White Sox

Ballantini: Taking in Cactus League with Ozzie

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Ballantini: Taking in Cactus League with Ozzie

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Posted: 10:26 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. In case you havent been getting the gist of my spring training writing so far, the Cactus League is pretty much a paradise for baseball fans.

After all, where else can you find yourself watching major league players in an atmosphere not unlike a local high school game.

Thats just where I found myself on Thursday, watching the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers face off in a game that brought me back to my own days spitting sunflower seeds and itching to see action at third, short, catcher, outfield, wherever. Only my stroll down memory lane was accompanied by manager Ozzie Guillen, who in all likelihood would be any baseball fans choice for Person Theyd Most Want to Watch a Game With.

For all his animation, and the fact that Ozzie could talk to a batboy for an hour and turn it into ace reality TV, the truth is that the White Sox manager truly cares about and attends to the game. Its the flamboyance that gets the play, but Ozzie is a true caretaker of the game.

Not to say there werent moments of jest. Guillen was immediately impressed by the bat and arm of rightfielder Kyle Russell. His impression came in the form of chiding Russell for wearing a helmet with Little League-style double ear flaps: Hey, No. 14, youve got a big-league number, tell Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to give you a major league helmet! (Then, under his breath, that kid is impressive I like that kid.)

Natch, Guillen had words for the umpiring crew the second a pitch call went against him: Hey, were filming you! And Ozzie couldnt help but laugh at the fact that while the Dodgers had several interns spread around the field, using high-tech equipment to track every pitch of the game, the White Sox had just one photographer, using such a veteran camera that the manager was unsure whether the camera model was still in production. (The discrepancy was so hilarious, even recalcitrant first-base coach Harold Baines got into the fray.)

Later, when a Dodgers extra busted hard right at us on a foul popup, crashing into the fence to no avail, Guillen was quick to compliment him: Good hustle, kid. Tommy Lasorda will love you! And even when Dallas McPherson was thrown out at home plate, Ozzie wasnt worried about the play, but the fact that no one moved the bat out of McPhersons way, paving the way to injury.

And yeah, theres was a lot we talked about that was meant to stay outside the lines, but let me trickle one thing for you to look for. Ozzie has a plan for the Cleveland Indians after the National Anthem on Opening Day, something that could earn him cheers but, knowing how much the Wahoos fans detest the Chisox jefe, will get boos galore. Today, Ozzie wasnt sure if hed go through with it, but if he does, it will be an all-time classic.

Just like the manager himself.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

NBC Sports Chicago to air “Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown” special

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to air “Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown” special

Chicago, IL (July 17, 2019) – As one of the greatest hitters in Chicago baseball history prepares for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, NBC Sports Chicago - THE Home of the #AuthenticFan - will provide viewers with a brand new special entitled Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown, a half-hour NBC Sports Chicago Original Production that chronicles the brilliant career of the White Sox legend who spent 14 seasons on the southside of Chicago.  Hosted by NBC Sports Chicago’s multi-platform White Sox expert Chuck Garfien, Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown premieres Friday, July 19 immediately following “White Sox Postgame Live” (9:30 PM CT time approx.).  (NOTE: Welcome to Cooperstown will also stream live on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app; fans located anywhere in the U.S. can download MyTeams for free on iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.)  NBC Sports Chicago will also re-air the special on Sunday, July 21 at 11:00 AM, 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM, the day of Baines’ Hall of Fame induction.

Produced and edited by NBC Sports Chicago’s Emmy-award winning Senior Producer of Original Content Ryan McGuffey, Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown celebrates the remarkable 22-year MLB career of one of the greatest players to ever don a White Sox uniform.  Baines, who finished his career with 2,866 hits, opens up to Garfien about being selected #1 overall in the 1977 MLB Draft by the White Sox, why he still hasn’t spoken with Larry Himes since the trade that sent him to Texas in 1989, having his number retired by the White Sox while still being an active player, the apology that President George W. Bush gave him when the 2005 White Sox visited the White House and why he believes baseball writers left him out of the HOF prior to being selected by the Veterans Committee last December.  A six-time All-Star, Baines ranks third in White Sox history with 221 HR, only Paul Konerko and Frank Thomas have more. 

In addition to the exclusive, candid interview with Baines, Welcome to Cooperstown also includes interviews with White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Baines’ former teammate, 1983 AL “Rookie of the Year” and current White Sox community relations ambassador Ron Kittle.

Please note the following quotes from the NBC Sports Chicago Original Production of Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown, hosted by Chuck Garfien, debuting Friday night, July 19 immediately following “White Sox Postgame Live” (9:30 PM CT, time approx.):

BAINES on being able to play 22 seasons in the big leagues: “I didn’t have anything to fall back on. I didn’t go to college. I was a high school kid who was in the right spot at the right time…and took my father’s advice and put my head down and went to work. You need a lot of luck. I had a lot of injuries, but I was fortunate enough to do enough to keep people interested in my talents.”

BAINES on being traded to Texas in 1989: “I wasn’t happy about it. (‘Who traded you?’) Larry Himes…and I still haven’t spoken to him. We haven’t spoken to each other, not even when I got traded. Jeff Torborg told me I got traded. It hurt a lot…and then you come back a month later and they retire your number. How do you figure that?!”

BAINES on President George W. Bush saying that trading Sammy Sosa for Baines was the worst thing he had done as an adult: “He actually apologized to me at the White House when we went there after we won (the 2005 World Series), and he sent me a congratulations letter when I got put in the Hall of Fame, and I have it framed.”

REINSDORF on Baines being inducted into the Hall of Fame: “A great deal of joy. The fact is he deserved to be in the Hall of Fame and I wish he had gone in sooner. Clearly, it’s a great thing for Harold and great thing for our organization.”

REINSDORF on Baines being traded to Texas in ‘89: “I remember calling Harold after it was completed and I remember being in tears on the phone talking to him…and then of course on the next trip in, when the Rangers came in, I retired his number.”

KITTLE on Baines being just shy of 3,000 career MLB hits: “What is he, 150 or some hits shy of 3,000? I would have given him my hits to get him to 3,000 and I wouldn’t do it for another person who’s ever played baseball.”

BAINES on how his life will be different after being inducted into the Hall of Fame: “I’ll still go back to my little small town of St. Michael’s (Maryland) and live my life. It won’t change that much. I can probably make a change, but I’m 60 years old and I’m not trying to get any busier. I’m trying to go the other way.”

For a full recap of this weekend’s Hall of Fame festivities in Cooperstown and the very latest White Sox news, videos, podcasts, and more, fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com/WhiteSox and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears postgame coverage, local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the new “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.  

NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 35 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia +, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago/NBC Sports Chicago+, and NBC Sports Northwest. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit www.NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com.

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease picked up a win in his first start, but his second did not go as well.

Cease pitched six innings Tuesday at the Royals and gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out seven, but took the loss in an ugly game for the White Sox.

The game got off to an ominous start with Eloy Jimenez getting injured on the first batter Cease faced. The White Sox defense didn’t help Cease much either with three errors (Cease had one of those on an errant pickoff throw).

After giving up six runs in the first four innings, Cease settled down to retire the final eight batters he faced. He finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk and threw 67 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

Cease struck out six in his first start and is the first pitcher in White Sox history to strike out six or more in each of his first two career appearances.

A deeper look at Cease’s numbers show his swing and miss stuff hasn’t quite caught on as expected so far. Cease got 13 swinging strikes in 101 pitches in his major league debut. He got 12 whiffs on 108 pitches on Tuesday. His slider did get five swinging strikes on 25 pitches against the Royals.

Fastball command remains a key part to Cease’s success. He only threw 26 out of 54 fastballs for strikes in his debut. Cease improved upon that with 31 strikes on 50 fastballs against the Royals.

Most of the Royals’ damage came against Cease’s fastball as well. Six of the Royals’ eight hits off Cease, including all three extra base hits, were off heaters. Cease also gave up four hits with two strikes.

There has been plenty of hype surrounding Cease since he joined the White Sox, but he hasn’t hit the ground running in the majors just yet. Having 13 days between the first two starts of his career due to the all-star break and the White Sox giving him some extra rest also isn’t the ideal scenario for a young pitcher.

Cease’s ERA is now at 5.73, which isn’t going to set the world on fire. Still, there have been enough positives in his first two starts to see where reasonable improvement could lead to Cease becoming the pitcher the White Sox expect him to be.

 

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