On this Memorial Day — a day set aside to focus our attention and our appreciation for the service men and women who dutifully protect our nation — I would like to point out a similarly constant source of awesome who has quietly made being a south sider something to brag about. His name is Paul Konerko.
“Paulie” (as he is affectionately called by White Sox fans) has done nothing in Chicago but hit 400 homeruns, drive in 1265 runs, hit .284 and carry an OPS of .865, all while flying way under the national radar of the worldwide leader in schlub and other poignant media corporations. Oh you can bet opposing pitchers know who he is, but his public persona is a bit of a mystery. He’s a quiet, reserved guy. He’s not out gallivanting with actresses and pop stars. He isn’t taking his shirt off and posing for GQ. He doesn’t run his mouth to the press, or at umpires, or… at all.
He’s the lunch pail baseballer. He shows up to work, works hard, then quietly goes about his business. He’s the type of player you want your kid to idolize. He’s the guy all the dads wanna hang out with, who all the ladies want to be close to.
He’s Paul Konerko — south side hero, midwest superstar. The quiet, unsung hero.
I tip my cap.
And to all our nation’s heroes, we here at RSBS dutifully salute and thank you for your service.
Happy Memorial Day!
Change and I don’t get along too well. I remember when the Cardinals introduced the Sunday home game alternate cap — the navy blue one with the red bill and the profiled bird. I couldn’t sleep for weeks.
WHY?!?! WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS!?!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE REGULAR CAP!?!?!
Things are better now; but living in Chicago, I became quite used to the kind of daily drama inherent in a city where Ozzie Guillen is employed. Now, with him gone, life is just… boring? I mean, Adam Dunn is hitting. Jake Peavy is pitching. The Cell hasn’t caught on fire.
What fun is that?
I miss the good old days — the days when the city stopped for the Crosstown Rivalry, the Windy City Classic. I miss seeing Sweet Lou bump bellies with umpires, AJ Pierzynski gettin’ cold cocked by Michael Barrett, listening to drunk frat boys explain the infield fly rule to washed out bimbos while double-fisting $7 Old Styles.
Is nothing sacred anymore?!?!
Until I see Dale Sveum and Robin Ventura do a rap song about bad contracts, I’m gonna have to think not.
Feel bad about slamming Peavy yet?
But this is baseball. It defies feeling. It defies logic.
The Red Sox and Phillies in last place? The Dodgers and Nats routing? Peavy in control, flashing signs of the old whip-and-kill-em arm action?
Why not? It’s only May. Anything could happen.
Maybe I was a bit harsh on Peavy. Can you blame me? As far as baseballers go, Jake is pretty annoying. And up until this season, all he had really done in a White Sox jersey is yap yap yap with a string of poor performances following those empty words.
I want my pitchers to pitch. Not yap. PITCH.
Jake is finally doing that. Maybe his detached latissimus dorsi is properly attached again. His velocity is back. He’s hitting his spots. Why should a man being paid like a superstar get extra accolades for FINALLY fulfilling his end of the bargain by pitching like a superstar? Isn’t it too late!?!?!?
For my White Sox fan brethren, I am very relieved. Yes, it is early yet, but to see Peavy, Dunn, Rios and *GULP* Gordon Beckham actually perform well makes life on the south side much easier. But again, it is May. There’s plenty of baseball left.
So I won’t douse that crow with Sriracha until I know I absolutely have to eat it.
Hate me. It’s cool. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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April counts, yo! And here are some reasons why, after just one month into the season, I’m as jazzed as Mitt Romney during a temple garment clearance sale!
The Oriole Way
I am old enough to remember the Orioles being a staple of sound, fundamental baseball. And though those days seemed to disappear into Jeffrey Maier’s malicious mitt, it looks like they may be back! Let’s hope they are back to stay.
The AL Central
The Tigers are going to run away with the division you say? Not so fast. I know it’s only been one month, but the White Sox and Indians are right there with ’em, and unless the Tigers start putting a hurtin’ on the opposition instead of Jewish folks at a New York hotel, things could get interesting.
Love him or hate him, he makes things interesting. And oh how interesting things have been for the Boston Red Sox. I LOVE IT!!! The NBA may have all the drama, but when every day could be your last as a Red Sox, I start craving chicken, beer and video games.
The Pujols-less Cardinals
I’m not gonna bask in AP’s struggles, but I am gonna point out that the Cardinals have yet to lose a series (except that one against the Cubs where they were gifted a win by the umpiring crew). Onwards and upwards!
The AL West
Have you seen a Rangers game lately? I’ve been watching them almost every day! THAT’S how ya git’er done, folks. Meanwhile, the Halos are as nervous as Rick Santorum at a Santorum Party! As the Yankees and Red Sox learned before them, a bazillion dollars worth of free agent signings does NOT a champion make.
The Toronto Blue Jays
Not only do their uniforms look right again, but they’re also making the AL East insanely good! If only they could make Colby Rasmus less whiny.
The Youth Movement
I remember the excitement involved with Ken Griffey Jr. breaking into the league. Chipper Jones too. Now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have made their debuts, a similar buzz is in the baseball air. Throw in a slew of sophomores and third year players making headlines and baseball looks to be badass for a very long time.
The Year of the Pitcher enters its THIRD year and I couldn’t be more excited! As a self-confessed pitchers duel fiend, I live off serious heat, nasty breaking balls and backdoor sliders. We’ve already seen a perfect game and some no-hitter flirtations. But it’s the heroics of Joe Saunders, Kyle Lohse, Colby Lewis and the like that really get my gears greased.
And finally… the most titillating of them all so far…
ADAM. FREAKING. DUNN.
As a longtime resident of the south side of Chicago, the last thing I wanted to do was waste my summer days talking folks down off the ledge like I did last year. But since it appears Dunn sold his 2011 soul to Albert Pujols, I’m free to party my ass off at the fake B-Dubbs on 35th & Halsted. HOLLA!!! And buy me a drink!
Go ahead, hate me ‘cuz I’m easily titillated, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
We learned many things from Jim Joyce, Armando Galarraga and the infamous Imperfect Game of June 2, 2010. We learned that throwing beer bottles at the wall may cause significant DAMAGE (to the beer bottle, possibly the wall too). We learned that styling one’s facial hair after the Pringles man cannot disguise MISTAKES. And we also learned that the best way to avoid controversy, is to AVOID controversy.
So when Philip Humber threw that wild 3-2 breaking ball two feet off the plate on Saturday and Brendan Ryan checked his swing, I felt all of the fury, all of the tension, all of the RAGE from the Imperfect Game ALL over again. Except homeplate umpire Brian Runge called it a swing, AJ Pierzynski threw the ball to first and the celebration began.
OH BUT THE CONTROVERSY!!!
In my house, I had a hard time celebrating Humber’s gem because I was already seeing the asterisk-calling headlines, I could already hear Mariners fans (all three of them) flooding the sports talk shows with vitriol. And as Brendan Ryan argued with Runge about the call, I knew it was time for me to go outside to get some fresh air before my phone started to blow up with imperfect texts.
Except… none of the above actually happened. Brendan Ryan dropped the subject. He tipped his cap and moved on. The networks — as if taken over by an Orwellian machine of greater good (a fantasy in itself) — didn’t even show the replays of Ryan’s checked swing. The Wizard said “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and I — WE ALL — gleefully obliged, even though it sorta felt dirty doing so.
We owe that guilt-stained dirty feeling to Brendan Ryan. In fact, whether it is a good thing or not, Philip Humber’s perfect game will live on unscathed by controversy because Brendan Ryan simply let it go. He shut his mouth. He went about his business. And now we are to forget.
For a guy who was labeled as “a distraction” and a “clubhouse cancer” during his St. Louis Cardinal tenure, it’s nice to see Brendan being recognized for something else. Admittedly, I never would have bet it’d be for saying… nothing.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I only lived in Chicago for a couple years but I can vouch for the fact that it’s a divided city. Each little section corresponds to a certain ethnicity and the gaps in between are pretty much filled with yuppies. But more importantly, there’s the huge divide separating the North and South sides of the city, a divide best exemplified by the Cubs up north and the White Sox down south.
Although we know all about the rivalry and mutual dislike between the two groups of fans, not to mention their socio-economic disparities, sometimes that difference can only be truly explained in pictures. Moving pictures, to be more exact. And no, I don’t mean Ozzie and Lou. I’m talking Ron Swanson:[youtube http://youtu.be/mtxo4BnYzro]
That, my friends, is a rivalry. Powered by tradition.
Sunday was my first opportunity to get to the ballpark in 2012, so I grabbed a friend, put on some summery clothes and headed to Sox Park for Jackie Robinson Day!
I’ve seen some great baseball on Jackie Robinson Days past, all of which were pitchers duels (my drug of choice), but with a Rick Porcello v. Chris Sale matchup looming, I wasn’t expecting much. The pair would end up surprising me, but that wasn’t all:
- This was the FIRST April baseball game in Chicago I have ever attended where a hat, gloves and scarf were not needed. No joke. I was in a t-shirt. Sweating at times.
- Miggy can play D. I hung two stars on my scorecard for him, including a barehanded grab-and-throw that nailed a speedy Alexei Ramirez at first.
- I understand the importance of Jackie Robinson Day and all, but is it necessary that EVERY player and EVERY coach wears the same number 42? It is a scorecard junkie’s worst nightmare! Every time I looked up I had no idea who was doing what.
- And those ugly throwback ’72 Sunday home game red-pinstriped White Sox unis didn’t last past the 70s for a reason. They are HIDEOUS. Throw them out! Along with Alex Rios!
- It was a day game. Sure it was a bit overcast, but there was sunlight. Plenty of it. But that didn’t stop the White Sox personnel from turning ALL the stadium lights on like it was a night game! There was WAAAAY too much light. WASTED light! I know ‘Merica is a nation of excess, but good grief.
- Despite the new uniform, Prince Fielder is still fat.
Hate me ‘cuz I take tedious notes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
Jake Peavy sure has a loose yapper. In fact, it might be even more loose than his formerly detached latissimus dorsi, just one of the myriad things that have led to his supreme suckage in a White Sox uniform.
Sports Illustrated recently predicted the White Sox would lose 95 games in 2012. I don’t see that prediction as overly hyperbolic. The Sox were awful last year, and they haven’t done much to improve. In fact, after dealing Santos to the Blue Jays, I’d even say the 2012 team, on paper, IS WORSE than 2011’s.
Still, Peavy and his Curt Schilling-like tongue is quick to point out that such an observation is off:
“That ain’t going to happen. I can promise you that. This team has too much pride. We are going to compete. That’s all there is to it.” (link)
Whatever you say, Jake. Whatever you say.
If Peavy is correct (he’s not) and “pride” is all it takes to win ballgames, then why don’t teams just ditch everyone they have to sign 25 George Takeis and just get it over with?
Peavy is now a shell of what he once was. He doesn’t have the velocity and he doesn’t have the mental toughness to PITCH his way out of mistakes. He lets his emotions dictate performance. And he is constantly whining and bitching and talking crazy to the press.
He has done nothing in Chicago but play bad baseball and run his mouth. Sox fans can only hope he does well enough to get traded by July.
Hate me ‘cuz I compared Peavy’s mouth to Schilling’s, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
For the Love of the Game/Slaying the Dragon
I don’t know tidily snot.
For as much as I don’t know about stats, player history, and some of the marquee moments, I do have the love. Even with my rampant stupidity of baseball knowledge, I have the love.
When I’m not sitting with my friend Jeffy at a game or on his couch, him schooling me, I have the love.
It’s been said many times here at Setting the Mahmud that the NBA is my true sport, but even I admit: there is nothing like baseball. I reminded myself of this the other night while watching For the Love of the Game. The pain of Kevin Costner’s character is so real and true to life it’s uncanny. The pain of ending a career. The pain of romance gone bad. Pain of failed goals. But despite all that, you might still have a friend who believes in you, which summons the strength to get your mojo back.
These are trying times in Chicago. Both ball clubs will probably be bad this year. It’s January. It’s cold. Sometimes, like a ballplayer, you wish you could just be traded to another team, in another (warmer) city. But that’s not how life works. You have to take what you have and make it great. Baseball life can be like a swinging bass line or a blistering hot trumpet solo. We swing high and we swing low. Players leave, lovers leave, and sometimes you’ll get your heart broken. Being a fan can be turmoil.
And sometimes just maybe you’ll play life well enough to win it all. It’s a noble game. A pureness that wraps around you like a warm embrace holding you tight, one that doesn’t let go. It’s a timeless art that makes you feel like you’re wearing wings.
Beware of the darkness that lies in the cave of your life. Slay the dragon. It can make you feel weak. It can break you if you let it. It can make you feel like a sucker. Accept that pain is part of the process of baseball, part of LIFE.
And let’s heal together. The Cubs will be great someday. The White Sox will be great again too. It will be cathartic and it will be grand.
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Without question, the blockbuster Prince Fielder-Detroit Tigers signing shock-and-awed the baseball universe. But for those who huddle en masse around 35th and Shields, still hanging on to what little hope may have remained for the critically criticized 2012 White Sox club, such news only served as confirmation for a long, slow, painful baseball season death.
Will this Irish keening ever stop?!?! A man needs his sleep!!!
Unfortunately, with the likes of Jake Peavy ($17 million), Alex Rios ($12+ million/year through 2014) and Adam Dunn ($14+ million/year through 2014) holding the team hostage with their collective astronomically unbalanced compensation-to-performance ratios, it appears the situation in Bridgeport is only going to get worse before it gets better.
Which forces the question: what is the shelf life on a Gordon Beckham? Once the “untouchable dealbreaker” in any high profile trade, it seems like the former first round draft pick is doing his very best Brandon Wood impression. In fact, there were times last season where Beckham looked as clueless on the diamond as Rick Santorum would at a gay foam party on the beach.
Sox fans can only take so much of “I’m going to work on some things and get better” before they realize YOU’RE LYING. YOU’RE NOT VERY GOOD. STOP TALKING.
In fact, the dour mood of the White Sox organization might benefit from a colossal dose of shut-the-hell-up. People are tired of hearing Jake Peavy say… anything. People are tired of the excuses for why Gordon Beckham just isn’t that good. People are tired. Period.
Unfortunately, it looks like that “tired” is going to morph into a bonafide coma, at least through 2014.
Hate me. Go ahead. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.