The San Francisco Giants are not only the defending World Champions, they have baseball’s best record this spring as well.
They continued their winning ways today against the White Sox with a 5-3 triumph even though most of their regular players didn’t make the trip to Camelback Ranch. Despite the lack of top talent among position players, the Giants did have two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum on the mound. In his five innings of work against the Sox, the “Freak” gave up just one run and three hits with seven strikeouts. The good news is that he’s in the National League and we don’t face the Giants this year in interleague play.
It’s true he wasn’t pitching to elite talent, but Mark Buehrle rebounded from his early struggles giving up a lone run in five innings…Brent Lillibridge‘s two-run homer in the seventh inning and Alex Rios‘s RBI triple in the second were the offensive highlights.
Once Buehrle left, the roof caved in….Jeff Gray gave up two runs and four hits in the sixth and Brian Bruney was touched up for two runs, two hits and a walk in the seventh.
St. Patrick’s Day finds the Sox playing a pair of split squad games against the Brewers in Maryvale and the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Starting tomorrow, Art of the Pale Hose
will be written a stone’s throw from Camelback Ranch as I’ll be making my annual trip to White Sox spring training camp. It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve headed to my version of paradise for the better part of 40 years–from Sarasota to Tucson to Glendale.
I’ll be checking out both Sox split squad games tomorrow: vs. Texas at Surprise and vs. the Diamondbacks at Arizona’s new spring training facility: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Then, from Friday through Monday I’ll be in the house when the Sox will face the Cubs, Rangers, Dodgers and Padres, respectively–all at Camelback Ranch.
The Sox dropped a 4-2 decision to the World Champion Giants today with the runs coming on homers by Adam Dunn (his first of the spring) and Stefan Gartrell. The best news of all is that Jake Peavy was superb, pitching 3 2/3 innings of perfect baseball before giving up a home run to Aubrey Huff and a base on balls to Butch Posey. After the Posey walk, Tony Pena came on in relief. After the game Ozzie said the recovering Peavy has been pitching the best of all the Sox starters. A good sign to be sure.
February 25 is always a special day on my
calendar–it is Monte Irvin’s birthday. And this year he’s celebrating No. 92.
For those of you who might not be familiar with him, Monte is a
Baseball Hall of Famer, honored primarily for his outstanding Negro League
career. He was also a star for the New York baseball Giants in the 1950s
and was a key driving force in ’51 as the Giants dramatically overtook the Dodgers for the National League pennant. Last year, the club retired his No. 20 jersey.
He was a mentor to
the great Willie Mays, was a special assistant in the Baseball Commissioner’s
Office and arguably the greatest all-round high school athlete to come out of
New Jersey. Monte is also the finest person you’d ever want to know.
I have been Monte’s friend for 36 years (that’s the two of us pictured above). From the moment I began
working with him in the Commissioner’s Office in 1975, I felt honored to be in
his presence. He is smart, funny, principled, kind and generous. He’s the type
of person who makes you feel better about yourself just by being around him.
Happy Birthday, Monte, and many more.
Congratulations to Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand, both key members of the 2005 White Sox, for winning their second World Series rings last night as the San Francisco Giants gained MLB supremacy by defeating the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the Fall Classic.
All the frustrations that White Sox fans went through with Juan Uribe‘s approach to hitting were minimal compared to what he did defensively in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2005 World Series–which helped give the Sox their first world title in 88 years.
Last night, almost five years later to the day, Uribe played hero again as his home run in Game 6 of the NLCS put the San Francisco Giants in the Fall Classic.
Hail to Juan-derful Juan, whose Series defense is forever recognized on the monument outside of U.S. Cellular Field.
Today’s TV sports broadcasts are filled with useless and annoying stats. It seems that anytime a researcher uncovers a stat, it’s deemed suitable to air.
Because the airwaves are filled with so much nonsense, it was maddening to see an interesting–and most would say legitimate–scenario ignored during Fox’s telecast of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Giants and Phillies on Tuesday.
Late in the game, Jose Contreras took the mound for Philly and faced Giants’ Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand back to back. To White Sox fans and others who closely follow baseball it was an obvious note worth mentioning–that all three players were teammates on the 2005 World Champion Pale Hose. But not a word from announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Was it a monumental discovery? Of course not. Was it an unforgiveable omission? Absolutely not. But I will bet that if those players had been part of world championship teams in, say, New York or Boston, it would have been mentioned with a possible visual of the three together in Sox uniforms.
Call me too sensitive, if you like, but this kind of thing happens often when it comes to my favorite team and I feel obligated to tell anybody that will stand still long enough to listen.
While the current players on the White Sox roster are at home relaxing with their families and spending time on the golf course, there are eight former members of the Pale Hose who are on the AL and NL League Championship Series rosters. Four of these players were part of the 2005 World Champions.
Yankees — Nick Swisher, Boone Logan
Rangers — None
Phillies – *Jose Contreras, *Ross Gload, Wilson Valdez
Giants — *Juan Uribe, *Aaron Rowand, +Javier Lopez
* Played for ’05 World Champion Sox (Gload played in just 28 games)
+Played in White Sox organization at AAA Charlotte, did not pitch for big league club
We knew it had to end sometime. And the fact that the Sox have lost only twice in 17 games and moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Twins’ A.L. Central lead, makes today’s 8-6 loss to the you-know-whos an acceptable, if not satisfying, outcome.
It was also heartening to see the Sox rally in the ninth and bring the winning run to the plate in the person of Alex Rios, the club’s most consistent offensive performer.
The hope now is that the Sox continue to play sound baseball. Winning 11 games in a row is one thing, maintaining their consistency after the streak is another. But from the looks of things, Sox fans have to be confident that good things are ahead.
Speaking of the number 11
Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who starred in both the Negro Leagues and with the New York Giants, on Saturday became the 11th player in the history of the Giants franchise to have his uniform number (20) retired.
During the ceremony, 91-year-old Monte told the crowd: “My life in baseball is now complete.”
Congratulations to the ultimate gentleman.
Readers of this blog may remember the 91st birthday tribute I wrote in February to my former Major League Baseball colleague and friend Monte Irvin.
Friends of Monte will be able to celebrate again on June 26 as Monte’s #20 will be retired by the San Francisco Giants.
Those unfamiliar with Monte should know that he was a star in the Negro Leagues, an outstanding player in the majors primarily with the then-New York Giants even though he was past his prime, a Hall of Famer, a mentor to Willie Mays and an advisor in the Baseball Commissioner’s Office for many years.
Monte is the finest gentleman I’ve ever known and a wonderful friend. This honor just adds to his legacy as a superior athlete and wonderful human being.
We all know that preseason predictions mean nothing–nada, zilch, zero. And while we shouldn’t take them seriously, it’s still a lot of fun–especially when the so-called experts pick your team to win.
Historically, it’s very rare when the baseball media elite pick the White Sox to win their division, let alone the AL pennant or World Series. It’s not that much different this year as the Twins seem to be the most common pick to conquer the AL Central. That said, there are a few “big name” media types among those who have picked the South Siders:
* Hall of Fame electee Bill Madden of the New York Daily News and author of the forthcoming bio of George Steinbrenner.
* Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal, who somewhat tongue-in-cheek picked the Sox to win the World Series while referring to them “Team Wacko.” Think that had anything to do with our Ozzie?
* ESPN‘s Tim Kurkjian, who doesn’t exactly wear a Sox jersey on the weekends.
* Jon Heyman, he of SI, SI.com and the MLB Network.
Since I’m drinking the prediction Kool-Aid, I might as well add my two cents. Here are my divisional picks for 2010:
1. White Sox
2. Red Sox
5. Blue Jays