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Archive for the tag “Chicago White Sox”

The Kevin Youkilis News Cycle

by mgluskin 

Kevin Youkilis is a career .287 hitter. He’s batted over .300 three times, made three All-Star teams and won over legions of Fenway Fans because of his all-out competitive style and funky batting stance.

But based on the amount of talk I’ve heard about Youkilis over the past 48 hours, you would think he had achieved immortal status of some sort. (In fact, he was dubbed the “Greek god of walks” in the book Moneyball, so maybe that counts.)

Yes, I live in Chicago, so the Youkilis-centered talk is heavier here than in most places around the country, with the exception of Boston. With that in mind, here’s a brief snapshot of the Youkilis News Cycle (with times being severely estimated in some cases), a baseball version of the hyper-speed 24-hour news cycle that dominates today’s instant gratification society.

Sunday morning, June 24, 11 a.m.: Youkilis hasn’t been in the Boston lineup the past three days, he’s angry and likely wants to be traded. But where to? The White Sox emerge as a leading contender, but then…wait! Youkilis is in Boston’s lineup today. Does that mean he’s back in manager Bobby Valentine’s good graces?

Sunday afternoon, June 24, 3:30 p.m.: Rumors swirl around U.S. Cellular Field about the impending trade (I was there so I can speak to the veracity of seeing the flying rumors; or maybe I was just seeing hot dog wrappers blowing in the wind.) Youkilis has been removed from his game in Boston. Zach Stewart is scratched from his start in Charlotte. Brent Lillibridge is removed from Sunday’s game for a pinch hitter. Omg.

Sunday afternoon, June 24, 4:05 p.m.: The White Sox win and the trade is confirmed. Best day in Sox history. OK, second best, after the 2005 World Series victory. That one’s going to be hard to top, unless Youkilis leads this year’s squad to a title.

Monday afternoon, June 25, 3 p.m.: Did you hear? Youkilis is batting second in the lineup tonight! I’m feeling a good night: maybe a homer or two, a few defensive gems and a win.

Monday night, June 25, 9 p.m.: President Obama, usually hated in Red States, draws the ire of Red Sox fans when he jokes at a Boston fundraiser about the trade, thanking Boston for Youkilis (watch the now-viral video here). The First Sox Fan laughs about Youkilis’ change of Sox, raising expectations even further on the team’s new third baseman. I still contend the fans were yelling “Youuuuuuuuuk” and not booing Mr. Obama.

Monday night, June 25, 10:30 p.m.: Youkilis goes 1-for-4 with a single; this hit maintains his .233 batting average. Was the trade a good move? Is Brent Lillibridge still available? (This kid – another now-viral moment relating to this trade – wants to know.)

Tuesday morning, June 26, 8 a.m.: The Chicago Tribune sports page features a big picture of Youkilis batting under the headline, “More of same.” Although the headline refers to the lack of run support given to starting pitcher Jake Peavy, it implicitly condemns the Youkilis trade and Youk Era.

The Final Youkilis News Cycle Tally:

Viral videos resulting from the trade: 2

Potential votes lost by President Obama in Massachusetts: Too many to count

Hits by Youkilis in a White Sox uniform: 1

Actual questions answered about the trade or conclusions that can be drawn at this point: Zero.

The White Sox’s Newest Hawk

by mgluskin

I bet you didn’t know that Chicago baseball is closely intertwined with birds. The Cubs can’t seem to get rid of the seagulls that invade center field and flock toward the bleachers for postgame leftovers. The Cubs also once had a legendary player named Andre “The Hawk” Dawson.

And speaking of hawks, the White Sox play-by-play announcer goes by the name Hawk Harrelson, although his birth certificate says “Ken.” Even if you’re not a White Sox fan, you’ve probably heard of Harrelson, seeing as how he made national news last week with his middle-school tirade against a home-plate umpire.

But after last night’s first-year player draft, the White Sox acquired a new Hawk, one who hopefully carries a more positive reputation to the franchise. However, this hawk – Courtney Hawkins, an 18-year old high school outfield from Texas – got off to a rocky start in the black-and-white pinstripes.

Immediately after being drafted, several of the big-name prospects in attendance were interviewed live on MLB Network. (I sadly know this because I was watching; feel free to take a minute to snicker at me.) Before Hawkins’ interview, the network showed a brief highlight package of his on-field feats, and this video also included footage of him doing a backflip in uniform.

This talent was too good for interviewer Sam Ryan to pass up, so she led off the interview by asking if Hawkins would do a backflip.

Before I continue, let’s pause for a minute. Imagine you’re White Sox general manager Ken Williams, or any of the dozens of scouts who have spent months and years searching for the right player to select in this year’s draft. You likely stood up and began pleading with the TV, saying, “Please, Courtney, don’t do it!” A flopped flip could have resulted in a long-term injury and heaped more Hawk-induced embarrassment upon the Sox.

After Hawkins removed his iPhone from his pocket, buttoned the top button on his Sox jersey and stepped into the proper placement, he flipped. Much to Williams’ temporary delight, Hawkins landed on two feet and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

That smile may have been slightly muted when Hawkins later received a call from Williams. As Hawkins told ESPN, “Mr. (Ken) Williams said no more backflips, so no more it is.”

So that’s that. Although some White Sox fans may be disappointed that Hawkins won’t be backflipping his way out to center field in several years – their own Ozzie Smith – my guess is that most would prefer Hawkins remain healthy so he can bring more to the team than entertainment value.

Judging by the non-flip parts of the highlight footage shown last night, Hawkins can hit. And if he puts up big power numbers and plays solid defense, that’s something Sox fans will flip out about.

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