White Sox

Report: White Sox felt best way to pitch future Hall of Famer Bryce Harper was with current Hall of Famer Jim Thome

Report: White Sox felt best way to pitch future Hall of Famer Bryce Harper was with current Hall of Famer Jim Thome

The race for Bryce Harper is on. And while information regarding the running order is hard to come by, the White Sox reportedly have a bib.

It's been just about a month since the initial report of their interest in signing Harper, the biggest fish in this winter's free-agent pond who's expected to receive the richest contract in baseball history. Flurries of other reports have painted the White Sox offseason as an aggressive one as they are perhaps looking to infuse their rebuilding effort with one of the game's best players.

Well, we have at least a couple more details on the White Sox pursuit of Harper from Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan and Tim Brown. Apparently the White Sox are one of about 12 teams who have already met with or plan to meet with Harper in Las Vegas, his hometown and the site of this month's Winter Meetings. The South Siders must be in the former category because Passan and Brown added that they used Jim Thome as part of their pitch.

What better way to try to lure a future Hall of Famer to your team than with a current Hall of Famer?

Of course, the biggest news in Passan and Brown's report is that the Los Angeles Dodgers used a similar strategy, sending owner and sports icon Magic Johnson to pitch Harper on the wonders of Southern California. Thome didn't have the surf to sell, obviously, but he's as much of an expert as you'll find on the benefits of putting on a White Sox uniform. He spent four seasons on the South Side, witnessed firsthand the aftermath, if not the actual event, of a World Series winning team and can speak to getting the royal treatment in his post-playing career. The team put him in the front office upon his retirement and showered him with deserved praise in celebrating his Hall of Fame induction this past summer.

Thome can also speak to playing for the team considered by some the favorite to land Harper, the Philadelphia Phillies. The White Sox acquired him in a trade with the Phillies after his third year in the City of Brotherly Love. You'd have to imagine, as a representative of the White Sox, he had more good things to say about Chicago.

It's hard to get a sense of the timing of Harper's decision or the specific frontrunners from the details in this report. You'd have to imagine Harper's decision won't come before the Winter Meetings, giving him a chance to meet with however many of baseball's 30 clubs want to pitch him when they all descend on Sin City. As for which of those teams already have or have plans to? The White Sox were mentioned alongside the Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees in that roughly 12-team group. The Cubs, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals were name dropped in the report, as well.

Regardless of who they're from, the White Sox will surely be competing against extremely lucrative offers, though with all the reports about their aggressiveness, it makes sense their's would be, too. After all, it'd be hard to be in on Harper if you weren't willing to hand out one of the biggest contracts ever, and the White Sox have been touting their financial flexibility, general manager Rick Hahn's preferred phrase to explain the fact that the team has hardly any long-term financial commitments to speak of.

The biggest hurdle seems to be their pitch of planned future success as opposed to pitches of immediate, championship-caliber rosters that Harper could join. The White Sox rebuild still has big league success as coming a year or two down the road, and even with a talent as immense as Harper's, would they even be a playoff team in 2019? Compare that to, say, the Yankees, who won 100 games last year and have an All-Star type player at most of the positions on the field. Joining that, if the money were equal, would seem difficult to pass up.

But Hahn, for one, believes the White Sox loaded farm system and the bright future it's planned to yield is a darn good selling point, too.

And having a Hall of Famer like Thome as the pitchman can't hurt, either.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: Underdogs? 14-run ALDS coming-out party said otherwise

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Underdogs? 14-run ALDS coming-out party said otherwise

The White Sox were the best team in the American League in 2005.

And yet, during a field report in the first inning of the first playoff game on the South Side that postseason, what did ESPN’s Erin Andrews call the White Sox?

Underdogs.

Underdogs? Ninety-nine wins and they were underdogs?

Of course, it didn’t bother the White Sox. Teams are always happy to wear the underdog mentality like a badge of honor.

Andrews relayed this quote from Ozzie Guillen: “When you are the White Sox, you have to accomplish something or you’re not going to be in the spotlight.”

Boy, did they grab the spotlight in Game 1 of the ALDS.

White Sox fans know what Guillen was talking about all too well, what with the attention the Cubs are always receiving, in good times or bad, on the other side of town. And it should have come as no surprise that the defending-champion Boston Red Sox, the White Sox adversaries in this ALDS, would receive the lion’s share of the attention from the national media.

And so, despite leading the AL Central from wire to wire, despite grabbing the top seed on the AL side of the playoff bracket, they still had to do something to capture the attention of the baseball world at large.

Scoring 14 runs sure counts as something.

A team that wins 99 games shouldn’t require a “coming-out party.” But the White Sox did it anyway, making some big-time noise against the Red Sox and doing it quickly. They scored five runs in the first inning, A.J. Pierzynski delivering the big blow with a three-run home run off Matt Clement, a blast that whipped an already electric crowd into a new level of frenzy.


The runs didn’t stop coming. Paul Konerko homered in the third inning to make it a 6-0 game. Juan Uribe hit a two-run shot in the fourth. Scott Podsednik, after finishing the regular season with a grand total of zero home runs, hit a three-run homer in the sixth. Pierzynski homered again in the eighth.

Oh, and Jose Contreras pretty well silenced a Red Sox lineup featuring two of the world’s best hitters, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, over 7.2 innings of two-run ball.

Underdogs? Really?

RELATED: White Sox 2005 Rewind: 7 nominees for South Side’s regular-season MVP

Again, the White Sox probably didn’t care. Or if they did care, they were happy to hear it, drawing some motivation in a way that everyone can understand after watching “The Last Dance.”

But the way ESPN play-by-play announcer Chris Berman said, “You wouldn’t know that Chicago hit more home runs than Boston,” really said it all. Because anyone who didn’t know that — granted, the Red Sox scored more runs than any team in 2005 — simply hadn’t been watching.

The Red Sox pitching staff was atrocious in the season following their World Series win. Mr. Bloody Sock, Curt Schilling, had an ERA approaching 6.00. Same, too, for former White Sox closer Keith Foulke. No one in the Boston rotation had an ERA under 4.00. A Red Sox team that a season prior won it all started Clement and David Wells in Games 1 and 2 of their next trip to the playoffs. On the broadcast, the word “patchwork” was used to describe a Red Sox bullpen that had the AL’s highest ERA.

The White Sox wasted no time jumping all over that shaky staff, scoring eight runs off Clement before the second out of the fourth inning, then tagging the Red Sox ‘pen for another half dozen runs before Game 1 was over.

That, too, shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

While the final month of the season was indeed a white-knuckle ride that nearly ended with a dramatic collapse, the White Sox stayed on track enough to avoid missing out on October baseball. That was thanks in no small part to the efforts of Contreras, Konerko, Jermaine Dye and others. Anyone who watched this team all season long knew what they were capable of.

After bashing the brains of the defending champs in on national TV in their first playoff game, everyone knew.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 2 of the ALDS, airing at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Chicago.

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.

MLB The Show: White Sox put together late comeback, take down rival Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox put together late comeback, take down rival Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Twins, 9-5

Record: 23-29, 3rd in A.L. Central (6.5 GB of Twins)

W: Jimmy Cordero (2-0)
L: Trevor May (0-1)

Game summary: The White Sox got a solid start from Dallas Keuchel, who went six innings against the high-powered Twins offense and only surrendered three earned runs. The Twins scored two runs off Jimmy Cordero in the seventh via a Byron Buxton homer and a Josh Donaldson RBI single to take a temporary a 5-4 lead.

The Sox were in desperate need of a boost in the eighth to keep their winning streak alive and luckily enough, Yasmani Grandal came up clutch. His two-run home run to center field gave the White Sox a 6-5 lead and silenced the Target Field crowd. 

Chicago added three insurance runs in the ninth on RBI singles from Grandal and Nomar Mazara to stretch the lead to four. Rick Renteria went with Jace Fry in the ninth to close things out, and the lefty went three up three down to end the contest. 

The Sox have now won nine of their last 10 games and that’s in part to an offensive explosion of late. Grandal is leading the charge with eight home runs in his last nine games and his 18 home runs rank second in the American League. Grandal also ranks second in the AL in WAR (3.7), trailing league leader Anthony Rendon (4.2). 

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-6 (.309 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-5 (.261 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 3-4, 2 2B, RBI (.258 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 2-5 (.248 BA)
Jose Abreu: 1-4, BB (.296 BA)
Tim Anderson: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI (.299 BA)
Luis Robert: 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI (.240 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 2-2, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB (.297 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 2-5, RBI (.245 BA)

Scoring summary:

Bottom first:

Josh Donaldson hit sacrifice fly to center field, Byron Buxton scored. 1-0 MIN.

Bottom third:

Donaldson singled to center field, Miguel Sano scored. 2-0 MIN.

Top fifth:

Tim Anderson homered to left field. 2-1 MIN.

Bottom fifth:

Donaldson grounded out to second base, Ehire Adrianza scored. 3-1 MIN.

Top sixth:

Luis Robert doubled to left field, Jose Abreu and Anderson scored. 3-3.

Top seventh:

Yoan Moncada doubled to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 4-3 CHW.

Bottom seventh:

Buxton homered to left field. 4-4.

Donaldson singled to center field, Sano scored. 5-4 MIN.

Top eighth:

Yasmani Grandal homered to center field, Robert scored. 6-5 CHW.

Top ninth:

Anderson hit sacrifice fly to right field, Moncada scored. 7-5 CHW.

Grandal singled to center field, Nick Madrigal scored. 8-5 CHW.

Nomar Mazara singled to center field, Abreu scored. 9-5 CHW.

Notable performance: With a single in the sixth, Abreu extended his hitting streak to 17 games on Saturday. Abreu has been red hot this month, batting .395 in May with seven homers and 18 RBIs. His production has been a welcome sign after batting .239 in April.

Next game: Sunday, May 24 - Game 53: White Sox at Twins (Dylan Cease, 2-3, 4.60 ERA vs Rich Hill, 3-3, 4.96 ERA)

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