Preps Talk

Perfect moments in White Sox history

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Perfect moments in White Sox history

On Saturday, Philip Humber became the third White Sox pitcher to achieve perfection by twirling a gem in the Emerald City. So let's take the time to take a look at perfect moments in White Sox history.

In 1908, while the Cubs, Giants and Pirates were in the thick of a heated pennant race which culminated with the "Merkle Boner" and ended with the most recent World Series win for the Northsiders, the White Sox were also fighting it out for the flag.

On September 29th, Ed Walsh, carrying the team on his back all season long, recorded his 38th AND 39th victories of the season, both complete games, over the Red Sox by scores of 5-1 and 2-0, while allowing only 7 hits and striking out 15 in his day's work.

Three days later, Walsh was at it again, this time in Cleveland, striking out 15 Indians. The Sox and Tribe combined for four hits on the afternoon...but all four were by the home team. It was Addie Joss, nicknamed "The Human Hairpin" for his slender physique, who emerged with a 74-pitch, 1-0 perfect game victory. It was the fourth perfecto in Major League history, and when the next one was thrown, it would be one of Comiskey's charges doing the honors.

The year was 1922, the date was April 30th. Taking the hill at Navin Field in Detroit was Charles Culbertson Robertson, a 26-year old right-hander from Texas. It was his fourth career start, and his career mark was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA entering the game. These Tigers, led by player-manager Ty Cobb, hit .306 as a team in 1922 (with Cobb himself hitting .401) but on this day, they would get nothing.

Cobb didn't make it easy; in the fifth inning, the belligerent Bengal had the game stopped twice; first to complain that Robertson was doctoring the baseball, second to have the glove of first baseman Earl Sheely inspected. Umpires found nothing. Throughout the game, Tyrus the Terrible continued to confiscate balls put out of play to plead his case that something was amiss. When the smoke cleared, it was 27 Tigers up, 27 Tigers down; a doubly impressive feat against a Tiger lineup featuring two Hall of Famers (Cobb and rightfielder Harry Heilmann) and eyepopping offensive numbers. Robertson, the unlikely hero, finished the day with six strikeouts while offering a total of 90 pitches.

Home Plate umpire: Dick Nallin
Catcher: Ray SchalkOpposing starter: Herman Pillette

Robertson lost his next start at home against the Indians, going six innings with 4 earned runs. Unfortunately, Robertson was never able to duplicate his success. He finished 1922 14-15 with a decent enough 3.64 ERA (111 ERA), and hung on with the Sox until being claimed off waivers New Year's Eve 1925 by the St. Louis Browns, compiling a 39-56 record with the White Sox and going 10-24 in three seasons with the Browns and Braves.

His .380 career winning percentage is just below Dallas Braden (.419) for worst by a perfect game pitcher.

Fast forward to July 23, 2009 for the Sox next perfecto.

Mark Buehrle entered the game with a no-hitter already under his belt and a reputation as the long-time ace of the Southside staff. Buehrle's assignment was a Tampa Bay Rays team jam-packed with young, budding talent (and five 2009 All-Stars; Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Jason Bartlett).

Despite being a bit of a letdown after a 2008 World Series appearance, this Rays team was no pushover. Buehrle dispatched of the Rays in his customary quickness (2 hours, 3 minutes; eight minutes slower than Robertson...but Buehrle had TV commercials to deal with), equaling Robertson's six punch-outs while throwing 26 more pitches along the way.

Of the 21 balls in play, the Sox Southpaw coaxed 11 ground ball outs from the bats of Joe Maddon's Rays, with the remaining 10 in the air. The defining moment of the game came when Dewayne Wise made an unforgettable grab in left-center of a Gabe Kapler shot after entering the game to begin the inning as a defensive replacement (for Carlos Quentin with Scott Podsednik moving from center to left) in the ninth. That cleared the way for a Michel Hernandez strikeout and a Bartlett groundout to short (Alexeiiiiiiiii! YES!!!) to give the immensely popular Buehrle his place in history.

Home Plate umpire: Eric Cooper
Catcher: Ramon Castro
Opposing starter: Scott Kazmir

Buehrle went on to set a Major League record with 45 straight batters retired as he sent down the first 17 batters in his next start at Minnesota, but the Twins got the best of him, and he ended up taking the loss, giving up 5 earned runs in 6.1 innings of work.

Buehrle finished his White Sox career with 161 wins, good for 6th in franchise history, and is among the finest pitchers to don the pinstripes.

From a 38th round surprise to the third overall selection in the 2004 draft, the third White Sox masterpiece, of course was painted by Philip Humber yesterday afternoon at Safeco Field against a Mariners team suffering from historical offensive ineptitude, even if one of this generation's finest hitters; Ichiro Suzuki occupies the 3-spot.

Ironically, this was the same Humber whose first start was skipped due to a rainout in Cleveland. Humber's second start of the season featured fantastic pitch economy (according to today's standards) throwing no more than 16 pitches in any inning (16 was in the ninth), with a sequence of 8-6-6 in innings 4-5-6. Unlike Buehrle, he relied on the vast expanses of Safeco Field to produce 13 fly balls opposed to just five on the ground, while striking out nine.

That busy ninth inning included the most suspenseful at-bats, with Humber battling back from a 3-0 count to whiff Michael Saunders and the controversial 3-2 check-swing by Brendan Ryan on pitch 96 which led to a C-1B putout to end the game.

Home Plate umpire: Brian Runge
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
Opposing starter: Blake Beavan

What's next for Humber? We'll have to wait until likely Thursday, when he'll face a much more daunting task which is the Red Sox lineup. But that's not really important, because the perfect game puts Humber in a class of just 21, which nobody can take from him no matter where his right arm takes him.
Fun note

Three-hitters in each perfecto: Ty Cobb, Evan Longoria, Ichiro

Edgy Tim: Recruiting news and notes

Edgy Tim: Recruiting news and notes

Nazareth Academy sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) is holding 30 FBS level scholarship offers-- a very impressive total for an underclassman. And his recruiting process continues to skyrocket. Has McCarthy's recruiting process started to becoming overwhelming? 

"I wouldn't say it's been overwhelming but it can be busy at times," McCarthy said. "I try treat everyone well and also treat everyone the same so I try to make sure to spend time talking to as many coaches as I can."

McCarthy is also looking to get out to visit more schools this spring and early summer. 

"I'm set to visit Michigan on May 11. I'm also going to try to get back and visit both Ohio State and Northwestern this spring."

McCarthy is also eyeing a timeframe for giving a school his verbal commitment.

"I feel like this summer will be a good time to make my college decision. I want to be able to commit and then have time to try and help recruit more kids to come play for the school that I chose. I also want to be able to just focus on my upcoming junior season and school without having to deal with recruiting at all."

Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock is hitting the spring recruiting trail hard; the Huskies approach is going beyond the Class of 2020 this spring. So far this week, NIU has extended verbal scholarship offers to Providence Catholic sophomore tight end Jameson Geers (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) along with Prairie Ridge sophomore athlete Carter Evans (6-foot-4, 220 pounds).
 
"Getting my first offer from NIU last Saturday was a huge surprise," Jameson Geers said. "They made an in-school visit a few weeks ago and watched one of our workouts. But outside of that I didn't really have much contact with the NIU coaches until Saturday. I decided to go to the spring game and that's when Coach Tony (Sorrentino) offered me a scholarship."

Carter Evans, who is the younger brother of both the former NIU and Purdue OL Shane Evans, and current Iowa running back and former IHSA Player of the Year Samson Evans,  also was a bit surprised to add his first offer from the NIU Huskies.
 
"It was a nice surprise," according to Evans. "I'm excited that NIU has a new coaching staff, they seem like a good group of coaches. I'm looking forward to get to know them. I also really like their facilities."

IC Catholic Prep junior QB Danny Cronin (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) was able to add his first scholarship offer last Saturday. It came from Eastern Illinois University after he visited the Charleston campus during spring practice. Cronin played for Fenwick last fall before transferring to IC for the spring semester.

"I've known the coaches at Eastern Illinois for a while now including going back to last year when I was still at Fenwick and they were at Northwestern'" Cronin said. "I loved it at EIU. I just love the coaches and they just have a great group. EIU likes me as a quarterback but they also offered me as more of an athlete because they said they just want me to be a part of the team. The coaches also said they will take a hard look at me at quarterback but that they feel I could also play either linebacker or even as a super back for them. Getting my first offer from EIU is pretty special and you'll always remember the first school who offered you."

A Bears-centric draft guide to every running back in this year's NFL Draft

A Bears-centric draft guide to every running back in this year's NFL Draft

No position carries more interest and importance than running back as the Bears head into the 2019 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday in Nashville but won’t get underway at Halas Hall until Friday. While general manager Ryan Pace said the Bears don’t need to draft a running back, given all the scouting the Bears have done on players at that position, it feels like a foregone conclusion that they will take one sometime before the end of Saturday. 

So with all the focus on this one position, NBC Sports Chicago compiled the big boards of eight major draft gurus/websites to put a wisdom-of-the-crowd spin on a running back ranking system. Sources used for these rankings: Josh Norris’ top 200, Pro Football Focus’ top 250, Dane Brugler’s top 100, Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50, Gil Brandt’s top 150 and Danny Kelly’s top 100, as well as complete big boards by ESPN and CBS. 

The results divide this class of running backs into a number of tiers based on where the Bears pick, which right now is Nos. 87, 126, 162, 222 and 238. Here’s what we came up with:

Tier 1: No chance

Member: Josh Jacobs, Alabama

Average rank: 28.1
Highest: 8 (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Lowest: 60 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 0

Every one of these eight rankings had Jacobs as its highest-rated running back. There’s a chance the Oakland Raiders use the 24th pick — which the Bears sent to them in the Khalil Mack trade — on Jacobs Thursday night. 

Tier 2: Dream scenarios with No. 87

Members: David Montgomery, Iowa State; Miles Sanders, Penn State

Montgomery average rank: 59.5
Highest: 43 (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Lowest: 79 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 0

 

Sanders average rank: 64.0
Highest: 45 (Gil Brandt, NFL.com)
Lowest: 86 (CBS)
Not ranked: 0

The dream scenario for the Bears would be having one of these guys be available when they go on the clock with the 87th pick Friday night. These two guys are comfortably the second- and third-best running backs in this year’s class when compiling all these rankings, and there’s a good chance a few teams ahead of the Bears will want a running back before that 87th selection. 

Tier 3: Realistic at No. 87

Members: Damien Harris, Alabama; Darrell Henderson, Memphis; Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic

Harris average rank: 86.0
Highest: 55 (Dane Brugler, The Athletic)
Lowest: 135 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

Henderson average rank: 87.0
Highest: 69 (Danny Kelly, The Ringer)
Lowest: 119 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

 

Singletary average rank: 91.7
Highest: 55 (Josh Norris, Rotoworld)
Lowest: 139 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

 

We start to see some variance with these three running backs. Norris has Singletary (55) and Henderson (74) ranked ahead of Sanders (75), with Harris (103) lagging behind; Brandt has Harris (88) and Henderson (95) in his top 100, with Singletary (112) out of it. 

As with anyone in the draft, it only takes one team to like you, and while it’d be a shock if any of these three players jumped Jacobs, one could be drafted ahead of Montgomery or Sanders on Friday night (there’s been some buzz about Henderson climbing up draft boards lately, for what it’s worth). Still, if the Bears are targeting a running back with their third-round pick, some or all of these guys could very well be in Pace’s cloud. 

Tier 4: Options at No. 126 or No. 162

Members: Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M; Justice Hill, Oklahoma State; Bryce Love, Stanford; Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma; Tony Pollard, Memphis; Elijah Holyfield, Georgia; Dexter Williams, Notre Dame; Karan Higdon, Michigan; Ryquell Armstead, Temple; Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska

T. Williams average rank: 110.5
Highest: 76 (ESPN)
Lowest: 238 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 3 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

 

Hill average rank: 120.0
Highest: 72 (ESPN)
Lowest: 190 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 2 (Jeremiah, Kelly)

Love average rank: 120.4
Highest: 113 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 140 (CBS)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Anderson average rank: 125.3
Highest: 112 (CBS)
Lowest: 138 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Holyfield average rank: 130.7
Highest: 99 (CBS)
Lowest: 157 (Norris)
Not ranked: 5 (Pro Football Focus, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Pollard average rank: 140.3
Highest: 132 (Brandt)
Lowest: 244 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 4 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

D. Williams average rank: 148.0
Highest: 116 (Brandt)
Lowest: 177 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 4 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

Higdon average rank: 160.3
Highest: 149 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 182 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Armstead average rank: 166.5
Highest: 147 (Brandt)
Lowest: 181 (CBS)
Not ranked: 3 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

 

Ozigbo average rank: 169.5
Highest: 73 (Norris)
Lowest: 305 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Now we’re really all over the board, which is how a glance at eight NFL draft boards would look like. Some may not include Ozigbo — who wasn’t invited to the Combine — while another team could have a third-round grade on him. Trayveon Williams could be a third-rounder on one team’s board and a seventh-rounder on another’s. With all these guys, it depends on how they’d fit what Pace and Matt Nagy believe would fit the Bears best. 

A few quick thought here: Love seems unlikely given his medical re-check revealed some lingering concerns about his surgically-repaired knee. The previously-injured running back the Bears would seem more likely to take out of this group would be Anderson. 

Tier 5: Seventh-round fliers

Members: Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky; Mike Weber, Ohio State; Miles Gaskin, Washington; Jalin Moore, Appalachian State; Jordan Scarlett, Florida; Travis Homer, Miami (Fla.); Alexander Mattison, Boise State; James Williams, Washington State; Darwin Thompson, Utah State; Alex Barnes, Kansas State

Snell Jr. average rank: 164.0
Highest: 116 (CBS)
Lowest: 212 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 6 (Norris, Pro Football Focus, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Weber average rank: 185.0
Highest: 139 (CBS)
Lowest: 219 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Gaskin average rank: 198.3
Highest: 147 (CBS)
Lowest: 243 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Moore average rank: 200
Highest: 191 (ESPN)
Lowest: 209 (CBS)
Not ranked: 6 (Norris, Pro Football Focus) Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Scarlett average rank: 204.0
Highest: 148 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 266 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Homer average rank: 208.8
Highest: 185 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 240 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Mattison average rank: 209.6
Highest: 150 (Norris)
Lowest: 295 (CBS)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Williams average rank: 222.8
Highest: 127 (Norris)
Lowest: 281 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Thompson average rank: 247.0
Highest: 170 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 294 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Barnes average rank: 264.3
Highest: 191 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 327 (CBS)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

It’s hardly unprecedented for a running back drafted in the sixth or seventh round to make an impact — Chris Carson did for the Seattle Seahawks last year, for instance — but if the Bears draft one of these guys, expectations should be set accordingly. As in: It’d be a sign the Bears believe Mike Davis can take on a larger load, and that this player they drafted can fill a smaller role than, say, a running back drafted in the third round. 

Of note here: There rest of the players listed in Tier 6 are all ranked by only two services (ESPN and CBS). Exceptions were made here for Moore and Snell given their high rankings, and that Brugler has a fourth-round grade on Moore and a fifth/sixth-round grade on Snell, though neither were in his top 100. 

Tier 6: Priority free agents

Members: Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh; LJ Scott, Michigan State; Kerrith Whyte Jr., Florida Atlantic; Ty Johnson, Maryland; Wes Hills, Slippery Rock; Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State; Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh; Matt Colburn II, Wake Forest; Taiwan Deal, Wisconsin; Marquis Young, Massachusetts; Jaques Patrick, Florida State; Nick Brossette, LSU; Damarea Crockett, Missouri; Xavier Turner, Tarleton State; Joe Connor, Concordia (Mich.); Aeris Williams, Mississippi State; Khari Blasingame, Vanderbilt; Lexington Thomas, UNLV; Alec Ingold, Wisconsin; Craig Reynolds, Kutztown; Dominick Bragalone, Lehigh; A.J. Oullette, Ohio; Cullen Gillaspia, Texas A&M; Jordan Ellis, Virginia

 

That’s a lot of names! Perhaps the Bears could unearth a Phillip Lindsay-level undrafted free agent out of this group (want a name? Bruce Anderson). More likely, they won’t. But expect the Bears to sign at least one of the names from this group, or if someone from Tier 5 isn’t drafted (which is likely), as a free agent in the feeding frenzy that happens after Mr. Irrelevant is selected on Saturday.