Inside White Sox Opening Day: The Soxman Experience!

For the Chicago White Sox Home Opener, Soxman’s day started at 3:00 a.m. From meeting future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas to visiting various members of Chicago Media to watching the final out of the White Sox defeat of the Detroit Tigers, Soxman shares his experience with the Sportsbank.net including photos from the great day.

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Tell us Your Favorite Chicago Cubs Fan Story: Win Free Gas

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You’re a fan of the Chicago Cubs, and TSB is hear to make summer driving season a little financially easier for you., the Cubs fan. BP, sponsor of the BP Crosstown Cup is here to help.

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Tell us Your Favorite Chicago White Sox Fan Story: Win Free Gas

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You’re a fan of the Chicago White Sox, tell us why. Is it because they beat the Cubs yet again, to take home the BP Crosstown Cup? And make summer driving season a little financially easier for you. BP, sponsor of the BP Crosstown Cup is here to help.

 

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Chicago White Sox: BP Crosstown Cup Preview with Ron Kittle

As the city gears up for the second round of the BP Crosstown Cup, both teams are unfortunately enter the series below .500. In the summer of 2011, the Chicago intra-city series will be more about bragging rights than ever, unless the White Sox can get over the hump and win the AL Central.

They’re in striking distance for first place, unlike the Cubs, who have absolutely no shot at the postseason.

Since the horrific 11-22 start, the White Sox have been playing about .600 baseball. Keep up that winning percentage, and they’re projected for 86-88 wins, certainly enough to win a weak division like the AL Central. But here’s a reason not to be optimistic- they seem to be tripping over the same hurdle over and over again these past couple months. Every time they get to two games under .500, they lose. They keep winning enough to get back there, only to stumble again.

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Conversing with White Sox Legend Ron Kittle at BP Crosstown Cup

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This week marks the height of summer festival season. In most major cities across North America, prominent street fairs and concert series are being held.

In Chicago, BP featured the city’s largest baseball at the Taste of Chicago June 24th-26th. As the entire city focuses on the BP Crosstown Cup, the annual head-to-head interleague series between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, (part two of the series takes place Fri July 1st-Sunday July 3rd) fans visited the BP Crosstown Cup Fan Zone at the Taste of Chicago and made their mark on the 13-foot baseball.

They shared one “little thing” that makes Chicago baseball special to them.

Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox legends, Andre “the Hawk” Dawson and Ron Kittle also appeared at the BP Crosstown Cup Fan Zone.

Kittle currently works as a Chicago White Sox ambassador, and you can often hear his voice on radio advertisements during Sox game broadcasts.

By Paul M. Banks

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Chicago White Sox September Call-up Possibilities

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The 2010 MLB trade deadline has passed and while the Chicago White Sox may have landed another diamond(back) in the rough in Edwin Jackson, the August waiver trade process will define whether or not the White Sox get their much coveted left-handed power bat. Even if the Sox don’t make a trade they could get a boost from an often over-looked source: September roster expansion.

For those who don’t follow the Sox farm system closely, this article has you covered, introducing you to names you might hear as Hawk Harrelson’s “pick to click” soon.

By: Soxman

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Remembering the 1983 White Sox with Greg Walker

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With the Chicago White Sox recent hot start catapulting them into first place, we’ve started hearing local sports media outlet or two comparing this year’s scrappy bunch to the 1983 division title White Sox. (come back tomorrow for more on this). And while it may be a little premature to draw parallels between the two squads, there is one striking similarity.

The ’83 Sox finished 60-25 down the stretch, while starting a very pedestrian 39-38. This team has gone a transcendent 25-5 since beginning the year an ugly 24-33. In order to match the ’83 team, they’ll have to go 50-25 in the second half. But before we figure out we’re actually going, we need to recall where we’ve really been.

Current Sox hitting coach Greg Walker played his first full season on that ’83 team. Coincidentally, he was born in 1959, the last time the Sox had won anything prior to that fateful summer. I recently had an exclusive with “Walk,” and we discussed that unforgettable Sox season.

By Paul M. Banks

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Spending Game Night Inside a Minor League Dugout

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By Paul M. Banks

Watching a professional baseball game from the dugout dramatically alters your perception of the sport. The crack of the bat is louder. The smack of ball against mitt is more profound. And the cursing is harsher and more emotionally charged.

 

My day at Alexian Field (a nice, but small park adjacent to a suburban airport) begins with me shadowing Schaumburg Flyers manager Steve Maddock. I, along with his seven-year-old son, Tyler, accompany his pre-game rituals. I’m not the only non-team member in the dugout tonight; a player and his friend meet us at the outfield gate. I bring up the two facts a lot of people associate with the Flyers: Former White Sox player Ron Kittle served as the team’s original manager, and former player “Leon” from the popular Budweiser advertisements. Maddock tells me Leon was “a pitcher who couldn’t get anybody out.” Turns out Leon’s contributions to the team were more promotional in nature.

Clichés exist for a reason, and I am taken aback by the players’ chewing and then spitting out sunflower seeds. The moisture from the dugout’s water cooler collects with the spit to make the floor of the dugout a surface that should not be walked upon in open shoes. Then there’s the swearing. I’ve been in a clubhouse with Ozzie Guillen (and although it seems impossible, he uses even more expletives and is more politically incorrect off the record), so this language doesn’t phase me. Mostly, it’s the umpires who are being cursed out.

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Dancing Queens

There’s no crying in baseball, but there is cheerleading. Maybe it’s the start of a larger trend, but the last two ballparks I’ve visited, the first being Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, have had cheer squads. When not performing, the dancers sign autographs. I’m not joking, they really do sign autographs. pamela_3

Their initial appearance makes them the primary conversation topic, and the players discuss who their favorite squad members are and follow it up with more in-depth locker-room talk. This doesn’t shock me either, because my thoughts about the dance squad are much dirtier than anything any of them are saying. These comments are interrupted by critiques of the umpires. Unlike the woman who slept with Derek Lowe, I strive to keep a professionally healthy distance from my sources, so I won’t get into specifics. Although I will say that one umpire was referred to as a “limp-wrister.”

And strategy: “Why didn’t you send him on a lefty? You got to run him against a left-hander!”

Nickname game

The Flyers’ leadoff hitter, Demetrius “Meatball” Heath has a physique completely opposite of his nickname’s implications. The team calls him “Meat,” which reminds me of the best minor league baseball movie ever made, “Bull Durham.” In that film “Crash” Davis incessantly called “Nuke” Laloosh “Meat.” Baseball is the only sport which truly utilizes the art of nicknames. It’s like the mafia, fraternity pledge classes or Sawyer on “Lost.” The best nicknames replace the person’s actual name and make you wonder why they obtained that moniker. I’m told that Demetrius used to eat a lot of spaghetti and meatballs as a kid.

“Bull Durham” also featured a scene in which Crash teaches Nuke the proper clichés to use in interviews. I’ve heard these clichés every day in my job, so I truly appreciate that scene and find tonight’s cursing quite refreshing by comparison.

Flight patterns

Brandon Villafuerte had a brief career in “the show.” While serving as the set-up man to San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman, the all-time Major League career saves leader, Villafuerte accumulated three career saves and eight holds in 2002.

“In ’03, I was the starting closer and they kind of overused me a little bit, wore my arm down,” he says. “I got tendonitis, then things really haven’t been the same until this year.”  I spoke with Villafuerte about working with Hoffman, one of the game’s best closers and the originator of ballpark “closer entrance” music: “He talked to me about what’s going on in the game, seeing things in hitters, how to pitch guys in certain situations. He’s a great guy with a lot of experience and should be in the Hall of Fame some day, so anything he says, I’m all ears.”

The loudest cheerleading in this stadium occurs in the dugout.flyers1

“We’re always standing up at the top step, pulling for each other,” says left fielder Christian “Snaves” Snavely, the Northern League’s All-Star MVP.

If you’re not a fan of the team or even of baseball in general, you will be by the end of the day. My spirits soared when the Flyers tied the game in the 7th, and my mood crashed when James Morrison surrendered the game-winning homer in the 10th. Maybe the real reason I found myself hoping they’d win is because the Flyers take off for each game with “it” on board. The word replacing “it” depends on your culture, but it’s been called: chutzpah, moxie, guts, heart, soul, cajones or fortitude.
After observing the continuity of this minor-league team, I now understand the meaning behind this “Bull Durham” quote: “Strikeouts are boring, and they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls; they’re more democratic.” Exactly- this is a team game after all, not an individual one.