Art Berke, a lifelong White Sox fan, has worked at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television and Sports Illustrated. He grew up in Northwest Indiana, in the shadow of old Comiskey Park, and proudly proclaims 2005 as the best year of his life. Art offers his glass half-full opinions and observations as he lives and dies with the Sox.
We knew it had to end sometime. And the fact that the Sox have lost only twice in 17 games and moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Twins’ A.L. Central lead, makes today’s 8-6 loss to the you-know-whos an acceptable, if not satisfying, outcome.
It was also heartening to see the Sox rally in the ninth and bring the winning run to the plate in the person of Alex Rios, the club’s most consistent offensive performer.
The hope now is that the Sox continue to play sound baseball. Winning 11 games in a row is one thing, maintaining their consistency after the streak is another. But from the looks of things, Sox fans have to be confident that good things are ahead.
Speaking of the number 11
Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who starred in both the Negro Leagues and with the New York Giants, on Saturday became the 11th player in the history of the Giants franchise to have his uniform number (20) retired.
During the ceremony, 91-year-old Monte told the crowd: “My life in baseball is now complete.”
Readers of this blog may remember the 91st birthday tribute I wrote in February to my former Major League Baseball colleague and friend Monte Irvin.
Friends of Monte will be able to celebrate again on June 26 as Monte’s #20 will be retired by the San Francisco Giants.
Those unfamiliar with Monte should know that he was a star in the Negro Leagues, an outstanding player in the majors primarily with the then-New York Giants even though he was past his prime, a Hall of Famer, a mentor to Willie Mays and an advisor in the Baseball Commissioner’s Office for many years.
Monte is the finest gentleman I’ve ever known and a wonderful friend. This honor just adds to his legacy as a superior athlete and wonderful human being.
We all know that preseason predictions mean nothing–nada, zilch, zero. And while we shouldn’t take them seriously, it’s still a lot of fun–especially when the so-called experts pick your team to win.
Historically, it’s very rare when the baseball media elite pick the White Sox to win their division, let alone the AL pennant or World Series. It’s not that much different this year as the Twins seem to be the most common pick to conquer the AL Central. That said, there are a few “big name” media types among those who have picked the South Siders:
* Hall of Fame electee Bill Madden of the New York Daily News and author of the forthcoming bio of George Steinbrenner.
* Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal, who somewhat tongue-in-cheek picked the Sox to win the World Series while referring to them “Team Wacko.” Think that had anything to do with our Ozzie?
* ESPN‘s Tim Kurkjian, who doesn’t exactly wear a Sox jersey on the weekends.
* Jon Heyman, he of SI, SI.com and the MLB Network.
Since I’m drinking the prediction Kool-Aid, I might as well add my two cents. Here are my divisional picks for 2010:
Prior to to the 2005 season the White Sox were on the verge of signing fielding whiz Omar Vizquel, a move that would have united him with friend and fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen.
At the last minute, however, the 11-time Gold Glover at shortstop opted for a four-year deal with the Giants and, as fate would have it, Juan Uribe (now a Giant) was the starting shortstop on a World Series-winning team.
Well, Sox fans, Vizquel, who hit .266 in 62 games for the Rangers in 2009 playing second, short and third, could be coming to the South Side after all–four years later. FoxSports.com is reporting that the Pale Hosers are close to signing him as a backup infielder and mentor to Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham, who will be switching to second base from third to make room for newcomer Mark Teahen. Needless to say, Vizquel’s addition would have an impact on Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge and their hopes of both making the 25-man roster.
It was quite an eventful day at my day job today as Hall of Famer Juan Marichal visited his friend and Cooperstown colleague Yogi Berra at Yogi’s Museum & Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University in New Jersey.
There are too many stories to recall, but the one I really enjoyed centered on the time that Juan and his Giants battled the great Warren Spahn and the Braves for 16 innings until none other than Willie Mays won the game for San Francisco with a homer.
Marichal, who is doing World Series color commentary on ESPN Deportes along with San Diego Padres play-by-play man Eduardo Ortega, also had rave reviews for two Yankees in particular–Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.
In my opinion, Marichal’s greatness has been overshadowed by the fact he pitched in the same era as the likes of Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. But make no mistake, he WAS great. In a 16-year career he was 243-142, compiled an impressive 2.89 ERA and won 20 or more games six times, including two years when he won 25 and 26.