July 2010

Celebrate Like it’s July 23, 2009: Today is the First Anniversary of the Mark Buehrle Perfecto…and “The Catch”

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Ozzie: “Our Options are Open Now” After Jenks’ Latest Meltdown in the 11-inning Loss to Seattle

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It wasn’t the colossal disaster that occurred last Sunday in Minnesota, which caused normally sane White Sox fans to consider taking a plunge off of the closest ledge, but Bobby Jenks‘ second meltdown in four days is a cause for great concern.
So great, in fact, that Ozzie is on record is saying that he’s now weighing his options for the closer role: “I get paid to win games. That’s my job, win games,” Guillen said after last night’s heartbreaking 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Mariners where Jenks blew a save. “And I’m going to put the guys there with the best shot.”
This kind of decision involving a pitcher who has been a key cog in the Sox success since joining the club in 2005, can’t be easy for Ozzie. That said, unlike most managers, he does have bullpen depth and legitimate options in former standout closer J.J. Putz, who just set a club record for consecutive scoreless appearances, and All-Star Matt Thornton. You might want to throw Sergio Santos into the mix as well.

The closer decision aside, I’m personally concerned for my health, the health of my Sox posse and Pale Hose fans in general if we have many more of these games. I can intellectualize that it’s a long season, that I need to avoid the peaks and valleys and there is always a chance for redemption the next day–something that happened to the Sox in the two games following Sunday’s debacle. But I’m human and don’t react very well to these losses.
On the bright side, I look at the standings and see we’re still in first place, 2 1/2 games ahead. A whole lot better than in April and May when I thought our season was over.
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Speaking of Heroes, Don’t Forget Omar and Alexei

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When the White Sox acquired Omar Vizquel in the offseason, the hope was that he could be a veteran utility presence in the infield and a steadying influence on Alexei Ramirez.
As we sit here today, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers and Twins, I don’t know where we would be without Omar. With Mark Teahen out of the lineup, he has provided a huge upgrade defensively and has been a key contributor to the offense as well. As of this morning he’s hitting .277, more than we could have reasonably expected.
Alexei? Whether it’s been Vizquel’s influence or not, he is on fire, both at the plate where his average is up to .284, and at short where he has been as good as anyone in the league.
There have been many heroes in the Sox revitalization. Vizquel, Ramirez and their buddy Gordon Beckham (all pictured above) are right at the top of the list.
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Sunday’s Heartbreak Now in the Rearview Mirror

55047840.jpgYou have to give it to these White Sox. After Sunday’s ninth-inning meltdown in Minnesota, the third Sox loss in a row, no one knew how the club would react as they headed to Seattle and Oakland. Rest easy Sox fans, at least for now.
There are still five more games remaining on the road trip, but the early signs on the West Coast are very promising. Behind a fine performance by 23-year-old Daniel Hudson and homers by Alex Rios and Andruw Jones, the Sox coasted to a 6-1 victory over the Mariners. In the process they increased their division lead to 2 1/2 games over the Tigers and Twins, who both lost–to the Rangers and Indians respectively.
Some highlights:
* The Pale Hose cranked out 12 hits. Omar Vizquel, Rios, Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham led the way with two apiece.
* Vizquel has been a marvel, at the plate and especially in the field. He’s now batting .271.
* Rios had three RBIs, including the two-run homer, giving him 54  for the season in addition to 16 roundtrippers and a .307 BA.
• Paulie continues to sizzle. His two hits last night raised his average to .303.
* Beckham’s surge has been fun to watch. Once languishing on or near the Mendoza line, GBeck is hitting .571 during his current eight-game hitting streak. He’s now at .241 and 
rising. In other words, he’s back to being the Beckham of a year ago.
* Hudson went 6 2/3, giving up only a lone first inning run. Matt Thornton, Tony Pena and Scott Linebrink closed the door in relief, combining for 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
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                                                 Mr. Hudson to the rescue



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It Doesn’t Get Much Worse Than This as White Sox Pen Implodes in Ninth Inning of Twins Finale


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We thought it was the Metrodome, but based on today’s utter disaster in Minnesota maybe it doesn’t matter where we play the Twins in the Twin Cities.
It all looked so promising. A 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth with a lot of positive signs and the chance to even the series and go up 2 1/2 games on the Tigers and 3 1/2 on the Twins. Then the roof fell in. Bobby Jenks imploded and left an impossible situation for Sergio Santos. The Twins scored four in the ninth for the comeback win.
Forgive me for not rehashing the details. I’m spent and just happy I didn’t throw the remote at my new flat screen TV. And please don’t tell me it’s only a game and the Sox are still in first place. I’m not in the mood and it’s a good bet that I’ll be sleepless as the Sox head to Seattle.
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It’s Freddy Time, Two Straight Losses is Enough

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It’s never easy to lose, but losing to one of your biggest rivals is even harder to take.
So it really irritates me when we come out on the short end against the Twins, which we did last night for the second day in a row. Just hate to watch them celebrate.
To the neutral observer it was a good game, a 3-2 pitching duel between two hot hurlers (Mark Buehrle and Carl Pavano) played in under two hours. To me, when it comes to the Sox, I’d rather watch a poorly played game and have the Sox win. 
While the third-place Twinkies gained another game on the Pale Hose, the good news came from Cleveland as the Tribe swept a twinbill from the Tigers, now a game and a half behind the first-place Sox.
The two consecutive losses is not a major downer. After the great run we’ve had in the past two months it was inevitable there would be some kind of letdown. Remember, after the 11-game streak we lost two of three to the Royals before starting another run.
Two in a row is one thing. I’m not so crazy about making it three, so today I’m looking forward to us rebounding behind steady Freddy Garcia, who will be shooting for win No. 10.
Note of the day: Word is that 2005 World Champ Joe Crede is rounding into shape and will attempt a comeback in 2011 if not later this year. Wish him the best wherever he plays. All ’05 Sox have lifetime immunity with me and my Sox posse.


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White Sox Streak Goes Bye-Bye in 4-Error Loss

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It was bound to happen. After winning 26 of 31 and nine straight, the White Sox came up with a real stinker against the Twins last night, lowlighted by four brutal errors that led to only two earned runs in the 7-4 defeat. The good news is that they are still the first-place Sox as the Tribe rocked the Tigers in Cleveland.
Aside from the dismal outing, the South Siders showed enough grit in the ninth to knock out Minnesota closer Jon Rauch and have the potential winning run at the plate in the person of Paul Konerko. They fell short, but once again we are reminded that these Sox don’t quit.
Best thing to do is forgive and forget and look ahead to starting a new streak tomorrow night with Mark Buehrle on the mound.
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First-Place South Siders Continue to Roll

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All eyes were on the White Sox last night. Could they come out of the break with same fire that saw them go 25-5 in the last 30 games? How would they do against the rival Twins as they aimed for their ninth victory in a row–this coming on the heels of the 11-game winning streak?
Aside from a six-run Twins uprising in the second off of John Danks, which saw Minny take the lead after the Sox scored four in the first two frames, it was all good as the Sox held on in the 8-7 squeaker to increase their division lead to a full game over the Tigers.
There was no lack of positive signs. The gutty Danks bounced back to go six innings after giving up six runs in the second, Juan Pierre went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, four players (Omar Vizquel, Alex Rios, Mark Kotsay and Gordon Beckham) pounded out a pair of hits each with Beckham and Rios both going 2 for 3 with two RBIs apiece. And GBeck added a long second-inning homer.
Additionally, the pen did what they had to do with three clutch two-out strikeouts to end Twins rallies–Matt Thornton (Jason Kubel) in the seventh, Bobby Jenks (Orlando Hudson) and Jenks (Jim Thome) to end the game in the ninth.
With  a lot of heroes to choose from, the best part of last night for me was the continuing emergence of Beckham as the same guy we saw in 2009. His bat is perking up, his power is back, he’s been sparkling in the field and his average is up to .221 and climbing. That average might not seem like much, but it’s a big improvement from where it’s been in the early going.
Many folks agree that Beckham is the key to the Sox offense. I’m one of them. His presence in the lineup was enormous last year and adding a vintage GBeck to Rios, Paul KonerkoCarlos Quentin and the rest can only mean good things for The Good Guys.
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Don’t Forget to Watch…Should Be Fun


Reality series “The Club,” featuring the Chicago White Sox, premieres Sunday night on MLB Network
Original Series from MLB Productions Narrated by award-winning actor and Chicago native Michael Clarke Duncan
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Award-winning actor, Chicago native and die-hard Chicago White Sox fan Michael Clarke Duncanwill provide narration for The Club, the original reality series about the White Sox front office produced for MLB Network by MLB Productions. As a follow up to 2009’s The Pen featuring the Philadelphia Phillies’ bullpen, The Club will follow chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to a Major League Baseball club’s front office. The Club premieres on MLB Network on Sunday, July 18 at 8:00 p.m. CT.

Duncan is best known for his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of death-row prisoner John Coffey in The Green Mile. Duncan’s body of work also includes ArmageddonThe Whole Nine YardsThe IslandSin CityDaredevilPlanet of the ApesTalladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and most recently Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, among many others. An accomplished voiceover artist with an unmistakable deep voice, Duncan’s most recent voiceover film credits include Kung Fu PandaRacing Stripes and this summer’s Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty GaloreHe also provided voiceover for the White Sox World Series highlight film in 2005.

Throughout each episode, The Club will focus on the realities and challenges both on and off the field for the men who run one of MLB’s most storied franchises. Beginning this month through to the Trade Deadline on July 31, MLB Productions’ cameras will capture footage at the club’s Spring Training camp in Arizona, during roster meetings, on Opening Day, on the road for away games and to get a look at Reinsdorf, Williams and Guillen away from the ballpark. The series will also feature personnel who work within the front office, including assistant general manager Rick Hahn, pitching coach Don Cooper and hitting coachGreg Walker.

“We are thrilled to have the talents of such an accomplished actor, voiceover artist and, most importantly, a die-hard Chicago White Sox fan, as part of the production of The Club,” said David Gavant, executive in charge of production and VP, Major League Baseball Productions. “After working with Michael on the voiceover for the 2005 World Series film, we know White Sox fans will appreciate the passion and enthusiasm he brings to this project.”

The Club is produced by MLB Productions. Gary Waksman is the lead producer, Robert Haddad is the coordinating producer, and David Check is the executive producer. Throughout production, Haddad will post video blogs following each shoot to the MLB Productions website.

The Club is the fifth series produced for MLB Network by MLB Productions, following Prime 9, Baseball Seasons, Triumph & Tragedy and The Pen.

Some Musings as First-Place White Sox Begin Second Half of Season Against the Twins

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With the All-Star Game break, the blog has been dark for the past three days. But the Sox are back in action today–and so am I.
Here are a few thoughts as the Sox attempt to continue the surge that moved them into the A.L. Central lead after Sunday’s win against the Royals.
–The Sox have reported that Jake Peavy‘s surgery yesterday could not have gone better. Jake, see you in Glendale.
–The South Siders’ No. 1 draft pick, Chris Sale (pictured below), has been promoted from Class A Winston-Salem to AAA Charlotte after only four one-inning stints. Seems like he’s doing his Daniel Hudson imitation, only quicker. He could be in Chicago before too long.
–Those Adam Dunn to the White Sox rumors continue. Reports are that the Nationals are holding out for Gordon Beckham. If that’s the case, it won’t happen. Beckham’s 2010 struggles aside, Gordo is a keeper and the Sox know it.
–I haven’t seen it reported anywhere, but if the acquisition of Dunn doesn’t materialize–and I think Prince Fielder is out of the question–how about adding Raul Ibanez as a lefty bat in the Sox lineup? I’ve always liked him (actually hated him) because of his great success against the Sox over the years. Word is that the Phils wouldn’t mind parting with Raul.
–The Sox are hoping to start a new tradition tonight at Target Field. A tradition of dominating the Twins on their home field. The pitching matchups for the weekend:
TONIGHT: John Danks vs. Kevin Slowey
TOMORROW NIGHT: Gavin Floyd vs. Francisco Liriano
SATURDAY NIGHT: Mark Buehrle vs. Carl Pavano
SUNDAY: Freddy Garcia vs. Nick Blackburn

–After the four games in Minnesota, the Sox play three in Seattle, enjoy an off day and then travel to Oakland for three before returning home on July 26 vs. the Mariners.
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