I had a great time on Monday night attending my first college basketball game and seeing DePaul play for the first time. I have to say, it was probably the most non-work related fun I have had this offseason. Wow. The people at DePaul and the fans at the game were awesome; it was such a good time. Even though Marquette had a lot of fans there, it was a close game to the end. I’m glad I had the chance to go and I will definitely be back. Who knows? I might even try to get some season tickets for next year, it was that much fun.
How many of you caught me on “Baseball Tonight” on Tuesday? It’s always a good time to catch up with Karl Ravech and the boys. Believe me; what those guys do is not easy. I have been there before and props to everyone that works in TV … that is hard work!
Right now, I’m just getting ready to head down to Miami on Feb. 12 for the Marlins Golf Tournament, which should be a very good time. I saw the new stadium digitally on the new “MLB The Show” game for PlayStation 3 (my kids love that game) and wow, does the stadium look amazing on there. The stadium was sold out in the game, so let’s hope that happens a lot this year and the next couple of years. I will also be shooting a Pepsi commercial for Venezuela with Carlos Zambrano and Bobby Abreu. I will be seeing Carlos a lot this season, and I’m looking forward to it.
To be completely honest with you, I just want all this stuff to be over and to get this thing going. There’s nothing better than spring baseball. Oh yeah, and I hope to see a lot of you out tomorrow at Morton’s Steakhouse in Chicago to see me with ESPN 1000 at noon. Can’t wait!
I’m finally back in the United States, but don’t worry I had my iPad with me the entire time so I was able to see everything that has been going on. There are a lot of free agents out there and a couple of trades and signings already. All the news makes for a good read. It’s always fun to see how teams can re-tool and do the best they can to put a team together. I think as a manager — and as a fan — that’s fun to see.
I’m in Miami right now. I need to start looking for a place down here; hopefully somewhere close to the ballpark. I will keep you guys posted on how it goes. I’m very excited for the new Marlins logo that we will all get to see on Friday. I have heard they have some awesome things planned so this week should be a lot of fun. I haven’t seen the logo, so I’m looking forward to it!
I want to say a big thank you to the Pepsi crew and team in Venezuela for doing a great job working quickly on the new commercial we have coming out. It was great working with everyone, especially Carlos Zambrano and Bobby Abreu. Personally, I’m just glad Bobby cut his toenails for the shoot so that nobody got hurt. Those things were deadly weapons a couple of years ago (hahaha).
Seriously, what’s up with the NBA lockout? I was looking forward to seeing the Bulls this year. I’m headed back to Chicago soon and hope I can see some games this year. Figure it out!
I will be watching Pacquiao vs. Marquez 3 this Saturday, as I would advise everyone to. It should be a good fight.
OK, everyone, take care. I wish I could give you all a sneak peek of the new logo. Who knows? Maybe I will be able to. Hopefully we all look good in them, but I suspect that if we win we will look awesome no matter what we are wearing.
Feels good to win a series, doesn’t it? It’s always a good feeling to go out and play your game and win. Overall, I think we started to play a little better baseball over the weekend in Seattle. We started to swing the bats a little bit, and that is great to see.
I think Seattle is just an awesome city. I’m a big fan of the stadium, and I absolutely love the seafood that city has. On the field, we got King Felix for a couple of runs on Friday, which was exciting, even though it wasn’t enough to get the win. What I like most about the way we have been playing is the pitching. It has been very good, and combine that with timely hitting, and you are going to win some games. Timely hitting is the key. It’s something we haven’t done a whole lot of lately, but the guys never gave up, and it was nice to win a close game yesterday for a change.
Now it’s on to Anaheim. Am I dreaming, or do we miss both Dan Haren and Jered Weaver? I’m not completely sure that’s the case, but either way, we have to continue to battle and play well. The Angels are always prepared, and those little guys they have, like Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis, always kill the White Sox, so we need to control those guys.
Last time we saw Bobby Abreu, my wife cooked for him, and then they came out and kicked our butts. I promise you my wife won’t be cooking anything for him this time around. So, no meals for Abreu, but hopefully we can go out there in awesome Southern California and try to win this series!
One of our worries at the start of the season was to improve our road record, because at home, with the support of our fans, we generally have a winning record. But this season has been a strange one for all of us. In our last 12 games at U.S. Cellular Field, we have a record of 4-8, while in our last nine road games we have seven wins and only two losses, including two wins this weekend against the leaders of the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers.
One of the strengths of this team, despite the ups and downs that have characterized us during the season, has been that it never gives up. No matter what, my players go out and battle every day. It’s true we haven’t had the consistency that we would like, and that even I have been confused by some of what I have seen, but overall we have won and lost as a team, as a group.
It’s important to highlight the performance of Jose Contreras, who started the season with a 0-5 record and who offered to go down to the minor leagues to get better prepared to return to the team in better shape. At that time when we were discussing the minor leagues, Jose told Kenny Williams and me that he needed to pitch in order to come back and help the team win. Truer words couldn’t have been spoken. Jose has two starts of 8 innings or more, giving up just three hits, and one against the Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers and two against the Brewers. It is very difficult to have the same level of consistency in every outing, but if he keeps it up, he will surely be one of the key pieces to winning the division title.
But, now, we need to improve our record at home. And I will repeat what I have said many times: we have the talent to win, but we have to be more consistent. We have to do the small things that are required to win, get the big hits, make the routine outs, and get the pressure outs. We have the players here who can do that and other that are learning to do that quickly. If we can stay healthy, free from injuries, and we play the baseball we know how to play, we will be battling until the very end. I still very much like the team that I have.
Now, let’s respond to some of the e-mails:
Melissa Cruz, de Yubacoa in Puerto Rico, asks about the trade that brought over catcher Ramon Castro from the Mets. It seems to me a good trade because Ramon will surely help us. With him, our starting catcher A.J. Pierzinski can get some much needed days off. It is not easy to be behind the plate every day, especially playing with the intensity that A.J does, who plays at 1000 percent every day.
Pedro Soto, of Chicago, asks “how can you ask a hitter to bunt with two strikes and one ball with no one out and a runner on first, late in a close ballgame?” I don’t know if this is a hypothetical question or if he is referring to specific play. In any case, I don’t think I would have done that, but if that did take place, I would have to look over the situation more closely to see what might have happened. I have always said the games are better analyzed the farther you are from the action. From the stands everything looks very easy and some things can look ridiculous without knowing what is going on in the dugout. And finally, don’t forget that I make mistakes just like everyone else. Jordy Perez of New York asks when is the list of 103 names going to be released. Jordy is asking about the 103 players who tested positive for using steroids during the 2003 season. Sorry Jordy, but honesty, I have no idea about that subject.
Carlos Luis Hidalgo, of Venezuela, asks if it is true what journalist Juan Vene wrote in his column about a “near brawl between the manager of the Chicago White Sox, Ozzie Guillen and the 3B Josh Fields was broken up by the players.” That is absolutely false and Mr. Vene is clearly a liar. Fields is a very religious young man who is very well mannered, and I, even though many still don’t believe it, am too smart to get into a situation like that. Fields is upset because he has lost his starting job at third base and I have personally talked to him about the fact that his production hasn’t been what the team has expected. In terms of Vene, everyone in the journalism world knows him. He uses his column to discredit people who he doesn’t like, including using insulting nicknames for them. My friends in the media tell me he didn’t even go to the games in Yankee Stadium last year, meaning he has become one of those people that write from their house without stepping foot where the action takes place. Because of his bad attitude no Venezuelan media outlet wants him on their radio or TV stations. The Caribbean Confederation denied him a credential for the Caribbean World Series last year. Everyday more doors are closing for him. It is sad that someone with his background and long career in the business has resorted to lying.
Joel Rodriguez, of Caracas, asks why the White Sox don’t pick up Gregor Blanco from Atlanta to be our leadoff hitter. In reality Joel, I don’t have anything to do with the signing or trading of players. That is the job our GM Kenny Williams, who has a team of professionals in charge of evaluating and analyzing talent on other teams. Those are the people that really know about talent. I have no doubt that if Gregor was a player like you say that would be an “ideal leadoff hitter” then Kenny’s team is surely on top of the situation.
Duane Abreu, of Guacara en the Carabobo state of Venezuela, asks if I would like to have Bob Abreu on my roster. Any team would love to have Bob in its ranks.
Geovanis Lopez, of Havana, Cuba, and Manuel Gomez want to know why Dayan Viciedo has not been moved up to the Majors. Patience, Geovanis, patience. Dayan will be up when he is ready and when he will help us win games. In the mean time, it is better that he play every day, facing good pitching and preparing to improve every day.
Nancy Ward writes to me in English to ask some advice for her daughter and her fiancé, who are big White Sox fans. They don’t play baseball, but that they want is a “little marriage advice.” I have been married 26 years and I have to say that marriage is like baseball: there are many good days and some bad days. What is important is to love and respect your partner. The key is to not let the bad moments overshadow the thousands of happy moments you have spent together.
Ray Rojas, of Minnesota, asks why we don’t change starting pitchers in the first three innings if they are having a bad outing. I’ll repeat Ray, it’s not as easy as it seems from the outside. There are times that the bullpen is tired and we have to try to get five innings out of our starters. Each case is very different and every team manages its bullpen differently. We don’t work the same as other team because we have our own guidelines. For better or worse, in these last five year that we have worked together we have won a World Series and two division titles which could indicate that we are doing a good job. But thanks for your suggestions, and thanks to all that have taken some time to write in to wish me well during the season.
I can’t say goodbye without sending a shout out to Eduardo Flores, of Barquisimeto, and to all the members of the team “Bandidos de un Solo Brazo”, who have represented Venezuela so well in international competitions. I had the opportunity to spend some time with them in my house in Caracas and to play with them alongside of Bob Abreu, Freddy Garcia and Ugueth Urbina, and I will always remember them with great affection.
Good luck in your next tournaments.
I’ll be back in 15 days answering your questions and sharing my opinions, comments and criticisms. One more time, thanks for your participation.