White Sox

Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Cliff Politte

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Cliff Politte

2005 was quite a year for late-round draft picks out of junior colleges in Missouri, especially Jefferson College.

That year, Cliff Politte had a career year and ended up with a new ring. Remember that guy?

Politte was born Feb. 27, 1974 in St. Louis. His father, Cliff, pitched in the Cardinals organization from 1959-65. The younger Politte captained the baseball and soccer teams at Vianney High School in St. Louis. In soccer, Politte was a midfielder and was part of two state titles.

Originally, Politte signed to play baseball for Memphis State, but the team wouldn’t agree to his wish to play outfield as well as pitch, so he ended up at Jefferson College.

Drafted by Cardinals in 54th round of 1995 MLB draft, Politte’s spot in the Jefferson rotation was filled by Mark Buehrle, his future White Sox teammate. Politte would pitch in the same game as Buehrle for the White Sox 38 times, including twice in the 2005 World Series.

The 54th round pick ended up the 1997 Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year, going 15-2 with a 2.22 ERA for Prince William (High-A, Carolina League ) and Arkansas (AA). He made the Opening Day roster in 1998.

It was quite a story for Politte to make his first MLB start at Busch Stadium for his hometown Cardinals. He got a no-decision but had a strong effort, going five innings, allowing two hits and a run against the Dodgers. The first hit he allowed was to his future teammate, Paul Konerko; his first strikeout was of former Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth.

Politte earned his first career win in his next start, a 12-11 slugfest at Coors Field. At the plate, he connected for his first career hit on April 23 – off another future teammate, Dustin Hermanson. In eight games in 1998 – all starts - he finished 2-3 with a 6.32 ERA in his first taste of major league action.

The homecoming didn’t last all too long. Politte was traded with Jeff Brantley and Ron Gant to the Phillies for Ricky Botallico and Garrett Stephenson on Nov. 19, 1998. Politte shuttled back and forth between the Phillies and the minors from 1999 through 2001, along the way making what would be his final eight career starts (all in 2000).

In 2002, after making 13 appearances with the Phillies, Politte was sent north of the border to Toronto, in exchange for lefty Dan Plesac. With the Blue Jays, Politte collected his first career major league save July 24 at Baltimore, and finished 2002 with a 3.67 ERA in 68 combined appearances with Philly and Toronto.

Politte had a run as Blue Jays closer in May 2003 where he racked up nine saves. He struggled with inconsistency, finishing the year with a 5.66 ERA to go along with 12 saves, and became a free agent at season's end. He inked a deal with the White Sox on Jan. 7, 2004 – a one-year deal with 2005 club option.

Politte’s first season with the White Sox went well enough even though it ended early. A 4.38 ERA was a little better than league average – it was a high run-scoring environment at a hitter’s park. He got into 54 games and collected 19 holds, but an emergency appendectomy on Sept. 1 cut his season short. 

Politte was a key cog for the 2005 White Sox, quickly settling into his role as setup man. Heading into the All-Star break, he had a microscopic 1.02 ERA, second in the majors among all pitchers with 30 or more innings. Only the great Mariano Rivera (1.01) was better. But not even Mo could match his 0.736 WHIP at the time. Politte strung together 20 straight scoreless outings from May 29 to July 17.

He finished the regular season with a sterling 2.00 ERA with 23 holds. He was one of only a few major leaguers to hold both lefties (.182) and righties (.181) under a .200 average. Politte even collected an RBI hit on June 8 at Colorado – something no White Sox reliever had done since Terry Forster in 1972.

Politte made four postseason appearances, tossing a scoreless frame in Game 1 of the ALDS, then collecting a hold in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the World Series. In total, he allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings. He finished 2004 with an appendectomy. He finished 2005 with a World Series ring.

Politte’s luck ran out in 2006. Regression hit hard, as he posted an 8.70 ERA in 30 appearances before the Sox released him on July 20. He signed on with the Indians for 2007 and the Cardinals for 2008 but never made it back to the bigs.

Vianney High School retired Politte’s No. 10 in 2008, and in 2010 both Mark Buehrle and Politte were inducted into the Jefferson College Athletic Hall of Fame. Not bad for guys selected in the 38th and 54th rounds, respectively.

Nowadays, Politte is a sales manager and estimator for Pipe and Ducts Systems in St. Louis.

SprtsTalk Live Podcast: Is MLB about to strike out forever?

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USA TODAY

SprtsTalk Live Podcast: Is MLB about to strike out forever?

David Haugh, Chuck Garfien and JJ Stankevitz join Kap on a Friday edition of STL. 

The MLB owners and players appear to be farther apart then ever with the union saying they will not take a further pay cut. Is the sport about to strike out forever?

Meanwhile, the Bulls season is over. Will a nine-month lay-off help or hurt them? Plus, the Bears may not get together as a team until training camp. Will that hurt them at all?

Finally, Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire as DePaul athletic director this summer. Can a new AD get the men’s basketball team back to national prominence?

0:00 - There’s still no baseball and the two sides don’t even appear to be in the same ballpark. Are the owners and players heading for a mutually assured destruction? Does one side need to give in first for the good of the game?

11:00 - The NBA is returning but the Bulls won’t take part. Is it better for them to have a 9-month lay-off?

15:00 - The Bears and other NFL teams may not get to work out together until training camp. Does the hurt the Bears?

19:00 - Jean Lenti Ponsetto will retire as DePaul AD this summer. Can a new AD bring the Blue Demons men’s basketball team back to national prominence?

 

Listen here or below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Report: 2020 MLB season will happen, how many baseball games is unclear

Report: 2020 MLB season will happen, how many baseball games is unclear

Fans looking for good news during the financial fight between baseball’s owners and players are getting it from SNY’s Andy Martino. He says there will be a baseball season in 2020.

No, there’s no imminent agreement between the two warring sides. But the worst-case scenario, no season at all, seems as if it will be avoided, per Martino, who reported Friday that players will play even if Major League Baseball sidesteps further negotiations and imposes a season of perhaps fewer than 50 games.

The league’s ability to do that was reported on earlier in the week, included as part of the March agreement between the two parties. The parsing of that agreement is at the center of these contentious money talks. The players agreed to prorated salaries based on the number of games played, but the owners believe they’re able to ask for further pay cuts now that they’ve deemed it economically impossible to play even half a season without fans in the stands and pay players half their salaries. Players, distrustful of that claim, say the owners should prove it by opening their books.

The players are standing firm in not accepting further pay cuts, with union chief Tony Clark saying Thursday any proposal of further cuts would be rejected. While there was some confusion over whether the owners would stop making proposals altogether, Martino reported that the league could make another financial offer to the union.

Here’s another wrinkle: The governor of Texas recently said that fans would be allowed to attend sporting events in that state. Thursday brought a report that Major League Baseball is likely to allow the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros to have fans in the stands, signaling that governors in the 17 different states where major league teams play would have the final say on whether they could sell tickets. That could mean more revenue, a significant variable thrown into this whole thing.


RELATED: Return-to-play negotiations: How Rob Manfred and Adam Silver's roles differ

So how many games are going to be played? That remains a question without an answer.

If the players refuse further pay cuts, as they’ve said they will, then perhaps a roughly 50-game season would be in the cards. If there are concessions as negotiations continue, that number could grow. Martino outlined that if the owners agree to pay those full prorated salaries for more than 50 games, perhaps we’ll see expanded playoffs, which was part of the players’ last proposal the league rejected. Perhaps we’d see players mic’d up during games. Perhaps we’d see the union stop demanding full financial transparency from ownership.

But no budging from either side and the league’s 50-game plan seems more realistic, despite the frustration it could spark among fans. While a 50-game schedule would mean a lot more off days, creating health benefits for players related to both typical baseball maladies and the coronavirus, it could be argued it would be an illegitimate way to crown a champion. However, there’s an argument to be made that a 50-game sprint would be a fascinating contrast to baseball’s typical 162-game marathon, often criticized for its at times glacial pace.

If the two sides can come to an agreement, perhaps that wished-for July 4 Opening Day would still be possible, though teams would have to hustle to start a second round of spring training, which was originally pitched to begin next week. If they can’t, then the league’s mandated 50-game season might start closer to the end of July, with the postseason played as usual, during the month of October.

But with the league adamant about the playoffs wrapping up no later than early November, fearing an increase in COVID-19 infections come fall, time is of the essence. And that’s what makes Martino say that next week is when we’ll find out how much baseball will be played in 2020.

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