White Sox

Heavy-hearted Lucas Giolito talks Kobe Bryant's impact, carrying on his legacy

lucas_giolito.jpg
USA TODAY

Heavy-hearted Lucas Giolito talks Kobe Bryant's impact, carrying on his legacy

The tragic death of Kobe Bryant left a gaping hole in the heart of Los Angeles. It’s a pain that will never fully heal, a loss that still seems unfathomable one month later.

For LA native Lucas Giolito, who was basically born into the Kobe Bryant era in 1994, the Lakers superstar was seemingly everywhere in Southern California; on the basketball court, on the television and in the air that everyone breathed.

“I think he’s going to have one of the biggest impacts on that city, ever,” Giolito said in an interview on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “He was a staple. He was a part of the culture there. His presence as an athlete, as a pop culture figure in our city, it transcended basketball. He went on to win an Oscar.

“He probably had so many plans.” 

For most of the month of January, Giolito was working out at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Redondo Beach, Calif. with several other major league pitchers — his teammate Reynaldo Lopez and the Mets' Noah Syndergaard among them.

On Sunday morning, Jan. 26, Giolito awoke to a text from his friend about a TMZ article reporting Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.

“I’m like, ‘Nah. That’s bull****. There’s no way,” Giolito recalled.

Soon the nightmare the world was fearing became a reality. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others had perished in the accident.

“The feeling in the gym the next day when I got back in the gym, all of the employees in there, they knew him personally. It was really sad," Giolito said. "It felt like there was a cloud over the city for a period of time. It reminds you how fragile life is. Take advantage of each day.

"I get really upset when I do think about his wife and his daughters that he did leave behind, especially with Gigi passing away as well. It’s hard to comprehend.”

One of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game was inexplicably taken from us, but inside the Mamba Sports Academy, Giolito found inspiration in the facility Bryant created.

“If I’m walking into this place he built," Giolito said, "I might as well have that type of attitude that he had, about how he went about his business very seriously, taking advantage of every opportunity. He left such a huge legacy. You just try to carry what you can forward.

“And it just sucks because it was just the beginning for him. The type of person he was. The dedication to his craft of basketball and the things he was going to do after basketball. Obviously, his legacy is going to live on in so many of us athletes, whether you play basketball, baseball, football, whatever.”

Monday night in Los Angeles, some 20,000 mourners will gather to celebrate the lives of Bryant and his daughter at a public memorial at the Staples Center. It will be another step in a long grieving process that has been slow to develop, especially in Los Angeles — where a pall continues to hang over the city.

“For the 2-3 weeks following (Bryant’s death), I’d be going about my day, just doing my normal thing, and it would just pop in my mind and then be like, ‘Damn,’" Giolito said. "I can’t think of a celebrity death that had that affect on me and so many of my friends, so many people in LA and around the world, honestly.

“He was 100 percent my favorite Laker. Just growing up in that area when they’re winning championship after championship. It was like, ‘Do you like Shaq or Kobe?’ I like Kobe.”

Bryant’s presence is felt here in Arizona, where the White Sox and Dodgers both share Camelback Ranch, their spring training facility. During his 20-year Lakers career, Bryant became a fixture at Dodgers Stadium. He watched games with Magic Johnson, he befriended Dodgers players and announced the starting lineup to a raucous Dodgers crowd before Game 4 of the 2018 World Series.  

Monday, the White Sox happen to face the Dodgers in Glendale (airing on NBC Sports Chicago at 2 p.m. CT). Giolito won’t be pitching; he’s about a week behind schedule, rehabbing a strained chest muscle. 

When he returns to game action, and for the rest of his baseball career, Giolito plans to follow what he learned from Bryant. He says the impact he made far exceeds basketball and sports. No matter what you do for a living, the Lakers icon left behind a toolbox everyone can use to succeed in life.

“The Mamba mentality, that’s very, very real. (Bryant) would talk at lengths about it," he said. "I would hear him speak about that in podcasts and interviews. That’s a very real, powerful tool that you can adopt and use. It really does improve your ability to navigate through life.

"It doesn’t matter what you do. You have that type of mentality; he showed it. He showed it on the basketball court. He showed it in everything he did and even beyond basketball in his business ventures afterwards. It doesn’t stop.” 

Nor will the love for Kobe Bryant. He was a king of a basketball player, a giant in life. The people he touched, like Giolito, will continue to be affected, for years and decades to come.

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.

Mayor Lightfoot shows her White Sox fandom in video encouraging social distancing

7-17-white-sox-world-series-2005-party.png
AP

Mayor Lightfoot shows her White Sox fandom in video encouraging social distancing

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is a White Sox fan. 

This information was revealed in a clever video her office released on Twitter Monday evening, encouraging residents to "stay at home, save lives." 

Lightfoot plays different characters in the video, like "The Analyst," where she discusses data, "The Baller," where she spends time in a kitchen making a basket in a hoop on a refrigerator, "The Voice of Reason," where she convinces people on the phone to stay home, and more.

But the truth of her sports fandom is revealed at the two-minute mark, when Lightfoot, as "The Fan," is wearing a White Sox jersey on a couch watching a game and declares, "Tell you what, if my White Sox win, you gotta stay home."

The video cuts to the final out of the 2005 World Series. Sox win. The Mayor cheers. Fandom confirmed. 

Mayor Lightfoot might be happy to know NBC Sports Chicago will re-air that deciding Game 4 as part of our "White Sox Classics" in June. 

At the end of the video, she made a call to action as "The Realist." 

"The truth is, 40,000 hospitalizations will break our healthcare system," Lightfoot said. "Stay home. Save lives." 

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.

White Sox 2005 Rewind: 'Pulling an El Duque' before 'pulling an El Duque' was a thing

0330_orlando_hernandez_el_duque.jpg
AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: 'Pulling an El Duque' before 'pulling an El Duque' was a thing

Months before “pulling an El Duque” was a thing, Orlando Hernandez was getting out of bases-loaded jams all over the place.

Hernandez etched his name into White Sox history — and into that statue that’s sitting outside Guaranteed Rate Field — with his relief work in Game 3 of the ALDS, coming on in a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation and getting three straight outs to preserve a one-run lead.

But he had some practice earlier in the season.

In the White Sox 3-1 win over the Twins on April 19, Hernandez faced not one but two jams with the bases loaded and less than two outs. And he escaped both of them.

Hernandez was stellar the first time he faced the Twins in 2005, giving up just one run and striking out five hitters in seven innings. Next time out didn’t go so hot, as he gave up six runs, four of them earned, on eight hits and four walks against the Indians.

This one was somewhere in between. He gave up 10 hits but no runs, thanks to getting out of a pair of unenviable jams.

In the second inning, the Twins led off with a double and a single. A steal of second and a hit batter loaded the bases with just one out. But Hernandez followed with a strikeout of Michael Cuddyer, and after falling behind Nick Punto, 3-1, he induced an inning-ending pop out.

Four innings later, the Twins strung together three consecutive one-out singles. Bases loaded, one out yet again. But Hernandez got Punto to pop out once more, and Shannon Stewart flew out as Hernandez pitched his way out of another doomsday scenario.

Neither overshadowed what was to come, Hernandez’s legendary performance on the playoff stage. But it’s not like he didn’t have practice in similar situations.

Earlier in #SoxRewind, we saw Jon Garland show his talents as an escape artist. But in 2005, no one compared to El Duque in that category.

What else?

— The eephus! This was the first El Duque start on #SoxRewind, so the first time we got to see him unleash the eephus. It didn’t work against Jacque Jones in the sixth. Jones ripped it into center for a base hit. But it sure was fun to watch Hernandez float that thing up there.

— As relayed by Hawk Harrelson during the broadcast, Hernandez giving up 10 hits in a scoreless outing was the first time that had happened for a White Sox pitcher in more than 20 years.

— Shingo time was running out. Luis Vizcaino and Dustin Hermanson kept the Twins off the board in a three-run game in the seventh and eighth innings, but on for the save in the ninth, Shingo Takatsu experienced the kind of early season trouble that got him yanked from the closer’s role. After getting the first out of the inning, he let the Twins score a run on back-to-back hits. Ozzie Guillen didn’t let Takatsu hang around, pulling him in favor of Damaso Marte, who retired the two hitters he faced to lock down the win. Takatsu’s final save with the White Sox came in early May, and he was released on Aug. 1.

— Torii Hunter was a defensive whiz in center field for the Twins, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves, including one in 2005. If you forgot just how skilled he was out there, you got to see a couple reasons why he’s got such an impressive trophy case in this game. He used his hose to nab Scott Podsednik trying to score on a Carl Everett fly ball in the first inning, a terrific throw that helped keep this game scoreless for five and a half innings. He made a great leaping catch at the wall to prevent the White Sox from growing their lead in the sixth.

— Joe Crede extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a pair of hits, including a go-ahead double in the fifth inning. Crede’s streak ended up lasting 14 games. He hit .408/.442/.653 with eight extra-base hits and eight RBIs during that stretch.

— Brad Radke ended up getting knocked around the first time he faced off against the White Sox in 2005, giving up five earned runs. But for the better part of that outing, he kept the South Side offense quiet. Same thing in this one, where he ended up giving up three runs on 11 hits. But he hung around for eight innings — a complete-game effort in a loss — and logged a quality start. Radke had a 4.73 ERA in 36 career starts against the White Sox.

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 14, 2005: Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer, but the White Sox couldn’t overcome the pair of crooked numbers the Indians hung on Hernandez and Neal Cotts. A four-run bottom of the first and a three-run bottom of the sixth added up to trouble. White Sox lose, 8-6, fall to 6-3.

April 15, 2005: Jon Garland was good, allowing just two runs in his seven innings against the Mariners. The bullpen faltered a bit trying to close things out in the ninth, but six White Sox runs — including homers by Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe — were enough. White Sox win, 6-4, improve to 7-3.

April 16, 2005: Mark Buehrle was outstanding again, turning in one of the most impressive performances he ever had: a career-high 12 strikeouts and nine innings of one-run ball against the Mariners — in 99 minutes. He threw more pitches, 106, then the number of minutes played. Amazing. Adam Hoge waxed poetic on this one. White Sox win, 2-1, improve to 8-3.

April 17, 2005: A pair of first-inning homers by his old team wasn’t a good sign for Freddy Garcia, but the two singles that accounted for three runs in a busy fifth were what doomed his squad this day. White Sox lose, 5-4, drop to 8-4.

April 18, 2005: Everett hit a pair of home runs off Kyle Lohse, including a game-winning shot that broke a 3-all tie in the sixth. Everett’s power made up for an ugly fifth inning from Jose Contreras that featured runs scoring on a balk and a wild pitch. White Sox win 5-4, improve to 9-4.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Tuesday, when you can catch the April 20, 2005, game against the Tigers, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Big days (and big flies) for both Crede and Jermaine Dye.

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.