White Sox

Tim Anderson: MVP? Why the White Sox shortstop wants to be like Derrick Rose

Tim Anderson: MVP? Why the White Sox shortstop wants to be like Derrick Rose

Seated on stage last Friday during the live broadcast of “SoxFest at Night,” Tim Anderson could hear the chants coming from an excitable White Sox audience, seeing their beloved shortstop, looking to predict his MLB future.

“MVP!  MVP!” they shouted.

For fans of the Bulls and a certain hometown hero, Anderson’s response that night had a familiar ring to it.

“Why not?” Anderson answered back, finding his inner Derrick Rose, who famously posed the same question at a press conference before the 2010-11 season. When Rose said it, few believed he was ready to win the NBA MVP that early in his career, but the 22-year-old backed up his words, winning the MVP award in a landslide over LeBron James and Dwight Howard.

Speaking with Anderson this week in an interview for NBC Sports Chicago, the White Sox star elaborated on his belief that he can win an MVP one day, as well as his connection to Rose, who has more in common with Anderson than you might think.

“It’s possible,” Anderson said about his chances of winning the AL MVP someday. “Nobody said I can win the batting title. I did. Why can’t that be in store for me? Why can’t I do that? All I’ve got to do is continue putting the work in and keep playing hard. The tools are there. It’s just up on me now. Am I saying it’s going to happen? I don’t know. Is it possible? Yeah. All I got to do is go out and play hard. We’ll see what happens.”

Anderson had never heard about Rose’s “Why not?” press conference until he saw a video mashing up his words with Rose's. They’re almost identical.

And it turns out that Rose and Anderson have more in common than just those two famous words.

“I feel his energy. I feel where he’s coming from, being counted out,” Anderson said about Rose. “Everybody doesn’t believe things can happen for you, but that’s when you really show it the most. A lot of people count you out.”

Anderson and Rose have never met, but they’ve exchanged text messages. Anderson has even invited Rose to a White Sox game to throw out a first pitch.

“He’s someone I definitely look up to,” Anderson said about the former Bulls star. “The things that he’s been through, from his leg injuries. I’ve kind of been in that situation, as well. I kind of know what that’s like.”

During his sophomore season in high school, Anderson injured both his knees playing basketball and almost quit sports entirely after suffering the second knee injury. Instead, he decided to try baseball, picking up the game for the first time as a junior in high school. Starting a sport like baseball that late is no easy feat. Ask Michael Jordan. Anderson has been playing catch up ever since. Considering almost every major leaguer has been playing baseball regularly since they were in elementary school or younger, it’s quite an accomplishment he’s actually made it this far.

But that hasn’t prevented Anderson from attempting to reach the potential he knows exists inside him, a voice that doesn’t listen to critics or skeptics, just like Rose.

“I know where (Rose) is coming from, being counted out numerous times. Instead he keeps bouncing back and bouncing back. I’m ready to work towards whatever’s in store for me and take it on head first without looking back.”

Before Anderson’s breakout season at the plate in 2019, there was an endless supply of critics who were against him. To their defense, the statistical data backed their case. In 2018, Anderson hit .240/.281/.406 with 149 strikeouts and an 87 OPS+ (a 100 OPS+ is league average). Would the White Sox 2013 first-round pick ever reach the lofty expectations that were placed at his feet on draft day? The doubters were growing in numbers.

But Anderson changed the narrative in a big way in 2019, not only stunning the baseball world by winning the AL batting title, but by turning himself into a household name with his culture-changing bat flips that captured the attention of the younger generation the game is trying to attract.

Defensively, Anderson has room to improve. His 26 errors were the most in baseball.

If you want to label him an inferior shortstop right now, go ahead, but consider the player we’re talking about here and the inner strength that only builds when people doubt him.

“I know how good I want to be, so I don’t really need someone to label me, to tell me how good I am or how good I can be, because that’s within myself,” Anderson said. “I don’t really like when people say, ‘He’s going to be this type of player.’ Anything can happen. Anything is possible. So that’s why I keep working and proving those people wrong.”

And if you think Anderson’s belief that he can win an MVP award one day is an unrealistic goal, he’s not stopping there.

He’s aiming higher. Much higher.“I want to be the best. You see those top athletes like LeBron and Michael Jordan and see the things that they did. Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be different in baseball? Why can’t I be different in this sport? Why can’t I be one of those guys? Just kind of have the same mentality that they did. Playing in Chicago, it’s a big city. I just try to go out and have fun with it and be the best player I can be.”

Trust in White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu dwindled early in 2005 season

USA Today

Trust in White Sox closer Shingo Takatsu dwindled early in 2005 season

Early in the 2005 season, there was one White Sox player that fans thought was on thin ice and another who actually was on thin ice.

Despite playing great defense at third base, Joe Crede hadn’t exactly won over the fan base yet. He hit just .239 in 2004 with a .717 OPS in his second full major league season. He was already 27 and the White Sox had used their first round draft pick in 2004 to select hot shot third baseman Josh Fields, who was already considered an MLB Top 100 prospect.

So when Crede got off to a 3-for-21 start in the team’s first six games in ’05, there were already calls for his benching.

It wasn't going to happen. Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen were prepared to be patient with Crede. They seemed more concerned with closer Shingo Takatsu.

Takatsu had taken the South Side by storm in 2004, entering games in the ninth inning to standing ovations and the sound of a gong playing over the speakers at U.S. Cellular Field. After taking over the closing duties in June, Takatsu converted 19-of-20 save opportunities in his first year with the White Sox.

Still, there were concerns that his unique frisbee style of pitching wouldn't last once teams saw Takatsu more than once. Those concerns were heightened when the Indians tagged him for three solo home runs on April 7, 2005, leading to the White Sox’s first loss of the season. Takatsu’s only blown save in 2004 also came to the Indians and Guillen was already voicing his concerns.

“I might not use him against (the Indians),” Guillen told the Chicago Tribune. “They have a good left-handed lineup. Right now, he’s going to be there no matter what. We’re going to see the next couple days.”

It wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence, especially considering the White Sox had already played three straight close games against the Indians, including two one-run victories.

But that was the situation as the White Sox went to Cleveland with a 4-2 record for the Indians’ home opener. Freddy Garcia took the mound for his second start of the season, while Kevin Millwood countered for the 3-3 Indians.

Here was Guillen’s lineup:

LF Scott Podsednik
2B Tadahito Iguchi
DH Carl Everett
1B Paul Konerko
RF Jermaine Dye
CF Aaron Rowand
SS Pablo Ozuna
C Chris Widger
3B Joe Crede

The White Sox-Indians game from Apr. 11, 2005 will air Saturday at 4 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago. For the full White Sox Rewind schedule from the 2005 season, click here.

Remember That Guy: White Sox infielder Geoff Blum


Remember That Guy: White Sox infielder Geoff Blum

Say “Game 3” to any White Sox fan and there’s one name that will immediately come to mind.

Geoff Blum.

Blum was born April 26, 1973 in Redwood City, Calif. He was a star shortstop for Chino High School in Chino, Calif and attended UC Berkeley, where he was All-Pac 10 in 1994. The Montreal Expos selected him in the seventh round of the 1994 MLB Draft. After the 1995 minor league season at high-A West Palm Beach, he spent his winter playing for the Hunter Eagles of the Australian League. In 1996, Blum played at Harrisburg (AA) of the Eastern League, then moved up to Triple-A Ottawa for 1997.

He had his best minor league season in 1998 when he hit .277 with six home runs across four levels, though he missed some time with an elbow injury. Blum started 1999 in Ottawa and finally, on Aug. 9, made his MLB debut for Les Expos de Montréal, going 2-for-4 with a run, double and two RBIs in an 8-0 win over the Padres at Stade Olympique.

Blum is the only player in Expos history (1969-2004) to collect multiple hits AND multiple RBIs in a major league debut. On Aug. 13 in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Coors Field, Blum hit his first big league home run off Mike DeJean. As it turns out, all eight of his home runs in 1999 came on the road, including one off Randy Johnson on Aug. 31 in Arizona.

2000 was Blum’s first full MLB season and he hit a respectable .283/.335/.449 with 11 home runs. He played all four infield positions, something he’d end up doing every year from 2000-08. Add in Blum’s ability to switch hit and that’s a pretty valuable guy to have on a team. Blum’s teammates with the 1999-2000 Expos included future 2005 White Sox teammates Dustin Hermanson and Chris Widger.

In 2001, Blum took a step back, hitting .236/.313/.351, though on July 5, he became the fifth player in Expos history to homer from both sides of the plate in a game. The Expos dealt him to the Astros in March 2002 for third baseman Chris Truby.

Blum responded with his finest season, hitting .283/.367/.440 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs. He logged his lone career five-hit game on April 19, 2003, a 14-inning loss in Milwaukee. It seems as if there was something about 14-inning games that brought out the best in Blum, as would be illustrated again later. Another 2003 highlight was Blum’s career-long 16-game hitting streak from June 25 to July 17.

In 2004, Blum repeated his 10 home runs and 52 RBI from the previous season. After his rate stats took a dip and at the end of the season, the Astros dealt him to Tampa Bay for pitcher Brandon Backe.

Blum had a down year for Lou Piniella’s 70-91 Rays, posting a career-low .215 batting average with 8 home runs in 112 games. Two of those home runs were on May 4 –– one from each side of the plate –– and Blum became the first player in Rays history to pull that off. He signed with the Padres for 2005, playing all over the infield with a respectable .241/.321/.375 slash line in 78 games. San Diego dealt him at the trade deadline.

At the time, the White Sox were reportedly interested in A.J. Burnett of the Marlins, Jason Schmidt of the Giants and Billy Wagner of the Phillies. Instead, they brought in insurance for Joe Crede and his ailing back, acquiring  Blum for pitcher Ryan Meaux. To make room for Blum on the roster, as well as pitcher Jon Adkins (who was recalled from the minors at the time) both Ross Gload and Willie Harris were optioned to Charlotte.

Blum ended up playing 31 games down the stretch, hitting .200 with a home run – Aug. 29 at Texas. But the move paid dividends. Blum popped out in a pinch hit appearance for Paul Konerko in Game 1 of the ALDS and wouldn’t appear in another game until Game 3 of the World Series. He entered in the 13th inning when he came out to play second base, replacing Bobby Jenks in the fifth spot of the batting order.

After a Jermaine Dye single and a Paul Konerko double play, it seemed as if Astros reliever Ezequiel Astacio was going to escape the top of the 14th inning with the score tied at five. Not so fast.

Blum poked a 2-0 pitch down the right field line and into the stands to give the White Sox a 6-5 lead. The Sox tacked on another run to make it 7-5, which held, and then won Game 4 to sweep the series.

Blum is one of four players in MLB history to homer in their lone career World Series at-bat, along with Jim Mason in 1976, Bobby Kielty in 2007 and Michael A. Taylor in 2019. Blum is also one of only two players in World Series history to hit a go-ahead/game winning home run in his only World Series at-bat, joining Kirk Gibson in 1988.

It was Blum’s last appearance in a White Sox uniform. He signed a one-year deal with the Padres in 2006 and performed admirably, hitting 12-for-31 (.387) as a pinch hitter and starting at shortstop in the NLDS against the Cardinals. He signed for another year in 2007 before spending 2008-10 with the Astros.

Blum hit a career-high 14 home runs in 2008, and in 2009 he recorded three walk-off hits – the only three of his career - including consecutive games against the Cubs on June 10-11. In 2010, Blum suffered one of the more unusual injuries in baseball history when he hurt his elbow while putting on a shirt.

Blum appeared in 40 games for the Diamondbacks over 2011-12 and called it a career. He debuted as Astros TV color commentator in 2013 and has been in that role ever since.

On March 3, Chino High School retired Blum’s No. 11. He is the first athlete in the school’s 123-year history to have a number retired. He also wore No. 11 for the Expos as well as with the Rays. He wore that number in honor of former All-Star third baseman Doug DeCinces.

Blum’s MLB career included 1,389 games, a .250 batting average, 990 hits and 99 home runs, with five career multi-HR games. Oh yeah, and one huge World Series home run.

Geoff Blum. We remember that guy!

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