A week into the 2012 season it is apparent that a new era has begun on the south side of Chicago. After several months of anticipation, White Sox fans finally had their chance to witness the team and the many new additions to the ballpark firsthand.
This was our time to see a rebuilding team, to say goodbye to some of our favorite players and to formally embrace a new manager with a completely different style in Robin Ventura. So what were the highlights of opening day? New “must try” additions to U.S. Cellular Field?
Read on to find out!
To any fan following the White Sox for the last few years it was bittersweet not seeing opening day perennial Mark Buehrle take the mound when Thunderstruck blared throughout U.S. Cellular Field and Gene Honda introduced the team, but Jake Peavy’s staff-ace worthy performance made many get over that sadness quickly.
Peavy allowed only two runs on two hits, striking out eight and walking one in 6 2-3 innings.
Something critics indicated the team might not have, defense, was present on Friday as well. Dayan Viciedo, made a spectacular lead-saving, diving catch and shortstop Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham turned a bang-bang double play, also saving a run in the 8th inning.
Viciedo also hit his first homer with two outs in the fifth to give the Sox a lead they never lost. Brent Morel, who entered the game batting a paltry .059 on the young season, even chipped in with a key RBI in the 8th inning.
Sure there are some causes for concern, White Sox batters struck out 16 times, including four by Adam Dunn, who Sox fans started to boo slightly after his fourth at bat and Hector Santiago pitched a bumpy ninth for his third save of the year.
But all in all the White Sox are now 4-2 on the young season and have clearly demonstrated early that they can compete with the game’s elite teams. While most baseball experts believe that the White Sox many question marks outweigh their certainties, the team’s performance thus far, especially yesterday, gave us reason to at least be cautiously optimistic.
While spring training and a handful of games will certainly not define the Robin Ventura era, he is off to the right start, becoming the sixth straight White Sox manager to win his debut at U.S. Cellular Field. Despite his reserved mannerisms, he also showed that he wasn’t afraid to come out and argue calls, and have his team play aggressive on the base paths.
Beyond the team, fans should be excited about the changes at U.S. Cellular Field as well.
For one, you must check out the video stairs at the Chicago Sports Depot, the cell’s new 12,000 square foot store featuring Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs and of course White Sox merchandise. The video stairs, combined with over 77 monitors mean you won’t miss a second of the game, even if you bend down to tie your shoes!
In addition to pallet pleasers like the ball park’s classic grilled polish and onions, the Sox have also rebuilt their menu adding MVP caliber cuisine like the Pastrami Cheese Steak, the bases loaded baked potato, the Burger Barn and my favorite the Bases Load Sundae (funnel cakes and ice cream in a collectable helmet- YUM)! Of course, Bacardi at the Park, last year’s MVP sports bar addition, had a fantastic opening as well, offering gourmet quality food and drinks and a great atmosphere at prices on-par with other restaurants of similar style, at a convenience you can’t beat. Soxman is addicted to the brisket nachos and Batboy loves their wings.
So White Sox fans, while we don’t know where the our team will be in October, their approach to the game thus far, the many new additions to the park (both in attractions and calories), and the opportunity to party with the world’s greatest fans give us plenty of cause for optimism, to embrace old cliché’s like reciting the words to a certain Journey song, and of course to “Appreciate the Game.” Batter-up.
Soxman is a senior contributor to the Sportsbank.net and local journalist making contributions all through-out Chicago media. You can follow him on Twitter @thesoxman72.