Over the next seven days I will preview the 2007 White Sox season. Here is how the next few days will look:
Monday: A Look Back at Last Season
Tuesday: Off Season Moves
Wednesday: Starting Pitchers and Catchers
Thursday: Relief Pitching
Sunday: Outlook for 2007
A week from today the White Sox will officially start the 2007 baseball season. I have high hopes for this team, but of course I had the same hopes for the team that finished third in the AL Central last year. Here is a brief look at the games that I was able to attend last year.
4/16 Blue Jays – Last year I went to my first Sox game on April 16th. They were playing the Blue Jays, and only got in 4 1/2 innings before the game was called. Garcia pitched for the Sox, and had a good outing except for the last one that he had to pitch in a downpour. Garcia held them off to get the 6-4 win. The game was probably more memorable as being the last time that Mark Buehrle performed one of his famous tarp dives. He got into a lot of trouble over that from Kenny Williams. Who knows, if he is not going to re-sign with the Sox we might see some more of Mark on the tarp. I remember leaving this game mad that I paid to see 4.5 innings. If only I knew what the rest of the season would hold.
4/23 Twins – My next game was a week later against the Twins. Anderson hit a home run, and it was the first of many times last year that I thought that this would be the game that snaps him out of his funk. His was one of four home runs hit by the Sox. BA hit one, Crede hit one, and Uribe hit two. I knew that it would be a good game when it was Contreras v. Silva.
5/20 Cubs – The Fight. I was at the game where Barrett sucker punched A.J. The best part of the game though was when Iguchi made them pay by hitting a grand slam. It got pretty crazy in the crowd during/after the fight. Tensions were running high, but the score ran even higher. The Sox took the game 7-0, and the Cubs fans were out pretty early. I told myself right there that I would not go to Wrigley because of the bad blood.
5/22 Athletics – This was the first game for Frank Thomas against the White Sox. He looked like the Big Hurt of old bashing two home runs. The A’s were cruising to a victory until Rob Mackowiak hit a home run in the 8th to tie the game. Dye had hit one earlier in the inning to make the comeback possible. In the 10th Pablo Ozuna put down a squeeze bunt past the first baseman with two outs to bring A.J. home, and the Sox walked off with the win. The stadium was going crazy, and it almost made me forget how late it was on a Monday night. This game started the tradition of packing everything up when the Sox were down.
6/2 Rangers – This was a Friday night game, and I got to the Cell early enough to watch batting practice. I was in my wind tunnel just sitting down when I see a line drive come off of Hank Blalock’s bat right at me. I had just enough time to stand up and put my mitt up. I caught the ball and sat back down. One of the other guys in the outfield asked me how I made it look so easy. I really wanted to tell him that I had no time to think about what was going on. I wish the game went as well. Brandon McCarthy gave up a run in the 9th, and the Sox lost 4-3.
6/4 Rangers – I went back on Sunday to catch the day game. I wish that I hadn’t. Joe Crede hit a two run homer for the Sox, but that was all that they would get. Buehrle looked horrible, and made Gerald Laird look like a superstar. He went 4-5 with 2 HR’s and 4 RBI’s.
6/7 Tigers – I was able to go to this game between the top two teams in the division because of free tickets from Zimco Materials. Contreras outdueled Verlander, and the Sox won 4-3. Thome and Dye homered for the Sox. The best part of the game was that Ordonez could have won it for the Tigers, but Jenks got him to ground into a double play.
6/10 Indians – This was the Fox game of the week. The Sox gave up a home run to Victor Martinez in the 6th, and for a while it looked like that was all that Sabathia would need. The Sox got to the bullpen though to send the game to extra innings. In the 10th Martinez hit another home run off of Thornton. Some of the crowd left. What they missed was the Sox scoring two in the bottom of the inning to win the game. This was my second extra inning game of the year.
6/11 Indians – This was the second game of a ticket pack I bought on eBay. The Sox were down 10-2 going into the bottom of the 9th. They scored six runs, and had the tying run up at the plate to make things interesting. They ended up losing 10-8 though.
6/25 Astros – This was supposed to be a Sunday afternoon game, but got moved to Sunday Night Baseball. I was thinking about leaving the game in the bottom of the 8th because the Sox were down 9-2, and I had to work early the next morning. Iguchi hit a three run home run to make the game a little more interesting so I decided to stay. He came up again in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded. I turned to the guy next to me and said that there is not way that he can do it again. I packed all of my stuff up because there were two outs, and that had worked earlier in the year. Sure enough he hit the grand slam to tie the game. The crowd was something else. I have never heard the place so loud. The Sox ended up losing 10-9 in the 13th, but it was a great game to see. It was one of those that even though your team had lost you felt like you had seen something special.
7/1 at Cubs – Remember how I said I wouldn’t go to Wrigley? I lied. I found a cheap ticket on eBay for the Saturday game of the series. I quit going to the Sunday games because in 2003 they were the only games the Sox lost, and the only games that I attended. Once again in the top of the 9th I was packing my things away with A.J. at the plate with two outs. He hit a 3 run bomb off of Dempster that started a mini riot inside of Wrigley. Fans were taking off their jerseys and throwing them onto the field. That along with the beer cups and anything else that they could get thier hands on stopped the game for some time for clean up. As I left the game I remember thinking that this was the best game that I had ever seen. I was trying to come up with a scenario that would top it.
7/9 Red Sox – Little did I know that I would top that the very next game. The Red Sox were winning 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when I started to pack my bag. Jermaine Dye then stepped up to the plate and hit a solo shot that sent the game to extra innings. Things got interesting again in the 11th when Guillen left Jenks in too long and he gave up two runs. The Sox managed to scratch across a pair in the bottom of the inning to keep the game going. Niether team scored again until the bottom of the 19th when Iguchi singled in Cintron to win the game. This was the longest game ever at U.S. Cellular Field, and by far the longest game I have ever been to. I was at the 15 inning game at old County Stadium between the Brewers and the Cubs, and 3 years later at a 15 inning game at Wrigley. There is no way that I will ever be at a game that could top this one. Two comebacks from certain doom, and 19 innings. I saw all but two Sox players in one game. The only two players on the roster that did not get in were Buehrle and Garcia.
7/21 Rangers – This was my second Mullet night. We got to the game late because our driver was not in a hurry so we did not get to walk on the field pre game. The employees were not being cool about it so I went to complain to customer service. They were great, and got my brother and I the shirts we should have gotten. I turned to walk away and saw White Sox legend Minnie Minoso signing autographs. It was the day after my father’s birthday, and I gave him a ball that night signed by his boyhood hero. The Sox got bombed agian, and I decided that Ranger games were off limits.
8/7 Angels – This game was supposed to be played in May, but got rained out. It was rescheduled on a Monday night, and they still had the dollar hot dogs. Buehrle got bombed again, and the Sox lost 6-3. Vlad and Thome each hit a home run. This was the last game that I was able to attend last year.
The Sox did not have the season that they were looking for, but I was able to see some great games. I don’t think that I will ever be able to see a season worth of games like last year. Four games that went to extra innings. That more than makes up for the first game that I thought I got hosed on by it only going 4 1/2 innings. This year I will get an early start on the season. My first game will be on April 6th when the Sox take on the Twins.