The White Sox have gone the entire offseason not taking on a single new financial commitment for the 2017 season, and to date their biggest investment of the winter is absorbing Todd Frazier's second-to-last arbitration year, for which they owe the still extremely bargain rate of $7.5 million. They return the worst right fielder/designated hitter combo of 2015 and let a nearly-unprecedented bevy of offensive upgrades go off the board for fair value or far less.Read More
The White Sox are one of four major league baseball teams to have never signed a player to a contract of more than $70 million in total value. The other three are the notoriously small-market Oakland A's, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians.Read More
Another baseball season is closer than the frigid, loveless Midwestern landscape would currently indicate. With its impending arrival comes the knowledge that all the assorted cruelties--physical, mental, spiritual--of a high stakes six-month major league campaign are coming with it.Read More
I never thought I would say this, but talk of 2005 evokes mixed emotions. Obviously, 2005 itself is a pure white light of happy memories, and I could feel myself beginning to smile as I talked about it on the podcast last night. But the "10-Year Anniversary," which we just celebrated, unfortunately also makes one think about the ten years that have transpired since. Still, as I watched the Cubs' ascension this year, I was reminded of how fortunate we as White Sox fans were to see our favorite team actually close it out in a great season. Until that last out is actually recorded, one cannot be sure that disaster isn't about to strike. And once it is recorded, it can never be taken away.Read More
I don't like the Cubs.
This isn't hatred, or dislike, it's just the absence of like. I don't get into the 'root for Chicago' hubbub. They're another team, and it's taken a long time to get to this place of at least superficial indifference after being raised in a Cubs-hating household, and accumulating teenage bitterness from being a south sider who had to bus and train for an hour to the north side to where CPS hid the good high schools.Read More
The White Sox arrive at this offseason in the same position they are at every offseason: at an impasse. They have a very good, and very cheaply signed core that says "Find the missing pieces and win now," and level of organizational depth that says many things, like "Hmmm...what's going on here?" and "Maybe build from the ground up for a while," and "Where are the hitters?"Read More
At some point during trawling through old articles for quotes about Carlos Quentin, it occurred to me that my fascination with just how insane his career was might not be matched by the populace, at least not to the point of justifying an entire post just about him during the height of rumor and offseason planning season.Read More
Frankly, I'm a little exhausted.
Back in my day, the dread and despair of a full baseball season being brutally snuffed out as quickly as possible built up over the course of at least a work week. My dinner prep Wednesday night consisted of reheating taco meat in the microwave and dropping it in tortillas and the Pirates whole season was still screwed before I started eating.Read More
Well, if you were able to take morbid, sardonic pleasure in Yankees fans paying hundreds of dollars for tickets, only to watch their squad struggle to collect as many hits as hours they spent getting through security to get in the stadium, you'll love the NL Wild Card.Read More
The MLB playoffs are the best time of the year, because every story of dominance and triumph, every celebrating fanbase, is humbled. Emphatically and publicly in emotionally traumatizing fashion, their dreams are crushed, and they must once again revert to the cautious cynicism and doubt that guides the day-to-day existence of fandom, and we can all watch as their return from their deluded perch.Read More
I thought it would be hard for the White Sox to play a game against the Orioles amid soul-shaking unrest in Baltimore that didn't seem ghoulishly out of place, but a rushed Wednesday day game closed to the public--the first of its kind in any recorded MLB history--is just the kind of surreal that can slide along with the rest of this week in the Charm City.
Excluding the fans seems at its core, self-defeating (what is a ball game without the fans?) but also speaks to how far we've moved beyond the simple setup of putting on show to draw people through the turnstiles, to the more adult concerns of churning through a marathon schedule, fulfilling TV contract obligations, and getting to the next town. They don't need gate receipts to fill out the bills every month. They certainly don't need to win over the hearts of an aggrieved and distracted Baltimore populace to complete the needs of their trip.
It's still a bizarre fix. The Orioles' relations with the Washington Nationals are reportedly acrimonious enough that they never even inquired about playing in DC. A doubleheader a month from Tuesday will fill out the rest of the series, they just have to play one game on the edge of the void before going back to business as usual.
We've been staring at games developed for public presentation for so long, it will be fascinating to see what elements are stripped away at the first opportunity. Walk-up songs and fireworks seem like the obvious things that will be scrapped for the day, but how much more subdued do players become without the energy and attention of a live audience? How does communication geared around secretively passing instructions amid crowd noise change? Does it at all? How many other ceremonial items like this will they cling to for normalcy?
Lurid curiosity is definitely ruling the day, since Morosi is also reporting that the Orioles have received more credential requests than they have spots. Also Morosi, a national reporter, is there, which is telling enough for a game between two slow-starting ballclubs. Because of this, a game that offers the possibility of being jarringly intimate--manager-umpire fights audible, players being able to hear announcers, cracks of the bat echoing through the park like gunshots--will also be a media circus, with everyone getting blitzed with questions about how weird it was, a self-fulfilling line of inquiry since this will also be the most covered game of the season for both teams.
Hawk is a element. He repeatedly and firmly endorsed the conduct of the Chicago Police during the NATO protests a few years back--something far less relevant to current protests and riots to the proceedings he was being paid to observe at the time --and it's not hard to map out his reaction to the events of the past week from there. It would stand to reason that he would be approached about how to handle such a sensitive and widely-monitored broadcast, but this is the same guy who bragged in a recent profile about how he wants to remain unbowed from the type of instincts that lead him to physically confront members of opposing teams for on-field conduct. There's an element of dread to imagining what he might say or prescription he would offer, which is the most normal thing about this game.
Mostly, MLB is ill-equipped to develop an appropriate response to this situation. They're the wrong organization to put together any kind of cogent statement about the elements at play here, and the teams, coaches and players involved are at best going to seem underinformed and uninvested in their surroundings if questioned on them. Even the journalists present are being yanked out of their element. Things will be better when MLB and the White Sox get the hell out of Baltimore. At least they seem to be expediting the process.
Jose Quintana's English is undoubtedly better in private than it is when he's cornered alone by a pack of beats to give some quotes after throwing seven innings. It's still a marvel considering he gave no interviews in English when he first arrived in Chicago, but he's still cautious. You can see him waiting on the big, blinking cues of whether to agree or elaborate on how he disagrees that adorn most questions about his place on the team. After he struck out 13 Twins last Septemeber, and looked even more like a long-term asset than usual, someone offered the softball of whether he wanted to be part of a 1-2 combo with Sale for the foreseeable future, Quintana simply affirmed, "Yeah, that's what I want."Read More
More than three years ago now, in the weeks leading up to what wound up being Minnie Minoso's second-to-last shot at the Veteran's Committee vote for the Hall of Fame, the White Sox went through the exercise of a full-blown press event to stump for his candidacy. ESPN's Pedro Gomez hosted, fellow Cubans Luis Tiant and Tony Perez appeared and spoke alongside a collection of former teammates led by Billy Pierce. In the US Cellular Field conference room, Gomez acted as prosecutor, running through testimonies with the goal of proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that Minnie deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.
The defense rested.
So fervent was the Sox push, that there was even a cadre of bloggers present; myself included, and just to even further curry favor of the audience, the Sox presented us with an elaborate lunch before the testimonies started. Not knowing the protocol, a group of us hung back, until Minnie rolled by himself and extolled us to get started. It was kind of his party after all, and we weren't matching his intended vibe.
Placed aside token rattling off of Minoso's statistics, the testimonies strained a bit after lauding his five-tool skillset; they were attempting to articulate something abstract and hit upon the urgent necessity of his career. Minnie was older than everyone present, but it was striking how everyone, both fellow Cuban players he blazed the trail for, and white teammates, talked about him like a patriarch. That tone picked at the motivation for the ceremony: Minnie was old, no one was talking about his death, but it was time to start acknowledging that he couldn't wait forever. The Hall of Fame is a museum, but the ceremony is for the individuals involved. As much as Minnie wanted it--and he did, sincerely--his friends wanted to be with him for his culmination.
It's hard, not to be angry.
There's an injustice, an indignity, for a man at the end of a brilliant, unrepeatable career and life, to be transformed into a resume-stuffer, stacking up accomplishments to place alongside "First black Latino in MLB," "integrating Chicago baseball," so it can be accounted for its worth. Minoso's legacy faces the same obstacles of any conversation about racism today, a misunderstanding of integration to be like prohibition; something that was lifted at a specific date and done, rather than an agonizing process, with "hit-by-pitches" being the only vague statistical measure that can communicate staring down racial hatred so visceral it took the form on assault on Minoso's very body with no guarantee anyone would have his back when he dusted himself off.
But Minoso never wore these frustrations. He was not built to. Of the challenges and insults he faced, it was insignificant. He traveled from Cuban sugarcane fields, toiled in the Negro Leagues, sat behind lesser white players until he got his shot, kicked everyone's ass at a Hall of Fame level for a decade, lived out his retirement as a conquering hero counseling dozens of Cuban ballplayers he kicked in the door for, taking in Sox games whenever he felt the notion, and pushed his Cadillac around his city until his heart gave out.
Minoso said on record, many times, that his dream was to be in the Hall of Fame. It's a construct, an artificial and arbitrary honor, but Minoso believed as much as anyone in the code of ethics and tradition built around this game. But the failure to honor and completely recognize Minoso before his leaving us is our own, not his.
This is the both a casual, lazy diss comp and stunningly accurate with numerous parallels. I could dredge up other instances of familiar utility infielders whose roles expanded beyond initial plans because their managers' love of their reliability trumped cold assessment of their skill level and statistical production. But probably the most relatable example for this audience is current situation on the West Side, where a seemingly innocuous bench player has their role expanded until it is a blinding hindrance.Read More
Chicago Business' Danny Ecker's Monday article--which basically does not much more than imply that there might be a different volume of Jock Jams spinning in the U.S. Cellular Field CD changer in 2015--doubles as a character sketch of the protagonist in a 'Fish out of water who transforms his new environment' comedy.'Read More