White Sox

Sox Drawer: Big Frank frankly speaking

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Sox Drawer: Big Frank frankly speaking

Wednesday, July 28, 20101:19 PM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
For the man famously known as the "Big Hurt," Frank Thomas looks back at his legendary White Sox career and remembers the pain he inflicted on so many baseballs.

His 448 home runs, 447 doubles, 1,327 runs and 1,465 RBIs all rank No. 1 in team history.

But for all the damage he did to the White Sox record book, Thomas knows that he left behind wounds that are still being felt in certain quarters of the White Sox franchise and its fan base, lesions that the ultra-competitive Thomas acknowledges were created during his playing career because of his overwhelming will to succeed.

Feelings were hurt. Relationships soured. A giant would be humbled.

Let the healing begin.

"I was overly consumed in my career," Thomas said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet for the program "Inside Look: Frank Thomas", which debuts at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 14. "I was a focused guy. Most people couldnt understand how I could be so focused, but I was.

Although wildly popular in the 1990s, trailing only Michael Jordan, and arguably tying Sammy Sosa for Chicago sports supremacy at the time, Thomas would build a perception that he wasnt just the face of the franchise, but its arms and legs.

"People just didnt understand me. They felt like I was all about myself and all about my stats, and not worried about the team, and thats totally false."-- Frank Thomas, on the perception of him during his playing days with the White Sox"I was driven. I wanted to be the best," Thomas said. "I wanted to chase the best. People used to make a big deal about me and the stats. For me, stats meant that the team was going to win. It wasnt about me being selfish. I felt like I had to put up a certain amount of stats every day to help this team win and win consistently, day in and day out.

"I took a lot of heat for that in the past. People just didnt understand me. They felt like I was all about myself and all about my stats, and not worried about the team, and thats totally false."

Recently, Thomas has had a moment of truth as it relates to his infamous departure from the White Sox after the 2005 season. The team chose not to bring Thomas back because of a lingering foot injury, a decision delivered by general manager Kenny Williams to Franks voicemail. Thomas felt he deserved more respect than that, and shot some verbal missiles to his second home at 35th and Shields.

Williams fired back with a neutron bomb.

"Hes an idiot, hes selfish. Thats why we dont miss him," Williams said in February 2006. "And weve held it in for far too long ... hes the Oakland As problem right now."

Today, Thomas sees the notorious blow-up from a different perspective, and understands not only why the Sox didnt re-sign him, but why he and Kenny fought World War III in the first place.

"It wasnt pretty, but were both stubborn gentlemen," Thomas said. "Were both competitors. We both think we know it all. Getting myself away from it 3-4 years later, I respect what he did, because it was about this organization moving forward and I wasnt a part of the plan because they thought I was done. And I can look back, the first two months in Oakland ... I thought I was done. I was batting about .105, .110 still trying to heal. The White Sox just didnt have time to wait on that."

Thomas has to wait until 2014 to be officially inducted into baseballs Hall of Fame. His 521 home runs, .301 career batting average, and two MVP awards should get him in on the first ballot, especially considering he played the game clean during the height of the steroid era.

Others chose to take a different path to immortality.

There is still plenty of skepticism surrounding Sosa and the inflated numbers he magically produced from 1998-2001. So I posed the following question to Thomas:

If he had the power, would he vote Sosa into the Hall of Fame?

"Thats a tough one," Thomas said. "I love Sammy to death. I love him like a brother. But at this particular time, no I would not vote him in. Weve never heard anything from him. Hes never confronted the situation. Hes never explained his side. He just basically went back to the Dominican Republic and we havent heard anything from him. I really want to know what went down."

And Mark McGwire?

Tough sell. Hes admitted it, but still," said Thomas. "For me, what I put myself through for the last 18 years, busting my butt day in and day out to keep up, I dont have to dislike these guys, but Im kind of disliking what they did."

Thomas did not take steroids, but he did consume something else during his playing days, which may have been the hidden ingredient to his success. A secret he has chosen to finally reveal after so many years.

Boston Market.

Thats right. It turns out that Thomas could not get enough of this fast-food eatery and he would go to great lengths to gobble up their chicken meals before every game, home and away.

Was he superstitious? That would be a resounding yes.

"I would go to every city and look for a Boston Market," Thomas said. "That was something I held onto for six or seven years. I would go to Boston Market every day and have the same lunch every day, but it was all about consistency. I just felt like if youre consistent with your meals every day, you can be consistent on the field every day.

One afternoon Frank ate a steak before a game. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Never again. It was Boston Market or bust.

But did they have one in every major league town?

"No, but I tried to find it," he said

Who didnt?

"Many cities. Seattle didnt have one. Minneapolis didnt have one. So if I couldnt get Boston Market, I would call the hotel and try to have the same meal made up for lunch every day.

Now an official ambassador of the White Sox, as well as a pre and postgame analyst on Comcast SportsNet, Thomas has been welcomed back into the White Sox family. The team will retire his No. 35 jersey on Frank Thomas Day, Aug. 29, a day he expects will shed a few tears.

Baseball is Franks game. The Sox brought it to life. Where in baseball does he plan on spending the rest of his? Here in Chicago with the White Sox.

Where he belongs.

The Big Hurt is home.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

White Sox 2005 Rewind: The time A.J. and Marte saved the day

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: The time A.J. and Marte saved the day

Sometimes you’ve just got to shout out a game-saving play.

In this instance, the fact that the play was needed was actually the fault of the person who made it. But that’s baseball for you: You always have a chance to make up for what you just did.

On April 23, 2005, the White Sox and the Royals were locked in a two-all tie in the bottom of the ninth of a tilt in Kansas City. Damaso Marte, however, was in a bit of a jam. After Luis Vizcaino gave up the tying run in the previous inning, Marte loaded the bases with one out.

In a pressure-packed moment that could have instantly ended with the White Sox the losers, Marte did not help his own cause by throwing a way-off-the-mark pitch right past A.J. Pierzynski.

The runner on third, Matt Diaz, came home in an attempt to score the game-winning run and walk off the visiting White Sox. But Pierzynski and Marte sprung into action. Pierzynski fed Marte, Marte met Diaz at home and the reliever tagged the runner for the second out of the inning.

Game saved.


You’ve got to love Hawk Harrelson’s call on that one, too: “Here comes the runner! Give it to him! You got him! Yes!”

Marte followed that up with an inning-ending strikeout, allowing the White Sox bats to score the game-winning run in the 10th inning. Ozzie Guillen sent Marte back out for the bottom of the 10th, and Marte went 1-2-3 to lock down the win.

Every championship season — and plenty of those that don’t end with a trophy — features those kinds of game-saving plays. And it was, in general, a game-saving performance by the White Sox bullpen as a whole in this one.

Jose Contreras lasted just 3.1 innings — details on that below — forcing the South Side relief corps into duty for a whopping 6.2 innings. They limited the Royals to just one run.

I talked earlier during our #SoxRewind about how good the White Sox bullpen was, combining with that sensational rotation to make a truly championship-caliber pitching staff. And Adam Hoge wrote about Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts, two of the four White Sox relievers who stepped up to fill the Contreras-less innings in this one.

It’ll be a recurring theme, that great relief.

And on this day back in 2005, a reliever even got in some defensive excellence, too, saving the game for the White Sox.

What else?

— After giving up a leadoff homer to David DeJesus, Contreras was dealing. He struck out six of the last eight batters he faced coming into the bottom of the fourth. But coming off the mound on a ground ball hit by Mike Sweeney, he tweaked something in his leg. After a lot of hobbling around the infield, he faced Matt Stairs, who tried to take advantage of Contreras’ physical condition with a bunt attempt. When Contreras hit Stairs with the next pitch, Guillen took his starting pitcher out of the game. Darrin Jackson was under the impression the hit batter had nothing to do with Contreras’ leg hurting and instead was in retaliation for Stairs’ bunt try. Whatever the reason, perhaps both, Contreras lasted just 3.1 innings, his shortest outing of the 2005 season.

— How good was the White Sox rotation in 2005? Contreras’ 3.1-inning outing April 23 was the shortest start made by any of the team’s top four starters that season. The team experienced just three shorter outings by a starting pitcher in 2005, two by Orlando Hernandez and one by Brandon McCarthy.

— The Royals lost 106 games in 2005, and it's not difficult to see why. Kansas City made mistakes all over the place in this one, including two huge ones in crunch time. Diaz coming home on that wild pitch with the bases loaded and just one out was ill advised and potentially prevented the Royals from scoring the winning run in the ninth. Then in the 10th, the Royals botched a double play, only getting one out when the ball was lost on the transfer at second base. It allowed Pierzynski to stay at first base, and he eventually came around to score the winning run on an Aaron Rowand base hit.

— One of the best pitchers in modern baseball history was not so great in 2005. Zack Greinke was a 21-year-old kid when he faced the White Sox in this one. He was good in this game, giving up only one earned run in his seven innings. But he ended up losing 17 games, the most in the AL, in 2005, finishing the campaign with a 5.80 ERA. Fast forward four years, and Greinke was the AL Cy Young winner thanks to a pencil-thin 2.16 ERA that led the major leagues. In his 16-year big league career, Greinke has finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting five times, turned in six 200-strikeout seasons, made six All-Star teams and won and won six Gold Gloves.

— Pierzynski isn’t the prototypical speed demon. But he motored home from first base on a Juan Uribe double in the second inning. Any sort of good relay would have been sure to nab Pierzynski at the plate. But the Royals couldn’t put that together, and he scored easily. Even Jackson was surprised at the decision to send Pierzynski home: “There's no way he's supposed to send Pierzynski home on that play.” Well, it worked.


— The White Sox 14-4 start was the best through 18 games in club history.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

April 21, 2005: The White Sox took back-to-back walks to force in a run in the first inning, but Jeremy Bonderman was otherwise strong. The South Siders needed to make a late comeback to topple the Tigers this day, Scott Podsednik driving in a pair with a seventh-inning single to flip a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 win. White Sox win, 4-3, improve to 12-4.

April 22, 2005: The White Sox wore out Royals pitching, scoring eight runs on 12 hits, but hit no homers. Podsednik drew three walks and stole three bases. White Sox win, 8-2, improve to 13-4.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Thursday, when you can catch the April 25, 2005, game against the A’s, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Jon Garland goes the distance, and Chris Widger goes deep.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

NBC Sports Chicago to simulate White Sox games with MLB: The Show

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MLB: The Show, via Forbes

NBC Sports Chicago to simulate White Sox games with MLB: The Show

Chicago, IL (April 1, 2020) – NBC Sports Chicago will present weekly Chicago White Sox MLB: The Show game simulations - based on the team’s original 2020 same day game schedule - beginning tomorrow, Thursday, April 2.  The network’s 2020 White Sox MLB: The Show “Game of the Week” simulations, which will include the same video and audio components of MLB: The Show gameplay, will debut every Thursday at 2:00 PM CT exclusively on NBCSportsChicago.com, the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app and YouTube.com/NBCSportsChicago.  NBC Sports Chicago’s White Sox experts Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) and Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) will also be a part of every game simulation, providing entertaining play-by-play and analysis via an in-game video chat.  (NOTE: 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.)

In addition, for all games that were originally scheduled to take place in between NBC Sports Chicago’s MLB: The Show “Game of the Week” simulations, fans can visit NBCSportsChicago.com and the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app for a quick “In :60” video highlight reel, along with a complete game recap.  Please note NBC Sports Chicago’s complete White Sox MLB: The Show game simulation schedule below (NOTE: All games debut at 2:00 PM CT; schedule subject to change):

Thursday, April 2 -- WHITE SOX at BOSTON (Red Sox home opener)
Thursday, April 9 -- WHITE SOX vs. SEATTLE (from Wed, Apr. 8 due to off day on Apr. 9)
Thursday, April 16 -- WHITE SOX vs. TEXAS
Thursday, April 23 -- WHITE SOX at LOS ANGELES (Angels)
Thursday, April 30 -- WHITE SOX at COLORADO (from Wed, Apr. 29 due to off day on Apr. 30)
Thursday, May 7 -- WHITE SOX vs. TAMPA BAY
Thursday, May 14 -- WHITE SOX vs. TORONTO
Thursday, May 21 -- WHITE SOX at MINNESOTA
Thursday, May 28 -- WHITE SOX at BALTIMORE

NOTE:  For the latest news, analysis, team/league updates and team-specific podcasts, fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com or download the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app.  

NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), 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 and Chicago Cubs multi-platform coverage, plus - local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the “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.