The 'U.S. Cellular' Field name stays for now

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The 'U.S. Cellular' Field name stays for now

The news that broke early Wednesday morning that U.S. Cellular was selling some of its business units to SprintNextel, and exiting the Chicago market could have a major impact on the Chicago sports landscape as the company has been a significant advertising presence with some of Chicago's professional sports teams.
Their most visible sponsorship and advertising deal is the naming rights deal that they signed in 2003 to rename the new Comiskey Park "U.S. Cellular Field" for 68 million over 20 years. The agreement pays the White Sox 3.4 million per season for the stadium's name, and also includes an agreement to purchase significant advertising with the White Sox each season as a corporate sponsor.
U.S. Cellular released a statement this morning that the White Sox posted on their official Twitter account saying naming rights will not be changed for now.
"At @USCellular, we are proud of our partnership w the WhiteSox and the experience fans have at U.S. Cellular Field. Our naming rights to the ballpark are not part of this deal with Sprint...The WhiteSox are a great partner & we look forward to continuing our relationship with them."
Sources in the telecom industry told me this morning that they expect to see some or all of the U.S. Cellular phone stores gone from the market and a major push to further establish the SprintNextel name in the Chicago area.
"They already have customers here and they already have a brand here, so by expanding their name here they will greatly increase their footprint in the market. They already have an arena naming rights deal in Kansas City with the Sprint Center Arena so this would make sense to increase their brand awareness in the Chicago area," said Jon Greenberg, the editor of the well-respected Team Marketing Report.
While news of the U.S. Cellular sale to Sprint for 480 million broke this morning, it is not expected to be officially completed until the middle of 2013 and does not include naming rights for the ballpark for now.

White Sox top Tigers with two walk-offs on Sunday

White Sox top Tigers with two walk-offs on Sunday

The White Sox are somehow still afloat. But just barely.

Melky Cabrera’s game-winning, one-out single in the ninth inning Sunday afternoon got David Robertson off the hook and helped the White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers in front of 30,281 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cabrera singled past Nick Castellanos to score Adam Eaton, who reached base four times, and give the White Sox their second victory of the day. Eaton’s two-out, ninth-inning RBI single earlier helped the White Sox win a rain-suspended contest 4-3 over the Tigers. Cabrera’s hit arrived just minutes after Robertson surrendered three solo home runs — all with two strikes — and blew a victory for Jose Quintana, who may have made his final start in a White Sox uniform. The victories kept the White Sox from entirely slipping out of the wild-card race as they remain 6.5 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I love the guys that are in our clubhouse,” Eaton said after the first game. “We’ve got a tight-knit group of guys that really want to fight for each other. To get the big hit and have everyone rush out there, especially with what we’ve had the past couple of days, the whole year has really been a roller coaster both on and off the field.”

The season’s topsy-turvy nature potentially could lead to a trade of mainstays Quintana or Chris Sale, who earlier Sunday was suspended five games for insubordination and destroying team property on Saturday. It has been widely speculated the White Sox could move Quintana before the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline in an attempt to rebuild a roster that general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday has been “mired in mediocrity.” An All-Star and one of the top pitchers in the American League, Quintana and his team-friendly contract could fetch a handsome return were the White Sox to part with him in a deal.  

Sunday’s 118-pitch effort displayed exactly why Quintana is an attractive option for a contender as he shut down a Detroit lineup that has given him trouble over the years. Quintana kept the Tigers off balance throughout the effort, never allowing more than one runner to reach base in any inning. He faced two over the minimum through five innings and struck out Miguel Cabrera to end the sixth after he surrendered a two-out double to Jose Iglesias.

Though he started the inning at 107 pitches, Quintana returned in the seventh and recorded two more outs before he allowed a bloop-base hit to Justin Upton. Nate Jones struck out Mike Aviles to end the inning.

Quintana allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He also lowered his earned-run average to 2.97.

“He’s been helping through the long run and if he gets traded he’s going to help whoever gets him,” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “But I think he’s going to be a great part of this team for many years to come.”

That would give the White Sox plenty of chances to make up for all the heartbreak they’ve caused Quintana over the years. Sunday’s no-decision was his major-league leading 56th since 2012.

It’s no secret the White Sox have struggled to score runs for Quintana since he arrived in the majors. Even though he owns a career ERA of 3.39, Quintana’s career record remained at 41-42 after Robertson blew his fourth save in 27 tries. Robertson, who earned the win in the first game of the day and also pitched before Saturday night’s game was suspended, allowed solo homers to Castellanos, Tyler Collins and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Quintana’s sub-.500 record is in large part because the White Sox never seem to score with him on the hill. This season, Quintana ranked 126th out of 136 qualified starters with a 3.2 runs per start headed into Sunday.

But the White Sox followed Eaton’s lead. Less than 45 minutes after he won the opener, Eaton singled in the bottom of the first and scored on a two-out RBI single by Jose Abreu. An inning later, Eaton took advantage of singles by Dioner Navarro and J.B. Shuck went he lined a three-run homer with two outs off Anibal Sanchez to give the White Sox a four-run lead.

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The four runs scored for Quintana marks the team’s second-highest output for one of his starts this season.

But it wasn’t enough until Cabrera came through against Bruce Rondon with two outs. Eaton led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on Tim Anderson’s sac bunt. Cabrera then singled on the first pitch from Rondon to produce the game-winner.

“I'm proud of the guys for what they did over the weekend and how they handled it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “All of them reached down for the ball. They all wanted to be in there, so I'm proud of them for that. Robbie is disappointed. It's the first time I've seen that one, but I don't know if it was that he was out of gas. Probably some poor pitches and a day like today, you get it up in the air and it's gone.”

Ken Griffey Jr. finished his Hall of Fame speech in most fitting way thanks to Frank Thomas

Ken Griffey Jr. finished his Hall of Fame speech in most fitting way thanks to Frank Thomas

Ken Griffey Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon, and he went out in the most fitting way possible.

At the end of his speech, Griffey Jr. grabbed a hat from under the podium and put it on backwards, rocking his signature look.

Griffey Jr. said in his speech that it was White Sox legend Frank Thomas who pitched the idea and ultimately convinced him.

"You gotta do it," said Thomas, who joined Cooperstown in 2014.

In his 22-year career, Griffey Jr. played half a season with the White Sox in 2008. He had three homers and 18 RBIs in 41 games with the team.

Carlos Rodon set to make rehab start at Triple-A Charlotte

Carlos Rodon set to make rehab start at Triple-A Charlotte

Carlos Rodon is closer to returning to the White Sox and Anthony Ranaudo is here.

The White Sox announced that Rodon is set to make a rehab start at Triple-A Charlotte on Monday.

Rodon — who is 2-7 with a 4.50 ERA this season — was placed on the disabled list with a sprained left wrist retroactive to July 6. He sustained the injury while running up the dugout steps in the final week of the first half.

The White Sox promoted Ranaudo on Sunday after they placed Chris Sale on the suspended list. Sale’s five-game suspension is retroactive to Saturday, when his start was skipped and he was sent home early after destroying the promotional 1976 throwback jerseys the team was scheduled to wear.

A former supplemental first-round draft pick, Ranaudo was acquired from the Texas Rangers on May 12. He was 5-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Charlotte. Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2010, Ranaudo has a 6.33 ERA in 13 career games in the majors.

The White Sox also added Carlos Sanchez as their 26th man before the start of Sunday’s originally scheduled game. The teams completed Saturday’s rain-suspended contest earlier Sunday with the White Sox winning 4-3.