The All-Chicago Team: 1980-1989

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The All-Chicago Team: 1980-1989

By Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz
CSNChicago.com

This spring, we at Cubs Talk and White Sox Talk have decided to unify Chicago's two baseball teams into one in an effort to pick out the best players to grace each side of the city over the last 50 years. Each Wednesday during spring training, we'll roll out a different All-Chicago team, beginning today with the best Cubs and White Sox players from 1980-1989. If you didn't catch our first two installments, check out our 1990-1999 and 2000-2011 teams.

Tony: In some areas, this 1980s list was easy. Carlton Fisk as catcher? Done. Ryne Sandberg as second baseman? No question. Leon Durham at first and Ron Cey at third even went largely unchallenged. In other ways, this was a tough list. Center field, for example, was incredibly difficult. There was no clear-cut favorite and CF was largely a crapshoot in Chicago in the '80s.

JJ: Yeah, as you'll see below, we were chided for not having Rudy Law in center. He had two good years, then two bad years with the Sox. Chet Lemon had two good years, too, and while those were his only two with the Sox in the decade, they were better than Law's, so he got the spot.

Tony: I wanted to put Shawon Dunston here at SS over Ozzie, but it just couldn't be done. Ozzie wasn't head and shoulders better, but he was still the logical choice.

JJ: Guillen's defensive ability earned him this spot. Offensively, there's no question Dunston was better.

Tony: Jody Davis was an iconic Cubs player in the '80s, but I was a bit iffy at first in handing him a bench spot. As JJ found, he was the Cubs' second-most valuable position player of the decade by WAR. This is the first time we've actually had a clear-cut favorite as a catcher and then another catcher crack the bench.

JJ: Finally, a week without a catcher debate!

Tony: The rotation was also extremely difficult. There were plenty of solid options, but nobody great. Names like Dennis Eckersley, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton toed the rubber in Chicago, but the latter two were in the twilight of their careers and Eck was pitching before he truly became a star. There were a plethora of pitchers who were good one year, but not the next, or had lofty win totals. Richard Dotson won 22 games in '83, but never topped 14 in any other season and also led the league in losses with 17 in '86. He made 228 starts for the Sox in the '80s, but his record was only 92-88 in that span and he boasted a 4.04 ERA and a surprisingly-bad 1.38 WHIP. Also, his KBB ratio was just 1.36. Not exactly All-Decade worth numbers.

JJ: Honestly, I didn't even look at Dotson's win totals. I just don't think that's a worthwhile stat. We could've built a good case based on his 1982-1984 (3.53 ERA, 25 complete games), and in retrospect, maybe we should've. But Eck did have some good years with the Cubs, including an MLB-best KBB ratio in 1985. This was one we agonized over. Fire away.

Tony: Rick Sutcliffe was an easy choice as the "ace" of the decade and if anybody questions that, I'd love to hear the argument there. The guy won the NL Cy Young in only 20 starts in '84, for Pete's sake!

JJ: Yeah, but LaMarr Hoyt was fantastic in 1983, leading baseball in WHIP, walk rate and KBB. And he won the Cy Young that year, too.

C: Carlton Fisk
1B: Leon Durham
2B: Ryne Sandberg
3B: Ron Cey
SS: Ozzie Guillen
LF: Ron Kittle
CF: Chet Lemon
RF: Andre Dawson
DH: Harold Baines
Bench: Greg Luzinski
Bench: Jody Davis

SP: Rick Sutcliffe
SP: Britt Burns
SP: LaMarr Hoyt
SP: Greg Maddux
SP: Dennis Eckersley

Closer: Lee Smith
RH reliever: Bobby Thigpen
LH reliever: Willie Hernandez

The final word
David Kaplan: Wow, I am stunned by some of the selections on this team. Chet Lemon as the CF? He left the White Sox in 1981! In addition, he only played in 94 games during the 1981 season. No chance he should be on this team. A better choice? White Sox CF Rudy Law, who stole 77 bases in 1983 and played four seasons on the South Side.

Dennis Eckersley? That's ridiculous! His numbers as a starter for the Cubs were lousy. How can you guys not have Richard Dotson on your team! His numbers crush Eckersley's.

Some of the other choices are easy like Sandberg and Fisk but I debated long and hard whether Shawon Dunston would be a better choice over Ozzie Guillen at shortstop. Greg Luzinski? He was okay, but with the Cubs not having a decade full of great teams he probably gets a spot, but that is more a testament to the lack of competition than his numbers.

Chuck Garfien: I dont have a problem with Carlton Fisk as catcher. Slam dunk there. Same with the infield of Durham, Sandberg, Cey, and Guillen.

As much as I loved Chet Lemon as a child, he only played a season and a half with the White Sox in the 80s and didnt make that big of an impact in the decade. He was an All-Star with the White Sox in 1978 and 1979. Id give the CF nod to Rudy Law, who stole 77 bases for the 1983 White Sox, and played a huge role at the top of the lineup in the Sox winning the division.

Dennis Eckersley never won more than 11 games with the Cubs as a starter. Thats the best you can come up with as a 5th starter? How about Richard Dotson? He went 22-and-7 for the White Sox in 1983. He won 14 games the year after that.

Check back next week for our Chicago all-decade team of the 1970s!

Jose Abreu helps White Sox rally to tie record for April wins

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Associated Press

Jose Abreu helps White Sox rally to tie record for April wins

BALTIMORE -- The White Sox closed a record-tying April in the most appropriate of ways -- with another heavy dose of late-inning magic.

Jose Abreu made up for a costly error with two late RBIs, including singling in the go-ahead run in the ninth, and the White Sox tied a team record for April victories with an 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 29,152 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Playing without manager Robin Ventura, who was ejected after a controversial review in the fourth, the White Sox scored five times in the final three innings to rally for win No. 17. They finished the season’s opening month with a 17-8 mark to tie the 2000, 2005 and 2006 clubs for most April victories.

“I’ll put a lot of money with Jose at the plate with runners in scoring position,” Adam Eaton said. “We got the job done. Good team win. Not really how we drew it up, but it shows character with the team for sure. Battling back, each delivering punches and for us to get the last punch in there … Huge night for us.”

It was in particular a big showing for Abreu, who entered the game with a .220 average and 11 RBIs, his fewest in April in three seasons. The occasion became even bigger after Abreu’s fielding error in the eighth -- one of two by the White Sox -- extended the inning for Matt Albers.

With the White Sox leading 7-5, Abreu couldn’t handle a nice throw by Todd Frazier with two outs in the eighth and Manny Machado reached. Albers -- whose scoreless streak was snapped after 33 1/3 innings -- hit Adam Jones with the next pitch and Chris Davis followed with a game-tying, two-run double off Zach Duke.

But a team that has scored 49 of its 95 runs (51.6 percent) from the seventh inning came through again.

Eaton started the winning rally with a bunt single off Orioles closer Zach Britton, who exited the game as he injured himself retrieving the ball. Carlos Sanchez then walked against reliever Vance Worley to set up Abreu, who also singled in the tying run in an eighth-inning rally. Abreu drove an 0-1 cutter from Worley to right and Eaton slid in to home ahead of the throw from Joey Rickard. Nate Jones, who got the final out in the eighth, retired the side in order in the ninth to close it out.

The White Sox also rallied back from a pair of earlier deficits, long after Orioles starter Kevin Gausman departed.

Brett Lawrie, who had a solo homer in the third, walked and stole second base in the seventh and Austin Jackson singled after a 10-pitch battle with Mychal Givens to get the White Sox within 5-4.

The White Sox scored three runs off Darren O’Day, who hadn’t allowed a run all season. Sanchez had a pinch-hit double to open the eighth inning and scored on Abreu’s tying RBI single to right. Frazier blasted a 411-foot homer -- his seventh -- to center to put the White Sox up 7-5. The team’s 49 runs from the seventh inning on are the most in the American League. The White Sox, who finished with 10 hits, also have six comeback wins.

“It seemed like everybody picked everybody up tonight,” Frazier said. “It’s just a good character builder here.”

The offense came through for starter Mat Latos, who had his worst start of the season. The Orioles tried often to go the opposite way against Latos and it worked to the tune of four runs and 11 hits.

Baltimore had at least two hits in four of the five innings that Latos worked, including solo homers by Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop to tie it at 3 in the fourth.  

Latos allowed two hits to start the third, but was spared more damage when Adam Jones grounded into a controversial 5-4 double play that resulted in the 12th ejection of Ventura’s career.

Machado, who had singled ahead of Jones, slid late into second base and made contact with the leg of Lawrie, who never threw to first. Ventura asked for a review as Machado appeared to be in violation of the new slide rule. After a stoppage of at least six minutes, review officials determined that Machado didn’t interfere on the play and Jones was safe at first. Ventura immediately argued the call and loss of challenge with crew chief Gerry Davis, who ejected him.

But Latos pitched around it. He stranded two more runners on in the fourth to keep the score tied, but Baltimore pulled ahead in the fifth as Latos walked Matt Wieters and Alvarez doubled deep to center to make it 4-3.

Latos saw his ERA increase to 1.84 from 0.74.

“I was fortunate,” Latos said. “The offense showed up and put up a bunch of runs on the board and the defense showed up and we were able to get away with a really good win, a hard fought win.”

Ventura is pleased with how his team has handled its early success. Even though the White Sox have proven to be a fiery team in the dugout, Ventura thinks his veteran core has helped them keep a level head. While he’s pleased with the team’s April, he doesn’t think White Sox players will get ahead of themselves.

“They're looking for Sunday,” Ventura said. “They're excited about the win, no doubt, the way they're playing. But very good group about focusing on what's at hand and not looking in the rear view mirror.”

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox close series with O's

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Associated Press

Today on CSN: Sale, White Sox close series with O's

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at noon. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (5-0, 1.66) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 3.91)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Promotion affords White Sox Tommy Kahnle refresher course

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Promotion affords White Sox Tommy Kahnle refresher course

BALTIMORE -- It may only be a brief stopover, but Tommy Kahnle hopes to get the most out of his current tour with the White Sox.

Called up Thursday, the White Sox reliever could be sent back to Triple-A Charlotte as early as Sunday morning as closer David Robertson is expected to come off the bereavement list.

But Kahnle -- acquired from the Colorado Rockies in November -- not only has had a chance to show the White Sox what he has, he also is getting a quick refresher course from pitching coach Don Cooper. Cooper has worked with Kahnle to stand more upright in his delivery in hopes it will help him throw more strikes.

“It’s just stay tall on my backside because I tend to collapse a little bit and get a little erratic,” Kahnle said. “But overall, make a few adjustments and should be back on track.

“I had a few hiccups in spring and early in the season down in Triple-A. But overall I’ve been throwing well and just got to work on a few things and get better.

“Just get better and try to throw strikes. That’s always been my downfall.”

Kahnle made his 91st career appearance on Friday night. He walked two in a scoreless inning in a 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Kahnle has always had a big arm, striking out 102 in 103 innings. But he also has walked 61 batters.

Cooper likes the chance to get some in-season maintenance with any of his pitchers.

“Sure it is because you get a look at what’s going on up here,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to get him to stay tall … that’s a work in progress. It looks like he’s a little better with the slide step.”

Kahnle would like to help out a deep bullpen again before the season is out.

Robertson left the team after he pitched a scoreless inning to close out Wednesday’s victory in Toronto to attend his father-in-law’s funeral. Daniel Webb joined the team on Wednesday and struck out three in a scoreless inning on Thursday. But Webb went on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow flexor inflammation and Kahnle got the call.

“Even if it’s just a few days, it’s good to be back up here and show them what I’ve got and if they need me again I’ll be ready,” Kahnle said.