White Sox

On the Bandwagon? Quiz will help identify fans

On the Bandwagon? Quiz will help identify fans

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010
5:21 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Let me fix your wagon.

Picture this. You and your dream girl (or guy) are on your first date. You know you have a hot one. A fancy dinner is planned. Your buddy hooked you up with box seats for later on that night.

Your date has a nice smile. You get ahead of yourself and start thinking about where the second date will be, how your wedding will be...and what your first child will be named. Things start off smoothly - the dinner is great, the conversation is amazing...etc.

But then when you get up to leave...she calls you by the wrong name.

Cue the 'losing horn' of failure.

Talk about a bummer, you know? Everything was going so well. You thought you established a connection with a person and then figured out they didn't read the foreward of, "Dating For Dummies." You try to overlook the faux pas but keep coming back to it again and again the rest of the night: "How can a person not remember that?

"Was it something I did? Do I detect a fraud? Is that the ultimate red flag? Do they get a second chance?"

The same is true in sports.

Maybe you have gone to a game recently and had the following happen: you're part of a large group of people wearing similar team colors. It's like date night with 60,000 of your closest friends. Everyone's having fun, high-fiving after big plays...etc. Then, the following exchange takes place with another member of your group:

You: "Wow...that kickoff return was crazy! Did you see that block? Nobody can touch 2-3 when he gets into the open field."

Other Dude: "I know man! David Hester...you are...reee-markable!"

(You can almost hear the needle scratching off the record)

You: "Mmm...y-you mean...Devin Hester is reee-diculous?"

Other Dude: (awkward silence)

Talk about the ultimate red flag.

You've been hit. Not by a smooth criminal...but by a bandwagon fan.

Bandwagon fans are the most scrutinized group in sports. And before anybody gets nervous, no, I'm not calling Bears fans - or any other group of fans - bandwagoners. But I'm guessing that a ridiculous (ha) percentage of Bears fans should know that Devin Hester was labeled "ridiculous" by announcer Jeff Joniak on an amazing return for touchdown a few years ago.

But every group of friends has "that guy" that claims a hard core allegiance to a certain team...and then, amazingly, can't remember how to pronounce the star player's name on said team...or something equally mind-boggling. The reaction by others is usually one part unintentional comedy, two parts disbelief and five more parts anger.

Bandwagon fans are always a mixed blessing for every sports franchise: they pack the stadiums and bars when teams are winning, and then usually vanish once the team falls below .500. They also add to the bottom line and make TV executives glad that they invested in the team for a prime time slot.

But on the flip side, you also get "David Hester" moments coming out of the woodwork every now and then. Personally, I don't mind bandwagoners all that much, I'm all for the awkward comedy. And in the end, there isn't all that much you can do about it but sit and wonder if these bandwagoners fake their way through other parts of life.

But maybe it's time to do something about it.

I have developed a five-question bandwagon defrauding kit for each of the major sports teams in Chicago (CubsSoxBullsBlackhawksBears). I urge you to give a suspected bandwagoner the quiz if you think heshe might be scamming you. Each set of questions is easy enough that the mildly interested fan should get without much hesitation. But they're just hard enough to force the bandwagon fans into buying the next round of drinks.

(Disclaimer: Any fan who physically goes to a game and cheers for a Chicago team or supports them in any way is a winner in my book and it doesn't matter what their sports acumen is...but still...)

CHICAGO CUBS:

--The last Cubs World Series championship came in what year?

--What Cubs outfielder won National League MVP honors in 1987?

--What Cubs pitcher threw a no-hitter against the Astros in 2008?

--What team passed the Cubs down the stretch to win the N.L. East in 1969?

--True or false: Cubs and Cardinals fans are usually the best of friends and root for each other's team.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX:

--Who was the most valuable player in the 2005 World Series?

--What was Carlton Fisk's number while playing for the White Sox?

--What shortstop won American League Rookie of the Year honors for the southsiders in 1985?

--What Sox pitcher recently won his second gold glove?

--Which Minnesota team makes the blood of a White Sox fan boil more: The Twins or St. Olaf?

CHICAGO BULLS:

--Derrick Rose went to what Chicago high school?

--After playing for the Bulls, Michael Jordan went to play for what other NBA team?

--What two players were the building blocks for the "Baby Bulls" in 2001?

--Coach Tom Thibodeau was an assistant on what team last season?

--Bill Laimbeer, a guy whose car you'd want to egg in the 1980s, was part of what nemesis team?

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS:

--"The Golden Jet" is the nickname for what Hall of Fame Blackhawk?

--Who scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 to clinch the 2010 Stanley Cup?

--Name one player from the 1992 Chicago Blackhawks team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

--True or false: The Blackhawks once made the playoffs 28 consecutive seasons.

--What "Original Six" team is considered to be the archrival to the Hawks? (Hint: They wear red, too)

CHICAGO BEARS:

--What was the final score of Super Bowl XX?

--What Chicago Bear ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI?

--Where did the Bears play their home games prior to moving into Soldier Field in 1971?

--Quarterback Jay Cutler went to what university?

--True or false: Green and yellow are popular colors to be worn at Soldier Field - especially if you are in the upper level and the home team is winning 35-3 (well...I guess the answer varies depending on how you view the question).

So go get 'em, Chicago fans. See who the longtime, loyal followers are in your group.

And then locate the sheep. But go easy on them, all will be forgotten when they get the next round of drinks.

And they better.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

0522-james-shields.jpg
USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."