In promoting upcoming series, White Sox Hall of Fame radio broadcaster Bob Elson would say something to the effect of, “Folks, come out to the ballpark for a big series this weekend. The New York Yankees will be here with Mantle, Maris, Berra and all that gang.”
I know that the Sox weren’t going to go 162-0, but last night’s 5-3 loss to the Tribe was a disappointment. With Jake Peavy on the mound and the momentum from Opening Day I had already chalked up a victory in my head. Lesson learned for the millionth time–nothing in baseball is set in stone.
As satisfying as it was to watch the White Sox blank the Tribe 6-0 in today’s opener at The Cell, the impressive victory has already been cast aside as an afterthought to Mark Buehrle‘s mind-boggling play to retire Cleveland catcher Lou Marson. It was even more remarkable than Buehrle’s seven shutout innings and Paul Konerko‘s two-run homer in the first which gave the Sox the lead for good.
The long cold winter and six weeks of spring training are in the rear-view mirror. It’s time to play for real. Let’s hope the White Sox take the first step toward an AL Central title and a trip to the postseason.
Today’s Opening Day lineups:
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Grady Sizemore, CF
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Travis Hafner, DH
Jhonny Peralta, 3B
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B
Lou Marson, C
Michael Brantley, LF
Jake Westbrook, P
Juan Pierre, LF
Gordon Beckham, 2B
Carlos Quentin, RF
Paul Konerko, 1B
Mark Kotsay, DH
Alex Rios, CF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Mark Teahen, 3B
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Mark Buehrle, P
I’m certainly not the first to write this and I won’t be the last, but I can’t help thinking what a bonus it is to have Jake Peavy in a White Sox uniform. Apart from his wins, strikeouts and innings pitched, his demeanor and competitive nature will undoubtedly rub off on the rest of team–especially guys Like Gavin Floyd and John Danks. And to have Peavy AND Mark Buehrle at the top of the rotation can only be a good thing.
From all accounts, Peavy is strictly business on the mound and a consummate team player. As recently as this spring Peavy avoided a potential controversy by not only saying that Buehrle deserved the Opening Day start, he even pushed for it.
“Mark is really deserving of that start,” said the former Cy Young Award winner with San Diego. “That’s also a good message to send to this clubhouse, to our fans, even Mark. We are saying ‘Hey listen, we have a couple of No. 1 starters here, so run them all out there.’ From 1-5, we are as good or as solid as anyone in the game. It’s something I truly believe.”
Brian Anderson was once the White Sox golden boy who had the opportunity of a lifetime. He was the club’s No. 1 draft pick out of the University of Arizona in 2003 who was given the chance to be the starting centerfielder for the World Champion Sox three years later. As we know, he never made the grade in Chicago.
That said, there were some memorable moments for the superb defender who was unable to hit consistently. While he wasn’t on the playoff roster his celebration with eventual predecessor Aaron Rowand, captured in the ’05 World Series video after Scott Podsednik‘s walkoff homer in Game 2, will live in Sox lore. His two home run performance off of Felix Hernandez and making the final catch of the “sudden death” game against the Twins to give the South Siders the 2008 AL Central crown are two other memorable instances. And, of course, he has a World Series ring.
Despite these sporadic highlights the Sox simply gave up on BA last summer just prior to the trade deadline, sending him to the Red Sox for Mark Kotsay. Obviously not in Boston’s long-term plans, he signed a one-year deal with the Royals this past offseason.
Despite hitting for the cycle during a 5 for 5 day in spring training, Brian must have seen the writing on the wall and is now heading back to the low minors in an attempt to become a pitcher.
“I’m not sure how that process is going to go, but it’s got to start at the very bottom,” said KC manager Trey Hillman. “We’re milling through that right now. He’s committed to making a go of it. So that’s what we’re going to do.” For the record, BA last pitched in college for Arizona. He was in 17 games with a 5.40 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.
Anderson is no different than hundreds of others in baseball history who were highly touted, but never quite lived up to their supposed potential. Some just didn’t have the talent to stick, others didn’t have the stick-to-it-iveness and still others may have not had the professional maturity. In BA’s case the first and third points seem to apply as he has admitted that he wasn’t ready when the Sox handed him the starting job after the championship season.
Who knows how all of this will turn out. Will it be the second coming of Sergio Santos? For Anderson’s sake, I hope it’s a happy ending.
BA in happier times
As the White Sox close out spring training and zero in on Monday’s opener, our Ozzie is in rare form. Thanks to Mark Gonzales in today’s Chicago Tribune, we are able to enjoy the wit and wisdom of our favorite manager:
* “A lot of people hate me. I want them to hate my team, too. Because we want to kick some (butts). Nobody hates anybody when you’re horse(bleep). When you’re horse(bleep), nobody cares about you. When you’re good, that’s the people you want to beat, the people you hate the most. It’s so many many things. People give people attention when they have success…that’s what I want. I want every day to show up and kick people’s (butts). Show every day we’re ready to fight.”
* “…You don’t win championships in the Cactus League or Grapefruit League. But I love the way they (the Sox) play. The guys are playing the basics very well as a unit this spring. I’m very excited about it. I never was before.”
* “When we lose, I don’t even like my kids or my wife. That’s how bad it is. When we win, I love everyone–even my worst enemy. I love them because I’m happy. As long as we’re winning, everything is good. Even the worst (bleeping) guy I wish would die. I feel good for him. That’s what we’re here for–winning.”
Just think how boring it would be if Ozzie were ever muzzled