Results tagged ‘ Chicago ’

Mayor Daley escapes flying bat

The Daleys not only are known as the first family of Chicago politics, but as die-hard White Sox fans for many generations. So, it was no surprise to see Mayor Richard M. Daley in his regular seat for Wednesday’s game at U.S. Cellular Field, located just to the right of the White Sox dugout.

What the Mayor didn’t expect was having to dodge an Andruw Jones projectile in the bottom of the fourth inning of the White Sox 6-5 victory. Jones struck out swinging on a pitch from Jason Vargas and lost the grip on his bat, sending it flying into the stands. Daley moved out of the way quick enough to avoid injury, and the bat actually missed all innocent by-standers.

“He got almost hit by the bat, and two balls. I think somebody’s not happy with you when it’s like that,” said a smiling White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on Thursday of Chicago’s Mayor. “The way Andruw has been going around, he couldn’t hit anything.

“We were making fun of him, because he was trying to hit the fans, and he couldn’t even hit the fans. Thank God nobody got hurt, because that was very dangerous. That was very dangerous.”

Guillen hopes Blackhawks score

Chicago’s celebration over the  immense success of the Blackhawks, who reached the Western Conference Finals against San Jose by virtue of a 5-1 victory over Vancouver on Tuesday, has crossed over into the world of Major League Baseball.

“I love it. Chicago really needs it,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the Blackhawks. “We all (stink). All sports in Chicago are very bad, and we need that.

“We need something good and positive for the city. We all need that. I spent more time in Chicago than Caracas. I’m a big Chicago fan.”

Guillen doesn’t claim to be a bandwagon jumper because he doesn’t know enough about the NHL to even qualify in that category. He’s simply happy for the city of Chicago.

“It’s a great sports city. The fans need wins,” Guillen said. “They’re desperate to have fun, and I don’t think there’s a more fun city when they’re winning.

“The Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, the Bears–we’re not doing too good. Hopefully at the end of the season, the White Sox made those guys smile. But right now we don’t and we need the Blackhawks to eat the Sharks in San Jose.”

Before closing out his analysis of the Chicago professional sports landscape, Guillen ventured into the world of the NBA and addressed LeBron James’ future.

“He can’t go to Chicago because he wants to be the man and Ozzie Guillen is the man,” said Guillen with a laugh. “He’s going to be No. 3 there. Lou Piniella is No. 2.”

The Peoria Outdoorsmen

Paul Konerko stands among the plethora of White Sox players, coaches, broadcasters and front office personnel scheduled to attend SoxFest in Chicago this weekend, really the most comprehensive list in the past eight years. But at this point, it’s no certainty Konerko will be able to find his way to the Palmer House Hilton.

More will be known about the White Sox first baseman’s arrival and whereabouts during Wednesday night’s Grand Slam Party at U.S. Cellular Field, benefiting Illinois foster families and celebrating the ‘Bring Me Home’ campaign in partnership with Children’s Home + Aid. This effort was started by Jim and Andrea Thome and Paul and Jennifer Konerko to help raise money and awareness for the needs of foster children in families in Illinois, and Wednesday’s party also will feature Gordon Beckham joining the Thomes and Konerkos.

Here’s the only issue: Konerko has spent the past few days at Thome’s property in Peoria, taking a rare step into the outdoor life that is second nature to the former White Sox designated hitter. Before he departed, Konerko simply hoped to be able to find his way back to said property.

“He’s going to show me how to be an outdoorsman,” said Konerko with a laugh, speaking Saturday night prior to the 15th Joyce Thome Benefit for Children’s Hospital of Illinois at the Peoria Civic Center. “I just hope he doesn’t drag me off into the middle of nowhere and leave me and tell me to get back on my own.”

The truth of the matter is that Konerko and Thome enjoyed a little playoff football on Sunday, after their families got together for Saturday’s entertaining event, and then it was off to the property. Thome and Konerko both planned to work out and hit at Thome’s own facilities.

Yet, with a wry smile, Thome wouldn’t guarantee serving as a perfect tour guide for Konerko.

“Tell White Sox fans I’ll get him to Spring Training,” said Thome with a laugh, after expressing his deep appreciation for Konerko attending Saturday’s charity event. “I’ll have a little fun with him.”

By the way, the ‘Bring Me Home’ campaign has raised over $235,000 since its inception.

White Sox react to Olympic snub

I was at Midway Airport Friday morning, getting ready to board my flight for Detroit, when a woman standing in front of me, watching CNN on one of the overhanging televisions, made the following statement.

“Chicago didn’t get the Olympics,” she said, shaking her head.

To be honest, I thought the timing was a bit odd, especially since the final announcement wasn’t supposed to come until around lunch time and we were boarding at about 10:15 a.m. CT. Everyone in Chicago had thought the final call would be between the Windy City and Rio de Janeiro.

Much to my surprise, Chicago had been eliminated as a potential host for the 2016 Summer Games in the first vote, ahead of the three other finalist cities.

Those shockwaves reached as far as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who put forth that sentiment during his pregame meeting with the media on Friday at Comerica Park.

“Chin up,” said Guillen with a smile about Chicago’s valiant bid that came up short. “I was shocked because I never thought Chicago would be eliminated in the first round. I think everyone in the states was shocked.

“Don’t give up. Keep fighting for the future and hopefully one of these days we have it. But I was shocked.”

Gordon Beckham was 10 years old when Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics. The White Sox rookie third baseman and Georgia native remembers attending events that included Michael Johnson winning gold in the 200 m and watching Carl Lewis win gold in the long jump at 35.

At such a young age, Beckham didn’t get the full impact of Olympic competition but said it was a fun experience. Even though he could still be with the White Sox nine years from now, his feelings were a bit mixed when asked about Chicago falling short to Rio.

“It would have been nice and interesting,” said Beckham of Chicago hosting the Olympics. “But it would have been a lot of… . That city would have been going nuts and it would have been really tough to concentrate on baseball when that was going on.

“I’m not too disappointed. It seems like everyone is sad and I’m sure the city put a lot of effort into the bid. It (stinks) they didn’t get it. But for me personally, I’m ok with it not being a complete circus.”

Although I’m obviously not in Chicago, I can only imagine the collective disappointment. Many of the local establishments in the downtown Chicago area where I live were opening early on Friday morning for the Olympic announcement and what they hoped would be the ensuing frenzied celebration.

Saturday in Kansas City

If the question of White Sox needs to improve the 2009 version’s playoff chances would have been posed to Ozzie Guillen a few weeks ago, when the team was struggling to reach .500, then the direct White Sox manager joked how he might have wanted a whole new ballclub on the South Side of Chicago.

When that question was brought up to Guillen on Saturday, though, he took a wait-and-see personnel approach, based on Carlos Quentin’s injury rehab beginning Saturday night with Triple-A Charlotte.

“Right now, with Carlos coming back, we’ll see how Carlos is going to be,” Guillen said. “It’s like we make another trade. Right now, I think we’re playing the way we planned to be playing. We’re playing the way we had this team playing in Spring Training.

“Pitching, play better defense – our offense, a lot of people worried about the offense, but right now we’re fine. I still have to wait and see what happens in these particular days.”

Guillen brought up how wholesale changes won’t be needed. Last year, the White Sox added Ken Griffey, Jr. to the mix at the non-waiver trade deadline, and he became a huge addition when Quentin went down with the right wrist injury and missed the season’s final month. In 2005, the White Sox added utility man Geoff Blum, and all he did was hit the game-winning home run in Game 3 of the World Series against Houston.

Youngsters such as Gordon Beckham and Chris Getz have contributed mightily from the bottom of the order, as they continue to develop. But where these sorts of late-July moves are concerned, Guillen deferred to his general manager.

“That’s Kenny’s stuff. I haven’t even talked to Kenny about the ballclub in the last week and a half,” Guillen said. “It’s easy to be a GM when you’re winning. But we have to be patient.

“Last year when we were in a pennant race, we only brought one guy, and it was Junior. The year we won, we only brought one guy and it surprised a lot of people because it was what we needed. When you’re in a pennant race you don’t need to bring names, and spend money with superstars.

“You have to bring the guy that can fit with the ballclub and is the one you really, really need, and right now we have to wait to get to that point to see what the situation is going to be and see what we need at that particular time,” Guillen said. “Then that’s Kenny’s job. I never demand any players from Kenny. We talk a lot and he knows my feelings.”

–Interesting postgame comments from Gavin Floyd Saturday on the reasoning behind his loss to the Royals, during which he threw only 54 of his 96 pitches for strikes.

“I guess my focus wasn’t exactly there completely,” Floyd said. “I just tried to keep battling and putting up zeros. I got behind a lot of hitters, the fifth and sixth inning. I wasn’t as aggressive as I usually am.”
 
Floyd’s effort on Saturday ended a stretch of eight consecutive quality starts from the right-hander.

–Scott Podsednik continues to point to his offseason training as one of the major reasons for his 2009 success

“I still feel great,” Podsednik said. “I keep saying this. My offseason conditioning and because of the conditioning that AT (White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas) and I go through on a weekly basis, it has been helping me out on the baseball field, without a doubt.”

–Kudos to White Sox assistant director of media relations Pat O’Connell for the truly clever lines of Saturday in the White Sox daily game notes. One header read ‘Saturday in the Park,’ focusing on the White Sox 10-3 record on Saturday’s this season, and that was followed by a note with the header, ‘You’d think it was the Fourth of July.’ You can guess the subject in this instance.

You’ll probably appreciate this combination more if you are a fan of the musical group Chicago.

–Hope everyone is enjoying their respective Fourth of July celebrations. Happy holidays!

Crosstown Showdown: U.S. Cellular Wrap

John Danks already has earned the utmost respect from his teammates over three big-league seasons, and throwing seven scoreless innings as he did during Sunday’s 6-0 victory over the Cubs only increases that respect.

But Danks also stepped up and showed he had his teammates’ backs by hitting Ryan Freel to open the seventh. Carlos Zambrano already had hit Scott Podsednik and Dewayne Wise earlier in the game, with Wise’s situation causing words to briefly be exchanged between the two in the bottom of the sixth.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen would not go as far as to categorize Danks’ effort as a purpose pitch.

“It’s part of the game,” Guillen said. “I cannot say he hit him on purpose because that’s accusing people.”

When Danks hit Freel in the left forearm, Freel blew on the spot as if to indicate a lack of velocity or pain on impact as he ran to first. But Danks had the last laugh on this particular day.

“To be totally honest with you, I didn’t even see him,” Danks said. “He went to first base and fortunately, we were able to strand him. Whatever he did, that’s something you would have to ask him. It didn’t bother me a bit; I didn’t even see it.”

–This just in: According to a well-placed family source, Danks and Scott Linebrink combined for an all Round Rock, Texas shutout on Sunday. Linebrink, who fanned four in two perfect innings, graduated from Round Rock McNeil High School, and Danks from Round Rock High School. There’s some interesting trivia to amuse your friends.

–Danks made sure to spread the credit to catcher A.J. Pierzynski for Sunday’s victory.

“I didn’t shake A.J. once. A.J. did a great job, he always does,” Danks said. “I know that for the most part, I just have to follow his lead and try to hit his glove with whatever pitch he tells me to throw.”

Pierzynski pointed to Danks’ changeup as his outpitch against the Cubs.

“He kept getting swings and misses and weak ground balls with the changeups,” Pierzynski said.

–As Pierzynski was talking about Chris Getz’s steal of home in the clubhouse, Gary Matthews Jr. swiped home during the Angels’ game on one of the televisions on at the time.

–Guillen showed strong pregame support for the White Sox visiting clubhouse staff amidst Cubs’ allegations that there was a leak surrounding what was said during Friday’s Lou Piniella-Milton Bradley spat. Guillen also shared his thoughts on Mark DeRosa moving from Cleveland to St. Louis.

“It’s funny. Mark DeRosa was my backup (in Atlanta). Now he’s the most wanted guy in baseball,” Guillen said with a laugh. “I was the backup at shortstop and Mark was my backup. I think this guy can help a lot of people.

“He can play every position very well, he’s a great man in the clubhouse. You can play him second, third, you can hit him leadoff. He can do so many great things in baseball. I think Tony picked the right guy. I think he’s going to help him.”

–Finally, here’s Jermaine Dye’s take on the 2009 competition with the Cubs, which has one more makeup game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3 or 10.

“This series is always great, especially for the city of Chicago and the fans and for us and the clubhouse,” Dye said. “It’s a great atmosphere.

“What a series for everyone. The city of Chicago – three great games and a lot of excitement going on. That’s what you like to see when two teams in the city are playing each other.”

–Actually, one final note. Here’s a closing aside from Wise on Zambrano hitting him after Getz swiped home.

“My thing is just go out and try to get the guy out,” Wise said. “Don’t get mad and throw at someone and hit them. Play baseball and try to get the guy out.”

Contreras on the right track

Jose Contreras picked up his first victory of the 2009 season last night.

The veteran hurler probably did not expect win No. 1 to be coming in Scranton, while pitching for Triple-A Charlotte. But it’s a step in the right direction for the right-hander, who struck out five, walked five and gave up three hits over six scoreless innings.

Contreras is one of the true good guys in the game, and while our job is to be impartial and report the news, you have to root for someone such as Contreras who fought so hard to come back from his ruptured left Achilles suffered last August. His return also will be a much-needed boost for the White Sox rotation, moving forward with an eye on the American League Central title.

Judging by just 57 of his 108 pitches going for strikes, Contreras still has some work to do. But Contreras made the request to go to Charlotte to pitch regularly and figure out what has been wrong to start the season. Basically, he has to harness control of his split-finger.

As for Brian Anderson, on a brief injury rehab for a strained right oblique, he finished 2-for-4 with a triple during the Knights’ 2-0 victory. I expect Anderson back with the team in Toronto this weekend, and at the very latest, when the White Sox return to Chicago this Tuesday.

Tuesday thoughts

Many e-mailers and friends of mine, not to mention callers into Chicago sports radio, seem to be ready to drop Gavin Floyd from the rotation. That’s not going to happen any time soon, not with Floyd having agreed to the a four-year, $15.5 million deal during Spring Training, which exhibits the White Sox confidence and commitment to the right-hander. But there also isn’t a natural replacement for Floyd, even if he continues to face disastrous results on the mound.

One thing important for Floyd is that he doesn’t seem to be panicking during these tough times. Floyd always has possessed the talent to be a frontline starter, but it was a changed mindset since he joined the White Sox that helped him rise to a 17-game-winner in 2008. That season could be a one-hit wonder for Floyd, but as long he believes in himself and doesn’t lose that focus, I think he will bounce back. Maybe not to 17 wins but to re-establishing himself as a starter who gives the White Sox a regular chance to win.

–Brian Anderson could be back as soon as this weekend in Toronto. He will go on a brief Minor League rehab assignment first, according to manager Ozzie Guillen. But when I talked to Anderson on Sunday, he said that he felt amazing swinging the bat. Dewayne Wise might start taking batting practice this weekend in Toronto.

– The University of Michigan will be proudly represented in Ohio tonight with Clayton Richard on the mound, Chris Getz at second base and me in the pressbox (clearly the least important of the three in regard to the game’s outcome). White Sox fans are hoping Getz and Richard perform better than the Wolverines have in Columbus over the past five or six years.

Just as a side note, as I was walking through Cleveland’s airport yesterday, I noticed a couple of people shaking their heads as they walked by and a few giving me dirty looks. I don’t really know too many people here, so I didn’t think I had developed any true detractors. Then, I realized I was wearing my University of Michigan hooded sweatshirt in enemy territory. Jeers from Buckeyes’ fans mean little to me.

– How about those Blackhawks? I can’t remember the city being this excited about hockey since the days of the storied rivalry with the Edmonton Oilers featuring Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Mark Messier, etc., including the franchise’s Stanley Cup loss to the Penguins. I went to last Tuesday’s game, the last one they lost, and the United Center was beyond electric.

I’m curious how Chicago would celebrate an NHL title, with it having been so long since they even made the playoffs. But I think the Hawks beat the Red Wings in an historic Western Conference final and then win the Stanley Cup.

As one Facebrook friend pointed out to me, I did pick Richard Jenkins to win Best Actor at the Oscars. But I also picked North Carolina to win the NCAA hoops title.

More from the game tonight.

End of an era

The White Sox announced during Wednesday’s game that they had requested waivers on relief pitcher Mike MacDougal for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. The right-hander had pitched his way back on to the team during Spring Training but was designated for assignment on April 21 after a rocky start to the season that included one appearance where he threw eight pitchers to two batters and all eight were balls.

MacDougal is in the third and final year of a $6.45 million deal, earning $2.65 million in 2009. MacDougal always has featured great raw stuff but was never able to harness it within the strike zone during parts of four years in Chicago.

Going once, Going twice

I have an admission to make: I’m an auction addict, silent or live.

Through the course of my job, I’ve had the chance to go to some very nice charity events over the years that feature even nicer auction items. Then, once I start bidding, the competitive side of me takes over. You are just writing a number on paper as the dollars bid, or simply raising your hand, so you don’t realize they actually collect until the credit card comes out of the wallet.

During Javier Vazquez’s fundraiser for Juvenille Diabetes last year, I started bidding against a couple of White Sox pitchers for a sweet Rat Pack framed piece of memorabilia. I dropped out on that item, but later bought the same piece at a downtown memorabilia store.

At Fields of Greens last year, I was the highest bid for four tickets to a Blackhawks game and a ride on the Zamboni machine. Still haven’t used that one.

But the best story is when I was about 23 or 24 and had little to no money. I took this beautiful girl I was trying to impress to a Make A Wish Foundation Fundraiser–great cause, by the way–at the old China Club in Chicago and started bidding on this trip to New York. This one older genteleman had been buying up pretty much all the silent auction items, so I figured that even if I went into four figures, he would out-bid me and I would look like a monetary player.

Well, he didn’t out-bid me on this one, and I spent $1,900 that I didn’t have on the trip to New York. That particular girl didn’t even go with me.

I share theses tales because the first round of items in the annual Chicago White Sox Charities online auctions are currently available to bid on, and will be until the auction closes on Saturday, March 15 at 11:59 p.m. CT. You can bid on items by visiting whitesox.com and clicking on the auction link on the website.

Here are the following six items available, straight from the press release:

A First Fireworks Bash:  Four premium lower box tickets, a parking pass, pre-game Patio party, scoreboard message, in-seat gift bag delivery from Southpaw and post-game fireworks viewing for the Saturday April 25 game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. ($500 minimum).

Carlos Quentin Jersey:  a Quentin game-worn, autographed 1983 replica jersey and pants. ($400 minimum);

“Pudge” and the flag: a 1983 flag flown at U.S. Cellular Field and a Carlton Fisk autographed helmet. ( $350 minimum)

A.J.: an A.J. Pierzynski game-used, autographed bat. ($300 minimum);

Jim Thome and the “Blackout”: a Jim Thome framed, autographed photo from the blackout game. ($200 minimum).

Go-Go Sox: a baseball signed by 1959 White Sox team members Billy Pierce, Jim Landis, Bob Shaw and Jim Rivera. ($150 minimum).

The White Sox raised over $45,000 for Chicago White Sox Charities through online auctions during 2008 and more than $265,000 since the start of auctions in 2003.

It’s a great cause, with great items. I might even bid on a few. Actually, I’m going there now.

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