National pastime: How it might be past your time

National pastime: How it might be past your time

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
4:13 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs played a makeup game in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. It was notable, not necessarily because the Cubs actually won a game in the Steel City, but because a young adult fan was spotted throwing his glove to the ground in disgust after a sought-after foul ball landed in someone else's hands. Can't beat rage at the ol' ballpark I guess. Heck...rage might be the norm in Pittsburgh, given their recent baseball history. But anyway, this guy made up for the tirade in a most ironic fashion. He actually caught another foul ball later in the game and promptly gave it to a little kid. Atta way. Seriously. This young guy was mature beyond his years in doing the right thing.

But not everyone acts this way.

Acting like a kid at a baseball game is akin to jumping on the bed in a hotel room. Sometimes we just can't help ourselves. The temptation is too great. But every once in a while, you spot where the "immaturity" has gone too far. I propose some age limits on random acts of ballpark lunacy. Like...

Bringing a Glove to a GamePainting your Face Or Body (age 18): Bringing a glove to game past age 18 is tantamount to showing up at a cocktail party with sandals and black socks. It might feel cool and comfortable, but it just looks...bad. And nobody between the ages of 18 and 65 should be hanging out in the face paint aisle at Hobby Lobby to begin with. That should be common sense. And if you insist on wearing an oversized novelty glove or one of those foam "We're Number One!" fingers, divide the number up above by two.

Hounding a Player for an Autograph (21): Depending on when you grew up, your hero could have been John F. Kennedy, Clint Eastwood, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan or even one of the Baldwins. Regardless of the era, there's a good chance that you grew up idolizing a baseball player. That should cease by age 21. Why? Because you're 21. You are the hero now. Just trust me on that one. Young people envy you because of the legitimate ID. Old people envy you because you don't have arthritis. Yet. Enjoy the ride.

Chasing After a Foul Ball (24): By the age of 24, you should have moved out of your parents wood-paneled basement. And you should be able to afford a whole bucket of baseballs by now. Instead of tearing an ACL going after a Russ Ohlendorf foul ball, let it go. Or if you do get it, give it to one of the seven kids, three ushers or five Cocoon castoffs you ran over en route.

Shouting Obscenities at Opposing Fans' Teams (30): Yelling at strangers might be acceptable if you're a burned out day trader in the pits (literally or figuratively). But once you hit 30, it's time to give the ballpark rage a break. The Pepto Bismol should be reserved for watching your team's weak bullpen mail in the game, not to ease the stress from yelling at the "bad guy" in front of you.

Wearing a Jersey to The Ballpark (35 for men, limitless for women): Once a man hits 35, it's time to give up the faded Augie Ojeda or Jose Valentin jersey--or any jersey for that matter. You're a Toys R Us kid no longer. You're an adult. Look the part. Women get a lifetime pass because they look better in jerseys anyway.

Getting to an Arthur Bach Level of Drunk (40): Who remembers the 1981 movie Arthur? It's the one where the hilarious Dudley Moore plays a carefree, drunken New York playboy. He finds true love in a waitress played by Liza Minnelli. I'm quite sure those two plot devices aren't connected. Arthur was to alcohol like how Wham was to 80's Cheese-Pop. Unfortunately, this behavior doesn't translate off the big screen. You're not a hero if you plow through seven whiskey sours before the game. Or blitz through 11 beers during it. Granted, this shouldn't be done at any age--with or without Hollywood credentials. But once a person passes 40, the drunken baseball fan looks more like an injured animal than a party animal.

And regardless of age, no fan should ever --under any circumstance-- do the wave (unless you're at a Badgers football game-- Wisconsin fans take the wave to astonishing heights). Sit down. Relax. Enjoy the game. Baseball is still a wonderful past-time. Just save the strength and go anti-wave. You'll thank me when you channel the extra energy to dig your car out of a snow embankment in five months.

Or something like that.

Coming soon: Tom Thibodeau and the Running of the Bulls

Follow Joe Collins on Twitter @JoeCSN

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A torrid two months at the plate helped Jose Abreu end what he found to be an extremely trying 2016 season with numbers close to his career norms.

But even though he finished with an .820 OPS and 100 RBIs for a third straight season, Abreu admits that 2016 was a season unlike any other he'd faced.

While he didn't disclose any theories for the cause of his lengthy struggles, the White Sox first baseman said Sunday he's pleased to have finished on a positive note and thinks that rebounding from those difficulties will only make him stronger. Abreu — who hit .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 695 plate appearances — is also a fan of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria and is equally impressed with the prospects the club acquired this winter.

"Yes, those were different challenges, especially in my mind," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I never in my life experienced some of the kind of struggles like I did last year. But that put me in a better position as a player, as a person too. I'm in a better position now for this season because I learned from the experience."

In spite of his struggles, Abreu was still a league average player through the first four months of the season. But the 2014 All-Star hardly resembled the player who produced a 153 OPS-plus over his first two seasons. His timing was off and Abreu — hitting .269/.325/.413 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs through July 30 — wasn't driving the ball as he typically had in his first two seasons, when he smacked 66 homers.

Abreu was lost at the plate and nobody could figure out why.

But after the arrival of his son, Dariel, who visited him for the first time since he moved to the United States, Abreu took off. He hit .338/.402/.568 the rest of the season with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 249 trips to the plate.

"Right after last season ended, I had my meeting at my house with my family, just to explain to them how the season was because they know about baseball," Abreu said. "But sometimes they can't register how the process is in a season as long as the major league season is. We talked about it. I explained to them all of the challenges, the problems I had during that season. Once we ended with that meeting, last season was in the past. We moved on and we were trying just to figure out things and how can I do better for this season."

Now in his fourth season in the majors, Abreu has a firm grasp on how the White Sox operate and likes some of the team's modifications. He likes how Renteria thoroughly communicates what he has in mind for the club. Abreu also enjoys being seen as one of the team's leaders and wouldn't mind being a mentor to prized prospect Yoan Moncada.

Now he hopes to carry over his strong finish to the start of the 2017 campaign.

"I'm working on it," Abreu said. "That's one of my goals. Everybody knows that at the beginning of last season, I wasn't performing good. It was kind of a surprise for me, too. But I'm in good shape right now and I believe I will be able to succeed."

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The leading candidate to be the team’s starting center fielder, Charlie Tilson has been temporarily shut down after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot.

The White Sox rookie said Sunday that he noticed the injury gradually building up before he decided to stop his workout on Friday and headed for the training room. An MRI performed Saturday on Tilson -- who is rehabbing from a torn left hamstring that ended his 2016 season early -- revealed the reaction, which isn’t severe as a stress fracture. Given Tilson previously had a stress fracture in his right foot, the White Sox said he'll be sidelined from impact work for 10 days, at which point he’d be re-evaluated.

“It started very minimal, and I tried to work through it a little bit, and by the time I addressed Herm, thankfully I caught it before it was anything that would keep me out for too long,” Tilson said. “It’s a minor thing, and it will give my other leg a chance to get stronger in the meantime, and hopefully we’ll turn this negative into a positive.”

Tilson wouldn’t be surprised if his injury is related to overcompensating for his left leg, which he has worked tirelessly to rehab since he suffered the injury on Aug. 2 and then had season-ending surgery. Manager Rick Renteria described it as an “irritation” in the area where Tilson suffered a stress fracture in 2013. In the interim, the White Sox will test some of their other options in camp, including veteran Peter Bourjos and minor leaguers Adam Engel and Jacob May, among others.

“But we don’t foresee it to be a long-term issue,” Renteria said. “By being able to shut him down now, it’ll be something he’ll be able to recover from. We’ll just readjust his timetable.”

Minor as Tilson and the White Sox say it is, the outfielder admitted he’s down about having to deal with it after the progress he’d made in his rehab.

The White Sox acquired the New Trier High School product from the St. Louis Cardinals last July in exchange for left-hander Zach Duke. Tilson was immediately called up as the White Sox intended to try him out in center field the rest of the season. But he suffered a season-ending injury in his major league debut while tracking down a fly ball and had surgery several days later.

Tilson made enough progress to be a full participant in a hitter’s camp at Camelback Ranch last month. Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tilson was a top candidate to take over as the club’s starting center fielder if he was healthy.

“I guess you could say I’m disappointed,” Tilson said. “But it’s a very minor setback and it’s part of the process. I had a major repair, and these things come up and hopefully we can minimize them as much as we can and hopefully this is the last one. But I’m just going to deal with it and do whatever I can to move forward.”