Frank Thomas on Braun: Those tests dont lie

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Frank Thomas on Braun: Those tests dont lie

With the latest report that Ryan Brauns positive test for a banned substance was caused by medication hes taking for a private medical issue, it would seem like there might be a ray of hope that the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder is true to his word that he has never taken a performance-enhancing drug.However, one person still has his doubts.Frank Thomas.The bottom line is those tests dont lie. He tested positive for something, Thomas said in an interview Monday with Comcast SportsNet. If its something medical, its got to be something weve never heard of to spike the testosterone to that type of level.When Braun was tested during the playoffs, his testosterone levels were insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken, a source told the New York Daily News.When it comes to drug testing, Thomas is a unique authority on the matter. The former White Sox slugger who hit 521 home runs in his 19-year career was a vocal advocate for testing during his playing days, especially at the height of the steroid era when he noticed smaller, lesser players suddenly explode -- both physically and numerically as their home run totals spiked to record heights.
It probably cost Thomas the 2000 American League MVP, an award he narrowly lost to Jason Giambi, who later admitted to taking steroids. Its a sensitive subject for Thomas, and now that Braun, who just won the 2011 National League MVP, has a PED-cloud hanging over him, Frank is not afraid to be frank in discussing the ramifications.Its messy. Its messy because he won the National League Most Valuable Player, and if the test results were made public a month before, he would have not won the National League MVP. So it becomes a messy situation, Thomas said. "Right now I know with a majority of voters, he probably wouldn't have won that MVP if they had known that information that he had flunked the drug test."Braun is facing a 50-game suspension. He is currently appealing the ruling through an arbitrator, but as far as anyone knows, out of a reported 13 attempts, no player has ever won an appeal following a positive drug test.At this point, I want to wait to hear what the problem is, Thomas said of Braun. As you know, I lost an MVP to Jason Giambi back in 2000, but I told people I lost a vote. I felt I was an MVP that year. I had better numbers, I led a team that year that was expected to finish last in the division (the Sox finished first). So some things you cant get back, and this year Braun beat out a fine centerfielder Matt Kemp in LA who almost had a triple crown year, so this is going to be a messy situation one way or another.Thomas commends the leagues current drug policy and the harsher penalties being handed out.These 50-game suspensions are some serious suspensions, he said.However, does that mean that everyone is clean?Thomas says no.I think where theres smoke, theres fire, Thomas said. Theres a lot of chemists out there that say they can beat the tests. When you throw this type of money around, and guys are making 20-25 million a year there are going to be some guys that will really take that chance because its a life-changing moment when you get a check for 25 million, so some guys will take that risk.Did Braun?We dont know the answer.But we know this: Thomas has questions.For more of Thomas' comments, tune in to Chicago Baseball Hot Stove Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

Dan Hayes discusses Chris Sale incident on The Dan Patrick Show

Dan Hayes discusses Chris Sale incident on The Dan Patrick Show

CSN's White Sox Insider Dan Hayes joined The Dan Patrick Show on Monday to weigh in on the recent Chris Sale incident and what it means for the White Sox and Sale going forward as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches. 

The White Sox announced Sunday that Chris Sale is suspended for five days after reportedly being so furious over having to wear the team's 1976 throwback uniforms on Saturday that he cut them up so they couldn't be worn. Sale was scratched from his scheduled start and sent home by the White Sox.

Hayes called the incident "a little bit of a crazy story," saying that the way it all played out "went in an entirely different direction than everybody thought it would." While he didn't have many details regarding what actually took place in the White Sox clubhouse on Saturday, Hayes did say he heard "scissors were not the culprit."  

When asked if this impacts the likelihood of Sale being traded, Hayes was quick to say "I don't see it happening now. It's possible this offseason but right now they want a major league player back amongst the package and it's going to be hard for a team like the Rangers or the Red Sox to give you the star player back during a pennant chase."

However, Hayes didn't completely dismiss the idea of a trade taking place before the Aug. 1 deadline, saying "anything can happen, teams are motivated right now."

Hear what else Hayes had to say about Sale and the White Sox in the video above. 

Retirement suiting former White Sox star Paul Konerko well

Retirement suiting former White Sox star Paul Konerko well

Paul Konerko isn’t returning to manage the White Sox anytime soon, despite the team’s former All-Star first baseman fielding plenty of questions about the possibility. 

For now, the 40-year-old Konerko, who’s in Year 2 of retirement and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday's Crosstown opener at U.S. Cellular Field, is more concerned with fielding the balls hit or thrown by his seven-year-old son while they’re playing baseball in the park. 

“I was in the park, my kid threw me a ball, a ground ball and I booted it,” Konerko said. “And some guy’s walking by the park and said, ‘you used to get that one, Paulie!’”

Konerko is spending plenty of time with his kids — Nicholas, Owen and Amelia — and is also keeping busy by playing a bit of hockey and working on a few business interests. One of those ventures is a T-shirt Konerko helped design, the proceeds of which go toward raising awareness for Sensory Processing Disorder, which Konerko’s oldest son, Nicholas, was born with. 

Nicholas was born during the White Sox 2005 run to the franchise’s first World Series title in 88 years, and Konerko’s other two children were born while he was still playing in the majors. Because he missed a good chunk of his kids’ childhoods during baseball’s marathon regular season, Konerko doesn’t have a desire to get back into the game until he accomplishes what he wants as a father. 

“I was gone for so long,” Konerko said. “I played for 20 years, and 10 years of that I had kids.” 

So a return to baseball won’t happen for Konerko “Until I feel like I’m satisfied with where they’re in a position where I’ve done everything they want to do and they’re older,” he said. 

Konerko doesn’t have an itch to coach or manage in the majors, too, thanks to his final season with the White Sox.

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During that 2014 campaign, Konerko appeared in 81 games but also got a taste of what it’s like to be a major league coach. That glimpse into the life of a major league manager or assistant coach, and all the commitments, obligations and criticisms that come with it, led Konerko to walk away from the game “scared straight.”

“If I had not come back my last year, there’s a good chance I would’ve played out 2013 and probably got an itch to come back sooner,” Konerko said. “But my last year, I got a really good feeling of what it’s like to be a coach, because I was on the bench a lot, they kind of let me in on some things more, almost like a player-coach situation. And I think it scared me, because it’s not easy.” 

So while some sections of the White Sox fanbase may want Konerko to come back and manage a team that’s “mired in mediocrity,” as general manager Rick Hahn said last week, that’s not something the guy with 439 career home runs is going to consider. 

Plus, he actually does already have coaching duties right now. 

“I’m the assistant coach on my kid’s seven-year-old team,” Konerko said. “Trying to work toward the head coaching job.”

Ten years later, A.J. Pierzynski recalls Michael Barrett encounter in Crosstown Classic

Ten years later, A.J. Pierzynski recalls Michael Barrett encounter in Crosstown Classic

Hard to believe, but it's been 10 years since the fist of Michael Barrett famously hit the face of A.J. Pierzynski, creating one of the most legendary moments in the Windy City Series between the White Sox and Cubs. 

The punch lasted only one second, but speaking with the man who was on the receiving end of that punch, Pierzynski knows he'll be hearing about it for the rest of his life.

"It's just one of those things that happens," Pierzynski said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. "Hey, you got to be remembered for something."

Fans won't let him forget it, even if some have forgotten what actually happened that day—which might also include Pierzynski. More on that in a moment.

First to the play that started it all. It occurred on May 20, 2006. While scoring a run on a sacrifice fly on a ball hit to shallow left field, Pierzynski knocked over Barrett at home plate. The White Sox catcher then moved towards the Cubs backstop to retrieve his helmet. 

If it was anybody else, nothing would have happened. This story you're reading would never have been written.

But this was Pierzynski, one of the most hated players in baseball, the notorious monkey in the middle of everything.

This Sox was about to get socked.

"I went up to get my helmet. He grabbed me and said, 'I didn't have the ball (bleep)," recalled Pierzynski. Barrett threw a right hook that hit Pierzynski square in the left cheek, producing an image that has been permanently burned into the minds of Cubs and White Sox fans.

Or so we thought.

A decade later, Pierzynski says he frequently comes across people who have somehow forgotten what actually occurred.

"What's happened now is most people don't remember what really happened. They just know Barrett and I got into a fight," Pierzynski said. "Most people actually think that I hit him. People (say to me) 'Remember that time you punched Barrett and knocked him down?' So, it's kind of funny how it's kind of changed over the years."

But still, many people do remember the punch quite well, especially Cubs fans who relish in heckling Pierzynski whenever he comes to town, like earlier this month when his Braves played the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“They’ll say things like, ‘Michael Barrett's coming. Look out!’ And I'll be like, 'Yeah, whatever,'" Pierzynski said. “Or they’ll yell ‘Hey, you suck! Or I hate you!’ Then it’s like, ‘Okay, great. Welcome to the club.’” 

The White Sox won the game that day 7-0, but Cubs fans have had a victory of sorts ever since—the memory of Barrett pelting their White Sox nemesis, a guy who pestered them for years.

But even Pierzynski himself seems to remember the play differently than everyone else. His account of what occurred will probably get under the skin of Cubs fans.

What else would you expect from A.J.?

"He didn't really hit me though, that's the thing," said Pierzynski. "He kind of just pushed me. It was weird, because he grabbed me and we were so close. It wasn't like (Rougned) Odor when he hit (Jose) Bautista where he wound up. I mean, it was so close that he just kind of pushed me off balance. 

"And (third base coach Chris) Speier grabbed me right away and then like 10 guys from the White Sox jumped on top of him. And poor (Cubs outfielder John) Mabry who was my hitting coach in St. Louis. I know we were laughing about it when I was in St. Louis. I think he ended up in the hospital with broken ribs and he had nothing to do with it."

Call it a punch, call it a push, most athletes who take a hit like that would be so humiliated they’d never want to talk about it again.

Not Pierzynski.

“I literally laugh about it. It’s funny to me,” Pierzynski said. “Now my kids are of the age to use the internet, so now that’s like the first picture that always comes up, and they’re like, ‘Why did you get in the fight with the guy?’ I tell them the story and they have to explain it to their friends. It’s just one of those things that happens in your life. Hey, at least it happened on national TV and gives people something to talk about.”

Six weeks after the fight, Barrett sought out Pierzynski at Wrigley Field before the White Sox and Cubs resumed the Crosstown Series on the North Side. The two shook hands, made amends and the feud was over.

But the two have not spoken to each other since.

“I haven’t seen him,” Pierzynski said. “I mean, we played a little bit, but I haven’t seen him off the field.”

What would you say to him?

“I don’t know. ‘Hey, how you doing?’ I don’t even know what he does anymore.”

Barrett is currently the minor league catching coordinator for the Washington Nationals. Attempts to interview him for this story were unsuccessful.

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At 39, Pierzynski isn’t sure how much longer he’ll play. He already has enough baseball memories to fill multiple lifetimes. But his recollections of those classic White Sox-Cubs games will never fade.

“I played in Yankees-Red Sox, I played in Dodgers-Giants, Cardinals-Cubs, nothing matched the intensity," he said. "Maybe it was because I was on the White Sox and there was such a dislike for the other team, not only in the fan base, but also kind of the organization. It’s just kind of there. 

"It just brought out the best. It always seemed like it brought out the best in both teams. It was always the one game you circled, and it was like, ‘Okay, we’re playing the Cubs coming up in a week. Everyone be ready.’”

Pierzynski was always ready—maybe not for Barrett’s fist—but the face that took the beating that day gave us all a knockout Cubs-White Sox moment, one we will never forget.