Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
Updated 9:32 PM
By Chuck Garfien
OK, so the White Sox cant win the division.
Paul Konerko has no shot at AL MVP.
This could be his final week in a Sox uniform. Same with A.J. Pierzynski.
Yep, things went south pretty fast.
At least some sanity was restored Monday with Ozzie Guillen announcing hes coming back for 2011. Where were the MLB Network cameras when he had his meetings with Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams? Well have to use our imaginations.
But before we say good-bye to the 2010 season, which will forever be remembered for its extremes; either scorching hot or arctic cold (the Sox were last in the league in being lukewarm), its time to hand out some prizes for everybodys efforts. Awards, if you will. Something flashy. Something catchy. Something the players and coaches can put on their mantles to inspire them for 2011.
For this, we need a name. Television has the Emmys. Theater has the Tonys. I have a seat next to Bill Melton for six months. Thats my reward. So in honor of my macho friend, illustrious colleague and 1971 home run champ, here are the first annual Melty Awards!
Despite my on-air campaign to make him the MVP of the American League (and entire western hemisphere), Konerko will have to settle for the most valuable on the White Sox. He leads the team with 38 homers, 106 RBIs, a .310 batting average and has carried the team on his back from the word go.
He also gets a Swiss timing award for once again having a career season during a contract year. The last time it happened, the Sox won the World Series and Paulie surprised Jerry Reinsdorf by giving him the baseball used for the final out. The Sox, in turn, rewarded Konerko with a five-year, 60 million contract.
Theyd win the title every year.
The Mickey Rourke Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Rios
When the Sox claimed him off waivers from Toronto last August, lets just say the Alex Rios Era didnt get off to the greatest of starts. First, Kenny Williams received a jaywalking ticket on his way to Safeco Field in Seattle moments after making the deal. And when Rios arrived, the guy Williams thought he acquired never made it through customs. Rios struggled mightily at the plate, batting .199 in 41 games. He pressed so hard he seemed to be on a one-way ticket for Carlos Quentinville.
My family and I couldnt go anywhere without hearing how much of an idiot I was, Williams told USA Today about the deal this summer.
But Rios arrived in spring training having lost about 50 pounds (all in his brain). He was loose, relaxed, confident and it showed on the field. Through Tuesday, he was batting .284 with 21 homers and set career-highs with 88 RBIs and 34 stolen bases.
And unlike Mickey Rourke, he did it all without plastic surgery.
The Benjamin Button Aging Backwards Award: Omar Vizquel
I know his birth certificate says he was born on April 24, 1967, but someone in the medical community needs to do a thorough investigation on this man. There is no possible way that Omar Vizquel is 43 years old! I truly believe that he was found wrapped in a blanket on someones doorstep in Venezuela in the early 1900s, a baby trapped in a 104-year-old mans body.
When the White Sox signed him last winter, he was in his early-40s, but by the time August rolled around, Omar had magically reached puberty. His voice started changing, his teeth needed braces, he began using words like dude and ya know, and kept wanting to hang out with Oney Guillen.
But on the field, Omar was a wunderkind. A true freak of nature.
Comparing 2009 to 2010, Vizquel doubled (or more than doubled) his hits, runs, homers, RBIs, stolen bases and walks from the year before. And in 106 games and 216 chances at 2B, SS, and 3B he made only three errors.
I make that many mistakes every night on the postgame show.
Omar has to come back for 2011. Unless hes wearing diapers.
The Aaron RowandNick SwisherJim Thome Medias Best Friend Award: Gordon Beckham
Beckham had many reasons to give us the occasional Heisman; he got off to a terrible start, he was playing a new position, he had the pressure of being the Sox new cover boy, plus it got out that hes a huge fan of Justin Bieber. That fact alone would send most athletes into a cave for six weeks. But every day, Gordon was there at his locker (which at one point had a nameplate that read Gordon Bieber).
He was totally accommodating no matter what was swirling around in his head. A class act.
Someone Buy This Man Another Pair Of Pants Award: Bill Melton
Yes, Melton wins a Melty. Although this is probably nothing to be proud of.
One of the tricks of doing our pre- and postgame shows is that you dont see what were wearing from the waist down. Its not like we do the shows in boxer shorts or anything, but Melton prefers to come to the studio in blue jeans, which is no big deal. That was until we got a new set, and while it was being built, we had to do our shows from the set of Chicago Tribune Live, which exposes your body from head to toe.
This was a huge problem for Bill, who has only one pair of pants other than blue jeans here in Chicago. Its a set of beige khakis, which viewers would become familiar with over the next three weeks because Bill wore them for every single show!
I frequently suggested that he stop by a department store and buy another pair, but Melton would have nothing of it. He and his slacks remained firmly entrenched on the postgame set as if it were Custers Last Stand. There would be no backing down.
Eventually, the pants took on a life of their own, often taking part in the on-air discussions. They were vehemently opposed to the Manny Ramirez trade, wanted Paul Konerko batting third and believed that the Sox need to blow up the entire roster and start over (they became a little salty towards the end).
Fortunately, the new set is now finished. Bills blue jeans have returned. Life is back to normal. But Saturday night, after our final CSN Sox game of the season, well all have to deal with the new normal. Bill will drive back to his home in Arizona (cruise control set at 35 mph), leaving behind a newsroom that isnt the same when hes not in it.
I dont mean to get dramatic here. Melton would smack me over the head for that. But theres a certain pulse in our office, a beat that exists on a nightly basis, and when Bill walks in the door, you can feel it. Ask him about the Twins and youll hear it. Hes a spring and summer staple at Comcast SportsNet. The weather is good. Were not buried in snow. Theres baseball and theres Bill. Knowing we wont have either of them again until April is downright depressing.
So safe travels back to Scottsdale my friend. Well see you back here in 2011. Hopefully by then youll learn how to use a computer (so you can read this), which will also explain the brand new pair of pants waiting for you at your front door.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.