vibe it’s just time.

* Get well wishes to Carlos Quentin, who we need to have a HUGE 2010. Just had a pin removed from his injured wrist.

Those Weren’t the Twins I Know

Like most people, I’m certainly not surprised that the Yankees finished off the Twins in 1-2-3 fashion. However, for those of us who have followed Minnesota closely over the years, first under Tom Kelly and now under Ron Gardenhire, it was shocking to witness HOW the Twins lost.

The inexplicable base-running gaffes, stranded runners and bullpen woes that the Twins experienced against New York weren’t consistent with how Minnesota has succeeded season after season. It’s usually been the Twins who have taken advantage of other teams’ failures with their fundamental, grind-it-out style, especially at the Dome. Sound familiar, White Sox fans?

It’s ironic that the last game at the Twinkiedome was so un-Twin-like. After years of intimidating their foes with the loud noise, baggies and disruptive white roof, in the end the Twins and their fans got a bit of their own medicine.

Ozzie Wouldn’t Have Been Surprised

Ozzie Guillen made it clear he wouldn’t be watching any postseason games this fall. It seems that when Ozzie isn’t in the playoffs, he can’t stand watching others compete and wants to get away from the game. In my mind, very understandable.

That said, if Ozzie had seen umpire Phil Cuzzi’s horrendous call of Joe Mauer’s liner down the left field line last night in the Twins-Yankees ALDS game, he probably would have had a good laugh and certainly wouldn’t have been surprised. You see, Ozzie and Cuzzi have had many run-ins and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of love going on between them.
It goes without saying that I’m a big Ozzie guy and a bit prejudiced, but looking at it objectively I have to side with Guillen in this matchup. I’ve watched a lot of Cuzzi-umpired games and I can’t remember one when he didn’t screw up a call or two or three or four for both sides.
All umps make mistakes, but Cuzzi’s blown call of a ball that clearly dropped in fair territory by a good margin and likely impacted the outcome of the game is rather inexplicable. He was right there and got it wrong. 
Too bad Ozzie wasn’t there to enjoy it.