Spring Sox Exchange

By The Soxman and Paul M. Banks

(PMB)  First off, I’d like to thank all the members of Soxman Nation that came out to give feedback on NBC Chicago.com in Soxman’s spring prospectus. We teamed up to possibly break the unofficial record for comments on the NBC homepage! Primary question out of the gate, what are your thoughts on the development of the kids most people have their eyes on: Jayson Nix, Dayan Viciedo, Aaron Poreda and Gordon Beckham…Of course, we all know these games don’t mean much, but do you like what you hear/see so far?

(SM) Spring training is really hard to get an idea of how a player will be, especially in the first few weeks because pitchers are often getting their mechanics down and even working on new pitches.

Listening to Ozzie Guillen speak, he is very impressed with all the aforementioned players thus far.
Beckham hit a game winning homerun on Sunday and smashed a 420-foot homer off former White Sox pitcher Jon Garland in the second game of the spring.

That said- I still believe he will start the year in the minor leagues.

Aaron Poreda thus far has not shown that he has developed a third pitch and cannot get anything but the fastball over the plate with consistency.  He’s likely to start in AAA as well.

(PMB) In my opinion, the biggest news this week is about starters Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon being way ahead of their rehabilitation schedule, with Contreras possibly throwing on March 14th (originally he was slated to return midseason).

(SM) He has looked cat-like fielding grounders off the mound which is very impressive considering some said he might never play again after rupturing his Achilles last year.  It is not out of the realm of possibility that both Colon and Contreras start the season in the rotation, forcing an even larger battle for the long relief job.

Clayton Richard looked awesome in his spring training debut.  After the heroics he demonstrated late last season, he has to have the edge for any vacant pitching spot on the roster.

(PMB) Yes, Richard’s heroics down the stretch was reminiscent of the pitching boost we got in August and September of another division winning year (2005) from another rookie (Brandon McCarthy). Speaking of March 14th, don’t you have an event/public appearance on that date in my original hometown of Palos Heights?

(SM) I’ll be throwing off the mound as well.  Likely over 200 bites of Irish soda bread into my mouth as a celebrity judge for charity.  It is for Trio Bar and Restaurant’s second annual Irish Soda Bread baking contest.
It costs $10 to enter a loaf of bread into the contest with a chance to win a trip for two to Ireland! All proceeds go to charity.   Batboy will be there as well signing autographs and posing for pictures.  We hope a lot of Sox fans will come out to represent the Soxside Irish.

Loaves have to be entered into the contest by 12:30.  Judging starts around 2:00 p.m.  Trio is

located at 11845 SouthWest Highway, Palos Heights, IL 60463.  For more information call Trio at 708-448-1900.

(PMB) What have you heard about the new Camelback Ranch spring training facility that our boys share with the Los Angeles Dodgers? Any of your loyal fans made the trek so far? Has Soxman ever done the spring training experience? Flying out to take in the exhibition season is supposed to become more popular and exciting in the future as more teams move to Arizona and share facilities, making the locations more concentrated these next couple years. This will give the fan more opportunities to see more teams without having to travel much.

(SM)  I have made the trek as Bruce Parker but never as Soxman…yet.  It is a great experience as the players tend to be a lot more friendly with the fans and you do get to see a great deal of talent in a concentrated location.

The only drawback as spring training becomes more popular is that prices are beginning to creep up and in the early pre-season games most of the stars don’t see much more than an inning or two of action.
Everything I have heard about the facility has been extremely positive thus far.

There is more than 118,000 square feet of Major and Minor League clubhouse space, 13 full baseball fields and three half-fields.

The shared stadium, where most games will be played, is the largest in the Cactus League with a capacity of 13,000 which includes 3,000 lawn seats, 12 luxury suites and a party deck

(PMB) Finally, we know the Sox invited President Barack Obama to throw out the first ball on Opening Day. The Sox AAA affiliate, the Charlotte Knights have also sent out the same invitation to our nation’s 44th Chief Executive. You and I both have our seats for Opening Day, what are the odds change-we-can-believe in occurs on the pitchers’ mound April 6th? Will the world’s most powerful man stop by?

(SM)  So long as there is not a scheduling conflict with a pressing issue of national security, my gut tells me that the nation’s first fan will be there to throw out the first pitch.

President Bush did it during his first term for the Rangers.  He also threw out the first pitch at the Nationals’ new park last season.  I’ll never forget how he did an inning of color commentary for ESPN Baseball tonight after the pitch and when Joe Morgan said “we won’t keep you any longer, we know you are a busy man,”

Bush replied, “I don’t have nothing else to do right now. I can stay for another inning.”
Of course they accommodated him.

I look forward to it as it might provide an inspirational stimulus for the Sox.

(PMB) Exactly. He had important brush to clear and mountain-biking to do back in Texas.

The Political Steroid Era

By Paul M. Banks

If there’s anything children of this age have had plenty of experience with, it’s cheating. When today’s youth seek role models, the National Pastime is certainly one place not to look. And our leaders in government aren’t much better.

With the recent admission of steroid guilt by Major League baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez, we now have an unholy trinity of the game’s best overall position player joining the era’s best hitter (Barry Bonds) and best pitcher (Roger Clemens), all being disgraced.

In terms of governance, here’s the special group I had ruling over me in 2008. On the Federal level: George W. Bush, state: Rod Blagojevich, congressional district: Rahm Emanuel (the dirt and grime on his record will be unveiled someday when they dissect the amazing rate of return he acquired on his investments), and the Chicago politics of the Daley machine on the city level.

The “Steroid Era” really took off in 1998 with the summer of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, but 2001 was probably the most unbelievably awful year possible as Bush, our worst ever president, took office, and Bonds ushered in a new low with his 73* homeruns.

George W. Bush=Barry Bonds
Gotta start at the top with the biggest most powerful players in each game, both of these trust fund babies were born with a lot of the blue chips they held during the heights of their careers. And the chip each one has on his shoulder is partially because each spoiled little boy has defined his actions in adulthood by trying to escape his father’s achievements. The fact that neither one has any actual grasp on the difference between right and wrong causes a treacherous trickle down crisis of confidence.

Eliot Spitzer=Alex Rodriguez

Both high profile New York figures were once rising stars and potential redeemers of the crooked game. Before his involvement with a high-priced prostitution ring became public, Spitzer was talked about as a future Presidential candidate. Before his past steroid use became public knowledge, A Roid was prospectively the man who would make the career home run record untainted again.

Rod Blagojevich=Jason Giambi
A significant player in the fixed game, but history will likely remember each of them as the guy whose cheating was the most painfully obvious of all.

Roland Burris=Jeremy Giambi
Neither really had any authentic power, and both will be remembered more for whom they were close to than what they actually did, if they’re remembered at all.

Donald Rumsfeld=Sammy Sosa
We never heard of either of these guys until the absolute peak of egregiously immoral corruption began. Rumsfeld was the architect of a war that yielded nothing good for anyone except a handful of defense contractors. Sosa was the co-captain of 1998’s “Summer of Steroid Love.” Both are great for ridiculously bad sound bites.
Rumsfeld: “stuff happens,” “there are known unknowns and known unknowns, known knowns” “you go to war with the army you have, not the war you want”
Sosa: “baseball been berry berry good to me.” “I’m a gladiator, it’s hard to stop me.”

Dick Cheney=Rafael Palmeiro Everything Palmeiro did in life will now be a distant afterthought to his emphatic statement, “I have never used steroids- EVER!” a year or so before he tested positive. Cheney likewise had no problem lying straight to your face even though the truth is right in front of you- “we’ll be greeted as liberators,” “the revenue we generate from the oil will pay for the war.” But his most bizarre lie was in the 2004 Vice Presidential debate, when he told John Edwards, “I’ve never seen you before,” despite video existing of him speaking with Edwards on more than one occasion. Sure, I can’t remember everyone I’ve met in my life, but I would hope that if I were Vice President, I could recall meeting the guy who was trying to take my job!

Tom Delay=Mark McGwire We haven’t heard much from either of these guys lately, but let’s not forget how much juice they once had, how much faith the American people once had in both of them…and how greatly they violated that trust!

Patrick Fitzgerald=George Mitchell Somebody needs to prosecute the biggest cheaters of the day. And their massive task requires more help.

2004 Bush voters=Bud Selig
We need a proper nickname for the steroid era of politics, and we also need to remind the enablers that they have a few drops of blood on their hands for the past decade.

Mainstream media=ESPN Maybe this is redundant, but in both cases…so much for the idea of “the 4th Estate” providing a check on power. During the home run chases and the run-up to war, both acted as public relations flaks for the people that should have been under scrutiny.

Condoleeza Rice=Roger Clemens
Neither of these individuals should take up high stakes poker because each one has an obvious and anxious tell that has been on display before Congress. Whenever Rice lied to congressional committees, you saw her face glaze over into a frozen and emotionless state. When Clemens was on Capitol Hill, you saw him nervously lick his lips every time he strayed from the truth.

Pre-invasion Anti-war left=Jose Canseco
It’s hard to find a governmental whistleblower to match Canseco, because so far our politicians haven’t been justly disgraced and punished for their crime. Those “nuts” and “hippies” on the left who shut down roadways all across the country as they protested the start of the Iraq war actually had it right all along. If only we had listened to the fringe. Remember the attacks on Canseco’s credibility? The “opportunistic book seller” had the goods on everyone back in ’05.