ARLINGTON, Texas -- The next time the White Sox need a new marketing campaign, I suggest they save the time and effort and just go straight to Paul Konerko. The longtime captain always has a way with words, and he did again on Thursday after the teams final workout before the season opener.
I asked Konerko what this White Sox team will be about in 2012, and what fans can expect to see.
He took all of a millisecond to come up with the answer.
Doing it right, Konerko said. Thats just the one thing that goes through my head more than anything is that everybody is in a mode right now, whatever their job is, to not even be concerned with the outcome or whats going to happen out there. Just doing it right.
Some might perceive this as Konerko lowering expectations, saying that as long as the White Sox play the game the way its supposed to be played, that will be good enough.
Far from it. Dig a little deeper.
Last year when the White Sox went All-In, it was all about the outcome Konerko mentioned. Win or lose. Period. That was the theme for 2011.
Thats great if you have a team like the 1927 Yankees who can just beat peoples brains out from April through October. It also works when you have a team where very little goes wrong. Case in point: the 2005 White Sox.
But last year, a lot went wrong. And when the ship started sinking, in many cases it was every man for himself.
Team baseball? Fundamentals? Everyone pulling from the same rope?? It might have been in the White Sox handbook, but it was often missing on the field.
That wont be the case this year.
If youre at the plate with guys in a certain situation, you know that your job is to do it as right as possible, and get that job done, Konerko said. If youre in the infield on defense, at that moment youve got a job to do. Everybody is really focused on that kind of stuff. Thats the way to go about it. If you do that and you have the talent, it will come out in the results.
Kenny Williams was laughed at when he toyed with the idea this offseason of having Konerko be the teams player-manager. It was more of a creative thought than anything else. But as Robin Ventura begins his managerial career on Friday, hell be comforted with the knowledge that he basically has another manager out there on the field, wearing a No. 14 jersey.
Outside of their own clubhouse, not much is expected from this White Sox team. The players dont need to be reminded. Theyre asked about it everyday.
How would you react if you were constantly asked about your shortcomings from last year, how SI.com is predicting 95 losses, how the Tigers are going to run away with the division, how you no longer have Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos and Carlos Quentin, etc, etc, etc?
If youre an athlete, or just a living, breathing human being, eventually its got to tick you off.
Say this, the 2012 White Sox already lead the league in having something to prove. That includes proving the doubters wrong.
If everything goes as we plan on it, theres going to be a lot of people crawfishing a little bit, backpedaling on where they have us right now, said John Danks who gets the Opening Day nod, as well as a clean slate after starting last year 0-8.
We obviously underachieved greatly last year. I think thats the reason why people arent talking about us, which could be a good thing, said Adam Dunn, who after his disastrous season is probably looking forward to the new year more than anyone.
So what kind of year will it be? Dont listen to the critics, because nobody knows the answer.
If Im going to listen to anyone, its Konerko.
Hes not predicting 90 wins and a playoff spot, nor is he calling for a rebuilding year where everything goes to pieces.
He calls it like it is, which in April is never black and white -- more like several shades of gray. It's a long season. There are 162 games ahead. What can we expect?
I feel like this team, whatever the results end up being as far as wins and losses, will be what this team is, Konerko said. I think were going to go about it correctly all the time. Theres always going to be a slip-up here and there, but for the most part were going to go about it right all the time, and well see how that bears out in the end.