White Sox

White Sox pitcher Steve Cishek knows the real heroes in the fight against COVID-19

White Sox pitcher Steve Cishek knows the real heroes in the fight against COVID-19

We often refer to baseball players as heroes for the special gifts they bring to the field and the incredible feats that wow us on the sport’s biggest stage.

But over the last few weeks, we are quickly learning who the true heroes are in our society in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

They include the hospital workers who heal us and the grocery workers who help to feed us.

These selfless individuals have a special place in the heart of White Sox pitcher Steve Cishek.

They’re members of his own family.

There’s his mom Susie, who works as an X-ray technician at Falmouth Hospital in Massachusetts five to six days a week.

“I’m proud of my mom and the work she’s doing there, but at the same time I’m thinking about her every day,” Cishek said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “The thing I worry about with her is she has pretty bad asthma, so (COVID-19) being a respiratory illness, it’s a little bit alarming if she were to get it.”

Cishek says she doesn’t work on the floor designated for COVID-19 patients. “But she’s just as exposed as anyone else going in there,” said Cishek, who posted a photo of his mom showing the extra protective clothing she must wear at all times, including gloves, a mask and face shield.

And there's more that adds to Cishek’s concerns. When his mom’s work day is over, she goes home, immediately puts her clothes in the washing machine, cleans up and goes to take care of her mother.

“She’s also around my grandmother quite a bit, and we don’t want our grandmother to get sick. So we think about them a lot. We’re praying for them both,” said Cishek, whose grandmother worked in the linens department at a hospital for more than 40 years. “It hits home a little bit more. It gets a lot more serious when you’re seeing your family on the front lines, essentially.”

Cishek’s cousin has been up close with the virus. She works in the emergency room at the Jupiter Medical Center around 85 miles north of Miami.

“Thankfully, things have calmed down there quite a bit,” Cishek said of his cousin's hospital. “She hasn’t been asked to come in to work all that much because it’s been really slowing down, so that’s encouraging. She’s a brave soul.”

Meanwhile, his uncle works as a produce manager at Stop & Shop grocery store in Falmouth.

“He’s almost as affected as my mom is at the hospital because he’s around these people all day, he’s putting out all this produce. Who knows what he’s walking into?” Cishek explained. “He survived a small bout of cancer a few years ago. Obviously, his immune system isn’t the strongest, so we think about him, as well, too.”

Not to mention Cishek’s dad is a diabetic.

Taking the mound in the major leagues takes talent, but it also takes guts, hard work and dealing with pressure. They all come with the job. They are traits Cishek might have gotten from his mom.

“She doesn’t panic at all,” he said. “She’s one of the most selfless people I’ve met. My mom has worked fingers to the bone her whole life. That’s the way my grandmother was. My mom was born in Portugal, came over with my grandfather and grandmother when she was 7.”

The pandemic has been a major disruption for everyone, no matter what you do for a living. It threw Cishek a curveball while he was training in Glendale, Arizona.

“At first, I was having a little bit of a hard time with it, especially when I was in Arizona,” said Cishek, who originally was planning on staying in the Phoenix area with his family while working out at the White Sox spring training facility. “Then literally like the next day, everything just flipped over. (We were) told, 'You guys should probably consider going home. We’re only going to be allowed to have this many people at the facility. We have no idea how long this is going to be.'”

Without a playbook telling him how to safely get his family from Phoenix to their home in Jupiter, Florida, during a pandemic, Cishek improvised a plan.

“If we leave first thing in the morning on a Southwest flight, that’s the cleanest the plane is going to be. They sterilize it like crazy. Let’s just wear it, get up early in the morning, get on the plane and get home and just weather the storm in the comfort of our own home,” he explained.

“They were tough decisions to make, but at the end of the day, we felt like we did the right thing.”

Since arriving back in Florida, Cishek has been busy training in his backyard, prepping for a baseball season that might or might not come.

“This spring was the best I’ve felt in years,” he said. “Everything was clicking. I felt great.

“I’ve backed off a bit. Obviously, I’m not facing hitters. I’ve kept my arm in shape. If we get word that spring training is on the horizon, then I’m going to start ramping back up.”

We all want baseball to return, at the very least to just give us back some normalcy. There are moments during the day, even if only flashes, when things do feel like they used to. Cishek said his mom even experiences that when she’s driving to work.

“It’s like just another day of work, but then when she walks in the doors it’s like, 'Oh yeah, this is going on,'” Cishek said. “It’s hard for her and hard for a lot of us to wrap our heads around. It’s just so surreal. That’s the best way to describe it.”

Fortunately, it seems there might be some good news in this corner of Massachusetts.

“She can’t disclose a lot of that stuff, but what she did tell me it’s actually quieting down. It hasn’t been as bad as she would have expected. I’m thankful for that. The quieter these hospitals get the better because our loved ones out there aren’t getting exposed, and it means all the self-quarantining seems to be working, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

And we can thank everyone on the front lines — the real heroes in this fight — for shining their own lights and being there for all of us.

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 complete sweep of Twins as power surge continues

MLB The Show: White Sox complete sweep of Twins as power surge continues

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 13-4
Record: 24-29, T-3rd in A.L. Central (5.5 GB of Twins)

W: Dylan Cease (3-3)
L: Rich Hill (3-4)

Game summary: Things couldn’t have gone any better for the White Sox in this weekend’s four-game series vs the Twins. The South Siders took the first three games by offensive force and the finale was no different.

Nick Madrigal’s unlikely tenure in the cleanup spot has mostly been underwhelming, until Sunday afternoon. The slight-in-stature second baseman ripped a three-run homer to left to give the White Sox the lead in the first.

Chicago doubled the advantage in the second, when Edwin Encarnacion slugged a two-run homer and Eloy Jimenez drilled a solo shot. Jimenez remains the gift that keeps on giving, as he now has 19 long balls on the season, second in the American League and already a career-high. The White Sox led 6-0 after two frames.

Meanwhile, Jose Abreu continued his torrid stretch. The first baseman extended his hitting streak to 17 games, going a perfect 4-for-4 on Sunday. He also went deep twice: a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run blast in the eighth. His five-RBI night ensured this was yet another blowout vs. the division leaders.

The White Sox clobbered the Twins 13-4 for their sixth straight win and suddenly sit just 5.5 games back in the AL Central.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 2-5, HR (15), 2 RBI, 2 R (.312 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-5, 2B, HR (19), RBI, 3 R (.270 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-4, R (.258 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-5, HR (6), 3 RBI, 3 R (.246 BA)
Jose Abreu:  4-4, 2 HR (17), 5 RBI, 3 R (.309 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5, RBI (.296 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-4 (.240 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-5, R (.295 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-5, RBI (.244 BA)

Scoring Summary:

Top first

Nick Madrigal homered to left field, Edwin Encarnacion and Eloy Jimenez scored. 3-0 CHW.

Top second

Encarnacion homered to left field, Yasmani Grandal scored. 5-0 CHW.
Jimenez homered to center field. 6-0 CHW.

Bottom second

Mitch Garver homered to center field. 6-1 CHW.

Bottom fourth

Garver homered to left field, Josh Donaldson scored. 6-3 CHW.

Top fifth

Jose Abreu homered to center field, Madrigal scored. 8-3 CHW.

Top seventh

Tim Anderson singled to center field, Yoan Moncada scored. 9-3 CHW.
Nomar Mazara singled to second baseman, Abreu scored. 10-3 CHW.

Top eighth

Abreu homered to left field, Jimenez and Madrigal scored. 13-3 CHW.

Bottom ninth

Eddie Rosario doubled to center field, Donaldson scored. 13-4 CHW.

Notable performance: The home run played a vital role in this series sweep of the Twins. The White Sox hit 14 long balls as they completely eviscerated the division leaders in four games.

Next game: Monday, May 25 - Game 54: White Sox at Orioles (Reynaldo Lopez, 4-2, 4.36 ERA vs Asher Wojciechowski, 1-5, 4.89 ERA)

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: 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? 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.