Another Mendoza Line?

MendozaBuntingWhen ESPN broadcasts the Yankees-Astros tonight, Jessica Mendoza will be in the booth. This will make Jessica the first female analyst for an MLB postseason telecast.

Jessica was a four-time first team All-American outfielder for Stanford’s women’s softball team  and won two Olympic medals for Team USA.

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Mendoza w Medals  MendozaReporting  Mendoza w Glove

Jessica has previously done a couple games for ESPN — Most notably, she was an analyst for Jake Arrieta’s no hitter over the Dodgers on August 30 (replacing the suspended Curt Shilling) on Sunday Night Baseball.

Mendoza w Kruk

I thought it was fitting that Jessica shared the color commentary with John Kruk, since Krukkie looks like a softball player (Chicago 16″ style).

Actually, he had a pretty good career, finishing with a lifetime .300 batting average.  His 100th, and last, homerun was for the White Sox in his last season (1995) when he batted .308. Unfortunately, he was 0-for-1 in stolen base attempts for the Sox.

In John’s last 4 years, he had batting averages of .323 / .316 / .302 / .308.

During that time, he had more walks than strikeouts (271 vs. 259).

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In case you don’t know what the Mendoza Line is —

Mendoza_Line

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White Sox Retain Cup

Today, the White Sox guaranteed a successful season by beating the Cubs to retain the Coveted Crosstown Cup. Thank you Chris Sale. Like the older, less-coveted Ryder Cup, whoever owns the cup can retain it by splitting the matches.

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BP Crosstown Cup

RyderCup

 

Less-coveted Cup

Of course, in October, each White Sox player gets the Cup for one day to take to their kid’s school, favorite bar, alma mader, local library, or wherever they wish.

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The Crosstown Classic began with interleague play in 1997 with the Sox taking 2 out of 3 at Comiskey. The next year, the Cubs swept a 3-game series at Wrigley (only 3 games played in 1st two years). In 1999, the series moved to a 6-game format and generated even more excitement. Here are some pages from the expanded program for 2000.

Cover 001 Rosters 001

Scorecard Pics2 001 Scorecard Pics 001

(Sorry, no room in the post for the Cubbies pictures.)

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Over the years, the Classic lost some of it’s excitement (except for Barrett’s punch to Pierzynski’s jaw), but that all changed with the introduction of the BP Crosstown Cup in 2010.

CC - Crosstown-Cup-Logo-e1309917539602  CC w Lou & Ozzie

Actually, the timing for the BP Crosstown Cup could not have been worse. While the Sox and Cubs were competing for the Cup, BP Oil was spilling 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So, BP was not often mentioned when referring to the Cup.

———-Sox w BP Cup - 2015

White Sox celebrate today’s Cup victory.

Photo by Ron Vesely/Chicago White Sox

 

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CC - crosstowncup#99

In 2012, when the Sox clinched the Cup at Wrigley, they brought Kevin Hickey’s jersey out with them for the team picture.

 

In May of 2012, Kevin died while on a road trip with the Sox in Texas. The White Sox hung Kevin’s #99 in their dugout for the rest of the season. 2012 was Kevin’s 10th year as a batting practice pitcher for the Sox.  Kevin (a 16″ softball player) was signed by the Sox after an open tryout in 1978. He made it to the majors in 1981 and pitched for six seasons for the Sox and Orioles.

Cooper-99-Jersey

The next season, Don Cooper started wearing #99 in honor of his good friend. I’ve talked to “Coop” a number of times at SoxFest and at Spring Training. He is very personable and asked me to bring my “Cooper 99 jersey” down to the Sox bullpen before a game if I’d like him to sign it. I’ll do so later this season.

 

 

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PITCHf/x

Automated Strike Zone Baseball
Automated Strike Zone Baseball

In case you missed it, a computer was used recently to call balls and strikes in a minor league baseball game. The PITCHf/x system, created by Sportvision, is in every MLB ballpark and is used on telecasts to show pitch location (and to second guess the plate umpire).  Eric Risberg/AP

Ex-player and screen

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The game was between the host San Rafael Pacificas and the Vallejo Admirals of the Pacific Association. The pitches were actually called by former MLB player Eric Byrnes over the PA system while watching a computer screen.

Eric Risberg/AP

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The PITCHf/x system uses three cameras to triangulate each pitch from the pitcher’s hand to just in front of home plate measuring speed, trajectory and location. Since 2008, PITCHf/x has been operational in every MLB ballpark. It has captured a wealth of data allowing countless analysis of pitchers and umpires. Here’s a short story about umpires’ tendencies.

By Etan Green
Consider a forgotten game in April 2010 between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were up a run with two outs in the eighth. Their set-up man, Matt Thornton, was on the mound, protecting a lead with a runner on first and the right-handed Jhonny Peralta at bat. Ahead in the count with one ball and two strikes, Thornton froze Peralta with a slider on the outside half of the plate, a couple inches below the belt. For a pitch like that, the umpire, Bruce Dreckman, would normally call a strike — 80 percent of the time, the data shows. But in two-strike counts like Peralta’s, he calls a strike less than half the time.

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The PITCHf/x data is readily available and several sites compile and report the data. Here’s Johnny Danks pitch (%) breakdown by month for 2015.

Danks-2015 Pitches

In 2007, Johnny didn’t have a cutter so he relied on the four-seam fastball.

Danks-2007 Pitches

And, the day after White Sox rookie Carlos Rodon threw his best game, I found the chart below that identified every pitch he threw! This was one of twelve charts that detailed Carlos’ performance.

BrooksBaseball Chart

McClelland Calls 20090704

And, here’s a chart detailing every call made by umpire Tim McClelland during a White Sox game on July 4, 2009 for left-handed batters. The chart is from the umpire’s point of view. The extension on the outside portion of the plate represents the normal strike zone that MLB umpires use for left-handed batters. Several articles that I’ve read attribute the recent lower batting averages and increased strikeouts to the expanded strike zone since the advent of PITCHf/x. The strike zone itself has not expanded, but the strike zone being called by umpires has grown because they are now evaluated using PITCHf/x. More strikes at the bottom of the zone are now being called.

For more info (from PITCHF/X) than you’d ever want to see, visit http://www.brooksbaseball.net/dashboard.php

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Rule 2.00: The Strike Zone The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball. (2015 version)

Strike Zone 2015———-

Rule 2.00 above and the chart to the left are from the official MLB Rulebook. It’s about 100 pages of stimulating reading.

The strike zone hasn’t changed in recent years,  although I noticed that the 2015 graphic is the first time the batter has worn a batting helmet.

Baseball Rulebook

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On Saturday, in the White Sox 1-run loss to the Royals, the last out was a called strike three on Sox batter Jose Abreu. The pitch was obviously a ball and Hawk Harrelson was still pointing that out during the Sox telecast four days later. Of course, this works both ways. Here’s a picture I took off of my TV of the last pitch by Sox closer Ronald Belisario in a game last season. The pitch was clearly a ball, but was called strike three for the last out and a save for Belisario.

Save on a BallMy recollection is that Hawk did not mention the umpire’s error in this instance.

Although, in defense of Hawk, he sometimes says, “We got a break there” when the call goes in favor of the Sox.

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Hawk does not envision the day when a computer calls balls and strikes. His position is that as long as the umpire is consistent and calls pitches badly for both teams, everything is OK. How is this a good thing? I’m a little surprised by Hawk’s resistance to embrace the latest technology because he constantly talks about how great his iPad is and how he can track every game in real time.

I long for the day when pitches are called more accurately. Perhaps the plate umpire could have a small red light inside his mask that would instantly turn on for a strike so he could still make the call in a timely basis when necessary. E.g. a runner breaks for second on a 3-2 pitch with less than to outs — does the catcher need to make the throw? Of course, the home plate umpire would still call check swings (sometimes with help as they do now), hit batsmen, fair/foul balls up to 1st & 3rd base, foul tips, plays at the plate, batter or catcher’s interference, etc. And, he could still clean off home plate.  Does anyone remember when Bill Veeck installed an air hose that popped up in the middle of the plate to blow off the dirt?

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White Flag Trade

Today is the MLB Trade Deadline.
Of course, the most infamous trade deadline deal made by the White Sox was the “White Flag Trade” on July 31, 1997. Despite being only 3 ½ games behind Cleveland, the Sox traded 3 major league pitchers to the Giants for 6 prospects.

The Giants received Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez.
The Sox received Keith Foulke, Bobby Howry, Mike Caruso, and 3 others.

The Giants went on to win the NL West, but were swept by the Marlins in 3 games with Hernandez losing game-2 and Alvarez losing game-3.

Foulke HeroBobby Howry became the Sox closer and saved 28 games in 1999. He was replaced as closer in 2000 by Keith Foulke who saved exactly 100 games for the Sox over the next few years. Keith later led the league in saves for the A’s (43 in 2003) but didn’t become a Foulke Hero until he saved the final game of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox.

(Picture from Boston Herald)

For one year, it looked like Mike Caruso might be the steal of the trade. In 1998, Mike played 133 games at SS, batted .306, and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting. However, in 1999, he dropped to .250 in 136 games (he did lead the league in caught stealing with 14). The remainder of Mike’s MLB career consisted of 12 games with the Royals in 2002.
Mike Caruso

On June 20, 2008, I attended a Joliet Jack Hammers game. The Hammers’  designated hitter that evening was a player who they signed earlier in the day — Mike Caruso.

 

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BlumCard

On July 31, 2005, the White Sox acquired Geoff Blum from San Diego as a utility player for the stretch run. Ozzie Guillen was familiar with Geoff who played for the Expos when Ozzie was their 3rd base coach some years earlier.  The deal was underwhelming but as all Sox fans know, it paid a big dividend. During the season’s last two months, Geoff appeared in 31 games — playing all four infield positions.

 

Blum-on-Monument

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In the 14th inning of the longest World Series game ever played (time-wise at 5:41), Geoff hit a home run to give the Sox the lead. This was Geoff’s only World Series AB, but it earned him a place on the Championship Moments Monument (bottom right).

There has been one other 14-inning WS game. In 1916, the Red Sox beat the Dodgers 2-1. Boston’s winning pitcher that day threw a 14-inning complete game, but eventually had even more success as a hitter. Babe Ruth.

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Scoreboard - Barb Birthday V1

A few years ago, Barb and I went to a Sox game on her birthday – August 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Southpaw Wore a Toga

Southpaw in TogaLast night was Greek Heritage Night at The Cell.

Southpaw Wore a Toga.

Of course, Southpaw always dresses for the occasion. Here are a few pictures of Southpaw from Elvis Night, Mullet Night, Half-Way to St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Fourth of July, and even Mustache Day!

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Southpaw Elvis back Southpaw Elvis-2Southpaw in Mullet2Southpaw on St Pats DaySouthpaw as Easter Bunny.Southpaw - HalloweenSouthpawSouthpaw w Mustache

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When the Sox wear their alternate uniform (circa 1983), Southpaw follows suit.

Southpaw in Raincoat Dancing

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When it rains.

Southpaw & Fan in K-Zone

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In the K-Zone, Southpaw sat in my row about four seats away. He wore a Chris Sale K-Zone T-shirt.

I couldn’t find a good picture of Southpaw on Dog Night. (He had floppy ears and a tail.)

Southpaw & B-Hawks Mascot

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On Blackhawks Night, Southpaw wears his normal uniform and hangs out with Tommy Hawk.

Southpaw on Turnstile

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I first encountered Southpaw in 2003.

He (she?/it?) was standing on the turnstile as I entered the stadium.

Southpaw Barb Gary

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Here’s Southpaw with a couple fans.

Southpaw & Friends

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Southpaw with some of his friends.

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Mr Met

 
Many fans think that the San Diego Chicken was the first baseball mascot, but according to Wikipedia it was Mr. Met in 1964. Here’s a link to present and past mascots.

MLB Mascots

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Last year, the Cubs introduced Clark.Clark

I was going to make fun of the pantsless Clark, but then I remembered the mascots that Jerry Reinsdorf introduced after he bought the White Sox —

Ribbie and Roobarb 1982 w Tony

Ribbie and Roobarb.

Back row — Ribbie, Tony LaRussa, Roobarb.

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Waldo the WS Wolf

 

 

 

 

I was surprised to discover that the White Sox had a short-lived mascot in 1990 named

Wally the White Sox Wolf.

You can get his pin on eBay for $1.95.

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Ubaldo, Hakuna, and Shark

Southpaw

The White Sox beat the Orioles last night 1-0 behind Johnny Danks pitching and a homer by Jose Abreu. In honor of Independence Day weekend, hot dogs were a dollar and Southpaw wore his holiday best.

 

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Ubaldo WrappingUbaldo Jiminez started and pitched well for the Orioles. Ubaldo was an all-star for the Rockies in 2010. That year, he pitched a no-hitter and led the NL in winning percentage with .704 (19-8).

In 2011, Ubaldo slumped and was traded to Cleveland. In 2012, he led the AL in losses with 17.

This year, he has bounced back with a 7-4 record and an era below 3. But the main reason I took this picture is for an excuse to post the link to one of my favorite baseball commercials.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJiXnWSfqVU

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MachadoBaltimore’s leadoff batter last night was Manny Machado.

Manny was a 2012 mid-season call-up. In 2013, he led the AL in AB’s (667) and Doubles (51). He made the All-Star team and won the Gold Glove at 3rd base. The Gold Glove triggered a video and a nickname — Hakuna Machado. This is, of course, a play on Hakuna Matata from The Lion King. The video features lines like “He’s got a PHD, in Webgemology“.
Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpCHuE8imIo

In 2012, in Manny’s 2nd career game, he hit two Home Runs, which is amazing — but, more amazing? — they were caught by the same fan!  (teenager Adam Cord)

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As usual, there were several “first pitches” thrown. One was by the White Sox 1st round draft pick Carson Fulmer who signed earlier in the day. Upon signing, Carson immediately donated $10,000 to the Amateur City Elite program. One of Carson’s college teammates, Ro Coleman, is an ACE alum who earned a scholarship to Vanderbilt. Also pictured is Carson getting a tip from Jim Palmer.

xHahn and Fulmer-15 Fulmer plus 5 Fulmer & Palmer Carson Fulmer 1st Pitch

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The Discovery Channel sponsored the post-game fireworks show to publicize “Shark Week”, and so a shark threw out one of the “first pitches” to — Jeff “Shark” Samardzija.

Shark Pitch Shark & Shark

Shark Sign in Oakland

Jeff’s nickname sometimes comes in handy.

Like when an Oakland fan made a sign for Jeff last season.

 

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Hump Day

Minor League baseball teams are known for their “wacky” promotions. Earlier this season, I posted about Mike Veeck (Bill Veeck’s son) and his Nobody Night. And last year, I covered Mike’s Disco Demolition 2.

https://mostlysox.com/2015/04/29/nobody-night/

https://mostlysox.com/2014/07/22/disco-demolition-2/

The last few years, GEICO has done their part to raise awareness of Hump Day with commercials featuring a camel walking around in a business office. Recently, Keith Olberman pointed out that the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies Triple-A) will be celebrating Hump Day tonight (Wednesday) by wearing special Hump Day jerseys.

JerseysThese player jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit IronPigs Charities and the Lehigh Valley Zoo. Of course, a live camel will be at the game for pictures, etc.

bacon-hat——-
In the above ad from the IronPigs web site, you may have noticed that Bacon USA is a prime sponsor of the IronPigs. Last year, the team debuted their Bacon Uniforms.

And, the IronPigs sell a bacon t-shirt that has a scratch-and-sniff piece of bacon on it.

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Finally, in a promotion that cannot be described as “wacky”, last year the team gave away a funeral to one “lucky” fan. According to CFNews13, the funeral package comes with a casket, embalming or cremation, hearse, headstone, flowers, and a funeral or memorial service.

Celebration of Life Night

The winner has ALS — more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

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Keuchel’s Korner

Last year, the White Sox unveiled the K-Zone. On days when Chris Sale pitched, the Sox offered a special section in the left field corner where fans would get a K-Zone T-Shirt and a K-Zone K-Card included with the ticket price.

https://mostlysox.com/2014/04/01/k-zone/

This year, the White Sox added the Shark Cage — a similar concept for games started by Jeff “Shark” Samardzija. The Shark Cage featured a cap instead of a T-Shirt and the K-Card was shaped like a shark’s fin.

https://mostlysox.com/2015/04/23/shark-cage/

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Last week, the Houston Astros unveiled Keuchels Korner. Dallas Keuchel, who is scheduled to pitch tonight, is a left-handed, bearded, starting pitcher in his 4th year for the Astros and having an impressive season — 9-3 record with a 2.17 ERA. Fans sitting in Keuchel’s Korner receive an orange T-Shirt and a fake beard.

KK Promo

 

 

Go Beard
—- or —-
Go Home

 

 

 

 

Krowd Shot

Here’s a krowd shot from last week.

 

 

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1957 All-Star Voting

It was announced today that Omar Infante of the Kansas City Royals has taken the lead over Jose Altuve of the Astros in the fans’ All-Star voting for the AL starting second baseman. If the voting ended today, Omar would join 7 other Royals (and Mike Trout) in the AL starting lineup. The Royals 3rd outfielder, Alex Rios, has been injured most of the season. Following last year’s first post-season appearance since 1985 and 7-game World Series loss to the Giants, baseball is hot in Kansas City and internet voting has allowed a rabid fan base to “stuff the ballot box”. Although there is limit (35) to the number of votes you may cast from one email address, there is no limit to the number of email addresses that a fan can use (I voted 70 times).

150px-1957MLBAllStarGame

For the 1957 All-Star Game in St. Louis, the Cincinnati fans voted in 7 Redlegs for the 8 spots (no DH of course). The lone exception was first baseman Stan Musiel of the host Cardinals. The Redlegs normal first baseman, Ted Kluszewski, was injured.

 

Ballot from Cincy Newspaper
In 1957, most voting was done using ballots printed in the local newspaper. (I’ve read that Chicago papers didn’t bother to print them.) In Cincinnati, the paper made it easy to vote for the local players and many bars would not serve a patron until after a ballot was completed. It has also been reported that pre-filled ballots were also printed by local newspapers.

Anyway, Commissioner Ford Frick removed a couple Redlegs from the team — Gus Bell & Wally Post — and replaced them with Willie Mays & Hank Aaron. Frick also took voting away from the fans in 1958. Fan voting returned in 1970.

Many deserving players like SS Ernie Banks made the team as reserves. The AL team included White Sox players Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, and Billy Pierce (who all have statues at The Cell).

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Lest you think that I have anything against Omar Infante, let me point out his claim to fame (of which I’m about 99% certain)

On May 14, 2004, Omar Infante and Brandon Inge of the Detroit Tigers became the only players in baseball history to hit back-to-back homers — whose surnames begin with an I.

 

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Navy Night

Last night was Navy Night at The Cell.

Swearing In-2

For the 31st consecutive year, the White Sox partnered with Great Lakes Naval Station to hold a swearing-in enlistment ceremony before the Sox game.

 

 

Navy Guys w Sox Flag

 

The 88 recruits now make up the White Sox Division at Recruit Training Command, and they’ll take the Sox flag with them throughout their training.

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Mitch Harris
In case you missed it — back in April, the Cardinals called up 29-year-old relief pitcher Mitch Harris.

Harris is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the first in the majors since Washington Senators reliever Nemo Gaines in 1921.

 

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