Sunday, June 20, 2010

Feelin .500 Good

My recap on ChiCitySports

The last time the Chicago White Sox were at .500 was April 7th of this year when they were 1-1 in their series opener. It’s safe to say that they’ve made large strides during this 10 day 9 game roadtrip, sweeping both the Pirates and the National’s and taking 2 of 3 from the Cubs up at Wrigley to get back to that spot.

Sitting with my father watching the game today on Father’s Day, the Sox didn’t let either of us down as they went on to take the 3rd game in the series against the Nat’s. It would also be a big day for Rookie Dayan Viciedo who got his first Major League start at third base.

Alex Rios started things out for the Southsiders with 2 out in the 1st with a single hit to center field. With Konerko batting, he stole 2nd and scored on a line drive single by Paulie, making the score 1-0.

Dayan Viciedo, who lined out sharply in the 2nd inning of the game, got his first major league hit in the 4th with a single on a line drive to center field and was given his game ball after the inning

Sweaty Freddy was in typical form today with an ace of a performance striking Nat’s pitchers out left and right. Washington didn’t score until the bottom of the 4th when Cristian Guzman tripled and then scored on a fielders choice single by Adam Dunn. Shortly after Roger Bernadina singled on a ground ball to Alex Rios and Dunn scored making it 2-1, Washington. The Nats then advanced the score to 3-1 on a single by Wil Nieves that scored Josh Willingham.

Not ready to give up, the Sox came back in the top of the 5th starting with two consecutive singles from Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez. Almighty Rios knocked in a run with a sharp line drive double to score Pierre. Not to be outdone, Konerko stepped to the plate and singled on a ground ball scoring Ramirez. 4-3, White Sox.

A single by Ramon Castro kept the inning alive with no outs followed by an RBI double play ground out by Dayan Viciedo who managed to get his first hit and first RBI all within two innings. Not an awful day for the rookie.

The Sox kept the lead and kept Nat’s pitching at-bay until the 9th inning when Drew Storen came in for reliever Miguel Batista. Vizquel spent his time advancing after starting the inning off with a single with help from Pierre, Ramirez, and finally an RBI single by Alex Rios. “Obviously Alex Rios was the hardest out for me,” said Nat’s reliever Drew Storen to me this evening, “he got two hits off of me!”

“It was cool to pitch against them because my dad and I used to go watch them play in Chicago all the time when I was growing up.,“ Storen continued giving me his opinion on the team. “Obviously the lineup is good and full of good hitters that are patient and have a good plate presence. They’re a great lineup to face and they got a few hits off of me.”

JJ Putz would come in to close for the Pale Hose and allow for another victory against Washington and ultimately their second sweep in a row.

They Sox have an off-day tomorrow and then will face the Atlanta Braves at home for a three game set.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When Did Joe West Make the 40-Man? This Game is NOT About You!

What happened in today's game was a joke. Hawk has never been more correct. Not only was it a joke, but Joe West is a joke. I won't even bother going into the first alleged balk because anyone with eyesight could see it clearly wasn't.

The problem here is that Joe West doesn't know how to control his emotions, and he's the epitome of an "attention whore."
Before I get into the depth of it, let me just say this. Joe West is an umpire. He is ALSO a country music writer and singer. For the sake of passing on information and to further prove my point that he's loves the spotlight, I'll share the following. I've been told by more than a few media writers in the industry that Joe West has his own personal PR Agent. The media constantly gets emails offering interviews with Joe and ways to promote his music career. The girl in me would like to equate this to the huge douche, Wes, on The Bachelorette. His actions to get his name out there are to be kept off the baseball diamond. Plain and simple.

West who has a contract with MLB through 2014 proved today why he needs to stop calling games all together. I never dog on Major League umpires. I'm aware of how hard it is to get to the bigs as an umpire- some would even say it's harder than making it as a player, and they get paid less than a league minimum player would (300k a year at the most). However there comes a time after 32 years when it's just simply time to stop calling balls and strikes. When you're blowing calls, taking vendetta's with managers out on mild-mannered pitchers, and being an all around side-show, it's time to retire.

I never go to the game excited to see the umpires. I'd venture to say that 99.9999999% of fans don't go in hopes of seeing a great call by the home plate umpire. However, ALL fans go to the game to see the players PLAY. He ejected Buehrle on a BS call (he didn't eject him for balking.. he ejected him for "throwing" his glove after the 2nd balk he called on the same pitcher who had only one balk called on him previously in the last 3 years. Buehrle also has one of the best pick-off moves in the AL and its the same move he's been using his entire career).

The problem here is as follows:

1) By ejecting Buehrle after 2.1 innings pitched, he forced the White Sox to tax their bullpen, going into the Tampa Bay series with tired arms.
2) He significantly could have altered the mood of play of the players to feel as though they had no control over the situation at hand with the game being ruled by overly pompous umpires.
3)He took his emotions out on a manager that he openly dislikes. He didn't call the balk on Buehrle, he called it on Ozzie who he had already ejected.
4)He made the game about himself, which is disgraceful, disrespectful, and wrong.
5)Buhrle never balked.

I'd like to concentrate on point 5. MLB outlines 13 different rules on what is and isn't a balk. Basically it's when a pitcher intentionally tries to deceive a base runner while pitching. There are 1000 different situations in which this can happen, but we'll concentrate on today's problem. Reviewing the clips, the main argument was whether Mark's right leg was taken too far back, crossing either the left leg planted on the rubber, or the plain of the pitching rubber on the mound. After clear review it is obvious that neither of these things happened. Mark's knee crossed his mounted leg, but his foot did not. After talking to fellow umpire, Michael Frain, there are also a few other points that could allow West to have called a balk the 2nd time, but both can be laid to rest by simple rules. They are as follows:

(Via Michael)
1. A left-handed pitcher should NOT be called for a balk for closing the front shoulder (only a RHP should be called on it)
2. The 1b umpire does not have the correct angle to judge a shoulder movement - that is completely and SOLELY the plate umpire's coverage

With that being said, I went tech-savvy and took frame by frame pictures of the series of events that lead to Mark's second called balk. Enjoy :) Because of the way this site is set up, I only included three frames, but if you want the rest, you can email me and I'll foward them to you.










You can cleary see where Buehrle's foot never crossed either his left leg or the rubber. Not a balk. Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

Now when is MLB going to do something about these umpires? This isn't the first time West has made sure he's been in the spotlight during a game. During the BoSox/Yankee's series West had to make sure everyone was listening when he complained about the pace of the game. I'm not sure when he thought we cared about his opinions outside of the ballpark, but it was completely unacceptable.

Any time a player, coach, manager, or umpire brings unrelated vendetta's into a ballgame and uses them to directly influence the outcome or put a team at a disadvantage he needs to be fined, suspended, and depending on repeated offenses and the circumstances, even forced to retire or fired.

When a player starts showing signs of depreciation or lack of respect in a disgraceful way he is sent down, traded, put on waivers, released, what have you. There is no system in place like that for umpires like Joe West. Talk about tainting the game. Whatever problems an ump has with someone on a team or in a franchise, it's his DUTY and JOB to to bypass such feelings and do his best to call a fair game. He has a responsibility to the fans, players, and everyone else in the MLB to do what's right, and if West isn't held accountable for his actions, then I've lost a little bit of respect for the MLB.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Homeless Man Takes Stroll Across Warning Track to Get Concessions


When one lives outside the confines of conventional society or woefully below
the poverty line, obeying accepted boundaries and respecting the niceties of
regular behavior just doesn't seem quite as important. Say, for example,
you're a homeless man sitting in the bleachers of a ballpark. You spy a
concession stand across the concourse.
Do you:

Make your way
from your seat to the concourse, joining the crowd of well-to-do attendees who
scorn you and heap disdain upon on your tragic plight?

Or, do you:

Hop the centerfield wall and meander through the outfield (Ed. Note:
Link goes to Busted
Coverage, which has some NSFW content.) in hopes of
stumbling across some food, before eventually being caught by security?

Whatever you chose doesn't matter. Because 24-year-old Tyrone R. Squires
already selected the latter last night at an Altoona (Pa.) Curve game.

[He] was described by police as being homeless and originally from
Massachusetts but with no permanent address. Sporting a thick, dark beard and
wearing an old-time military hat, Squires kept
his hands in his pockets as
he strolled at a very slow pace from left to right along the outfield wall on
the warning track. Ballpark security allowed him to keep walking until he exited
the field near the Curve bullpen down the right field line, where officials
detained him. About 20 minutes later, Logan Township police arrived on scene to
make an arrest.

Naturally, no talk of a fan trespassing on a baseball
field is complete without referencing the taser incident that occurred in
Philadelphia earlier this month. Cleveland Indians prospect and Akron Aeros
outfielder John Drennen, who was less than enthused by the delay, told the
Altoona Mirror, "There's no room for that. He should have gotten Tasered."
Fortunately for Squires, Altoona security officials don't carry Tasers. Problem
is, they don't lug around concession items either.

Link to the story



I mean, come on. This is just plain funny. A little ironic after the fan that got tased during the Red Sox game, and then another fan running onto the field during the Sox game, that some homeless guy would wander around the warning track looking for nachos and a ice cream ballcap. I could only imagine what was going on in these player's heads.

"I was in the stands charting and looked up to a guy just strolling threw the outfield with out a care in the world. I guess he was just trying to find out where the concession stand was. I'm just happy no one got hurt" Altoona Pitcher Rudy Owens told me this evening.

When asked about his opinion on the homeless man getting Tased, Rudy laughed, "At the time I was [for him getting Tased] but he wasn't trying to be stupid and get a laugh out of it. Now that I sit back and think about it probably not"

So what are you opinions on the matter? Is this another guy trying to get some attention? How out of hand is this "fans being on the field" thing getting? In my opinion, it's starting to get old and out of control. There's a reason why the guys on the field get paid $6mil to play the game and why we pay money to WATCH them. Let's make sure the guys getting paid the big bucks are the ones getting the TV time.

Today in Baseball History; May 20th

MAY 20

1919: Babe Ruth won a game on the mound and at the plate. He hit his first career grand slam as the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Browns 6-4.

1932: Paul Waner of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit four doubles in one game.

1941: Lefty Grove of the Boston Red Sox won his 20th consecutive game at home, the longest home park streak in the major leagues. Boston beat the Detroit Tigers, 4-2.

1953: In the 13th game of the season, the Milwaukee Braves surpassed their 1952 attendance of 281,278, when they were in Boston.

1959: The Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees 13-6, placing New York in last place for the first time in 19 years.

1978: Willie Stargell hit a 535-foot homer off Montreal’s Wayne Twitchell, the longest home run in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, highlighting the Pirates’ 6-0 victory. It was also Stargell’s 407th career homer, tying him with Duke Snider on the career list.

1984: Boston’s Roger Clemens earned his first major-league victory. The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-4.

1999: Robin Ventura became the first major leaguer to hit grand slams in both games of a doubleheader, leading the New York Mets to a sweep over Milwaukee, 11-10 and 10-1. He had two slams in a game for the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 4, 1995.

2001: Barry Bonds hit two homers in the San Francisco Giants’ 11-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves, giving him a total of five in two games, becoming the 23rd player in history to do so.

2006: Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the career home run list during San Francisco’s 4-2, 10-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics.

2009: Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury tied a major-league record with 12 putouts by an outfielder in a nine-inning game, previously done by Earl Clark of the Boston Braves in 1929 and Lyman Bostock of the Minnesota Twins in 1977. He accomplished the feat in the Red Sox’s 8-3 win over Toronto.



Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/05/19/1957868/this-date-in-baseball-may-20.html#ixzz0oUxo9PHm

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Storen Gets First Major League Win, keeps ERA Full of Goose Eggs

Storen's stat line for tonight: .2IP 0H 0R 0ER 0SO 0BB 0.ooERA (W)

Storen came in the top of the 7th in tonight's game against the Mets. After Blanco singled on a line drive and Alex Cora advanced him on a sac bunt, Storen entered the game with the score 5-2, Washington.


The first batter he faced was Jose Reyes who lined out after 3 straight fastballs from Storen topping out at 95MPH. 1 on, 2 out.


Storen's favorite thing to do is count on the defense of the players behind him and that's exactly what he did tonight when he faced his next batter; Luis Castillo. Three fastballs (95, 93, 95), a slider, and another fastball later (94), Castillo grounded out to Ian Desmond.


Storen was then replaced by his friend and Former Yankee, Tyler Clippard. The Nat's went on to win it 5-3 and Storen recorded his first Major League win.


Congrats to Drew!

High School Pitcher Loses College Scholorship/QB Posistion- Seeks MLB Draft Instead

Utah quarterback recruit Tyler Shreve won't be attending classes in Salt Lake
City this fall after a scuffle with his high school baseball coach. The Utes
suspended his scholarship and said his status will be reevaluated in January.

Shreve acknowledged to The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., in
March that he wrestled Redlands East Valley High School baseball coach James
Cordes to the ground after being told he was kicked off the team.

He has
been charged with battery on a school employee and is scheduled for a pretrial
hearing May 27 in San Bernardino County (Calif.) Court.

It is possible
Shreve never plays for Utah. A talented pitcher, he could be selected highly in
the MLB draft this June and opt for professional baseball.


Link to story here


Can someone explain to me what team would want to draft a kid who attacked his baseball coach in HIGH SCHOOL? Anger issues anyone? Have fun dealing with that- I'll be anxious to see if any teams take him on after this. Utah has clearly made the right decision in signing another QB for the upcoming school year and if a team drafts Shreve, then they have a lot of anger issues to help this kid through. It reminds me of a young Bobby Jenks who allegedly got into arguments with Angel's minor league coaches and managers all the time.

Shreve, who is supposed to be one of the most talented high school players in the country, throws a 91-93 MPH fastball, cuts his curve at 89 MPH with late movement, and has a pitch that can be turned into a slider.

He says that he will forgo college if he's drafted high enough and the money is right.

His coach at Redlands East Valley dismissed him from the team because he wasn't attending class or showing respect to his coaches. Shreve said that he thought he was showing the coaches nothing but respect and cited the reason for the attack being that the coach was taking his dreams away from him. He said, "I'd worked so hard and if you were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars you wouldn't be too happy either"

Entitled much?

I'll tell you one thing, if I found out I had to play with this kid in the minor's, I'd stay away from him in the club house after a bad outing, that's for sure.



MLB And Welcome Back Veterans releases 2010 New Era Patriotic Caps

Major League Baseball will begin its third year of national fundraising and awareness initiatives for Welcome Back Veterans, a program which addresses the needs of returning American Veterans and their families. With the support of Major League Baseball and its Clubs, Welcome Back Veterans since 2008 has awarded $8.3 million in grants to 30 non-profit agencies across the country targeting veterans' greatest needs, including mental health and job training/placement.

At three key points of national reflection during the baseball season -- Memorial Day (May 31), Independence Day weekend (July 4) and Patriot Day (September 11) -- all Clubs will participate in a number of initiatives to support Welcome Back Veterans.

For games on Memorial Day, all Major League Baseball Clubs will wear special new "Stars & Stripes" caps. The caps will have the American flag etched into the team's logo and for the first time, will be off-white in color with red or blue brims (the Toronto Blue Jays hat will incorporate a Maple Leaf design instead of the "Stars & Stripes"). These MLB Authentic Collection caps, produced by New Era, are available for sale to the public at www.mlb.com. Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. will donate all of the proceeds it receives from the sale of the caps to Welcome Back Veterans. In addition, MLB.com will donate an additional $1 to Welcome Back Veterans for each cap purchased through www.mlb.com. Pictured are the caps to be worn by the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees and National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Images of the caps for all 30 clubs are available at MLBPressBox.com.

Also on Memorial Day, Major League Baseball once again will participate in the National Moment of Remembrance, with all games in progress pausing at 3:00 p.m. ET to encourage all citizens to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have served in the armed forces.

"As a social institution, Major League Baseball considers it a privilege to assist our troops in any way possible," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "We are proud to help Welcome Back Veterans provide funding to such worthy institutions helping our troops, and we ask our fans to join us on Memorial Day and beyond in this effort to raise awareness and support for this important cause."

"Helping our troops is a cause very close to my heart, and I'm glad to see Major League Baseball will once again pledge their support on Memorial Day and beyond," said San Francisco Giants pitcher and founder of Strikeouts For Troops, Barry Zito. "I'll wear my Stars & Stripes cap proudly that day, and I encourage all my fellow players to get involved, give back to those who give so much and show these brave men and women how much we care about them."

"We are honored to support those who have served our country and their families who have given so much," said David D. Hiller, president and CEO of the McCormick Foundation. "We are proud to join Major League Baseball in this effort and provide matching dollars to help our servicemen and women successfully return to life with their families and communities."

"Major League Baseball's powerful commitment to supporting our soldiers and their families is truly inspirational," said President and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), Lisa Paulsen. "EIF is proud to join MLB and the fans of America's pastime in honoring and celebrating the lives of America's heroes." Welcome Back Veterans is an MLB Charities initiative in partnership with the McCormick Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The program is supported by Major League Baseball Advanced Media and MLB Network. Welcome Back Veterans has awarded $8.3 million in grants to 30 non-profit agencies across the country targeting veterans' and their families greatest needs.

For additional information on Welcome Back Veterans, please go to http://www.welcomebackveterans.org/.

story courteousy of www.mlb.com





I like the new caps as opposed to how they have been in the past- I enjoy the off white... I think it looks really nice and classy and I LOVE what they did was the Blue Jays caps. I think everyone should purchase a ballcap or even one of the equally as patriotic tshirts that a lot of the clubs have as well.
MLB Charities does a lot to help different organizations and Veterans. Don't forget that some of the greatest ballplayers in history are veterans as well! The American past time is entertwined so richly with American history and the Welcome Back Veterans Program is a great thing to help with while you buy your next ballcap!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Storen's Major League Debut




video courteousy of nationalstube on youtube.com

Drew Storen: He May Be Numb, But His Career is On Fire

Monday night: It's the 7th inning, 1 out, and the Cardinals are leading the Nationals 4-2 at Busch Stadium. 22 year old Drew Storen sat in the Nat's bullpen and got the call. Warm-up.
This is the 2nd call Storen's gotton in the last three days. The last one came this past weekend after his game in AAA Syracuse, when he was pulled off to the side and told "congratulations, you're getting called up."

"Who did you tell first?" I asked Drew today. There was a pause, and then I could visibly hear the pride in his voice. "My dad," he responded "he was so excited. He's on cloud 9.... he's been on cloud 9!" His father, who Drew talks about with reverie every time he's brought up, used to come home and play catch with him in his suit after work with him when he was a little boy. It's no surprise that that's the first person he would call and tell when he finally got the news that his dream had come true: he was going to play in The Show.

When asked how he felt Drew responded with a laugh "I've been numb. I've been numb since it happened. I was numb when I found out, and excited, it was a flood of emotions." When asked about his most famous match-up in his very young major league career, Storen explained to me that he wasn't really nervous facing Matt Holliday.

"I was trying to challenge him, get him to put the ball in play. I threw him a slider and then he swung through it."

"God forbid you walk him" I joked back with him about his most dreaded stat: the walk.

Despite what Nat's broadcasters kept saying, Drew says his heart was not racing and he was not freaking out or scared during his outing on Monday night. He, in fact was as he described earlier "numb."

Storen's final stat line looked like this: .2IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 1SO 0.00 ERA. In the words of Hawk Harrelson, that's a lot of goose eggs on the board.

Drew dominated the minors at the beginning of the season, climbing the ladder steadily from AA Harrisburg to AAA Syracuse and leaving his minor league stats behind with a 1.08 ERA.

"He was just ready, there was nothing more that he could have done in the minors that he couldn't do for us in the majors" says Nat's GM Mike Rizzo.

Drew, who was in high spirits when I talked to him this afternoon, was packing up his gear and heading off to the field at around 1pm. He was as sweet as always on the phone, and I can't wait to go see him play the Brewers in July with some friends. If there is any guy in the minors who is deserving of a major league career, it's Drew.

I look forward to watching his career skyrocket, because if you ask me, baseball success really does come in the form of Karma. If there's one person who deserves all the success in the world, it's Drew Storen.

Iraqi Co-ed Team Gets Their First Taste of the American Pastime

Recently an Iraqi co-ed baseball team (from the article I'm guessing they were all teenagers) got to visit the US and their first actual ball club. They took spots on the field and got to see things from the player's perspective at a Washington National's game. This story really struck me... Usually I just post links to thinks like this on my twitter or facebook and call it a day but I felt compelled to actually write about this one.

The link to the full story can be found here and is well written by Nancy Youssef. These Iraqi children, don't even want their name mentioned for fear of backlash when they get home for talking so nicely about American baseball or even BEING in America.

The Iraq baseball federation doesn't give the team any money and hoardes balls and bats so the kids that want to play ball in Iraq can't do so very easily. The coach of the team talks about how they have enough money in the country but none of it is used for baseball, so instead they have to play on rocky, rough ground which causes a lot of injuries. He says in the article "we are rich enough to have something better but because of officials and corruption, we will never have it"

It literally pains me that there are children in the world who can't even play ball in their country because the country doesn't support it. I couldn't imagine growing up with baseball not being a huge part of my life.

We honestly live in a great, amazing country that makes it possible for us to sit at home on our couches and watch 5 games at once... Could you imagine living somewhere where the sport wasn't even supported? That's just awfull... We get jersey's and signed pictures and hot dogs at the game and fantasy baseball teams to participate in in America. In Iraq, the baseball life the way American's live it is just a fantasy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's have some fun out here! This game is fun, okay? Fun Goddamnit!

Rivalries are one of the best parts of baseball. The whole point on the sport is to win. Everyone wants that championship ring, everyone wants to be in the dog pile, every fan wants to tell their friends and families over and over again for years exactly what they were doing when that last out was made in October.

If you don't want to win, then whats the point of playing?

Division rivalries are the best. Sox/Twins, Sox/Tigers, Sox/Indians.... hell, even Sox/Royals, but what a lot of people don't understand is Sox/Cubs.

And to be honest, the more I've grown up and matured, the more I don't get it either. I mean I understand the stereotypes. I understand the "Sox fans are jealous" and "Cub fans know nothing about baseball," and you know what? There are a lot of fans in both fan bases that feed into those stereotypes.

But why do we really have this Sox/Cubs rivalry? Before we even played in a Cross-Town Rivalry Series, what was the immense hatred and what did it stem from? Sox fans should have no reason to hate the Cubs, they aren't in our division. And Cub fans should have no reason to hate the Sox for the very same reason. However there's this loathing hatred that consumes the fans to the point of things getting plain ludicris.

So for those of you who grew up being told that if you were a Northside you had to hate the Boys in Black and if you were a Southsider then you better never be caught up by Clark and Addison, here's a post I think you might find interesting.

These are completely my opinions. I'm not a fan of Cub fans- but I have nothing against the team. I shouldn't because outside of the 6 games we play a year, it doesn't matter- the team just simply doesn't matter to me. But yet day after day I deal with their fans constantly throwing it in my face that the "Sox suck" and yada yada. Well guess what? I don't think too highly of their fans, or their stadium- and I have historical data to back up my reasoning.

The History

Charlie Comiskey, the owner of the Chicago White Sox helped directly organize and form the American League in 1899. Before this, the National League was the only running organized form of baseball in the US. The Chicago Cubs, who had jumped around town (they didn't even actually play on the Northside of town until 1916 and spent most of their time on the West Side and even some time on the Southside of Chicago) had been the only team in Chicago until Comiskey moved his minor league team to the city.

Ban Johnson, the owner of the Western League and good friend of Charlie Comiskey got wind of the fact that the National League was going to decrease in size and when they cut their teams from 12 to 8, Johnson swooped in and placed teams in Chicago and Cleveland.

At first there was an uproar with the Cubs franchise, as the owners didn't want to share the town with a team that would most likely become a part of Johnson's American League. However after negotiations it was determined by the National League that the newly formed AL would not be a threat to their organization and Comiskey was allowed to let his bring his team to Chicago as long as he didn't use the city in it's name. The White Sox were named The White Stockings and omitted "Chicago."

So as you can see, the original "rivalry" was an economic one between owners. The Cubs didn't want the Sox infringing on their "established" team in Chicago, and Comiskey wanted to take his minor league team and turn it into one of the first teams in the American League. The National League Cubs got salty when people started to pay attention to the White Stockings (Mostly because American League tickets/beer/food was cheaper at White Stocking's games and the Major Leagues hadn't been around long enough for people to be completely married to a team in Chicago yet), and the American League continued to push through with the annoying dominating attitude that was Ban Johnson and Charles Comiskey.

Now that the history is established, I'm going to break down the rivalry and stereotypes based solely on each specific stereotype. Hold onto your hats, this should be fun. Again, I'd like to make sure everyone knows that these are strictly my opinions.

Wrigley Field is a dump and US Cellular is ugly and too modern.

Alright. Wrigley Field is a dump. It just simply is. I wish I could say I'd never been there and I don't really know but unfortunately I have, and I prefer never going back.

This is what I don't get about Wrigley Field. All I ever hear is how "nostalgic" it is and how amazing of a place it is to be. However most Cub fans don't even know what Wheegman stadium started out as- and that was a cheaply built stadium that was intended for the Federal League's Chicago Whales. Today it holds true as a still cheaply built, crumbling, horrible smelling blight for Cub fans who, unless they sit in the bleachers, have a 25% chance of sitting with their view obstructed.

Look, Wrigley, cramped and old, and was never built to be the "Holy Shrine" of the Cubs. The Cubs managed to spin it into one after the Federal League failed in 1916 (for those of you wondering, the Federal league was a briefly lived attempt at major league expansion in the mid 1910's.)

The smell is horrendous. One fan referred to it as "taking a fantastic voyage inside a penis." It literally never ceases to smell like urine, and fortunately for me, I've never had to venture into the mens restrooms. However the one time I had to attempt to find the women's restroom (it took me a good 1/2 inning) by the time I walked in, I waited in line for 10 minutes, then finally managed to get into a stall where toilet paper was strewn around, the toilet didn't flush, and women had obviously assumed the toilet was where pee, poop, and whatever left over beer or Wrigley's poor excuse for a Mai Thai went, and the bathroom attendant smiled at me in my Sox gear like "poor little girl, you don't like the facilities at the Northside? Too bad!" Even when i attempted to find a soap dispenser that HAD soap in it, the attendant sat there smiling, completely aware of the fact that she worked in a dump, and found the hilarity in my attempt to wash my hands.

As far as a place to watch a game, I have my own opinion on good ole Wrigley Field. It's not the place where I'm going to pay $30-$40 to go watch a game. If I'm going to pay that kind of money and go up to Chicago to watch baseball I want the major league experience- otherwise I'll go down to my local minor league stadium, the gorgeous, beautiful, O'Brien Field and watch the Peoria Chiefs take on the Kane County Cougars or the ever exciting Tampa Bay Ray affiliates- The Bowling Green Hot Rods. I want the loud organ music, and the pre-game video on the huge screen, and the exploding scoreboard and the large seats where I can sprawl out. I want the bullpen to be a huge where all the guys can bring out cots and nap if they feel like it or take up residency and get their mail forwarded. Matt Thornton: US Cellular Field Bullpen. 35th and Shields, Chicago, IL.

I don't want to sit in an old stadium where roof might fall on me and crush my skull during the 5th- or where the stadium seating is so far back I feel disconnected from the game. I don't want to go to a small, old stadium. If I wanted to do that I would literally go to Burlington Iowa and watch the Royal's affiliate in the same stadium structure for $2 a ticket. The Mikes Hard Lemonades are also $1.50 there, not to mention the team plays with about the same amount of talent.

Alright... now here's where I have to TRY to be un-biased: My take on US Cellular Field.

I don't remember much about Old Comiskey because I spent most of my time at new (I was 5 when they built the new one) so I can't comment personally on how the stadium was prior to 1992.

The Sox were toying with the idea of moving in the late 80's and in order to stay in Chicago requested a new stadium (because Comiskey was... well.. old.) that mimicked Kaufman. The tax payers of Chicago shelled out for the new stadium in order to keep the franchise happy and in Chicago and what we got was a field that abruptly tore down neighborhoods, and turned Old Comiskey into a parking lot.

The new stadium that was supposed to be "family and neighborhood friendly" took upper deck seats clear up to Mt. Kilimanjaro that would give anyone vertigo in an attempt to find them. Even now if I ever dare venture up to the upper deck area (and there's really no reason to, as there's always plenty of empty seats) I have to keep looking at where I'm walking so I don't get nauseous and pass out from fear of falling to my death. I refuse to ever drink or get half way tipsy up there. In a hot second I'm falling over something and plummeting onto the field right in front of Paul Konerko and, well, I refuse to put my first baseman in a position where he can't make a decent infield pick.

US Cellular is also littered with statues around the outfield concourse. Personally I enjoy them and would rather have them inside my park on a huge outfield concourse instead of out in front of the stadium near traffic but, that's personal preference.

I've also heard so many complaints about the fact that the Sox are on the Southside of Chicago where the crime rate is "horrible." Funny thing is... I'm a 23 year old pretty small Irish country girl from Peoria, IL., and I've never had a problem with the area. I routinely leave my car, a 2007 Ford Focus parked over night in the parking lot of Schallers Pub on Halstead. I drive up there by myself or with my equally attractive and naive roommate, and neither one of us have been shanked, robbed, raped, or had any kind of weapon held to our heads for what little money we have. I've never been propositioned by a guy outside of the field, and I've never felt even slightly scared of the area. In fact, I've only ever been treated with respect and nicely- especially when I can't find where I'm trying to go. Amanda and I got lost once trying to get back on the interstate and drove around 37th street where the houses were gorgeous with big in ground pools in the backyard. I understand a lot of the Southside is not a great part of town but to me, it doesn't look any worse than Sterling Avenue in Peoria... and I've been more afraid out downtown here than I ever have up by US Cellular.

The Attendance record:

I saw probably my favorite anti-sox shirt ever at the Sox/Cubs series in 2007 at Wrigley Field. It was a picture of the scoreboard at Us Cellular and it said "US Never-Sell-Out Field." Clever.

In 2010 the White Sox pulled on average 22,842 fans a game at home. In contrast the Cubs, at home, pulled 38, 511 fans. Now here's an interesting little diddy. The Cubs, who pulled around 15,000 fans more per game at Wrigley than the Sox did at US Cellular, seemed to not have the same affect on the road. The Chicago Cubs only drew 27,620 at their respective counterpart's stadiums on average. Now, it could be said that the any team would have a dip in attendance on the road, but unfortunately, that's not entirely the case. The Cubs play the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, and Brewers the most during the season. Only the St Louis Cardinals pulled more fans at home out of those teams in 2010 and they had a significantly lower dip in fans per game on the road. In fact, every other team that had a larger home attendance record than the Cubs in 2010 had a MUCH lower dip in fan away game attendance.

Which proves my point that Wrigley Field is a well marketed bar and of course they're going to sell out every night. Good for them! If my team played in the largest outdoor bar in the country I'd expect them to sell out every night as well. Unfortunately the Sox play the same as every other mediocre-average ball club in this country- they market according to their talents, not their liquor.

Look... take the minor leagues as an example. The Syracuse Chiefs are up out the ass in attendance right now. You wanna know why? Because Nationals First round pick's Strasburg and Storen are killing it. Just a few nights ago they pitched 8.1 innings all together allowing no runs .... Strasburg with a 0.00ERA and Storen with a 1.35ERA.

Teams sell out when the players are doing well. The Phillies had the number one attendance record in the major leagues last year... and before 2007 they weren't even in the top 10. The attendance has clearly skyrocketed with their ability to put talent on the field.

You know what's best about this whole argument? None of it matters. Because no matter how many fans you pull into a stadium on a nightly basis... if you suck, YOU STILL SUCK.

Cub Fans are college yuppies don't pay attention to the game, and Sox fans are White Trash

Chicago is just like any other city in the United States- there's a poor community, and a rich community. The Southside of Chicago is not the wealthiest and the Northside is surrounded by a higher socioeconomic class of people.

At any given time you can go to Wrigley and sit in the bleachers and be surrounded by a thousand college guys who are attempting to turn the right field bleachers into Sigma Chi. I wish I could say that I have seen all these white trash people littering section 127 at US Cellular Field but the fact is, I haven't. Have I seen white trash people there? Yes. Is there an over abundance? No. The stigma of stereotypes of Cub and Sox fans is unfortunately for Cub fans more true than it is for Sox fans.

Are there people who sit on their phone and get drunk and don't care about the game at US Cellular Field? Of course there are. There are in any stadium- but there's an over abundance of them at Wrigley.

I really believe that the "White Trash" stereotype stems strictly from where the Sox's stadium is located in Chicago. There are a lot of bad neighborhoods around the field and I've even been told that I can take a cab down to the field, but don't expect a cab to come pick me up after dark- which is true... it's a bitch trying to get a cab after a game.

It's just a simple fact that the "Southside" of any city is known to be riddin with poverty, crime, etc., and I truly believe that most people assume that because the field is located on the Southside of Chicago that those are the fan's who come to the games.

Here's my experience: The last three times I've been to US Cellular I have not had one problem with people. I sat in front of a group of lawyers and interns during a Twins/Sox games, behind a family (mother, father, son, daughter) and next to a group of old ladies in Sox hats and fans at an Angels/Sox game, and at a Mariners game I sat in front of two college boys (not a lot of people at that game as it was about 40 degrees and a straight through double header) who bought me a hot dog and a blanket.

No one I was around was White Trash, no one was annoying, no one was getting plastered and high fiving each other for no reason.... when I'm at Sox games I feel like I'm at home with the people who want to be at the stadium to watch the game- not to get drunk.

I'm not saying there aren't people like that at Wrigley... I met a very nice couple who was hanging out, taking score, and paying attention after I switched my seats 4 times at a Cub game. Unfortunately- the people I was around before that only solidified my annoyance for Cub fans in general. One of them wanted to start a poll to see if any one around us knew who the starting pitcher was (to prove to me that Cub fans know what's going on............) and another one turned to his friend and said "whoa! When did we score 7 runs???" (It was in fact, the 7th inning... there were only 3 runs on the board. 2-1 Cubs).

Again, all of this is based on my experiences at both stadiums. I know there are many many Cub fans who go to games to watch the team, are intelligent, and know what's going on. I'm not going to pretend like I think the fact that getting drunk that the game is bad- there's a reason I leave my car at a pub on the Southside and don't drive after games- I enjoy an over-priced Miller lite or margarita during the game or 5. I'm sure there are many many white trash or poor people at US Cellular but I'm not 100% sure where your economic status has any effect on the people around you at games-it shouldn't. The people who go to Wrigley for the sole purpose of getting drunk and hanging out, however, do effect my time at the ballpark as I, as a baseball fan, would prefer being able to watch the game instead of consistently asking the people in front of me to sit down, shut up, drink their beer, and stop... for the love of God.. STOP high-fiving each other every time they down another Old Style.

Sox Fans care more about the Cubs than they do their own team.

The Sox will always, no matter how many championships they win, be the second team in Chicago. They just simply will, and I've come to terms of that. But there's a real historical reason for that and it's not because the Cubs are "cooler" or a "better team" or "have always had more fans." They haven't always had more fans, they haven't always been the number one team in Chicago, but as far as our generation is concerned, we haven't known it any differently.

The Sox actually outdrew the Cubs in the 40s and 50s and even some years in the 60's. The Go-Go White Sox were one of the best teams in the 50's and Chicago packed Comiskey Field every day to see guys like Aparicio, Fox, and Appling play.

So what happened? Marketing, my friends. In the 1980's the Sox attempted to head off a service of Pay-TV called "On-TV." People who subscribed to this were able to watch Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games with use of what today looks like a cable box and "de-scrambled" the television frequencies so more people could watch games. The Sox were by far the more popular team in Chicago running off their previous decades of accomplishment and a pennant in 1959.

The Cubs, however, took a smarter route and signed with WGN. As one of the first completely nationally broad casted teams in the majors they were able to reach more fans around the country.

When the Cubs signed away their broadcasting rights to WGN, and WGN became a super station, People refused to pay the steep $30 a month for On-TV and the Sox had additional trouble selling their rights. Harry Caray who didn't want anything to do with pay-tv went straight over to the Northside and did more to promote that team than any other broadcaster had done in decades.

Even smarter than marketing rights, the Cubs were smart enough to sell their team based on a "love able loser" stigma in the 1970s. They figured if they couldn't pull attendance in the stands based on the product they put on the field (which was poor), then they would sell an experience- and that's exactly what they did. They marketed and promoted the "baseball experience" which today is known as the "bleacher bum" experience. Here in lies the beginning of "The Friendly Confines" and "Historic Wrigley Field." (As opposed to older and MORE historic Comiskey Park- as you remember from previously, Wrigley wasn't built until the mid 1910's)

Still in 2010 the marketing schemes are the same. The Cubs market their team based on the "Wrigleyville experience" and the Sox market their team based on the talent they put on the field. Historically the Cubs were smarter in their marketing ideas and the Sox, who catered to the success of their team, and failed to pull the same attendance as the Cubs.

It's really not a jab at Cub fans when Sox fans say that they would rather be at a stadium full of people who know what's going on then a stadium of people who are just there to get drunk. The Cubs and Sox have had clear and different marketing strategies and the Cubs were more successful in theirs. Don't get pissed when someone says something like that- because it's exactly what the Cubs want are are trying to sell- an experience, not a team.

With all that being said, you'd be suprised at how much I agree with the statement that the Sox care more about the Cubs than their own team. They do. It's sad. They really shouldn't but when you're a 50 year old man who has seen all that the Sox have had to offer over the last decades compared to the Cubs, and have watched the northsiders grow in popularity while even a World Series Championship couldn't bring the Sox up to the same popularity status, it sucks. Yes we're bitter and we have every right to be, damnit. So if you find one of us smiling while Baseball Tonight is on at a bar and we saw that the Cub's lost that day, just get over it. What little we have left is the fact that our team doesn't consistantly put a horrible product on the field, and yours does.


And Finally: Why does any of this matter anyways? We aren't even in the same divisions!

This whole thing is ridiculous. I've explained my reasons for why I don't like Wrigley, or most Cub fans- but I don't dislike the team. The rivalry is fun and of course I'm going to cheer for my team in the Cross-Town Classic. I'm going to be happy when they get the BP Cup- but do I think it's stupid? Absolutley. It brings out the worst in fans from both sides of the city and it simply doesn't matter. We might both be in Central divisions but at the end of the day, unless we're meeting eachother in the World Series, it doesn't matter how either one of the teams does. I've always been the first one to admit when my team isn't doing well- I dont accept mediocrity in any form and I refuse to claim that we're gonna win it all with a .500 record at the end of May (which is looking bleak for the Sox AND the Cubs at this point). There are so many things about the fans and the way people view the Cubs that bothers me and I think anyone from any team would be disengaged from being a Cub fan after seeing the way most fans treat the game. It's like a circus act- and to me, that's wrong.

The whole BP Cup has only fueled the fire for this season and come June when the teams meet, it's going to be embarassing if the winning teams are posing for pictures and in the paper for winning the cup because both teams are horrible this season. I just don't get it. To me, only one trophy matters and that's a World Series Trophy. If fans don't have their eye on that then they aren't true fans- and that is annoyance in any level for true baseball fans.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

AJ Pierzynski: Give it a break!

Most of you know how big of a Pierzynski fan I am. I have a signed AJ picture hanging on my wall next to my bed. I have an AJ bobblehead that I got at Sox fest... mostly this turns up missing because my roommates 4 year old son like to jack it and keep it in his room but.. regardless.. I do. I even own 2 different Pierzynski t-shirts. (size kid's large for those of you who wanna donate Sox shirts to the Dickson/Wambold pro-Sox fund.)

I like my players feisty. Going back to the purpose of this blog, I'm a huge Buck Weaver fan. I love men who play the game for the sheer principle of being able to play. If that means you get let go by your team and have to play independent league ball for nothing then... so be it. If you have passion- I love it. Passion. Pride. Tradition.

I've loved AJ since he played with the Twins. Sorry, Sox fans. I love my players scrappy. I love them feisty. I love a player who plays with his heart on his sleeve and goes into the game giving two shits about what's going on. I love a player who gets so frustrated with his lack of offense that when he walks out of the batters box and adjusts his gloves you can visibly see him mouthing "F*ck!" I love that he cares. I'll never dislike a player for any reason like that, whether they play for the Sox or not.

I hate people that dog on AJ. I hate that people find it amusing to routinely write stupid SHIT about him just for the purpose of writing it. When/If I become a professional writer for a national organization, and I fall into writing things like the "Phantom" AJ HBP, I beg each of you to send me a letter with a clip out of my column with a big red "X" over it to remind me that I need to find something better to write about.

In Tuesday's game AJ may or may not have been hit by a pitch. He may or may not have faked it. Who knows? Those of you who sit around tweeting and facebooking about how "That's AJ being AJ... it didn't hit him." Well.. unless you're AJ Pierzynski I don't really see how you can have a definite opinion. Unless you were there and it happened to you, you don't get to say "it did" or "it didn't." You just DON'T.

You know who's job it is to have that opinion? The umpires. It's HIS JOB. That's was MLB pays him to do-- to look at AJ and say "no you're full of shit.. get back her and finish your At-bat"... instead the home plate ump in Tuesday's game was all for AJ taking his base. If you have beef... take it up with him!!

I'm just sick of hearing it. AJ isn't well liked. We all know that. We get it. CHRIST! For numerous stupid pro-media related reasons no one likes AJ.

Guess what. AJ probably doesn't care. He has the attitude where he plays for his team. He plays to win. And the simple fact is, those of us who are paying $60 a piece to watch HIM play, he doesn't really care about our opinions. You know who he cares about? Buehrle...and Peavy.. Danks... Floyd.. Garcia. Those are the guys he cares about. And rightly so.

I'm so sick and tired of hearing about people dogging on AJ for stupid reasons. People are even comparing this to the dropped strike 3 in the 05 WS. Guess what- NOT THE SAME!

AJ is a tough player. He's feisty and he cares. If you don't like it- don't cheer for him... I don't care! I've loved him for years and I will always love him... those of you who are freaking out about him and the "phantom" HBP need to get a life. HPB's occur EVERY DAY in baseball... they just do! If anyone else did what AJ did last night (if it in fact, DIDN'T hit him), then people would be calling that other player a "hero" and "smart." Because AJ is who he is, people are calling for his execution.
You know what?

Get OVER IT! find something better to write about! Find something better to talk about!!! AND FOR GODS SAKE... quit writing about it!! There has to be more in major league baseball for ESPN.com and SI.com to write about.... FIGURE IT OUT! Journalism 101... stop searching for BS crap to write about.. I'm sure you're getting paid much more to write about something that I can't easily blog about. If not, then someone need to send my resume to Sports Illustrated. Pretty sure I could take over a few jobs there.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Race for a Contract

I always liked Orlando Hudson for one reason. He talks a lot.
I talk. A lot. All the time. I don't shut up. My parents used to have to go to McDonalds and get a chocolate shake to get me to stop talking in the car when I was little. My boss today still tells me he wishes he had a volume control for me. I'm that girl who is really really intelligent (aside from my admittance to not being able to spell for crap.) but will literally be standing there and say "I want vanilla pudding. We should start buying vanilla pudding." and then be stared at like "wtf... where did that come from?"

I have ADD in my head, I swear. Orlando Hudson has always reminded me of me. If I were a baseball player, I would be Orlando Hudson personality wise.

However Hudson and my moral opinions differ extremely and over the last year or so I've become more and more annoyed with his media outbursts.

After today, I'm pretty confident I've reached my tolerance limit of crap spewing out of Hudson's mouth. I'm really ashamed of his comments about the reason why Jermaine Dye hasn't been signed to a major league contract.
Orlando says "We both know what it is. You'll get it right. You'll figure it out. I'm not gonna say it because I'll get in a lot of trouble." in context to his opinion on why Dye hasn't been resigned, he alludes to it being because Dye is black.
I can't stand that crap.

Orlando Hudson is ridiculous. There's absolutely no racist reason on why Jermaine hasn't been signed by another team.

Dye hasn't been signed because he's asking for too much money. He wants at least 1/4 of his $11.5M contract with the Sox last year. He wants a full time outfield position and has said that he "might" play 1st here and there but that he mainly wants to be in the outfield full time, and won't even considering being a 4th outfielder or DH. He has been declining in talent in both offensive and defensive categories.

Dye has been offered deals with the Nationals, Toronto, and Tampa Bay. He hasn't signed because of his pickyness of position played, salary, and wanting to play for a contender. If Dye wants to play, he would play. Thome wanted to keep playing and he, who is willing to play specifically to be in a rotating DH system, was willing to pick up a contract with the Twins for a $1.5M/1yr contract. Maybe Dye should stop being so picky?
The history of baseball has been skewed with racism, true, but I'm someone who feels as though in this day-in-age we make our own destiny. If you hold yourself back saying "I'm not going to be able to do this because of race, age, or gender" then the only person holding you back, is you.

Major league baseball has been making ridiculous strides to appeal to the African American community, including working hard to bring baseball into inner-city neighborhoods with the RBI Program. No one can force a kid to want to play baseball. He has to play because he loves it. You can bring him a bat and a ball and a mit, but you can't make him throw or hit, no matter what color their skin is. If Orlando Hudson or anyone else is mad because of a declining number of African American's in MLB then they should be working toward bringing the spirit of the game to kids they think have talent. They should not be running their mouth off to the media making themselves look like victims because of another player's lack of contract.
If Hudson thinks that the reason the Sox didn't resign him is because of racist reasons, then maybe he should take a look at our GM and manager. We have an African American GM and a Venezuelan manager. This might be a bit of a stretch but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that racism... PROBABLY not the reason we didn't re-sign Dye.

Hudson also says that he has "a lot to say" after he retires. Awesome. If it's anything like this stretch of crap, then save it, please. I have no problem with people being opinionated but I do have a problem with ignorance.

I wish Jermaine Dye the best of luck in what's left of his major league career, and I wish Orlando Hudson would shut up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hey Jays Fans...There's No Crying in Baseball!!

It's safe to say that the fact that that White Sox finally broke a 10-game losing streak in Toronto was slightly over-shadowed by Alex Rios' return to the Rogers Centre.
Even during batting practice, Comcast's Chuck Garfien reported on twitter than Rios was getting heckled by the fans. Playing along, Rios tipped his cap to the fans. Ozzie Guillen took a direct punch at the kidney's of Jay's fans and responded with "We need people in the ballpark just to come out and boo Alex. Please, we haven't seen many fans out here in the last 3 or 4 years. Come out just to boo him."

The question is, why were Jays fans booing Rios so harshly?

Rios was offered a contract with the Jays in April of 2008 that promised him $69 over 7 years. They had little trade options last season based partly on their contractional obligations to Rios. The Jays simply didn't have any payroll flexibility. Not surprising when your team pulls on average 8,000 fans a game- there's not a lot of revenue coming in on a nightly basis.

Jays fans who actually paid attention to their team rejoiced when Toronto placed him on waivers, begging any team to take him off their hands so they could secure Halladay for another 2 years. I remember specifically when Rios was placed and it was rumored that KW would pick him up. All I heard from Jays fans was "good riddance!"

What's mind boggling is that Jays fans were offering to give up Rios for a few ash bats and a Vernon Wells jersey and now, when Rios returns to Toronto, they're booing him as if he broke their hearts by leaving.

Let's examine what I like to call "AJ Pierzynski Syndrome."

In a ballclub that routinely pulls one of the lowest attendance in the majors, on opening day you're going to get a packed house full of bandwagon fans. You just simply are. So one guy starts booing Rios because he thinks its funny, and then everyone other d-bag in the stadium follows. People have no idea why they're booing Rios, but they do it, laugh, and cuss at him the entire game. Classless and unintelligent.

I've spent the last few hours this morning talking to Jays fans and most of them, who are real Jays fans, can't understand why the booing went on. They were happy that Rios was playing well this year, and proud of his accomplishments on their team.

What I'm realizing is- the majority of the people there just simply had no idea why the booing was going on. They were going along with the pack. Hence "AJ Pierzynski Syndrome." Just because Minnesota and San Fransisco boos AJ, the entire rest of the fans in the MLB do it. They dont know WHY they do it for the most part, they just do. Because, you know, it's AJ Pierzynski and that's the thing to do.

Ozzie equated the entire thing to when Cleveland fans booed Thome we he came back to their park, but honestly it's not even the same situation. Jays fans wanted Rios gone for the simple fact that their idiot GM, J.P. Ricciardi decided to actually sign Rios for that $69m/7yr deal and Kenny Williams had to come bail him out and pay off his debt. Alex Rios didn't leave on horrible conditions. He didn't request a trade. He didn't end his contract and decide to take up a larger contract with another team. He was placed on waivers.

Okay. For those of you who I've been going back and forth with on Twitter, let me explain something to you.

Waivers are a tricky thing and sometimes hard to understand.

When a team is in a situation such as the Jays were with their contractional obligations to a mediocre player like Alex Rios, they can chose to place him on waivers. (actually, a team can chose to place a player on waivers at pretty much any time at all during the season, but most people tend to pay attention to the waiver claims that happen after the trade deadline.)

When that happens, 3 things can go down.

The team that places the player on waivers can either a) trade him outright to the team that claimed him for another player, b) take back their offer and call the whole thing off completely (if that happens and the team decides to place the player BACK on waivers again, then they aren't allowed to use the option of taksies-backsies a 2nd time) or c) allow the team that claimed the player to have the player, take on that guy's payroll, pay a small waiver fee to the waiving team, and place the player directly on the 40 man.

A lot of the time, teams will grab a player on waivers strictly to blockade any other teams from getting them. If that happens a player is claimed by more than one team, then priority is as follows:

The team in the same league as the player (With Rios, it would have been the American League) with the worst record gets him. If no team in the player's league claims him, then the team with the worst record in the other league gets him.

A player can also "clear waivers" which means that if after the 3 day span of being able to be claimed, no one claims him, then he's cleared waivers and the waiving team can option to send him to the minors. When that happens a player can either go down, or refuse assignment and become a free agent.

The entire thing is really just a cat and mouse game, but a good tool to help managers shape their team.

In this instance, the Jays put Rios on waivers, the Sox claimed him, taking on his entire contract, and Toronto rejoiced. Sox fans freaked a little with the new acquisition of Jake Peavy earlier in the week and the thought of taking on such a high contract, but adding Rios helped shape our roster for the 2010 season after we freed up some money by not resigning Thome or Dye, two big salary roster spots.

So Alex Rios was dealt by their front office to the White Sox, and didn't technically WANT to leave Toronto, where-as Jim Thome, he was the Indian's 13th round pick in the 1989 draft, came up through their organization, and was the most loved player on their team, decided to LEAVE Cleveland to pursue a larger contract in Phillidalphia ($85m/6yr as compared to $60m/5yr)

As classless as it is to boo someone like Jim Thome in my opinion, I can see where the Indian fans kind of had their hearts ripped out when Big Jim decided to go to the Phillies.

Jays fans don't have the same argument. They rejoiced when he was signed to a 7 year contract, confident that the tag-team of Wells/Rios would bring a championship to Toronto along with ace Halladay. I didn't hear fans booing Rios when he played in Toronto once.
Were there fans that wanted Rios gone to free up their payroll? Absolutely. However to be fair, the majority of baseball fans don't pay that close of attention to payrolls. I don't know a lot of fans that didn't love Alex when he played in Toronto. Most were shocked and surprised when we picked him up, and the backlash is based solely on his leaving the organization.

This is where AJ Pierzynski Syndrome comes in.

Take one ballpark that can fit upwards of 40,000 people, add 8,000 REAL fans, and another 32,000 who are there for beer and hot dogs, and what do you get? An entire fan base of Canadians who are booing Alex Rios for leaving Toronto.

So Rios didn't really live up to the potential of a $69 million contract. Somehow that's Rios' fault. Remember in my last post I talked about how I found it wrong to heckle a rookie player for "sucking" when it was actually management's fault for not keeping him down in the minors to season and get to the point where he can become a solid big leaguer? It's the same with a player who is signed to a huge contract and doesn't technically produce.
So Rios hit upward of .300 for the majority of his career with Toronto and after 1/2 a season of batting under .270, and being traded to the Sox, the fans are ready to call him a joke and a waste.
Toronto fans do nothing more than simply prove to me that there are more idiot fans out there than there are intelligent ones. I talked to a Jays fan on twitter this morning who just kept telling me "He sucks." as the reason why the fans were booing him.

Really? "He sucks"? THAT'S your argument? That he sucks?? The kid doesn't bat under .291 for three straight seasons and after 4 months of a mediocre batting average, he SUCKS? No. He doesn't "suck." Your ex GM sucks. The Rios contract threw away money and was ridiculous. It's one of the many reasons he got fired after last season, and is THE reason why Rios was placed on waivers and let go to another team. It was because your GM was stupid enough to make an idiot contract that allowed him no room for payroll diversity. You should have all been booing your front office, not Rios.
Another smaller reason why people say they were booing him is because of a video leaked on youtube last year in which a fan continuously heckles Rios for not signing autographs as he leaves a charity event. Rios responds by telling them to "F*ck off." Well, you know what? If I was being bombarded by a bunch of clearly unintelligent fans who were spouting off at the seems about ignorant things, I'd tell them to "F*ck off" as well. One Jays fan used the argument "he's mean. try saying hi to him after a game and see what happens."

Well. I'm pretty confident that Alex Rios would not freak out if I came up to him and said "hi." Now if I followed him out to his car screaming "You're useless Rios, you're a horrible player! You're lucky you even have a job! You're lucky anyone wants you! You're f*cking horrible!" I would expect him to tell me to "f*ck off." Just sayin.

Maybe I'm just annoyed with the lack of intelligence, I don't know. However I just don't understand the concept of Jays fans booing him so mercilessly yesterday. I wasn't the only one who didn't get it either. The Jays broadcast team had questions about the booing as well, chucking at the sheer ignorance of it.

The fact is: He was claimed off waivers, he left, the Sox took on his payroll and freed up issued the Jays were having with it. The fans should be happy, or at the very least, indifferent. So he yelled back at a fan who was heckling him last season. The guy he yelled at clearly wasn't a "fan" so who cares? At least it fires Rios up and he clearly fed off the negativity at the Rogers Centre last night going 3-5 with a run scored. But then again, you know. He sucks.....

Booing a player for un-baseball related reasons is for the bar. Keep it out of the ballpark.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'd like to name this post something I can't.. so it's staying with.. Prospects: Ryan Tatusko

Ah the world of Twitter. You'll never believe who you'll meet on that thing. My entire friend base makes fun of my tweeting. One of my best friends, a beat writer for MLB.com, exclaims on a regular basis that there's not much the world doesn't know about me because of twitter.

And there's not a lot the world doesn't know about fellow tweet-freak, Ryan Tatusko.

When I first started this prospects blog I tried to start following some minor league guys, which lead me to my previous interviews which were really nice. I actually became fast friends with Ryan despite there being no interview involved. We bonded over our Catholic religion, interesting stories, my wanting to live vicariously through him while he was in Spring Training and I was enjoying a 6-inch snow during the middle of March, and jeering back and forth over his love for the Cubs, and mine for the Sox.

So we finally toyed around with the idea of actually doing an interview together. This is the first time I've ever actually interviewed a friend- and I have to tell you, it's a lot harder than interviewing a stranger. I already knew a lot about him so it was kinda pick and choose what my readers would want to have him share. Ryan's an out going kid so getting a face paced (and by that I mean.. this kid really talks VERY FAST) interview out of him wasn't hard. Keeping up with him was, and usually is, the opposite.

Me: You're a level headed guy, and a huge Cub fan. Big Z is known for his emotional outbursts on the mound. Have you ever had any Big Z moments?

Ryan: Uhm I've had a couple really emotion moments. I try not to get too emotional. That's none thing I was instilled at a very young age. All my coaches told me that with a good pitcher you should never know if he's up by 10, or down by 10 on the mound, but sometimes it's really hard to not have those emotional moments.

Me: How did your reviewing tapes this off season help with your mechanics?

Ryan: It helped immensely. When I went back and reviewed I noticed I had mechanical faults that were causing me to rush and I was losing all power in my legs. I realized I needed to stand on my back side a whole lot more. So that's all I focused on all off season. I really focused on standing up on my back side and getting the drive out of my legs that I needed.

Me: You've been reading Mind Gym. How is that affecting your pitching approach this season?

Ryan: I'm really not too much into the book right now buts it's all about learning how to control the stuff you can't control which is very hard. As a pitcher by nature you wanna be a micro-manager. You have to focus on just controlling the things that you can control. When you're in a game and things don't start going your way... that's really the thing you need to focus on. Keeping a level head on the mound and trying to get out of the situation with minimal infliction. It's really gonna help me a lot as I get further into the book.

Me: I know you have a little good luck charm you keep during a game- tell me about it.

Ryan: The medal in my pocket,It's Saint Rita, the Patron Saint of Impossible Hopes and Dreams. It's actually really weird because I carried the medal in my back pocket before the movie The Rookie even came out and in the movie he gets the medal and its hanging on his rear view mirror. I was given it as a gift from my grandparents before the movie but people think I copied but actually I had it first.

Me: You know that movie was a book before it was a movie

Ryan: Yes I read it

Me: I'm gonna leave that statement alone, haha. What else did you do during Spring Training this year to kind of pass the time away?

Ryan: Most of what we did.. we got up early during the day especially when games started so all we really wanted to do was hang out. We had a hot tub and we utilized that a lot. Especially for soar muscles and aches and pains. Billy butler lives right downstairs and he'd come up and hang out and play MLB The Show. It was fun to play a video game with the guy actually sitting right next to you. Mostly a lot of video games and relaxed. We knew we had to get up early the next morning.

Me: And I know you're a big music fan as well as video games. What are your top 5 "pump me up" songs on your iPod?

Ryan:
1- Linkin Park- Bleed it Out,
2- Metallica with the SF Orchestra- Wherever I May Roam
3- Metallica with... wait, what's the name of the song?

Me: This is your story.


Ryan: It's Mariano Rivera's player intro song.

Me: I have no idea...

Ryan: You're this baseball nut and you don't know??

Me: Do you want me to google it?
Ryan: Enter Sandman!

Me: Light bulb! Okay.. keep going.....

Ryan:

4- Skillet- Monster
5- Skillet- Rebirthing

Me: Okay okay... serious question. Tell me about Pitcher's Power Drive.
Ryan: It's a device that my pitching coach back home introduced to me. We realized that I had some problems staying back in pitching but he was never really a gimmick guy. Drew Storen and I were playing catch together during the off season and Jay Lehr introduced us to this and said that it was something he really believed in. Drew and I started messing around and tinkering with it. It really helped us find our mechanical flaws. We probably worked on it 20-30 minutes on it every day. It's really really helped me. Ive picked up about 3-4 MPH
on my fastball just from last year.

Me: So do you sponsor it?

Ryan: I have some comments on the website and he's put me on the website and sent me a few things. I introduced our pitching coordinator with the Rangers to it , and some other teammates I've introduced to it. I really think it will help other people as well.

Me: Jay sounds like a pretty important guy to you. I know you're really close with both your dad and your step-dad. Who else has helped you shape yourself and your career?

Ryan: Yeah absolutely Jay Lehre, our pitching coach from Indianapolis. He's really the last 3-4 years helped shape my mechanics and fine tune things and has helped me become the pitcher that I am. Especially flip flopping between the bullpen and starting and getting ready for both.

Me: You've been starting primarily and this year you're starting out the season in AA as a bullpen pitcher. How are you going to approach your role in the pen this year?

Ryan: I don't think its gonna be much of a change because I'm going to be the long relief guy and I'm throwing multiple innings. I'm really gonna try to keep my routine... I'm gonna have to expedite my warm up routine. I have to realize that the game for me starts the inning I go out there. Obviously with long relief guys they try and get you in there with a fresh inning and if I'm afforded that opportunity I'm gonna try and approach it as a starter and keep the most familiar routine that I can even though ill be in the bullpen.

Me: I was asking you earlier what jersey number you got this year- you told me 40. I know you have a thing with the number 40. Is it just a superstition?

Ryan: Yeah its mostly a superstition. I was 40 in my final year of HS and I had an ok year besides having Tommy John. I was 40 my three years at Indiana State. It was always something I carried over. I was 40 in Low-A. In High-A I settled for number 20. It's just a number I'm comfortable with and I'm used to seeing myself in. Just another one of those baseball superstitions. Everyone has the number they feel comfortable in. It's a little bit of a motivational factor. If you go back and look at great players who have worn numbers there's not a lot that have 40-- so in my mind set its kinda motivational that I can go out there and do something great in the number.

Me: Tommy John surgery your senior year of HS. Walk me through that.

Ryan: My ligament blew completely. I went in a regular season game against a rival HS in our conference. I still remember the pitch. It was a 6th inning fastball and it just went off on me. I got multiple diagnosis that all said tendinitis. Even though I'd never had anything major, the swelling wouldn't go away. Finally after I went and saw an elbow specialist they diagnosed it as an ulnar collateral ligament injury and I wound up having surgery a week later.I missed the rest of my senior year due to surgery. I also missed my entire true freshman year of college due to rehab.
The hardest part about having the injury was the mental aspect. You're stuck for 3-4 months not allowed to move your arm past 90 degrees. To really think you have to throw a ballgame when you cant move your arm is hard. 6 months into the 18 month rehab is learning to get a full range of motion back in your elbow. Afterwards you start tossing with tennis balls up to 90 feet. 30 feet with baseballs, flat ground, then to the mound, working on your pitches. Your minds playing tricks on you with aches and pains and you're thinking "am I doing enough?" "am I doing too much?" "Am i doing everything correctly?" You really can't get a good grip on whats going on. The hardest part is getting on the mound day in and day out. It's a scary thing to do and you get back on the mound there's a huge sense of accomplishment. Nothing can parallel it. That's nothing I've ever felt in my entire career.

Me: You're a mature kid. Is that where you get all your focus from? Because seriously Ryan. You're focused to the point where it's annoying- but in a good way!
Ryan: Yeah it almost gets to feel like that you have a second opportunity at baseball and when you're given that opportunity when you think everything taken away from you you cherish being at the ballpark and being a the field. The greatest thing you can realize is the game can be taken away from you tomorrow. I don't wanna look back at my career and think "what if," I wanna look back and think "I gave it my all." I wanna look back with satisfaction and know I gave it my all.

Me: You have a great opportunity in Frisco this year. From what I've heard the stadium is gorgeous. How excited are you to be playing there?

Ryan: Being inside that stadium that's that amazing brings out the little kid in you. You get there and look around and look at the scenery and realize you're fortunate enough to play in one of the best minor league stadiums in the nation. You get giddy to come to the ball park. Tomorrow's Opening Day and we're sold out with it holding over 10,000 people. You get excited to see how the games gonna be and the reactions of the fans. It creates an electric atmosphere. You have something to be excited about every day.

Me: Alright Ryan you knew this was coming: Favorite ballplayer of all time.

Ryan: Nolan Ryan. I love the way he attacks hitters. he was a fierce athlete throwing mid-90s in his 40s. The way he goes after batters is the way I try and model my game. He was aggressive and had total conviction. No matter what he threw whether it was a strike, ball, home run, hit, knew it was the right pitch. I try and have the certain conviction that he had. Not only that but the work he did to lead up to a start was unmatched.

You Can Put it On the Board...... YES!!!


Do you ever just sit at a ballpark and take in the sights and sounds around you? Stare at the fans, all involved in their own analysis of the game, breath in the smell of kosher hot dogs and beer, envision yourself standing on the dirt in the infield?

Sometimes when I'm at a ballgame I get this "wow-factor" feeling.I feel like it's like my first time at a ballgame. I'm entranced by the geometry of the baselines, the perfect green of the outfield, the players spotted across the field all paying intense attention to a little ball about to leave a glove.

And it's like life is perfect.

I could have cared less what was going on outside of that stadium. When I'm at a ballgame I feel at home. I feel alive- like this is where I'm supposed to be. In the 5th inning of Monday's home opener, I turned to my friend and said "You know that 'is this Heaven line' on Field of Dreams? I honestly haven't ever agreed with something more. When I die, I want to sit right here. Right at this field- every single day... and watch players execute a game. That is perfect- that's Heaven."

He looked at me, laughed, and said "It's a good thing I've known you for like a year and know you routinely go all baseball poetic on people, or else I'd tell you I'm not going on any more margarita runs for you today and cut you off."

My point here is- Monday's White Sox home opener was one of those spine tingling, goosebumb games. From the pitching, to the offence, to Buehrle's web gem of the year, to Rios and PK going yard, to the return of a glimpse of Ozzie ball (get em on, get em over, get em in). It was one of those games that reminds me of how much I love baseball- and why I spent the entire off season praying for first pitch to get here as quickly as possible.


I'm not going to try and mask myself into some professional blogger who drove to Chicago, got there 30 minutes before the game, and sat nicely in my seat keeping score and eating nachos. Instead I'm going to be real and honestly recount my day- because it was awesome. Yes I drank, yes I had a good time, and I plan on honestly depicting it to you all. Those of you who know me would call "bullshit" if I even attempted to pretend like I was all professional baseball fan on Monday's game anyways. :)

I left Peoria around 7:30 anticipating traffic- It wasn't too bad and I listened to Mully and Hanley on 670 The Score. That's a pre-game ritual of mine that I tend to annoy my friends with when they drive to Chicago with me. I don't like the drives to games by myself, but I have always been a "coffee and MLB Network in the morning" kinda girl, and sipping on a 24 oz black coffee and listening to sports news talk calms me and helps the time pass. I also enjoy all the pre-game talk and excitement as fans from the Chicago area call in and give their "professional" opinion on the upcoming 2010 season.

Around 9:20 I started getting into what I like to call the "oh shit" part of 55. That's right after you pass Arsenal Bridge about 50-60 minutes from Bridgeport. I hate Arsenal Bridge with every bone in my body due to bridge inspection last season on my way to SOX/LAA that caused my roommate and I to miss the Sox opening video which, if you know me, is the equivalent to missing the previews of a movie, only way worse. I effing hate it. I'm a creature of habit and if I miss seeing that video, people will hear me bitch for a good 2 innings. I hate to drone on and on about it but it needs to be said that I cure Arsenal Bridge every time I pass it regardless of traffic.

Anyways, as soon as you pass that bridge it's like passing into an alternate universe. It's as if God drops 40 additional cars on the highway and you start "Chicago Driving" which means you literally play cat and mouse with everyone around you, and you get points above your car for how many different times you can touch all 3-4 lanes. In and out passing gets you 5 additional, by the way.
I was calling and getting calls from my two friends, Steph and Brandon who were both going to be at the game as well- a pack of beer in my passenger seat screamed out the inevitable: It was almost 10:00am and I needed to start tailgaiting.

Around 10:15 I finally found my way to the Ashland Street exit. Most of you are probably wondering why I take Ashland off 55. I'll tell you. It's so much easier to take Ashland the 2 miles down to 35th and take 35th up to USCF. I only say this because, and Amanda will attest, I will always, and I mean always, take the wrong exit on the Dan Ryan. It never fails. I will end up in downtown Chicago and almost get run over by a semi and then end up crying trying to figure out how to get on Lakeshore and then remember which exit I was supposed to actually take.

I shouldn't be allowed to drive in Chicago. Honestly.

After arriving at USCF, I threw some beer in my purse, and sought after my friend Stephanie who was there with her friends and co-workers from the Bulls/Sox Training Academy. After running into a very awesome Ron Kittle who scared the crap out of me when he came up and said "Hey I'm loving the jersey!" (yes it was throw back, no it wasn't a Kittle. It was Baines. I'm sure Ron didn't mind though), I gave him a hug and we conversed briefly.

Ron Kittle may be one of the coolest guys in the world. He's always super nice to everyone, reaches out to his facebook followers daily (in fact, one lady came up to us while we were talking and said "I'm your friend on facebook!"... Ron just has one of those faces) and makes time for all his fans.

Right afterwards I ran into Dr. David Fletcher- my boss and founder of the Chicago Baseball Museum. He was busy rushing around and tending to our special guest, Bob Feller. I wont go into the specifics because you're going to get a huge blog on it later- but we hosted Feller for the 70 year reunion of his no-no pitched on Opening Day against the White Sox when he played for the Tribe. (In attendance at our event was also Moose Skowron. Talk about cool).

After finding Stephanie, another run in with Kittle, and finding my friend who had my ticket, I finally got a chance to knock down a few beers.

One of the coolest things is that one of the ladies in attendance in Stephanie's pack of friends had a legit Sox World Series ring. Don't ask me what she did in the Sox organization to get the ring, because I have no idea. All I know is that I got to wear it. Now that, my friends, is a surreal experience.

So it's 20 minutes before game time and my check-list is as follows:

5 beers- Check
Run in with former White Sox great Ron Kittle- Double Check
Meeting with baseball legend Bob Feller- Check
Wearing the White Sox World Series Ring- Check.
Needless to say things were starting out well- and they were only going to get better.

Like I said I'm really particular about getting inside the ballpark to see the opening video. If you guys haven't seen it, the youtube video is right under this paragraph :) It's insane how cool it is. It starts off going through a trophy case of just tons of historical White Sox memorabilia (the fans always cheer the loudest passing over the names and jerseys, pics, etc of guys like The Big Hurt, Harold Baines, and of course all the guys from the 05 Season)... then it goes to a video montage of all these awesome historical moments from the past years to the song "He's a Pirate" from Pirates of the Caribbean. Whoever put the video together is just genius. I love how they show Fisk's double tag at the plate, the lights being shutout for the last time at Old Comiskey from an aerial view, Bo Jackson's homer, when Luke Appling got his car at Luke Appling Night, Tony LaRussa throwing the base when he managed here, the 2000 AL Central celebration at the Metrodome, moving across from Old to New Comiskey, Burl's Perfect and no-no, Brian Anderson's diving catch to end game 163 in 08,and of course different highlights from 1917 season, Go-Go Sox, Winning Ugly, Southside Hitmen, etc.






Well rest assured, I made it in in time to watch it, getting goosebumbs as usual.


The National Anthem was sang as members of the armed services brought a whole-field American Flag out and an aerial show ended the anthem. I've personally never seen one of the aerial shows before. I have no idea how they time that out so perfectly when those US Navy jets fly overhead, but it really is just the icing on the cake on Opening Day. It's like the whole world is cheering for you. I don't specifically mean for the White Sox, but for baseball. When you're in the stadium it's like you're shut off to the world. You're not really caring nor are you paying attention to anything else that's going on outside. Sure it's an open stadium but there's 35,000+ people there are concentrating on the same exact thing for over 3 hours... and you tend to forget that there are other things going on in the world, the jet's are kind of a proverbial "Play Ball!" that just gives you chills.

I was excited to get things going with Mark Buehrle on the mound. I mean, who doesn't want to see Mr. Perfect? I knew it would be a shorter game (I was right, the game's official time ended up being 2:24), because if there's one person who will go out on the mound and work with purpose, it's Burls. He didn't disappoint. Two ground outs from Cabrera and Sizemore and a fly out from Choo ended the inning in quick 1-2-3 fashion which follows Buehrle's pitching style perfectly-his fielders always backing him up as he's not a big strike out guy.

I have a weird superstition- I don't get up before there's a hit made in a game. I psych myself out and feel like if I get up when the visiting team is up before someone gets the first hit, then they'll hit it... and if I get up before the first hit is made and the Sox are up, then they won't get a hit. So I stay in my seat. I spent the middle of the 1st trying to find Anthony, the jet-pack margarita man (Yes I'm on a first name basis with him. Don't judge me), and finally settled on a beer as I didn't want to miss the first at-bats of the Sox 2010 season. Pierre and Bacon both grounded out but TCQ solved my superstitious problems by doubling on a line drive to right field.

I'm just glad I didn't get up to go meet my friend Brandon before Paulie's at-bat. With Quentin on 2nd, PK stepped into the batters box and launched a long fly to right field. It was the first "rise to your feet" moment of the season and I nearly spilled my beer everywhere as Quentin and Konerko rounded the bases and the exploding score-board went off for the first time this season. Na-na-na-na hey hey hey... goodbye!

White Sox 2, Tribe 0.


After a home run is hit with two outs in the inning you still DON'T GET UP. You just simply dont. Long balls give a team momentum and even with 2 outs and no one on base, you expect the adrenaline to be pumping and the fans are only hoping for the best. So I stayed in my seat and watched Kotsay take a walk after working the count full.

Rios' first at-bat of the 2010 season lead to a force out with Kotsay out at 2nd. The inning was over, and I was ready for a margarita (I've really never been a huge beer girl at ball games. Especially since you get to keep the cups the margarita's come in, and they don't make you put ice in them. Fun fact- go to a ballgame and ask for no ice in your drinks like premade vodka/lemonade. You just simply get more liquor. Win-win.

I moved down to the left field seats right behind the bullpen to sit with my friend Brandon, one of the local weathermen for our CBS affiliate down here in Peoria, and fellow huge White Sox fan. Brandon and I have a tendency to get really loud, really obnoxious, and become huge smart asses when we're together- but Brandon's worse than me. It wasn't long before we were taunting Cleveland left fielder Michael Brantley, and our own bullpen rookie, Sergio Santos. "Hey Santos! You're not at Wrigley! Quit lookin at the girls and pay attention to the game! We don't do that on the Southside.. we PAY ATTENTION THE THE BALL GAME!"

I have no idea if Santos even knew what we were saying, but it didn't cease to be funny. I have no problems taunting our own players. Last year I was at a game where Ryan Sweeney was just brutalized. I felt kinda bad for him, because a lot of the time when a young player "sucks" we should really be screaming at our front office and management for not sending him down to get the at-bats he needs to become a good player, instead of bringing the player down for not being developed enough to be in a big league uniform. However, when players pull crap like flirting with girls in the stands when they're in the bullpen, they deserve to be ridiculed. Santos needed to recognize that that's not how we role on the Southside. If he wants to play around during the game and pass out his number to anything with a bra strap showing then he can go elsewhere (and I'm sure you all know where I mean by elsewhere). Here on the Southside we take our baseball seriously.

The first hit of the game for the Tribe came in the Top of the 2nd from Travis Hafner but didn't capitalize into anything as LaPorta quickly grounded into a DP after a fly out from Peralta.

Another thing my friends and especially my roommate will tell you is that I don't allow people to talk when AJ Pierzynski is up to bat. I seriously love him as a player. If I could say I have a favorite player on the team, it's AJ. I love his attitude and how he plays the game. Not to mention he's just plain good and a highly under appreciated catcher.
Well, AJ grounded out in his first at-bat of the 2010 season, something I noticed a lot of during Spring Training. Teahen walked and was then out caught stealing 2nd after a fly out from Ramirez.
Another single started the 3rd but is followed by another scoreless inning despite hits from both Grudzielanek and A. Cabrera. That would be the last hit Buehrle gave up to an Indian for the rest of his outing.

The Sox scored another 2 runs in the 3rd off a Beckham single, Quentin HBP, Beck's taking 3rd on a wild pitch during PK's at-bat, Konerko walk to load the bases, force out by Kotsay that scores Beckham, and another wild pitch by Westbrook to score Quentin.

Sox 4, Tribe 0

Now here's where we get the difference between the 2009 White Sox and the 2010(at least the way they played Monday). In 2009 we would have loaded the bases eleventy billion times and ended the inning on a strike out by just about anyone on the team. True we capitalized off poor defense by the Tribe but get em on, get em over, get em in, right? I'm not going to be picky on exactly how we get em in.. as long as they get in!

Now I'd like to jump straight up to the 5th inning when after a ground out by Mark Grudzielanek, Burls worked a count to Lou Marson 2-2. What happened next is typical Buehrle. I say typical because this guy rarely does anything that doesn't amaze me.
Marson hit a sharp ground ball up the middle which Buehrle DEFLECTED off his shin. He said post-game that he wasn't even thinking, he just knew that if the balls coming in that direction he's going to throw any body party that he possibly can out there to deflect it. It deflected off to the first base side and Burl's took off after it. AJ came up to cover Paulie but he didn't need to.

Mark Buehrle, proving why he is being presented with a Gold Glove this Saturday, ran past Marson, shuffled to the ball, grabbed it with his gloved hand, flipped it backwards BETWEEN HIS LEGS without looking to Paul Konerko who barehanded it, making the out. (Video below)







I mean... wtf. I can not even explain to anyone reading this the thought going through my mind when I saw that play. That is the 2nd time I've been at USCF when Mark Buehrle has given me goosebumbs (the last time was of course his no-no in 07). I just remember looking at Brandon going " ARE YOU FRIGGIN KIDDING ME?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" Buehrle got up off the ground, started laughing (this guy laughs when he does something awesome. Have you noticed that? It's like he cant believe it happened to him, and guess what- no one else can either!), and AJ fist pumped as he and Paulie congratulated him.

The entire crowd went nuts, yelling "MVP! MVP!" and "BUEHRLE!"... I just had a disbelief moment. I couldn't comprehend as I watched the replay on the jumbo-tron how he could have possibly made that play. Paulie catching it barehanded was just icing on the cake.

Buehrle got out of the inning and we backed up our awesome starting pitcher again with a double by Beckham, Carlos Quentin getting ANOTHER BB with a hit by pitch (this guy really crowds the plate- in case you haven't noticed by his record setting HBP's), a walk to Konerko to once again load the bases, and another ground out by Mark Kotsay scoring Gordon Beckham.

White Sox 5, Tribe .........stilllll 0.

Buehrle continued his Tribe masacre to the 8th, ending up with a stat line of 7IP, 3 Hits, 3 SO, 1 walk, and a steller 0.00 ERA.

JJ Putz, newly acquired from the NY Mets, showed us his stuff as he struck out his first two batters faced. To say the crowd was on their feet is an understatment. A single from Michael Brantley (and more taunting from our section) followed by a fly out by Cabrera ending the 8th and we were home free.

Enter Alex Rios.

Talk about being awesome at the plate, and defensively on Monday. Not only did he make a diving catch to end the game in the 9th after a lights out performance from Matt Thornton (2 strike outs and a line out), but he also hit a solo bomb after being down 0-2 in the count in the 8th- just to solidify our lead for Mr. Perfect.

So Burls got the win his 8th Opening Day start this year which sets a franchise record previously held by Billy Pierce. (Had he started in 2007 instead of Contreras it would be 9 straight and we wouldn't have seen Sizemore go deep in the first at-bat of that God-awful season. I also believe that was the same year that Buehrle got hit by a ground ball up the middle that took him out of the game and caused Nick Masset to come in for the REALLY REALLY long relief..like the 2nd game of the season.) Buehrle now also officially leads the majors in Quality Starts with 189.

AJ Pierzynski, as I mentioned before is an extreamly under appreciated catcher. He caught his 10,000th inning on Monday.
Paul Konerko also set a record with opening day starts as well, surpassing a record previously held by none other than The Big Hurt.

After the game was over, it was time to head down to Schallers for some Jameson and lemonades with my friends. To say we were all on a huge high for the 2010 season is an understatment. We couldn't have been more excited. The field rang with echos of "Let's Go White Sox," "Buehrle," "Ozzie," etc. It was one of those games were you stop and stare at the field after the game and just thank God that such a sport exists.

There's something so poignant and beautiful about the game of baseball. It takes you away from every hard ship you may have or any worry in the world and puts you in a dream where the most important things in life are hard hit line drives in the gap, solid strike-outs, a good manager who makes you laugh, bubblegum, sunflower seeds, beer, and Kosher hot dogs with extra grilled onions and mustard. For 9 innings the only thing you have to worry about is strike zones and good defense and hanging sliders.

How many times can you go somewhere and see someone make an out like Mark Buehrle did and spend the entire day talking about it with people you don't even know? Baseball brings us all together as Americans. This is our sport- this is what we live and die for. There may be deception and drama and greed in the creases of the American Pasttime, but they're ironed out by moments when the crowd rises to its feet from a long ball, a diving catch to end an inning, a bullpen that comes in with comrodery to get a starter out of a jam, and the 5 year old in front of you playing with his AJ Pierzynski bobblehead.

So to all my fellow White Sox fans, Cub fans, Cardinal fans, and fan's of any other team that just love baseball as much as I do- welcome to 2010. It's going to be a pleasure chronicalling the season with all of you and I look foward to any and comments and feedback about games/plays/etc. You don't have to agree with my opininos (they will not always be pro-sox) but I think we can always agree that we are a family in one aspect: our love for baseball.
I also urge all of you tonight to catch up on what's going on with your local Minor League affiliate teams, as it's opening day for them. To those minor leaguers of you who read my site- good luck in continuing your chase to the dream. I hope someday to be writing about you on Opening Day when you're sporting a major league uniform :)