Long day ends on a sweet and sore note for Sox

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Long day ends on a sweet and sore note for Sox

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 9:27 p.m. Updated: 11:08 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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White Sox fall in Game 1

CLEVELAND The Chicago White Sox were pleased to escape with a doubleheader split as precious time to do so slipped away, storming back to knock off the Cleveland Indians in Tuesdays nightcap, 5-4.

But even in doing so, the sweet note turned sour, as three White Sox batters were pelted by Wahoos pitches, with nonexistent retaliation. The White Sox put more effort and aggression into criticizing one anothers clothing and style than offering opponents chin music or a slide spikes-high.

Paul Konerkohe of a month away from first base after taking a ball directly on a leg nerve in Julywas the first to be belted, with a 93 mph fastball, in what appeared to be a fairly sensitive spot. PK cussed his way to first base, but come bottom frame, Matt Thornton had nothing to say about it.

In the ninth, Indians reliever Josh Judy lost complete control, hitting everything in sight. First it was Gordon Beckham, drilled squarely below the numbers, shot in the back with an 89 mph fastball. Juan Pierre, who has already been hit by his share of baseballsseven so far in 2011escaped harm with an ever ready sac buntAll-In for the little fellas.

But then Alexei Ramirez took a shot up and in, off his shoulder. Ever dramatic, Alexei spun and hopped, hopped and spun. No, it wasnt his shot dead trick done sprawled on the ground, an act that makes even prankster jefe Ozzie Guillen giggle, but it was dramatic.

Perhaps, then, with two bruised and sore baserunners on first and second, revenge would be wreaked on the basepaths?

Opportunity arose, in the form of PK back at the plate. But Konerko grounded to short, and Ramirez did his best El Caballo (Carlos Lee) imitation with a slide that stopped some six feet short of second. Yes, legs were outstretched, but no second sacker would be spiked on this playnudged, brushed, peed on, perhaps. But spiked in retaliation, no. The slide was something you might see stealing a base in a father-son game.

Still, there was one more shot at redemption, with hard-throwing, wacky motioned, wicked movemented Chris Sale on the mound for the ninth. But no, it was just a mere, four-batter save. No harm, no foul. Pack it up and start tomorrow back at 1 behind the Wahoos for second place in a Central once preordained them.

Postgame, Konerko was so bruised he was unavailable, the Capn typically apologetic and promising time on Wednesday, when any sensitive swelling might not be so intrusive. Bacon was available, packed in ice like the fish to flop he was made out to be by his pitching staff. And Ramirez was also wrapped tightly around his left shoulder, muled down with enough ice to margarita the entire clubhouse.

Beckham spoke, and he really didnt have much to say vis a vis vitriol.

I feel fine. It just knocked the wind out of me a little bit. No worries, said the second baseman, stiff upper lipped. I dont ever take a HBP as intentional.

The young grinder, unfortunately having to answer for HBPs in advance of chatting on the breakout offensive game he finally experienced after a 150-game wait, seemed reluctant to dismiss the charges against Judy. Or, maybe he wasnt.

If it was intentionalit wasnt intentional, Beckham convinced himself. Judy didnt have control, and he let it slip on a couple. But after you see Paul get hit and Alexei earlier in the day and then two more, obviously it wasnt intentional. There was just a lot of hit batsmen today.

In advanced mathematics, we call this solving the proof, Gordon. The only problem is, you and the remainder of the clubhouse crew seem to have the solution twisted.

There wasnt a lot of guidance from the top, no matter how much grit and spit and grindiness espoused by the teams general.

Obviously, I was upset, but I dont think they were throwing at us, manager Ozzie Guillen said. Its a bunch of kids coming from the minor leagues, and you cant do nothing about it. Just run to first base and go get the trainer, thats all you can do. I doubt they threw at us.

Ozzie, forgive the snickers from your audience. They know not of this modern baseball you are forced to manage, when minor leaguers hit with impunity your millionaire, long-term superstars, guys who you feel will have statues at U.S. Cellular Field and even one day plaques in Cooperstown. They do not understand your powerlessness against the minimum-wagers of the sport.

Guillen was more interested in talking of the sweet than the sore, anyway.

You make a long day a little bit nicer by winning the nightcap, Guillen said. We got to feel both sideswe lose and we win. It was tough in the nightcap because were down 4-0 or 4-1 right away, and I thought this whole day is going to be very long. But we fought back and won the game.

Beckham has learned well at the foot of the master: Bark brusquely, but shy at the sign of a bite.

It would have been a really long night if we had lost the nightcap, but we were able to come through, he said. We really played a good game, so Im happy for us.

Alejandro De Aza, often unable to repeat starts in spite of his blistering .926 OPS in his short time in Chicago, was certainly happy; he had two hits, drove in two, and saved at least one with a customary sprawling play in center field.

Omar Vizquel, nearly two decades De Azas senior, likewise chipped in two hits as an adoring Cleveland Indians fanbase roared; he was all grins. And even Beckhams kidney punch came after a career-high three doubles; doubtlessly he sleeps more sweetly tonight, albeit on his stomach.

But smiles aside, the Chisox managed to show the true colors that embody this All In-turned-Well Were Here season on Tuesday night, making even a turnabout of 4-0, dead-dugout deficit into a colorless 5-4 comebacker anesthetized by anticlimax.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.