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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago White Sox’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

White Sox centerfielders are like Bulls post-players or Bears QBs prior to the Jay Cutler signing — there’s nothing close to a blue chip stock in the portfolio, so all you can do is take the collection of junk bonds you have, and try to maximize your return.

Thirty-one-year-old DeWayne Wise was a career minor leaguer for a reason, and there’s no reason to expect his game will significantly improve when he returns in 6-8 weeks from injury. He earned the job coming out of spring training simply because, as the Dave Matthews Band once put it, “we’ll make the best of what’s around.” Of course, the criticism Wise received from White Sox Nation this April was grossly unfair, because he never possessed the talent and potential of the guy who’s now stepped into his place.

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Being the Chicago White Sox #1 fan is more than a hobby- it’s hard work requiring discipline, dedication and adherence to a routine. “This guy is serious about his Sox,” yelled a random White Sox fan in the U.S. Cellular Field parking lot when Soxman and I approached the gate on the home opener holiday. He was obviously referring to Soxman, or as I call him “the Southside Dark Knight.” You may have seen our Caped Crusader on television or read his work in the Red Eye.

Because the wintry weather delayed White Sox opening day, the seat of Batboy (Soxman’s fellow season ticket holder and masked sidekick) opened up. Like Batman sending critical evidence to Commissioner Gordon, Soxman called upon me to join him for 2009 opening day. This event gave me a chance to witness what our superfan superhero experiences each game.soxsignal

I met him where the “Soxmobile” is parked, observed his pre-game rituals before he got into costume and walked with him along the covert route he takes to the stadium (this route keep’s the Soxmobile location clandestine) This was unprecedented “Sox-Access.”

“For five years, my routine as remained unchanged. Pregame meal at a local Bridgeport establishment, listening to Sox jams to get into the character “zone,” and NEVER leave my seats if we are losing or the game is tied. I didn’t waver for a second today,” Soxman said.

Countless fans seek getting their picture taken with him everywhere he goes in the park and our Sox superhero never turns anyone away.

“There are no greater fans in the City of Chicago, the United States, or even the world! I’ve said it 1000 times before. Brad Pitt is just another actor if the fans don’t buy tickets to his movies. The fans made Soxman and I’ll never forget that. It’s why it took us 1.5 hours to get to the Sox Mobile after the game,” Soxman said.

The Sox trailed for nearly the entire game, but beat the Royals 4-2 in highly dramatic fashion. Legend and former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver once said the key to winning baseball is “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer,” the exact formula the Sox implemented on opening day. My story with this superfan included a happy ending because the Southsiders: played errorless ball in the field, limited the Royals to 2 runs, and Jim Thome’s 3-run blast in the 8th inning. The storybook finish created a joyous atmosphere on our way out of the park.

“White Sox opening day is like a family reunion. There are so many fans that I have come to love with distinct personalities. Like your wacky uncle, girl-chasing younger brother, or grandma who likes to give hugs,” Soxman aptly described.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

When the White Sox defend their 2008 A.L. Central title this season, they will do so after overhauling a third of their lineup. Opening Day sees new starters at the centerfield, second and third base positions. Additionally, last year’s 2B, Alexei Ramirez moves over to shortstop.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Baseball and snow is like sobriety and Tara Reid- some things are just not meant to go together. A combination of snow, wind and cold changed the White Sox home opener versus the Kansas City Royals from Monday to Tuesday (weather permitting). Despite the atrocious weather, when Opening Day does finally commence, it will be quite ceremonious.

The National Anthem will be performed by Grammy-nominated recording artist and Chicago native Matthew Santos. Prior to the National Anthem, Santos will perform with Grammy-Award winning hip-hop artist and south suburban native Lupe Fiasco. The collaboration will perform their well-known song, “Superstar,” which is nominated for two Grammys.mark-buehrle-ws

This game will feature guys who sell lots of records and the tying of a White Sox club record. This year’s starting pitcher, Mark Buehrle, will tie Billy Pierce’s record with his seventh career Opening Day start. Pierce will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the game. President Barack Obama was invited, but his job keeps him quite busy these days, and he will be in Turkey. Pierce, who spent 13 seasons with the White Sox, was named to the White Sox “All-Century Team” in 2000, had his uniform #19 retired in 1987 and a sculpture of the lefty pitcher was unveiled at U.S. Cellular Field in 2007.

Getting the opening day start is quite an achievement, because it’s typically reserved for the staff ace. “Especially with the years that {John} Danks and {Gavin} Floyd had last year, for them to name me it’s definitely an honor. The first day is a big day because it’s such a buildup of two months of spring training.”

Games that Buerhle pitches in notoriously take less time than usual, so fans braving the cold, wet elements on Tuesday will likely not be outside for the full length of a regular game. Seven of his career starts have taken less than two hours. The Sox ace spoke about Mother Nature impacting the opener.

“I don’t really know if it’s an advantage for me or them. I don’t like pitching in the cold weather and I’m sure they don’t like hitting in it, but both sides have to deal with it, so go out there and do the best you can,” Buerhle said.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street TeamWhatever you call U.S. Cellular Field: Sox Park, Comiskey II, The Cell, you must admit the park has come a long way since it opened in 1991. Prior to hosting the All-Star game in 2003, the park began a series of major projects augmenting the park into a warm and friendly baseball-going experience. One prominent detail from 2003, the exploding fireworks within that year’s All-Star game logo, is prominently featured in 2009’s facelift. The same logo catches the eye at the new entrance/atrium at Gate 5.

“It’s something that is our mark because of the fireworks from the exploding scoreboard and you’ll also see the same exploding fireworks on the façade of gate 4,” said Lou Hernandez, director of Public Relations. Fireworks have been a big part of the team’s brand awareness since the Bill Veeck era- when colorful designs shot up to the sky from the “exploding scoreboard” following wins and home runs.

Media were allowed to view the U.S. Cellular Field improvements on Thursday, and the demonstration of the team’s new out-of-town scoreboard was another impressive sight. It features dynamic color resolution and up-to-the-second updates on statistics and scores. “It’s all through Major League Baseball’s computer and the advantage of this one is you can see whose up, who’s on base, what just happened and it will flip over to every game in baseball,” said Scott Reifert, Vice President of Communications.

Down the stretch last year, you might remember how irritating and frustrating it was waiting until they posted an update of the Minnesota Twins (or other teams we needed to lose during the pennant race) score, and by the time they did it was outdated. This year, you’ll have a gigantic, enhanced version of Yahoo Game-Tracker available on the wall behind right field to keep you up to speed.

The media tour also included an inside look at the trainer’s room, specifically the new hydrotherapy room at the ballpark. It was kind of like sports bar meets the Sybaris as three massive pools (therapy, cold plunge, and communal hot tub) are centered in a room with four plasma televisions. With all the new upgrades, the White Sox home continues to maintain its place as Chicago’s most state-of-the-art baseball facility.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Last week, Baseball Prospectus predicted the Chicago White Sox to win just 73 games and finish dead last in the AL Central. Although the formula and prognostications of sabermetrician geeks sounds bleak, remember almost no one predicted the Sox to win the AL Central last season.

Back in the World Series year of 2005, most people predicted the pale hose to finish third! Lots of people forcasted the Sox to win the division in ’06 and ’07, yet they controlled the division for just 36 combined days during those two seasons. In summation, it’s wide open.

One guy with White Sox knowledge second to none is Soxman, who offered his spring prospectus.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last weekend included St. Valentine’s Day, a time of year that more women than men look forward to quite frankly. But once it’s over, Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training, which is to most guys what chocolate, jewelry and flowers are to women. Since we’re talking love, I consulted Soxman, the person who loves the White Sox more than any other individual on this Earth about what occurred in the offices on 35th and Shields this winter. You might recognize Soxman from…pretty much anywhere local media may roam.

On the Javier Vazquez trade:

“After his miserable play-off performance, almost every Sox fan would agree that Javy wore out his welcome on the Southside. The trade was crucial in rebuilding our anemic farm system as it yielded two of the top 20 prospects overall in the Braves system,” Soxman said.

2B/SS Brent Lillibridge is the player to watch in 2009. He’s expected to battle Chris Getz and Jason Nix for the starting job at second base. Kenny Williams believes he’s capable of stealing 40 bases if he gets 500 Abs.

Tyler Flowers could develop into the Sox next big slugger and 3B prospect Jon Gilmore has drawn comparisons to Scott Rolen.soxlogo

The Southside Dark Knight also opined on the signings of the so-called “Cuban Babe Ruth” Dayan Viciciedo and Bartolo Colon.

“Sox fans should not expect Viciedo to immediately perform like Alexei as he’s only 19,” the Soxed Crusader articulated. “There’s a ton to be excited about however. He slugged over .500 in two of the past three seasons in Cuba and was an All-Star in Cuba’s top league at age 16.

“Colon is exactly the type of pitcher I expected Williams to sign. The once awesome, aging pitcher plagued by injuries, trying to revive his career…at an ultra cheap price. In limited action with the Red Sox last season, he looked very good.”

In the case of Bobby Abreu and Jermaine Dye, we spent weeks listening about trade deals and prospective signings only to see no moves made. It kind of felt being stood up on a date. I asked the love interest of female Sox fans everywhere what he thought of the non-deals- the trades that didn’t happen.

“I was surprised the Sox did not go after Orlando Hudson as he still has not signed with a team, “ Soxman replied.

Finally, Soxman offered his predictions as to whether GM Kenny Williams has a major move or two left in him before the first pitch is thrown April 6th.

“With the economy it is pretty much a buyers market right now ,” Soxman said. “I think Kenny will see how the 2-3 position battles pan out and if any bargains fall his way, he’ll pounce.”

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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