June 2011

Chicago Baseball

The White Sox and Cubs will square off once again this week beginning July first. If you do not recall, the two teams met about a week ago in a emotional series that included manager Jose Guillen of the White Sox being tossed from a game and a heated on field exchange of words between Jake Peavy and AJ Pierzynski. Hopefully, this series can provide the same fireworks in Wrigley as it did on the White Sox home turf

Game one will begin at 2:20 PM ET at Wrigley. The team is fourteen games below .500 and are just 19-24 in their home stadium. On the mound they will have pitcher Randy Wells throwing. This season, he has just one win while carrying a 6.25 ERA.

The White Sox will be the away team where they have been 21-22 this season. Overall their record is 40-42, and will be looking to try and get over .500 in this three-game series if they can get a sweep of the home field Cubs. They will send Edwin Jackson to the mound in game one to try and get the job done. This season, so far, he is 4-6 with a 4.13 Earned Run Average.  

Hawks Still Busy

Monday was another busy day for the Blackhawks, keeping up the pace set over the weekend.  Qualifying offers were due to unrestricted free agents by Monday afternoon, which the Hawks did, aside from center Jake Dowell, and they also made another move, sending Tomas Kopecky to Florida for a future draft pick. The trade is similar to the one involving Troy Brouwer on Friday, so it saves the Hawks a bit of cash.  Like those other moves, though, it’s the follow-ups that are most important.  But let’s have a look at the here and now.

Sox Off to Colorado; Wrigley

After a disappointing homestand, the Sox take their inconsistent bats west to Denver, to play three games with the Colorado Rockies, a set that finishes off the June schedule for the teams.  On Friday, they return to Chicago, but stay away from U.S. Cellular Field to play the Cubs in Round 2 of the Crosstown Classic.  The Sox are coming off a bad series against Washington and are in desperate need of an offensive spark.  Maybe the thin air in Denver will be just the ticket.

Blackhawks’ Big Weekend Part 3

Welcome to the third of three articles focusing on the Blackhawks’ weekend, which included the draft and two major trades.  I use the word “big” because the trades were quite significant, and though your opinion may differ with mine (which is perfectly fine, and perhaps encouraged), I feel they are a better team after the weekend, than before.  That is, if they follow up with the right moves.  Finally, let’s have a look at the team going forward.

Blackhawks’ Big Weekend Part 2

Welcome to the second of three articles focusing on the Blackhawks’ weekend, which included the draft and two major trades.  I use the word “big” because the trades were quite significant, and though your opinion may differ with mine (which is perfectly fine, and perhaps encouraged), I feel they are a better team after the weekend, than before.  That is, if they follow up with the right moves.  Now, let’s examine the Brian Campbell trade.

Blackhawks’ Big Weekend Part 1

Welcome to the first of three articles focusing on the Blackhawks’ weekend, which included the draft and two major trades.  I use the word “big” because the trades were quite significant, and though your opinion may differ with mine (which is perfectly fine, and perhaps encouraged), I feel they are a better team after the weekend, than before.  That is, if they follow up with the right moves.  First, let’s examine the Troy Brouwer trade.

Bulls Draft Low-Key

The Bulls went into Thursday night’s NBA Draft with rather poor position.  Their highly successful regular season earned them their lowest draft position since Michael Jordan played, and it’s quite difficult to find an impact player at such a position.  And so not much was expected; maybe they could get a serviceable defender and/or bench player.  They definitely would not be able to shore up their lack of a quality shooting guard so late in the draft.  And so they picked with an eye on the present and future.

Konerko on His Way to Becoming a White Sox Legend

It doesn’t seem to make sense.  Paul Konerko doesn’t have the same aura surrounding his name in White Sox lore like Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, or Frank Thomas.  And yet, Konerko has been a member of the White Sox since 1999, and has steadily and quietly put together an outstanding career.  He has amassed a number of accomplishments, and at the ripe old age of thirty-five, he has some years ahead of him yet. And that could be the best part, as he seems to be getting better with age.

Crosstown Series Recap

Round 1 of the “Crosstown Classic” came to an end Wednesday night, and though the series lacked some serious luster – both in the standings and in the stands – the games were competitive and entertaining, standing right in line with the series that have come before between the two teams.  It’s always a toss-up when the Sox and Cubs get together, and 2011 is no exception, so far.

Emotional Rollercoaster of a Series Ends in Shy Town

What a great three game series put on by the Chicago baseball teams this past week. It began with a bang as Jose Guillen’s temper flared in game one on Monday. The White Sox would go on to lose the game 6-3, but Jose’s spirited behavior must have lit a fire under his ball club for the rest of the series against the crosstown rival. The next two games would be won by Guillen’s White Sox in close run one games. Ultimately, and strangely, it ended with fireworks as tempers flared from the White Sox Dugout again. This time, however, it was not from Jose Guillen, but white sox pitcher Jake Peavy and his catcher A.J. Pierzynski exchanging words. Even when winning, the two had a heated discussion both on the field and off. In the end The Cubbies slipped further under .500 as the White Sox gained some ground in the AL Central as they try to get over the hump.

In game one of the series, the Cubs were able to put up good offense while over-powering the White Sox with their pitching as well. Zambrano was able to stay in the game for 8 solid innings while giving up just 7 hits. Just a year ago Zambrano was suspended after an altercation in the same stadium against the White Sox. The incident was so damaging to the team that he had to take anger management classes as well. On Monday, though, it may have been Zambrano who caused another tirade in Chicago. His solid performance, perhaps, got White Sox coach Jose Guillen so frustrated that he lost his cool on the field towards an umpire he felt made a bad call. Guillen angrily kicked Cubs catcher Geovany Soto’s mask clear across the field while Soto laughed in amazement. Guillen was ultimately tossed and the Sox lost the game 6-3.

Game 2 of the series, on Tuesday, had a long rain delay before play resumed. This time the fireworks came from the play of Paul Konerko rather than behavioral outburst of players or managers. Paul was able to hit a Homerun in the bottom of the 2nd inning. That homerun made for 5 straight games in which Konerko went yard and helped the Sox win by the score of 3-2. Although it was early in the game and not the game winner, Konerko’s play of late has helped the White Sox try and get above.500. The same would not be the case for Konerko in game three of the series against the cubs. Konerko’s streak fizzled out and he ended up going 0 for 3, but that did not stop the White Sox from hanging on in another one run ballgame.

Ozzie Deserves Better

An article in this morning’s Sun-Times, written by Joe Cowley (one of my personal favorite columnists in the paper), was very interesting and disconcerting at the same time.  As the article linked to states, Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has given up asking owner Jerry Reinsdorf for a contract extension.  With last year’s soap opera still ingrained in the minds of Sox brass, and the team underperforming yet again, the lack of an extension isn’t exactly shocking.  However, it is not the right move to keep Ozzie hanging.  He deserves better.

The Lure of the Game

As a chorus of tiny warbling voices squeaked out “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” I grinned at my five-year-old daughter, sitting next to me with sticky cotton candy fingers and a smile almost too big for her cheeks. For Father’s Day, we took her to her very first ballgame at Busch Stadium, and it was absolutely the perfect day to go.

I used to love going to watch the Cardinals play. I was a sporty girl, a so-called tomboy who wore hats with pony tails jutting out the back, wristbands, and Chicago Bulls t-shirts. I played baseball or basketball with the boys (including my future husband) after school, and later, softball in Little League. Going to the ballpark was always something extra special, though—the smell of the hotdogs (which are somehow spectacular when you’re in a stadium, yet barf-inducing at home), the call of “Cold Bud!” and “Hey, Bud Light, Bud Light!” as vendors make their way around you, never pushing, just offering their ballpark wares like jersey-wearing gypsies with something special that you really, really need.

College, then full-time work, soon got in the way of my love of the game—well, that and the loss of my favorite player, hottie second baseman, Fernando Vina. A few date games in the old stadium (which will always be missed) before the baby’s arrival were both exciting and romantic, especially since we ended up with such awesome seats, but after she entered our lives, as they say, everything changed. And the change was good—really good—but we just sort of forgot about all of the things we loved for a few years, from comics to scary movies to, yes, baseball.

So when we had the chance to get some nosebleeds for $24 a pop—including a soda and hotdog—with our daughter’s Taekwondo team, we had to go. At first I tried backing out, thinking of giving my ticket to someone else—what if I hated the new stadium? What if it was too damn hot, or we were in the sun? Honestly I think I was just scared that I wouldn’t like the game again, after such a long separation between us.

I am so glad I decided to go.

Sox Staring .500 in the Face

After a wretched start to their last road trip, the Sox rebounded with two quality victories over Arizona.  The offense showed life and showed signs of being a legitimate threat to other teams’ pitching staffs.  They find themselves heading home for a brief six-game homestand with crosstown rival Cubs and the Washington NationalsWith a 35-38 record, the Sox have a golden opportunity to capitalize upon and finally reach the .500 mark.

Sox Rebound in Phoenix

After a putrid showing of offense during the first few games of their brief road trip, the White Sox broke out the whoopin’ sticks in the final two games in Phoenix, to take the series from the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It was a positive end to a road trip that seemed like it could be disastrous just a few days earlier.  But the Sox seem to have a knack to stop slides these days, which probably points more to their overall inconsistency than anything else, but they’ll definitely take it.

Twins Still Have Sox’ Number

It doesn’t matter if the MetroDome is no longer the Twins’ home.  It doesn’t matter if half the Twins’ Opening Day lineup is on the disabled list.  It doesn’t matter if rain postpones a game.  The Twins always seem to have the White Sox in check.  It doesn’t matter if the Sox have momentum heading into their series.  It doesn’t matter if Mark Buehrle only gives up one run.  The Twins always have their number.  And in the midst of a critical point of the season, it is a bad time for the Sox to lose two to their division rivals.

LeBron/MJ Debate Not Even Close

A few weeks ago, after the Heat defeated the Bulls 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA world seemed to be torpedoing toward a Miami Heat championship, and a triumph from the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.  James had played so well against the Bulls that it was hard to deny that he was playing the best basketball of his life.  He was poised to finally shut his critics up and solidify his place as one of the greats.  He played so well, in fact, that former Bulls' great Scottie Pippen claimed that James might be the best ever.  Well, as it turns out, Pippen was wrong.

Keep Santos as Closer

It is no secret that Sergio Santos had a bad week last week.  He struggled against the Seattle Mariners, taking a loss, and then struggled in two outings against the Oakland Athletics over the weekend, losing one game but holding on for his twelfth save in the other.  Santos’s recent struggled are reminiscent of Matt Thornton’s and Chris Sale’s at the start of the 2011 season, as the closer role has been one in flux all year.  And one would think that Santos’s problems would be grounds to consider another change.  But that is not the solution.  Sergio Santos is the White Sox’ closer, and he should be going forward.

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