White Sox

NBC Sports Chicago to air “Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown” special

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to air “Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown” special

Chicago, IL (July 17, 2019) – As one of the greatest hitters in Chicago baseball history prepares for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, NBC Sports Chicago - THE Home of the #AuthenticFan - will provide viewers with a brand new special entitled Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown, a half-hour NBC Sports Chicago Original Production that chronicles the brilliant career of the White Sox legend who spent 14 seasons on the southside of Chicago.  Hosted by NBC Sports Chicago’s multi-platform White Sox expert Chuck Garfien, Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown premieres Friday, July 19 immediately following “White Sox Postgame Live” (9:30 PM CT time approx.).  (NOTE: Welcome to Cooperstown will also stream live on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app; 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.)  NBC Sports Chicago will also re-air the special on Sunday, July 21 at 11:00 AM, 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM, the day of Baines’ Hall of Fame induction.

Produced and edited by NBC Sports Chicago’s Emmy-award winning Senior Producer of Original Content Ryan McGuffey, Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown celebrates the remarkable 22-year MLB career of one of the greatest players to ever don a White Sox uniform.  Baines, who finished his career with 2,866 hits, opens up to Garfien about being selected #1 overall in the 1977 MLB Draft by the White Sox, why he still hasn’t spoken with Larry Himes since the trade that sent him to Texas in 1989, having his number retired by the White Sox while still being an active player, the apology that President George W. Bush gave him when the 2005 White Sox visited the White House and why he believes baseball writers left him out of the HOF prior to being selected by the Veterans Committee last December.  A six-time All-Star, Baines ranks third in White Sox history with 221 HR, only Paul Konerko and Frank Thomas have more. 

In addition to the exclusive, candid interview with Baines, Welcome to Cooperstown also includes interviews with White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Baines’ former teammate, 1983 AL “Rookie of the Year” and current White Sox community relations ambassador Ron Kittle.

Please note the following quotes from the NBC Sports Chicago Original Production of Harold Baines: Welcome to Cooperstown, hosted by Chuck Garfien, debuting Friday night, July 19 immediately following “White Sox Postgame Live” (9:30 PM CT, time approx.):

BAINES on being able to play 22 seasons in the big leagues: “I didn’t have anything to fall back on. I didn’t go to college. I was a high school kid who was in the right spot at the right time…and took my father’s advice and put my head down and went to work. You need a lot of luck. I had a lot of injuries, but I was fortunate enough to do enough to keep people interested in my talents.”

BAINES on being traded to Texas in 1989: “I wasn’t happy about it. (‘Who traded you?’) Larry Himes…and I still haven’t spoken to him. We haven’t spoken to each other, not even when I got traded. Jeff Torborg told me I got traded. It hurt a lot…and then you come back a month later and they retire your number. How do you figure that?!”

BAINES on President George W. Bush saying that trading Sammy Sosa for Baines was the worst thing he had done as an adult: “He actually apologized to me at the White House when we went there after we won (the 2005 World Series), and he sent me a congratulations letter when I got put in the Hall of Fame, and I have it framed.”

REINSDORF on Baines being inducted into the Hall of Fame: “A great deal of joy. The fact is he deserved to be in the Hall of Fame and I wish he had gone in sooner. Clearly, it’s a great thing for Harold and great thing for our organization.”

REINSDORF on Baines being traded to Texas in ‘89: “I remember calling Harold after it was completed and I remember being in tears on the phone talking to him…and then of course on the next trip in, when the Rangers came in, I retired his number.”

KITTLE on Baines being just shy of 3,000 career MLB hits: “What is he, 150 or some hits shy of 3,000? I would have given him my hits to get him to 3,000 and I wouldn’t do it for another person who’s ever played baseball.”

BAINES on how his life will be different after being inducted into the Hall of Fame: “I’ll still go back to my little small town of St. Michael’s (Maryland) and live my life. It won’t change that much. I can probably make a change, but I’m 60 years old and I’m not trying to get any busier. I’m trying to go the other way.”

For a full recap of this weekend’s Hall of Fame festivities in Cooperstown and the very latest White Sox news, videos, podcasts, and more, fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com/WhiteSox and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

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

Chicago White Sox know we haven't seen the best of Eloy Jimenez

Chicago White Sox know we haven't seen the best of Eloy Jimenez

Eloy Jimenez is always smiling and joking, and laughing, and waving, and saying hi to his mom on TV. You'd never know that not everything went his way during his rookie season.

Despite the 31 home runs and his white-hot month of September, the rookie year-struggles were there and definitely had an effect on the happy-go-lucky Jimenez.

 “At the beginning [of the season] I tried to do too much,” Jimenez said. “And the injuries didn’t help me a lot.

“At the end, I felt like everything was slowed down and was easy because I just tried to play the game and enjoy the game. At the beginning, I had too much pressure because I tried to do too much.”

Of course, Jimenez doesn’t go long without a joke.

“This year is going to be better because now that we’ve got Luis Robert, the attention is not going to be on me,” he said. “It’s going to be better.”

Whether or not it’s because there’s a new uber-prospect to soak up the attention, improvement in 2020 seems to be a consistent opinion when it comes to Jimenez, who was the prospect everyone was drooling over at this time last year. As he mentioned, out-of-the-gate adjustments to the big leagues and two trips to the injured list prevented his rookie season from being a runaway success.

Still, we saw more than a few glimpses of what got everyone so revved up in the first place. The night of his first major league home run, he hit two. At Yankee Stadium. Twice, he disturbed the foliage of the center-field batter’s eye, something that was overlooked thanks to the ball he sent all the way to the staircase on the left side of the fan deck.

And who could forget the game-winning, broken-bat homer to beat the team that traded him on that June night at Wrigley Field? It’s arguably the biggest on-field moment of the rebuild to date,  

And like everyone is saying, that’s just scratching the surface of what this guy can do.

“He's good already,” White Sox designated hitter and longtime friend, Edwin Encarnacion, said. “He's going to get better but he's good already. It's very impressive what he's done in his first year playing in the big leagues. I remember my first year. I wasn't even close to the way he is right now. It's going to be fun watching him play.”

Sorry, Eloy. Even though Robert is everyone’s new favorite youngster, the Jimenez hype train is ready to pull out of the station once more. In his first interview this spring, he was asked if he think he can hit 50 home runs in a season someday. He didn’t disappoint.

“Why not?” he replied. “Yeah, it’s a big number but my goal is every year to have better numbers than the past year. So I think, one day, I can hit 50 plus. But let’s see.”

RELATED: Is a Moncada extension coming?

Of course, hitting home runs is the thing we know Jimenez can do and do well. What the White Sox want to see from him in his sophomore season is improvement in other areas, particularly ones away from the plate. Jimenez has impressed with his bat but he did much the opposite with his glove, at least to those who winced when they saw him racing down fly balls in left field.

Defensive plays also led to both of his stays on the injured list. The first came when he attempted to rob an un-robbable home run and sprained his ankle planting his leg into the outfield wall. Later that summer, he crashed into Charlie Tilson in left-center in Kansas City and suffered an ulnar nerve contusion.

In general, he made many fans uneasy with other misadventures in the outfield.

“We really need him to step it up and continue to improve on his defensive end in left field. We’ve talked about that,” manager Rick Renteria said early on in spring training. “He started having some growth out there last year, in my opinion.

“I asked him, ‘do you want me to take you out in the seventh, eighth or ninth?’ He goes, ‘no.’ I asked him that today. You can ask him. He wants to stay in there.

“I want him to be the best left fielder that the Chicago White Sox can put out there. I don’t want to be timid about using him out there in the late innings in a ballgame.”

Jimenez agrees.

“I don’t want to come out in the ninth inning,” he said. “I want to be able to play nine innings. So that’s why this year, I’m putting more effort into the defense so I can play the whole game.”

That’s the more politically correct way of putting it. At SoxFest, he was asked if he would be better suited as a designated hitter. He responded: “F**k that.”

But whether we’re talking about his eye-popping skills at the plate or his work-in-progress style in left field, there’s a common theme: We have not seen the best of Eloy Jimenez. And how could we have? The guy is just 23 years old with only 122 big league games under his belt.

Encarnacion, for one, sees high-level greatness in Jimenez’s future, telling Chuck Garfien on a recent White Sox Talk Podcast that “he has the talent to hit over 500 homers in the major leagues. I know he can do it.”

Fifty homers? Five hundred homers? Does anyone want to bring some more conservative projections to this conversation?

“With the talent that they have,” Jose Abreu said, through team interpreter Billy Russo, of the White Sox crop of young hitters, “they can do whatever they want to do.”

All right, then. Fifty and 500 it is.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: The Yermin Mercedes Appreciation Podcast!

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Yermin Mercedes Appreciation Podcast!

The man the fans are clamoring for, Yermin Mercedes sits down with host Chuck Garfien to discuss why Sox fans love him, and his goals as a player. Chuck also gets some inside information on Yermin from teammates Carson Fulmer and Danny Mendick, and White Sox director of player development Chris Getz. You wanted Yermin, we got you Yermin.

(2:05) - Who the heck is Yermin Mercedes?

(6:41) - Interview with Yermin Mercedes

(16:07) - How did the Sox acquire Yermin with Chris Getz

(19:09) - Carson Fulmer on Yermin Mercedes's improvement as a baseball player

(22:03) - Danny Mendick on the uniqueness of Yermin Mercedes

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: