Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Posted: 7:00 PM
By Brett Ballantini
So, with a full two days taken to decompress from the event that has become Mecca for Chicago White Sox fans, SoxFest, heres a mostly playful look back the highlights of the weekend:
Big Donkey Accolade
When White Sox broadcaster Ed Farmer asked how many attendees had already met Adam Dunn or seen him up close, in reference to his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame, manager Ozzie Guillen reinterpreted: How big he is, or how ugly he is?
Big Hurt Award
When a young fan asked Guillen whether slugging legend Frank Thomas could ever be a hitting coach, Guillen screamed, NOOOOOOOO! Guillen claimed that team coaches don't get paid enough to satisfy Thomas, and you need to be a very bad hitter to be a good hitting coach.
Former Chisox shortstop Jose Valentin recounted a story that when he was with Milwaukee, any player who hit for the cycle would get a free Harley, and though he came close, he never achieved the honor with the Brewers. On April 27, 2000 for the White Sox, he didand found a girls pink bike parked in his locker stall the next day.
Boogie Down Decoration
Catcher and noted prankster Ramon Castro was lauded as the best dancer on the team besides me, said Gordon Beckham in-between bouts of gettin jiggy.
Broken Record Accolade
Color man and raconteur Ken Hawk Harrelson called the 2011 club possibly the best White Sox team hes ever been associated with, which distinguishes it in no way from his preseason assessment of the 25 prior Pale Hose clubs hes been part of.
In praising White Sox rookie pitcher Chris Sale, Farmer said that the lefty made Minnesota Twins sweet swinger Joe Mauer look infantile when first facing Sale, prompting White Sox GM Ken Williams to say, oh no, dont say that!
In both of the State of the Sox seminars, Guillen spoke at length about how depressing two particular losses were to the Minnesota. Williams to Guillen: Stop talking about those Twins games. I dont want to think about that anymore!
Chooed Up Award
Guillen retold a story where Cleveland Indians slugger Shin-Soo Choo would chide him for bringing in ace lefty Matt Thornton to mow him down in late-inning situations Choo actually sports an .842 OPS in his career vs. Thornton, but 10 of his 13 outs against the fireballer have been Ks, but after facing Sale and getting whiffed by the rookie, Choo saw Ozzie while leaving Progressive Field and asked the manager to call in Thornton the next time.
Guillen admitted, When I heard we got Dunn, I was shocked, to which Williams replied wryly, I had to surprise you, otherwise it would end up in too many blogs and twitters.
White Sox farm director Buddy Bell admitted that when Williams first told him he thought the club should draft Sale, with the thought that Sale could be called up to the parent club by the end of the season, I thought he was crazy. Sale, sharing the stage with Bell, cracked, Thanks, thats great for my confidence.
Crazy Train Award
Guillen admitted making a couple of crazy moves in 2010, prompting Williams to interrupt: You made more than two crazy moves.
Double-Dip Dis Achievement
Bell told a fan wearing a pitching coach Don Cooper jersey, you wear that shirt better than Coop, to which assistant GM Rick Hahn added, but theres no dip stains on it, so its probably not authentic.
Easy Mark Laurel
Amazingly, the first Phil Rogers dis of SoxFest came not from Williams but Bell, who in answer to a question about Rogers chronically dire outlooks on the White Sox team and farm system, noted hed known the Tribune scribe from back in Rogers beat writer days in Texas, and conceded without conviction that I guess he's become more knowledgeable over the years.
Fans Best Friend Award
To yours truly, for attempting to connect stalwart Chisox fan TinyJ (Twitter handle) to her husband as Saturdays seminar finale featuring Thomas and other Chisox sluggers was filling up fast.
Feliz Cumpleanos Laurel
Longtime White Sox executive Roland Hemond not only got to watch the White Sox wins to clinch the 2005 World Series up close and personally in Houston, but the winsoccurring on the same day due to the late finish to Game 3both fell on his 76th birthday.
Fight the Youth Award
Guillen reacted to a tough question from a young fan with a typical teasing outburst: Who sent this kid in here? Go get some autographs or something!
Fish Out of Water Honor
When a fan asked Chisox leftfielder Juan Pierre about the philosophy of his swim move, used to avoid tags when he is beat at second base on steal attempts, the speedster chuckled: It's desperation. No rhyme or reason. That move come from the backyard and the Slip n Slide.
Guillen claimed that Minnesota Twins DH Jim Thomes game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th last Aug. 17 landed in Milwaukee.
Humble Pie Honor
Beckham had his aw-shucks attitude working overtime over the weekend. On his baserunning style: Im like Fred FlintstoneI sort of take two steps in the same spot, then I go. On his comprehensibility, after saying Pierre would toodle him rather than tutor him on the basepaths: Im from Georgia. I dont know how to talk.
Jenny Craig Badge
Third base coach Jeff Cox, on his perpetual diet, pointed out during a baserunning seminar hed once stolen 71 bases in a season in 1977, for AA Chattanooga and AAA San Jose: but that was about 30 pounds ago.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The big news of SoxFest came minutes into the first Ozzie-Kenny State of the Sox gathering, when Williams announced that the 2012 option on Guillens contract had been picked up by the club. The news garnered a standing ovation, and Williams added that, providing we can get back to basics and focus, I hope to extend Ozzie for the rest of hisand mycareer. Ozzie related that when he called his wife, Ibis, to give her the news, she started crying; Williams: Crying because she was happy, or sad? Guillen: Hopefully I manage here for the rest of my career. It's what I've always wanted.
Lightning in a Bottle Laurel
When a fan asked Bell whether the Chisox were trying to catch lightning in a bottle when selecting such young veterans as recently-claimed, former first-rounder Phil Humber, the farm director quickly answered, to laughter: Yes!
Loving the First 23 Citation
Williams, in response to the many questions and comments about the tail end of his roster: I guess I should be happy if people are only complaining about the 24th or 25th player. That means they like the first 23. Similarly, Guillen said, If a manager is worrying about his fourth outfielder, he's in trouble. I'm worried about my closer and winning games.
Magic Number Prize
Pierre, who last season at age 33 stole a career-high and the second-most single-season bases in White Sox history (68), on how many bases hell need to steal in 2011: Just enough to win us a World Series.
Mea Culpa Award
When a fan began his question with the words Manny Ramirez Williams instantly blurted, SORRY! to much laughter and applause. The quick-thinking fan: Apology accepted.
Nickname in Need of Upgrade Award
Bell continued to reference aspiring third-base starter Brent Morel B-mo.
One Good Turn Award
Thornton disses 1970s-era hurler and current White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, talking about the batters he had to face in the 1960s. Hurling veteran of the 1980s, White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves, chirped in, 1950s.
One in a Million Award
Sale: "Never in a million years" did he think 2010 would turn out the way it did.
Award for Outstanding Konerko Manuevering
To Williams, Hahn, and Jerry Reinsdorf, as Hemond (now working with the Arizona Diamondbacks) says he attended SoxFest with a heavy heart, because you out-Konerko'ed us.
Paul Bunyan Tall Taling Award
Williams was on stage spinning yarns about Dunn pointing to the scoreboard and asking if anyone had ever hit it, and how he saw his new slugger hit a prodigious blast at Turner Field in Atlanta, when Guillen interjected: I dont care how far he hits one, I just want him to his 50 short ones homers.
Popular Favorite Award
Late last season, when Williams asked Guillen and Cooper which relievers he should pursue for 2011, both men listed two names, and one of them was new Chisox fireman Jesse Crain.
Guillen told CSNs Sarah Kustok that Alexei Ramirez is the most fun White Sox player to prank because of his high voice and indecipherable English: Finally someone who speaks worse English than me. Im still waiting to sit down with the manager over his favorite meal, suchi.
Prescient Tweet Award
Also yours truly, for twitterpating out, Kenny and Ozzie off in a corner, chatting through a private moment. The brotherhood looks to be back. That discussion turned out to be Williams breaking the news to Ozzie that hed had his 2012 extension picked up.
Former White Sox closer Roberto Hernandez admitted to the thought that all White Sox fans shared: I wanted to be the first to put a stick of dynamite in the Metrodome.
Stone, the thinking mans broadcaster and generally a genial and mild-mannered sort, was the feistiest presenter at SoxFest, whether translating Coxs unique take on and presentation of the English language, referencing the Cubs in a disagreeable manner, generally dissing the careers of most of the retired players on SoxFest stages, and sprinkling in just enough self-deprecation to make all the roustabouting palatable.
After Guillen spent entirely too much time admitting hes hard to get in touch with because he had changed his cell phone number several times recently, Williams piped up: Como se dice en espanol, Too much information?
Tool Time Badge
When a fan referred to ex-Pale Hoser Nick Swisher as a tool, Guillen leaned over to Williams for clarification of the term, then smiled.
Unmalleable Mauer Award
Stone mentioned that last year, he and broadcast partner Harrelson set an overunder of 9.5 for the Mauers trips to mound. Ex-Twin Crains half-hearted defense of the happy-footed backstop: He was stretching his legs...hes really tall.
Winging It Plaudit
Sale spoke on his earlier struggles, recounting that as a freshman in college, he was a relief pitcher and threw overhand, and I had a horrible year. I dropped my arm angle and it workedSomehow I managed to come up with whatever it is I do.
Wizard of Awes Award
Hahn answered a question about sabermetrics with elusiveness typical of the White Sox front office, claiming that its a factor in our decision-making, but we dont mind other people not thinking so. They dont need to see behind the curtain.
Word of Mouth Award
While the first Guillen-Williams State of the Sox seminar was lucky to fill half the house, the next mornings sequel was packed to the gills, with probably three times as many spectators.
Yosemite Samming Medal
Cox speaks English even faster than Guillen speaks Spanish, making it clear that neither man ever listens to what the other says. Coxs SoxFest runs were almost Shakespearean in their grandeur. After one typically Coxian run, Pierre leaned into his microphone and said, Now you see why were glad we use baserunning signs.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.