December 2010

Welcome to My World: Oney Guillen, the 1919 Black Sox, Short Pants and Air Raid Sirens

1919WhiteSox.jpgLeave it to our White Sox to end 2010 embroiled in another controversy. We couldn’t leave well enough alone with an outstanding offseason. Instead, we enter the new year with Oneygate II.
If his tweeting about Kenny Williams in spring training didn’t cause enough strain on the South Side, Oney, Ozzie‘s 24-year-old son, decided to take it upon himself with multple tweets to respond to Bobby Jenks‘s parting shot about the manager’s inability to handle a bullpen.
Oney, who left the White Sox after the spring training fiasco, divulged some personal informaton that heretofore was not made public–about Jenks’s drinking and marital problems and the fact that the fleshy reliever once broke down in tears in the manager’s office. It’s not exactly the kind of thing that would make members of the Sox trust that their own “within the clubhouse walls” issues wouldn’t be made public.
We love our White Sox, but let’s face it, we shouldn’t be surprised. Our long tenure as a charter member of the American League is marked more by controversy and a fun time at the ballpark than championships on the playing field, though we have had our successes. We diehards accept it, embrace it and carry it as a badge of honor. We’re NOT the Yankees, but we have our own customs and traditions and are proud of who we are.
* We’re the team that threw the 1919 World Series (pictured above).

* We’re the team, historically speaking, that has arguably the least amount of legendary players.

* We’re the team that people tend to ignore. The Sox? Oh, they’re in Boston. Chicago? Isn’t that the home of those lovable Cubbies and the shrine they call home?

* We were the team of master showman Bill Veeck and his exploding scoreboard, midget spacemen, original outfield shower, cow-milking contests and short pants.

* We’re the team that prompted the air raid sirens to go off in 1959–scaring the bejeezus out of the local citizenry–after the Go-Go Sox won their first A.L. pennant in 40 years.

* We’re the team that hosted the disastrous Disco Demolition Night.

* We’re the ones who boasted the South Side Hitmen.

* We’re the ones who won the A.L. West by 20 games in 1983 by “Winning Ugly.” Don’t get me started about Tito Landrum.

* We’re the ones who, because of attendance woes, played a handful of games in Milwaukee in 1968, almost moved there, and were on the verge of heading to St. Petersburg before the agreement was made to build the New Comiskey Park, now the Cell.
So, the Oney Guillen saga is just another chapter in a somewhat bizarre, but certainly entertaining, history that has been much more palatable after the glorious October of 2005. 
Accept it. Embrace it. 
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Looking Ahead to the 2011 White Sox…from A-Z


With the New Year upon us, here’s a glimpse at the ’11 White Sox…

Ais for Alex Rios. A pleasant surprise in 2010, he will have even more protection in the lineup next season.
B is for the Bullpen. With Bobby Jenks (Red Sox), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks) and Scott Linebrink (Braves) now scattered around the majors, the Sox have to retool the pen with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Sergio Santos, Tony Pena and perhaps Chris Sale as the core.
C is for the Closer. Take your pick–Thornton or Sale seem to be the top candidates.
D — is for Adam Dunn. The “Big Donkey,” as he is affectionately called, is already salivating over the hitter-friendly Cell. And we’re pretty much salivating over him.
Eis for Edwin Jackson. All in all, he was a good addition to the rotation (Daniel Hudson‘s success aside). We need a repeat performance.
Fis for the Fans. How will they react at the box office to the new and improved Pale Hose–and help fill the coffers to make payroll? Early results are promising.
Gis for Gordon Beckham. Was his rookie season a mirage? Hopefully he’s over the sophomore jinx and the hand injury and will bust out as an All-Star caliber player.
H — is for the Hot Corner. Will Brent Morel, who impressed the skipper in September both at the plate and in the field, be the guy?
Iis for I’m convinced that I’ll have a lot of exciting things to write about for Art of the Pale Hose in 2011.
Jis for Juan Pierre. He was an effective igniter at the top of the lineup and played surprisingly good defense in left. He’ll be called upon to do the same in ’11.
K is for Paul Konerko. Glad he’s back. Enough said.
L is for Little, as in John Danks‘s little brother Jordan. While John will try to take yet another positive step in his career, the Sox hope that baby brother will turn around a disappointing ’10 season at Birmingham and join the big club some time next season.
Mis for Mr. Perfect, aka Mark Buehrle. In the final year of a four-year contract, he’s one of the three remaining White Sox with World Series rings from 2005 along with Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski. The popular workhorse will be looking to extend his Sox record for Opening Day starts and to enjoy another productive season at the top of the rotation.
Nis for the National League. A big reason for the 88-win season in ’10 was our major league best 15-3 interleague record against the NL. Can they do it again next year against the Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Rockies?
O is for Ozzie (who else?), who is predicting good things ahead for the upcoming season.
Pis for Jake Peavy. His future is certainly in question and his fate will be tied closely to the Pale Hose fortunes in ’11. The latest reports say he’s well ahead of schedule.
Qis for Carlos Quentin. When he is good, he’s very, very good. Can he stay healthy?
Ris for Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Will somebody give him some credit for opening his wallet this offseason?
Sis for Spring Training, one of my favorite times of year. See you in Glendale.
Tis for the Tigers and Twins. Detroit has improved, the Twins, no matter what they do, give us fits. It should be quite a three-team race in the A.L. Central.
U is for the Over/Under. I’m proclaiming it at 90 wins.
Vis for Dayan Viciedo, he of the electric bat. Can he improve enough on defense to make a bid for the third base job or become a valuable commodity on the big league bench at both first and third?
W is for Kenny Williams and his tireless effort to make the Sox a perennial contender.
X is for Ex-Sox like Magglio Ordonez, Jim Thome and now Jenks. Will they haunt, or in some cases, continue to haunt the South Siders?
Yis for the Yankees, Red Sox and other A.L. contenders. Can our Sox match up with the heavyweights?
Zis for Zero chance that the Sox brass is done tinkering with the 2011 roster–which hopefully means we’ll keep getting better.
Happy New Year!!
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The 12 Days of White Sox Christmas


In the spirit of the season…

The First Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…1 great offseason, filling our stocking with a load of talent–and hope–for the upcoming season.
The Second Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…2 free agents with Sox World Series rings in Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.
The Third Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…3 possible closers in Matt Thornton, Chris Sale and, if needed, newcomer Jesse Crain.

The Fourth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…at least 4 solid starters in Mark Buehrle, Edwin JacksonJohn Danks and Gavin Floyd. Make it five if Jake Peavy recovers from his injury and six if Sale is in the rotation.

The Fifth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…A solid No. 5 hitter from a talented group who, from what Ozzie has indicated, could very well be Alex Rios–hitting behind the powerhouse duo of Adam Dunn in the three hole and Paulie batting cleanup.

The Sixth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…The annual 6 games against the Cubs next season–three at home on May 20, 21, 22 and three at Wrigley Field on 
July 1, 2, 3.

The Seventh Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…a 7-game homestand leading up to the ’11 All-Star Game in Phoenix against the Royals and hated Twins as the Sox attempt to match last year’s first-place standing at the break.

The Eighth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…8 games against the 
Yankees in 2011–four in April (25, 26, 27, 28) at Yankee Stadium and four in August (1, 2, 3, 4) at the Cell.

The Ninth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…No. 9, Sox icon Minnie Minoso, who is still going strong after celebrating his 85th birthday last month.

The Tenth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…A 10-game opening homestand after starting the year with five games on the road in Cleveland and Kansas City. The Sox will face the Rays, A’s and Angels at the Cell from April 7-17.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…No. 11 on the back of Omar Vizquel‘s uniform, as the future Hall of Famer honors the great Luis Aparicio for the second straight year after an outstanding first season on the South Side.
The Twelfth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…All in all, a whole lot to look forward to as we head into 2011.
Happy Holidays!
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Jesse Crain: Another Nice Piece of the Puzzle

610x.jpgThe next time you hear somebody tell you the White Sox are cheap and not doing all they can to win, kindly tell them to shut up.

In what has turned out to be an enormously productive offseason, the Sox have accumulated the talent of Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and now…Jesse Crain, who reportedly has signed a three-year contract.
Crain, you’ll recall, is the former (I like the way that word sounds) Twins reliever who gave the Pale Hose fits with a 1.45 ERA in 45 games lifetime against his new team. He is coming off of his best season with a 3.04 ERA and a .215 average against in 71 appearances as a seventh and eighth inning setup man.
So, not only does he add a critical piece to our bullpen, joining key cogs Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, Tony Pena and maybe Chris Sale, it weakens the Twins, who have also lost Matt Guerrier to the Dodgers.
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What Paul Konerko Means to the White Sox

Last week’s signing of Paul Konerko was unlike any other transaction in recent memory. It wasn’t your routine, everyday free agent acquisition because of how SoxWorld feels about their All-Star slugger. The outpouring of joy over Konerko’s return has been as much about who he is as a person and what he represents as the impressive numbers he’s produced between the white lines.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in no uncertain terms that Paulie belongs in Chicago. GM Kenny Williams observed that it would be funny to see him in another uniform. Teammate Gordon Beckham expressed how much Konerko has helped him become a major leaguer and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey put it beautifully when he wrote that Konerko is the “quintessential leader by example.”
In his 12 seasons on the South Side, Konerko has endeared himself to the Sox organization and fans alike. Here are some reasons why No. 14 is so beloved.
*  Let’s begin with the obvious–the numbers. In his tenure with the Sox, Konerko has slugged 358 homers, driven in 1127 runs, compiled a respectable .282 batting average and has batted .300 or better three times. He has hit 40 or more homers twice, 30 or more six times and 20 or more on 11 occasions. Paulie has driven in 100 or more runs five times and 90 or more in eight seasons with a .358 on base percentage and .505 slugging mark, giving him an OPS of .863. In the postseason (2000, 2005, 2008) he has hit seven homers and driven in 17 runs.

*  Konerko’s offensive rank in Sox history is quite impressive as well. He’s second in home runs and RBIs to only future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, is tied for third in doubles with Hall of Famer Nellie Fox (behind Thomas and Hall of Famer Luke Appling) and is fifth in runs scored behind Thomas, Appling, Fox and Eddie Collins, who is also enshrined in Cooperstown.

*  He’s a Chicago guy–a modest, hard-working, team player who, as Morrissey wrote, is a leader by example. The captain title its him perfectly and the fact he has chosen NOT to wear the “C” on his uniform speaks volumes about his humble nature.

*  Konerko was at the heart of the 2005 World Champions, delivering in the clutch time and time again. We certainly won’t forget his grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series, key homers in the ALCS against the Angels and that he appropriately made the final putout in the division clincher in Detroit and all three playoff series.

*  His gesture of presenting Reinsdorf with the ball from the final out of the World Series at the victory parade has become legend and yet another example of Paulie’s character. In contrast, just the year before, Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz threatened to keep the ball from the final out and was sued by the team before it was decided that the ball would be displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Why did Konerko do it? Paulie simply said it was because Reinsdorf deserves to have it. And it’s important to note that the Chairman called the moment the most emotional of his life.

*  He has been involved in numerous charitable endeavors. Among them has been his participation in the Children’s Home & Aid “Bring Me Home” campaign with former teammate Jim Thome in support of foster families.

*  Only nine White Sox players have had their uniform numbers retired. By signing on with the Sox for another three years and continuing his Sox legacy, we could be celebrating Paulie’s No. 14 as the latest to the list of elite Pale Hosers. And the fans will love when he reaches that mountaintop.
He would join Fox (2), Harold Baines (3), Appling (4), Minnie Minoso (9), Luis Aparicio (11), Ted Lyons (16), Billy Pierce (19), Thomas (35) and Carlton Fisk (72) in the exclusive club. For the record, 38 White Sox have worn the number, including Bill Melton, Hall of Famer Larry Doby and Moose Skowron. But it’s doubtful anyone would have a problem with retiring it for Konerko–or building a statue for him on the outfield concourse to go along with his bronze image on the monument outside of the Cell.
For these reasons and more, Paul Konerko IS the White Sox. It’s true that he played briefly for both the Dodgers and Reds early in his career, but he’s a South Sider through and through and we have accepted him as such deep in our souls.
Welcome back, Paulie.
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Paulie’s Back

Breathe a sigh of relief, SoxWorld, your captain has returned.
In an 11th hour move, Paul Konerko signed what is reported to be a three-year, $37.5 million dollar contract. It looked very iffy for a while yesterday as Konerko’s demands increased, but the White Sox brass obviously made a convincing case that Paulie belongs on the South Side of Chicago.
So, the White Sox’s Three World Champion Musketeers–Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Buehrle–all will be back to hopefully repeat their 2005 success. Joining them will be a solid starting pitching staff and a powerful lineup, including newcomer Adam Dunn, that should be enough for the Sox to be considered the favorite–at least for now–in the A.L. Central. The only void seems to be a spot or two in the bullpen, which Kenny Williams is undoubtedly addressing as I’m writing this blog.
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Sox-wise and Otherwise: The Hunt for Paul Konerko and the Loss of a Great Sox Fan

My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox and more…

The White Sox have surely kept me in blogging mode with all of the activity in the last few days:

–The signing of Dunn (pictured above)
–Getting A.J. back into the fold
–Non-tendering Jenks
–Picking up the Missle‘s option
–Trading Linebrink 

Next on the agenda, according to KW, is the attempt to sign Paulie. Despite the cash the team has just spent for the two most recent free agent signings, Williams has said there’s enough resources left to bring Konerko back to the South Side. In part, this has been made possible by non-tendering Jenks, saving $4 million by letting Linebrink go and the unselfish gestures by Dunn and Pierzynski, who have both agreed to defer salary so the Sox will have the wherewithal to afford Konerko. And maybe a bullpen piece to boot.
Sox Lose a Great Fan

My good friend Kevin “Sully” Sullivan, former Communications Director in the George W. Bush White House who also headed up PR for NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks, lost his Dad this week. Timothy J. Sullivan was 89. 
A South Sider to the core, the elder Sullivan passed along his passion for our White Sox to Kevin and his siblings. Sully shared with a group of Sox fan friends that his Dad would have loved the positioning of his death notice–which was right next to the news that the Sox signed Dunn.
May he rest in peace.
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Sox Have Crazy Thursday: Non-Tender Jenks, Sign Dunn, Bring A.J. Back into the Fold and Pick Up Alexei’s Option

We thought all the action would happen at next week’s annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, but the Sox surprised everyone yesterday with a blockbuster day of moves that began to shape the team for next season.
It was hard to keep up with it all:
First, the Sox picked up the $2.5 option for Alexei Ramirez.
Second, Bobby Jenks was non-tendered.
Third, word came out that the Sox signed slugger Adam Dunn.
Fourth, I woke up this morning to find out that A.J. had signed a two-year deal (to continue my obsession with the ’05 Sox, Mark Buehrle is now assured of having a fellow World Champion as a teammate in 2011).
If that weren’t enough, there’s talk that that signing Paul Konerko is still a possibility. And could J.J. Putz be right behind?
So, what’s behind all of this spending? After Kenny Williams submitted two different budgets–one that would focus on cutting salaries and rebuilding and the other would increase the payroll–this is what was decided, according to Williams:
“The decision was that if we’re going all in, we’re going all in.”
You’ll get no argument from me.
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A Dunn Deal?

Kenny Williams says he will address the Adam Dunn “rumors” tomorrow afternoon. By all media reports, the slugger has agreed to a four-year, $56 million dollar pact. It will give the Sox a huge bat from the left side–a hitter who has clouted 38 homers in each of the last two years, 40 or more five times and a career total of 354. Now we have to get Paul Konerko into the fold along with a catcher (preferably A.J. Pierzynski) and some bullpen help with Bobby Jenks out of the picture and J.J. Putz a free agent.

I guess the big question is how much talent can we really afford? The answer can’t come soon enough.
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Jenks is a Goner, Mr. Perfect Only 2005 Survivor on Current Sox Roster

ozzie-guillen-bobby-jenks-288x300.jpgWith today’s non-tendering of closer Bobby Jenks, the current White Sox roster shows Mark Buehrle as the sole holdover from the 2005 World Champions.
Depending on what transpires on the free agent market, Buehrle may yet have company if the South Siders sign Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski or Freddy Garcia. If I were a betting man, I’d say A.J. has the best chance of returning, with Garcia possible and Konerko doubtful. Regarding Paulie, the latest scoop has the Sox closing in on slugger Adam Dunn, which may or may not signal Konerko’s exit. Although I won’t believe it until it happens, the long-time Sox first baseman may be headed to Baltimore, which has already made him an offer.
I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to Jenks. He recently wore out his welcome with his weight problem and heartbreaking series of blown saves, but for the most part he was a godsend. Coming on strong during the ’05 season when Shingo Takatsu failed and Dustin Hermanson couldn’t stay healthy, he was money as the Pale Hose closer in their successful run to glory and continued his excellence for most of the five years since. And who can ever forget Ozzie’s hilarious call to the bullpen in the ’05 Series for the hefty Jenks (pictured above).
Whether it’s free agent J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton, Chris Sale or a wild card addition, the Sox will have a new closer and a revamped bullpen. It’s a little scary not knowing what will happen, but I, for one, think it’s time for a change.
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