White Sox

Sox Drawer: Sox best in giving Twins their worst

259833.jpg

Sox Drawer: Sox best in giving Twins their worst

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010
12:26 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Frank Thomas was driving into the city before the game on Tuesday when he suddenly heard a booming sound coming from his luxury automobile, stopping his car dead in its tracks off the Kennedy Expressway.

Little did Frank know that he was living the perfect metaphor of the Minnesota Twins, a team notorious for putting sugar in the Sox gas tank, taking the nuts off their wheels, the air out of their tires, stalling their playoff hopes with the delicate touch of a jack-hammer.

Frank would need a tow truck. The White Sox need something more, like a brand new car, one that can drive around (or over) the likes of Mauer, Kubel, Liriano, and even mans best friend, Jim Thome, who when I told him before Tuesdays game to take it easy on his former team, he laughed and replied, But this has been good for me.

Yeah, we know.

Tuesdays crushing 9-3 defeat makes the White Sox 5-and-11 against the Twins this season. When the season is over, and youre looking for a reason why your team didnt win the division, look no further than that.

The Twins seem to get up for the White Sox every time, Thomas said last night on a spirited U.S. Cellular White Sox Postgame Live. Were their biggest rival. They come to play us like its the World Series every time.

The rivalry officially took shape in 2004 when Torii Hunter famously barreled into Sox catcher Jamie Burke at home plate. Bill Melton has done about 600 White Sox postgame shows since then, and there is nothing on the planet that irks the former South Side slugger more than the pesky Twins.

Maybe because theres nothing Bill can do about it. But the Sox sure can.

Playing the Minnesota Twins is tough, and youll never turn it around until you start to beat them like they beat you, said Melton, who explained that you need to play better defense, with fewer errors, less walks, and make their hitters feel like they are being squeezed in a 7-foot vise whenever they come to the plate.

Thats not happening. Instead, its the White Sox who are feeling the pressure, as well as the pain. Theyve been hit eight times by Minnesota pitchers this season, while the Sox have only hit the Twins three times. In fact, no team in the American League has gotten hit more (71), and no team has hit batters less (30) than the White Sox.

Theres something wrong there. And when the Twins see that, they find a way to make it a right, which annoys Melton to no end.

You look at their averages, you go Well, theyre good, Melton said. But why is this guy not hitting .320? They hit .350 off of us. A lot of it is they just feel relaxed at the plate. They feel good. Theres no pressure on them. You know why? Because they know the White Sox will throw it away.

Manny Ramirez is one of the most clutch hitters in baseball history.
But give him a White Sox uniform, send him to the plate against the Twins, and watch him fold under pressure. Tuesday, Ramirez struck out three times and left six men on base.

Thomas, a former first baseman who became a DH, has one theory:

This is the first time he has ever been a designated hitter full-time. Going down the stretch hes used to playing left field. That has a lot to do with timing also. Its really tough. For the first time, hes not out in left field relaxing, goofing off in the outfield and not thinking about hitting as much.

Manny has to be Manny.

That could have something to do with him, not swinging the bat as well, Thomas said.

Melton has another idea. It might have something to do with the drinking water inside the Sox clubhouse, or more likely, inside the Sox noggins.

The Twins beat the White Sox every year. That becomes a mental thing after a while. I dont care how many times you change your lineups and your players, thats something you always take with you on the field. You wish you could forget it, but you cant.

Nor can Bill, who when I asked him what it will take for the Sox to win the division replied:

It would be a miracle. Its not so much the White Sox, its about the Twins. They just dont lose.

Hes right. One of these days the Sox need to make that a wrong.

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

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

1017_dan_pasqua.jpg
GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

1017_manny_machado.jpg
USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.