Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

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Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
1:21 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It's amazing how words and phrases can become a part of our daily discourse:

"Staycation"

"At the end of the day..."

"Bromance"

"I know, right?"

You hear them all the time. They're like chewed up pieces of Bubblicious. They tend to stick around. And we're the shag carpeting that holds them for an eternity.

I was barhopping a few nights ago (I'm 31 and beyond all help) and took part in a few White Sox conversations. A lot of the talk started with something like this:

"So, you think the White Sox can win another 11 straight?"

"So you think the Sox can take the Central?"

"So you think the Sox can go all the way?"

For the record, I think they can win at least the Central. And quite frankly, they should. Granted, Minnesota will piranha their way near the top. They always do. Detroit has a potential Triple Crown candidate in Miguel Cabrera. They're not going away any time soon. But at the end of the day (there's that phrase again), I think the Sox pitching staff is just deep enough ... even without Jake Peavy. And if their hitting can stay fairly consistent, they're in. Of course, the trading deadline and the ensuing two months will have something to do with it, too. But you know that Kenny Williams will be lurking around July 31.

Another question that was tossed around: "So you think Kenny Williams will make a trade come July 31?" It depends on who you believe. The Sox GM was quoted last night as saying, "I don't see anything materializing." Some people might take that for face value. I see it as a smokescreen. You just know that he has something cooking. Right? If there's one person who loves these kind of cryptic soundbites, it would have to be Kenny Williams.

Random tangent: back to the words and phrases for a moment. I mentioned "So you think..." a few times. This phrase has become commonplace in our society. Heck, the Fox network has an amateur dance show built around the phrase itself. Somewhere in my quest for another round of drinks, I thought, "Hey ... shouldn't there be more shows built around the 'So You Think You Can...' craze?" I think so ... especially if you cater it to the sports mindset. I immediately thought of a slew of ideas. For instance:

So, You Think You Know Fantasy Football... Doesn't this guy just drive you nuts? Every stat. Every draft. Every trade. Every game. Every year. From August to January, he won't shut his mouth: "Haa ... Peyton Manning?!? He's going to have a bad year eventually! You're stupid for taking him!" Or, "My backup tight end could beat your team all by himself!" In this show, that guy has to put up 10,000 for that year's entry fee. The others put up 100. If he doesn't claim first prize, his money gets split evenly with the rest of the league. And he has to stand at the 50-yard line, without pads, and have an unblocked Julius Peppers light him up.

So, You Think You Can Parallel Park... Forget the Wal-Mart parking lot in Aurora. Or the Lowe's on the South Side. And don't even think about a vast train station lot that fades into the horizon. "So, You Think You Can Parallel Park..." places you near Chicago's Rush & Division on a Saturday night. You drive a '74 Buick Regal -- with jagged, rusty bumpers -- in and around pedestrians looking for rock star parking. The moment you hear a cabbie's horn, a curse word or mock laughter from someone in a bachelorette party, game over.

So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball... Ever have that Johnny Tough Guy type that walks around the diamond like he owns the place? Don't worry. In "So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball...", Johnny gets duped by a ringer on the other team. Eric Gagne guest stars as the guy throwing a 90-mph brushback pitch. And hey, what else is Gagne doing these days? He can start his comeback on a reality show. If Johnny can't catch up with the heat, he loses his upper-level management job and goes to the mail room. Done.

So You Think You Can Dance -- At Weddings... You've plowed through the vinaigrette salad, chicken Vesuvio, lemon sorbet, a painfully annoying best man speech and a mind-numbingly bad "From This Moment On" first dance. Now it's time for you to shine! Fire up Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll" or that bumper car stampede that is Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot". YOU have to be the only one left on the floor at the end of the night. All you need is your Sears tie knotted around your forehead, an untucked sweated-up dress shirt and a never-ending supply of determination. Act now and earn a permanent spot in the "Creepy Uncle" hall of fame!

But anyway...

When it comes to moves around the trading deadline, very few general managers in baseball can compare with Kenny Williams. Granted, a lot of his best moves have come 'off peak' -- Joe Borchard for Matt Thornton as an example (spring 2006). But he can also dominate beforeafter the trading deadline (see: Alex Rios). Pardon the reference that Homer Simpson once made, but Kenny Williams is like that guy in the background of ninja movie fighting sequences. He's quiet. You barely notice him. He has that sly grin on his face. And you just know he's going to do some damage when it's his turn. And you better look out when that time comes.

So you think Kenny Williams will make a splash come July 31?

I think he can.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”

Trayce Thompson reflects upon 'two of the best months of my life' with White Sox

Trayce Thompson reflects upon 'two of the best months of my life' with White Sox

While many of the faces in the White Sox clubhouse may be relatively unfamiliar to fans, Trayce Thompson remembers them all.

Even with Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle gone, Thompson sees a lot of old friends in the White Sox clubhouse. A member of the organization from 2009-15, Thompson said his first trip back to Guaranteed Rate Field since he was traded has brought back a lot of good memories. Traded in the three-team deal that brought Frazier to the White Sox, Thompson started in center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers and hit ninth on Wednesday night.

“I won’t call him Yolmer,” Thompson said. “I played with Carlos (Sanchez) at every level. I played with Tim (Anderson) at Birmingham briefly. Tim’s an amazing kid, one of my favorites I’ve ever played with. Kevan Smith is one of my really close friends. I’ve known Matt Davidson longer than any guy on that team because we grew up in the same area. Me and (David Holmberg) were drafted together. We pretty much did everything together when we first got drafted. I’m glad to see all those guys. Luis Sierra, I know he’s one of the coaches … I lived with him when I was here.”

“It makes me happy, brings back a lot of good memories being here. And I’m happy to see a lot of my good friends that I played with kind of get an opportunity to play here a lot. It’s been fun for me to kind of follow them.”

A second-round pick by the White Sox in the 2009 draft, Thompson bloomed when he finally got his chance in the majors. Thompson arrived late in the 2015 season and slashed .295/.363/.533 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 135 plate appearances.  

“I had two of the best months of my life here,” Thompson said. “Some of the most fun baseball I’ve ever played in my life.”

It’s nearly a lifetime ago in terms of where the White Sox have been. Thompson’s White Sox manager, Robin Ventura, stepped down at the end of the 2016 season. Sale and Eaton were dealt in December, which has begun a team-driven exodus of talent.

Back problems limited Thompson to 80 games for the Dodgers in 2016, though he still managed to belt 13 home runs. Thompson said his back has been fine since March, although it requires constant maintenance. After spending much of the season at Triple-A, Thompson rejoined the Dodgers in late June and splits playing time in the outfield.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of this team,” Thompson said.

He also enjoys that some of his old teammates have moved on — and into great situations, too. For those still here, Thompson likes the opportunity his homegrown teammates have started to receive.

“It’s far different than what I became accustomed to going to big league camp,” Thompson said. “But I’m happy for Chris Sale to get an opportunity to play with a good team in Boston and happy for Q now. They’ve moved on to good teams and I’m happy for them. I’m happy for all the guys here now who have an opportunity to play. I know they’re obviously trying to win, but they’re kind of allowing the homegrown guys an opportunity, which I’m happy to see. It’s definitely a different feel.”