Results tagged ‘ Pirates ’

Former Sox Manager Chuck Tanner Dies at 82, Holds a Special Place in South Side History

U1766581.jpgI remember it clearly. It was the Summer of 1970 and I was driving through Southern Indiana. I heard the news on the radio: Chuck Tanner has been named the manager of the White Sox for the remainder of that season and beyond.
More news came this morning when I heard that Tanner passed away yesterday at 82.
I knew Tanner from his baseball cards and the fact he was one of a long line of not-so-memorable Cub outfielders of that era, along with the likes Jim Bolger, Bob Speake and Walt “Moose” Moryn. But would he be as non-descript as a manager as he was as a player? The truth is that he couldn’t be worse than his ’70 predecessors Don Gutteridge and Bill Adair. By the end of that season, the Sox finished 42 games out of first place and drew less than 500,000 fans.
History now shows that Tanner is best known as the manager of the 1979 World Champion “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates, who came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to defeat the Orioles in the Series. But Sox fans remember Tanner as the enthusiastic optimist who led the Pale Hose out of the doldrums.
Partly because the Sox had hit rock bottom in 1968 (95 losses), 1969 (94) and 1970 (106), the 1971 and 1972 South Side ballclubs were two of my favorites. Donning those red pinstripe uniforms, the team’s identity reflected their manager’s fire and they played an exciting brand of ball. In ’71 the Sox improved to a 79-win season with the likes of Carlos May, Bill Melton, Jay Johnstone, Ed Herrmann, Tommy John and Wilbur Wood, et. al.
Then in 1972, the Sox acquired Dick Allen, whose difficulties with other players and managements were well-chronicled. But he seemed to fit nicely under Tanner’s influence (see picture above). Both had grown up in western Pennsylvania and were familiar with each other. The result was that the Sox were contenders with 87 victories and Allen stole the show with an MVP season. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Allen and these White Sox could have saved the franchise from moving (rumors had them going to St. Petersburg or Seattle).
Tanner never came close to the same success in his final three years as a Sox manager and was fired after the 1975 season when Bill Veeck took over the team. He quickly was hired by the Oakland A’s and then it was on to the Pirates, when he became of the few managers in history to be traded for a player (Manny Sanguillen). 
It’s hard to argue against the fact that Tanner’s greatest managerial success was with the Pirates. But to White Sox fans, that 1971 and 1972 turnaround has to be very close.

Will the White Sox and Milledge Form a Lastings Relationship?

When the Mets selected outfielder Lastings Milledge as their No.1 pick in the 2003 draft, they expected him to be the club’s star of the future. Like so many major league draft picks, he was eventually deemed expendable and was traded to the Nationals after the 2007 season. Washington, in turn, dealt him to the Pirates in June of 2009.
milledge.jpgAfter a season and a half in Pittsburgh, Milledge’s contract was declined by the Bucs after last season–presumably for a variety of reasons which include a history of average (at best) production, injuries and attitude problems. As a result, the one-time “can’t miss” prospect became a free agent at the tender age of 25.
A free agent, that is, until today when the White Sox signed him to a minor league deal. With Alejandro De Aza the only reserve outfielder listed on the roster, the Sox apparently think Milledge can be a contender for the fourth outfielder role (potential super-sub Mark Teahen, Brent Lillibridge and Dayan Viciedo are in the picture as well).  A righthanded hitter, the newest signee batted .277 last year, but .320 with a .926 OPS against lefties. 
Milledge certainly hasn’t come close to the expectations placed on him when he was drafted. But, in my opinion, the Sox have done the right thing in making this move. Hopefully somewhere within Milledge there’s a star waiting to break out.

White Sox Continue Their Winning Ways, Put Fun Back into the Season

54446304.jpgAmazing.
After an 8-1 road trip and six victories in a row the Sox will arrive home to play the Braves on Tuesday as a .500 team. And despite winning against mediocre teams like the Cubs, Pirates and Nationals, it looks like we’ve turned the corner with solid play (and no homers in eight straight games). I have to admit I had serious doubts it would happen this season.
Freddy Garcia won his eighth game today in the 6-3 win over the Nationals and Alex Rios and Paul Konerko continued their assault on major league pitchers. Between them they were 5 for 10 with five RBI. And this could be the most telling stat of all: The Sox starters are 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA in their last 12 games.
“Today’s game might be the biggest game all year,” Ozzie told reporters after the game. “We got a chance to be .500 and go back home and continue to play the way we want to play…a couple of weeks ago were in a lot of trouble, but now (we’re) getting the players’ confidence back and giving the team some hope.”
Hey guys, don’t stop now.
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Sox Sweep, Brace for God’s Gift, Promote Viciedo, Designate Nix

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Don’t say things aren’t popping around the White Sox these days. Check this out:

* Sox sweep Pirates and have now won eight of 10–and are only three games under .500.
* South Siders brace for Stephen Strasberg and the Nationals tomorrow night. It’ll be Gavin Floyd for the Sox.
* Jake Peavy will go Saturday in D.C. The MRI showed no structural damage so he’s only being held back two days.
* And maybe the most intriguing bit of news is that the Sox have just designated Jayson Nix for assignment and promoted 1B-3B-DH Dayan Viciedo (pictured above) from AAA Charlotte. He was hitting .290 with 14 homers and 34 RBI in 62 games for the Knights. We could certainly use his bat and Nix was really a non-factor. 
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Homerless Hose Pound Pirates Behind Danks

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How many times have we heard this comment the past few years? The White Sox can’t win unless they hit homers. It’s even been a popular refrain this season when it was supposed to be a transition from power to speed and versatility.

Well, with tonight’s 7-2 victory over the Pirates behind a John Danks‘ gem, an 11-hit attack and six Pittsburgh errors, the Sox have now won seven of nine games and two in a row in Pittsburgh. But the most interesting fact is that they’ve won three of the last four (and should have won the Sunday night game at Wrigley) without a single home run. At least for now, it’s back to Ozzie’s smart ball and hopefully a formula for winning baseball games.
The South Siders go for the sweep tomorrow night and then it’s on to D.C. Friday as they try to hand Stephen Strasburg his first loss.
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There’s Nothing Like a Suicide Squeeze to Lift the Spirits as the White Sox Make Positive Strides

54351342.jpgTime will tell whether or not the White Sox are legitimate contenders to catch and surpass the Twins–or the Tigers for that matter.
But we’re all adults here (most of us anyway) and we can face the reality of not making the postseason. After all, except for nine seasons (1906, 1917, 1919, 1959, 1983, 1993, 2000, 2005, 2008) in the club’s long history we’ve failed to accomplish it.
What I’m saying is that as Sox fans what we really want is something to root for–and the team’s performance in the early going has made it tough. But if the South Siders play an aggressive, exciting brand of ball with more wins than losses we’ll deal with it. We won’t be totally happy because in the past few years expectations have risen, but it’ll be OK and the summer won’t be ruined. Nothing’s worse than a summer without having fun rooting for your favorite team.
The good news is that contender or not the Sox are playing better, having won six of eight including last night’s 6-4 victory over the Pirates. And the best parts of the contest? Gordon Beckham looked like the 2009 Beckham with two hits and three RBI and the starting pitching continued its comeback. And the Juan Pierre-Beckham suicide squeeze (see picture above) was a real bonus.
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White Sox Should Be Happy With Series Victory Despite Loss in Lilly’s Juan-Hitter

mlbf_8995367_th_13.jpgOf course White Sox fans would have loved a sweep at Wrigley, extend the club’s winning streak to five and to have gained a game on the Twins. But in light of last night’s developments, I’m just happy that Juan Pierre foiled Ted Lilly‘s no-no in the ninth so we didn’t have to suffer the indignity of enduring the feat amid the vines. And able to leave the North Side with a series victory.
Perhaps more important than winning a series on the road–and against the North Side Media Darlings at that–is that the Sox have begun to play entertaining, competitive baseball with solid starting pitching such as Gavin Floyd‘s gem last night. Frankly, it was getting difficult to watch their dismal play–even for the most loyal fans.
So, now it’s on to Pittsburgh and Washington starting tomorrow night. The hope is that we can continue winning series and maybe even give Stephen Strasburg his first major league loss on Friday night.
Question of the Day: Hate to be petty, but has anyone ever seen Ted Lilly smile?
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The Springtime Ritual of Predicting the Winners

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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 SportsKen 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:
AL CENTRAL

1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Royals
5. Indians


AL EAST 

1. Rays
2. Red Sox
3. Yankees
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays


AL WEST

1. Angels
2. Mariners
3. Rangers
4. A’s

NL EAST

1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Mets
5. Nationals


NL CENTRAL

1. Cardinals
2. Reds
3. Brewers
4. Cubs
5. Pirates
6. Astros


NL WEST

1. Rockies
2. Dodgers
3. Giants
4. Padres
5. Diamondbacks

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Where Have All the Ex-White Sox Gone?

While Sox favorites Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede are still looking for new homes, a number of other former Pale Hosers are with new teams–for example, Jim Thome (Twins), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Scott Podsednik (Royals) and Jon Garland (Padres). The following is a list of the most recent ex-Sox to sign: one fairly significant, the others not so much.

610x.jpg*  The well-traveled, but talented, shortstop Orlando Cabrera is now with the
    Cincinnati Reds. For the record, this is the “fairly significant” signing.

Timo Perez, a reserve outfielder on the 2005 World Champs, signed a minor league
    deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Josh Fogg, a one-time closer candidate for the Sox, inked a minor league
    pact with the New York Mets.

*  Lefty hurler Jimmy Gobble, who had a cup of coffee with the Sox, is now with the
    Colorado Rockies after agreeing to a minor league contract.

*  Catcher Gustavo Molina, not related to Bengie, Jose and Yadier, signed a minor
    league agreement with the Boston Red Sox.

*  Pitcher Horacio Ramirez, who had a short stint with the South Siders, just signed
   with the San Francisco Giants on a minor league deal.

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