Today's thoughts

Category: Chicago White Sox (Page 1 of 18)


Retirement is not without Hassles: Sunshine Skyway #1915

1914  saw the beginning of what became known as World War I, after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austrian throne was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrillo Princip. It also saw the first airline to provide scheduled regular commercial passenger services with heavier-than-air aircraft, with the St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line.”

As Wikipedia went on to point out: “The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line (SPT Airboat Line) was the first scheduled airline using a fixed wing aircraft. The airline provided service between St. Petersburg, Florida and neighboring Tampa across Tampa Bay a distance of about 23 miles. It was in service from January to May 1914.”

The route that this flight covered is now drivable over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the modern link between Tampa and St. Petersburg. We drove it last weekend to get to Comic Com. It goes right past Tropicana Field  where the Tampa Bay Rays beat the White Sox last season. “On May 9, 1980, Harbor Pilot John Lerro was guiding the ship MV Summit Venture under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge when storm winds pushed the vessel into the southern span. A chunk of the span came down. Vehicles fell into the water- a truck, five cars and a Greyhound bus. Thirty-five people died,“ once again according to Wikipedia. I can’t help think about it every time I cross.

As the war raged on in 1915, “the second year of the First World War, included the first German Zeppelin raid on England, the Gallipoli Campaign and the Battle of Loos. The first German Zeppelin raid on the east coast of England; Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn are both bombed.”

Speaking of a different kind of war, I watched the Paramount Plus adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, reminiscent of our current battle with Covid. King happens to live in this part of Florida, at least part of the time and is just as vulnerable as the rest of us. Fortunately, Coronavirus isn’t as deadly as Captain Trips, the fictional illness that he created. 

We had lunch at Brown’s Food Factory, another mobile restaurant that visits our resort community on occasion. Today, it was a spicy breaded tenderloin that pleasantly didn’t include a long wait in line. We’re still looking for something to match the Indiana tenderloins that we enjoyed at places like the State Fair, Murphy’s Steakhouse, and The Mug & Bun.  The closest we’ve found so far is nearby Darrell’s Restaurant.

Georgia is the new NCAA National Champion in football, a status that had eluded them since 1960, sixty-two-years ago. They gained revenge over an Alabama team that had beaten them for the SEC crown a month or so ago. Maybe 2022 will also be the year of the White Sox, as we once again cross the Skyline Bridge to watch them play?

Retirement is not without Hassles: October Action #1828

Another decent run today with my pace slightly faster and motion a little more fluid. Hopefully, I’ve passed through another running funk and can find a way to enjoy the way I’ve chosen to start every single day of my life.  The sunrise is getting later every day, so it’s cooler when I get up with colorful skies. It’s much more pleasant than those hot, steamy summer days that were my first experience with living full time in sunny Florida. The transition from Portland has taken some time for adjustment as we settle into the winter months in our new home. 

We did go see No Time To Die yesterday afternoon and it’s well worth the big screen experience. The graphics are awesome with lots of action. It’s the James Bond finale with lots of options for spin-offs, mostly involving female versions of the character. Perhaps, 007 should have long ago been suspended for sexual harrassment, so it’s time to move on from the male, secret agent stereotype. I will not spoil the surprise ending or any of the twists the story takes, but retirement is not his thing. 

Tonight we’ll watch the season one finale of Only Murders in the Building after delivering some dinner pizzas to my son and his family. The White Sox game was postponed yesterday due to rain in Chicago, so they were not the first team to be eliminated in the Playoffs. The Red Sox took out the Rays, while the Giants put themselves in a position to move past the Dodgers. The Cubs have made a lot of post season noise, at least from their former players. Ryan Tepera has accused the Astros of cheating, additional motivation that could backfire on the Sox in this afternoon’s game. His fellow Cub teammate, Craig Kimbrel, now joins him in the White Sox bullpen but gave up five runs to the Astros in the Game 2 loss. Joc Pederson used Anthony Rizzo’s bat to beat the Brewers, as the Braves can now clinch a spot in the NL Championship with a victory this evening. Kyle Schwarber was instrumental in the Red Sox series win to move on to the AL Championship matchup. Kris Bryant showed his defensive outfield skills and hit a home run for the Giants in his first playoff game with the new team. Only Javy Baez failed to make the postseason after his trade to the Mets, while everyone else who left the Cubs has seen October action.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Prepared for the Worst #1826

After four days in Pittsburgh, one in Tampa, four more days of company, a night out with friends, and a neighborhood party, we needed some time to ourselves. I watched football all day yesterday and another portion of The Morning Show with our new Apple TV subscription while my wife did her routine activities like water aerobics, food preparation, dog park socialization, and video games. We ate dinner together alone and went to the ballpark to watch the sunset and the Braves. We found a quieter spot away from the band and chatted between songs, then went home to watch two more episodes of Only Murders In The Building. We’re starting to fall back into our normal boring schedule.

Today, we’ll spend by the pool soaking up the sun. I’ll watch football or baseball on the outside TV and she’ll make use of her newly purchased floatation device. It will be a day without family or friends. My run was better this morning, so I think that one trip to the chiropractor next week will only be necessary. Our schnauzer Tally has been often  abandoned these past few weeks so she’ll be glad to have us home all week. Our former long lost co-worker, living temporarily in the neighborhood next door, is moving to Orlando, so there will be little interaction for awhile. We’ll probably get together with her and her husband when we visit Disney World around Christmas. My new Pickle Ball partner will be hundreds of miles away until they come back to visit their parents here in Venice.

The Dolphish play today, my son’s fantasy football  team that I partner with him on. We’re 2-2 so far this season with another tough match-up today, after failing to score much on Thursday night. IU football was thankfully off this week, giving my frustrations a much needed break. Granted, they’ve lost to three ranked teams, but their efforts have been disappointing after so much promise leading into the schedule. Undefeated Sparty comes to town this Saturday! Meanwhile, the sputtering White Sox have added to the downfall of expectations, falling behind the Astros 2-0 in their bid for another World Series crown. Da Bears have also been mediocre to start the season. As always, I hope that my teams step up this week, but I’m prepared for the worst. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Good News #1825

Good news from the doctor on my recent CTA Scan. The aneurism in my aorta continues to remain in the 5 cm range, so surgery will not be necessary. I will continue to have it checked every year, but it has not changed in size since it was discovered 3 years ago. The better news is that the didn’t discover anything new. The old ticker and its highway of blood vessels seems to be in good shape. Maybe all this running is paying off. It better be as painful as it is every day! It’s good to get it out of the way first thing every morning. At any rate, I’m relieved that “The Streak” will not be interrupted by a hospital stay and that I’m free to rumble through the streets every day. 

My legs are stiff and sore and it’s hard to get forward momentum. It feels awkward to be off-balance, like I’ve been drinking. My feet often don’t go where I want them to and the pace continues to slow. This morning, I was over 15 minutes in completing the third mile and the first mile was slow at 13’55. I was on my feet all evening last night with our Meet The Borrego Neighbors get together at the clubhouse. There’s also a touch of pain in my right heel the result of a Pickle Ball match the other night. My athletic skills are definitely on the decline, particularly lateral movement, so trying to pick up a new sport at age 70 is frustrating. Losing a few pounds would probably help. 

Speaking of frustration, my White Sox are down 2-0 to the Astros in the playoffs and looking like the lesser team. They head back to Chicago tomorrow to don the red, white, and blue throwback jerseys. Hopefully, they can salvage at least one game in front of the home crowd. We’re headed to the neighborhood ballpark this evening for the second of the Braves vs. Brewers series on the big screen. So far, the Red Sox are the only team to win a game on the road, topping the Rays at “The Trop” last night 14-6. The White Sox have had trouble winning on the road all season long with a losing 40-43 record, including these two playoff games at Houston. Their chances are slim now to advance, a second straight year to face an early exit. Craig Kimbrel was his worst self, entering the game in the 8th to preserve a 4-4 tie and giving up 5 runs. His late season move from the Cubs has proven to be a disaster with hopes of backing up Liam Hendriks for a combination 1-2 punch in the bullpen, the weakness in last year’s postseason downfall.  The playoff news has not been good for the struggling Pale Hose!

Old Sport Shorts: Let The Games Begin #1821

Let the Games Begin! The Playoffs are finally underway, while the Cubs have been put out of their misery. It’s hard to believe the late season success of the Cardinals or the fact that it could all for them end in one Wildcard game. My focus is now primarily on the SOX and their 76-year old manager, Tony La Russa. It’s been 16-years since they last won the World Series, but only 10-years for him in the same role with St. Louis. The White Sox lost two out of three to the A’s in last year’s Playoffs while La Russa was still enjoying retirement. Let’s hope for a deeper run in 2021.

I’m starting today in Tampa after four days in Pittsburgh. It’s a Sunday, but I actually wrote this yesterday on the plane, knowing that I would be crunched for time. I will be trading my family for my wife’s over the next three days as we make our way back to Venice. I’m glad the Braves made the Playoffs since we’ve moved into their Spring Training neighborhood. There will be some watch parties at the Stadium near our home, a great way to start a relationship with my new team. Maybe they’ll even have an afternoon game that I can stay awake to watch. Former baseball home favorites have included Chicago, St. Louis, Texas, and Seattle on our moves across the country over the past 25-years. However, the SOX will always be my favorite thanks to Sherm Lollar and the 1959 crew that become my first childhood baseball love.

It took 54-years of my lifetime for the White Sox to win a World Series and 65-years for the Cubs to claim a crown, although they were primarily my dad’s and son’s favorite. My dad originally tried to coax me into being a Detroit Tiger’s fan, that would have been even more frustrating. He did pry my allegiance away from Mickey Mantle like every other kid my age back then, but I chose the White Sox because he insisted that I support someone closer to home. If I hadn’t followed his advice, I could have been an obnoxious Yankees fan.

The Damn Yanks are slipping in the Playoff race, but the SOX are solidly in the field. The Cubs are on the outside looking in, while my dad sadly died before his Chicago team finally won it all in 2016. I’m ready for some Playoff baseball where the SOX will finally face some competition. They’ve been playing most of this injury plagued season with a firm grip on the AL Central. If they can stay healthy, they have a strong chance of winning it all. If they can’t do it, maybe the Braves can, so Let The Games begin.

Old Sport Shorts: Streaks #1815

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. but I had my first Pickle Ball match at the age of 70. I lost of course, but didn’t get hurt. My body could not move laterally and bending over for a low shot was impossible. I can feel some of the strain in my knees this morning, but I’m glad to have given it a try. I’ll practice some before my next match in two weeks. Does practice still make perfect at age 70? During my time on the court, our Fantasy team, the Dolphish, stretched its lead to 134-115 over Aaron Hernandez Taxi Service with one Tight End each yet to play tonight. We have the edge in improving our record to 2-1. 

Today is “Matinee Meatless Monday” with Dear Evan Hansen on the big screen and PB&J for lunch. We saw the Broadway performance on our last trip to New York. Not sure when we’ll ever get back? Pittsburgh is our next stop on Wednesday, with little interest now in seeing the Cubs and Pirates play. After their last two games with the Cardinals, I’m embarrassed to be a fan. The Cards were able to stretch their winning streak to 16 with the 4-game sweep of the Cubbies at Wrigley. The last three games of this “season to forget” will be in St. Louis. There was a glimmer of hope early in 2021, including a 2-1 series victory for the Cubs at Busch in May and a 3-0 home field sweep in June. They tied at one each in July after game 3 was postponed. That’s when the tide started to turn in favor of the Red Birds, taking three of the next four after the All-Star break. Then, the Cubs cleaned house. Believe it or not the New Blue still have a chance to win the overall season series, but regardless the Cards will probably still go on to the Wildcard. They currently have a 6-game cushion over the Phillies and Reds with only six left to play. They can’t possibly catch the Brewers for the Division crown even if they stretch their winning streak to 22 and tie Cleveland’s American League mark for consecutive wins! If they then win that 23rd against the Giants or Dodgers, they’ll make the Playoffs and could challenge the 1916 New York Giants for the all-time record of 26!

Meanwhile on the other side of Chicago, the White Sox are comfortably in the Playoffs. The SOX won the final series against the Indians 3 games to 2 to clinch the Division. They are currently three games behind the Astros to determine which team will have home field advantage in the Playoffs. The Astros have three against the Brewers and three versus the A’s, while the “Good Guys” meet the Tigers and Reds to conclude the regular season. After winning last night, a seven-game winning streak could give the Pale Hose a Playoff edge, but I will assume they will continue to rest their stars during this stretch, while the Tigers have little to play for and the Reds may also be out of Wildcard contention by the time they play in Chicago, especially if the Cardinals continue their record streak. 

Old Sport Shorts: Clincher #1812

After all this time of not working, nearly 5 years now, Fridays are always still special. I can feel it in my bones, starting back in grade school when the buzzer sounded signifying the beginning of another weekend. Even though every day is now the same in retirement, the energy of freedom is in the air as the workforce takes a break for a few days. For me, it only means longer lines in the stores, more people at the beach, and more traffic. For them, it’s the magic of the weekend and more time with family, friends, and favorite activities. This is why we’re going to the Mote Aquarium today rather than tomorrow, so we can avoid the crowds even though we’ll pay more. 

I had lunch with my son and granddaughter at Firehouse Subs yesterday, and when we got back to their house he turned on the White Sox game just in time to watch them clinch a playoff berth over the Indians (soon to be the Guardians). It was a special moment for me, the first time they won the American League Central division in 13-years, and the first time in franchise history that they made the postseason, let alone the World Series, in back-to-back years, dating back to 1969 when the playoffs first started. Manager Tony La Russa was thrilled – the happy face of a Little Leaguer, as he dreamed about the prospect of a fourth World Series championship with three different teams. He first managed the White Sox from 1979-1986, winning only one post season game. He moved to the Oakland A’s to claim his first ring in 1989, sandwiched between two other American League pennants. Two other rings were earned with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2011 along with a National League crown in 2004. The White Sox hired him back this year at the age of 76 after a 10-year hiatus from the game. As of yesterday, his teams have finished first in their Division 13 times and achieved playoff status 14 times in 35 years at the helm. 

Back in 1983, after winning 99 regular season games, a 38-year old La Russa (he’s twice as old now) took the Sox into October but only won one match-up and lost three against the Orioles, who went on to win it all. He had players like Carlton Fisk, Tom Paciorek, Ron Kittle, Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski, Greg Walker, Scott Fletcher, Jerry Hairston, LaMarr Hoyt, Richard Dotson, and Floyd Bannister, to name a few of the stars. They wore the red, white, and blue jerseys when the team was known for “Winning Ugly.” They are not my favorite, however, they’ve brought them back this year in honor of La Russa’s initial playoff success with the team. As a side note, they were first unretired and not so lucky for the 2014 season under Robin Ventura when they finished 4th at 73-89. I’m sure we’ll see them at home this year where they will most likely play the Astros, speaking of ugly uniforms. Let’s Go Sox. 

Old Sport Shorts: Baseball Cards #1799

The last few days I’ve taken a step back sixty years, sitting on my floor sorting baseball cards. I had some unopened packs from 1991 and 1992 to open, including The Babe Ruth Collection. There was a time when I would have left them in their wrappers, hoping they would have more value, but why deny myself the joy of opening them and organizing them into teams. In this case, there was no bubblegum involved. It was fun, until I realized that I was just one card short of completing the Babe Ruth set of 165. Card number 134 was missing, but the next day I found it stuck to another card, just before I was ready to order it on E-Bay. All the Cubs and White Sox players are placed in a special binder while all the others are lumped together in separate books. I can’t bear to throw any of them away regardless of duplicates, knowing that my entire childhood collection disappeared due to good housekeeping. 

I’m certain that my now valuable Mickey Mantles were part of that loss, but if everyone had held on to their cards they all would be worthless. #7 Mickey was once my favorite player and his Yankees my team, but they were somehow replaced with #10 Sherm Lollar of the White Sox. I now have a massive collection of Sherm stuff that is only valuable to me. Mickey has made many men rich by simply investing in his memorabilia, or being lucky enough that their mom didn’t toss out their card collections. Right now, I’m even bidding for a Cancer Foundation medallion with the likeness of Sherm on one side and teammate Nellie Fox on the other. Hall of Famers like Fox drive up the value and increase bidding, which makes me think that I will probably not be the winner of this trinket. They both died at young ages due to cancer. The cheek-full of tobacco that became the shortstop’s trademark look probably didn’t help. Most ballplayers were smokers in that era, with little to do in the confines of the dugout. 

There is an organization founded by Marv Samuel, a pitcher for the St. Louis Browns in the late 40s and perhaps a Lollar teammate, known as Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities. It is “a 501(c)(3) nonprofit using sports to give back by helping fund cancer research and patient care programs at Chicago-area hospitals, and supporting services to empower kids with cancer.” Billy Pierce, White Sox pitcher and teammate of Fox and Lollar, led the organization after the death of Samuel in 1993 from Leukemia. “Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities has since its founding in 1971 donated more than $11 million to fund cancer patient care, education and research programs at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hospital.” I’m assuming that the medallion was part of the fundraising elements of this organization.

I just ran across a Billy Pierce baseball card last night. He lived to be 88 and was on two World Series runners-up teams, the 1959 White Sox and 1962 San Francisco Giants. It’s amazing what you learn about the good that players do during and after their time in baseball, although Lollar died at age 53 and Fox even younger at 47, so they did not get the opportunity to give as much back. Every card and piece of memorabilia has a story. Collecting is more than just child’s play – it’s part of our history that I enjoy!


Old Sport Shorts: Sox Bobble #1788

The White Sox struggled in the month of August, but still managed to maintain a 10-game Division lead over the Indians. The only real bright spot was claiming five out of six games in this year’s City Series with the Cubs. The highlight of the month was the Field of Dreams victory over the Yankees, who then went on to win the next two in Chicago that started a 13-game winning streak. I then watched the Sox lose badly to the Rays in Tampa that also launched their hot streak of six straight. In my opinion, August has been a bit of a bobble for the Sox. 

The Giants are currently the winningest team in baseball with 84 victories, with the Rays close behind at 82. They both seem to be on track for a World Series match-up. However, the second place Dodgers also have 82-victories, as they attempt to claim back-to-back Championships. Milwaukee stands at 79-wins while Houston has reached 77. The Yankees and Boston are a game apart behind the Rays in the AL East. Atlanta sits atop the NL East despite only 70 victories. As always, the race comes down to September. Can the South Siders finish strong?

White Sox pitching has been a disappointment this past month while the offense is feast or famine. Lance Lynn suffered the only loss against the Cubs, giving up seven runs, while Alec Mills shut down the Sox sluggers, who erupted for 17 and 13 runs in the other two Guaranteed Rate Field wins. The Pale Hose are a disconcerting 32-32 on the road and 44-24 at home. However, they are not exactly being challenged in the weak AL Central, so Playoff ball may be the incentive they need. They do have a 5-game road series with the Indians that could possibly derail their comfortable ride into October, especially if the A’s take the series in Oakland and the Red Sox and Angels get hot in Chicago. I’m concerned about a September Sox bobble. 

Old Sport Shorts: Sherm Day #1781

I drove to Tampa with my son to watch the White Sox play the Rays yesterday afternoon. Along the way, I reunited with a fellow Sox fan, who last went to a game with me at then named Verizon Wireless Stadium fourteen years ago. We hadn’t seen each other since. The Cubs beat the Sox that May day in 2007 11-6 and proceeded to be blown out by the Rays 9-0 in yesterday’s encore. I’m suddenly not sure if we’ve ever seen them win together, but we’ll probably keep trying now that we only live an hour apart. 

In  1962-1965 the White Sox were the home town Florida favorites, known as the Sarasota Sox, long before the Rays and Marlins became the Sunshine teams to support. White Sox Spring Training has moved to the West Coast and the Cactus League, so it’s mostly old timers like me that are White Sox fans in this area. My love of the White Sox began in 1959 with a catcher named Sherm Lollar. I was 8 years old when the Sox played the Dodgers in the televised World Series and #10 became my favorite jersey number. I wore it yesterday in honor of Sherm, even though it has belonged to a worthy Yoan Moncada for the last five years, as well as Pete Appleton in 1940 and Red Wilson 1952 before Sherm joined the team. Lollar has worn it the longest, eleven years, from 1953-1963. Since that time, it’s changed hands many times, including J.C. Martin (2), Tommy Davis, Chuck Brinkman (2), Jay Johnstone (2), Sam Ewine, Ron Santo, Jack Brohamer (2), Ron Blomberg, Joe Gates, Steve Lyons, Fred Manrique (2), Shawn Jeter, Mike LaValliere (3), Dave Steib, Darren Lewis (2), Chris Snopek, Mark Johnson (2), Royce Clayton (2), Shingo Takatsu (2), Bob Makowiak (2), Alexei Ramirez (8), and Austin Jackson. I proudly display in my personal collection, Sherm Lollar’s 1955 game worn jersey #10. 

The number 10 should have probably been retired by the White Sox, along with Nellie Fox #2, Harold Baines #3, Luke Appling #4, Minnie Minoso #9, Luis Aparicio #11, Paul Konerko #14, Ted Lyons #16, Billy Pierce #19, Frank Thomas #35, Mark Buehrle #56, and Carlton Fisk #72. The White Sox once had a team Hall of Fame but put it in mothballs in favor of an expanded gift shop. He is a member of the Chicago White Sox All-Century Team. At this point, he’s probably too far down the Cooperstown list to ever be included, despite his stellar 18-year .992 fielding percentage. However, I continue to collect his memorabilia, the latest being a vintage 1959 Rawlings baseball bearing his likeness that is still in the box. 

In an article written by Brett Kiser twelve years ago, he mentioned that the great Ted Williams claimed the Pale Hose never would have made it to the 1959 World Series without Lollar. Kiser also pointed to his three Gold Glove Awards and the fact that he was named to seven All-Star squads (playing in nine games). Despite the loss to the Dodgers in 1959, he earned two World Series rings as a player with the Yankees 1947 and as a bullpen coach for the Baltimore Orioles 1966. I have made my case for his Hall of Fame induction. (See Post #5)

I honor Sherm Lollar today on what would have been his 97th birthday. He died in 1977 at the age of 53. Although I never met the man, I somehow feel compelled to collect articles, press photos, cards, merchandise, and gear related to his career. He lives on in my office, along with his Hall of Fame teammates that certainly believed that he belonged beside them in the Hall, as the field general in their 1959 title quest. I was disappointed with the effort of yesterday’s White Sox in Tampa and noted that the 2005 World Series patch on my #10 jersey was now 16-years old. As a lifelong Sox fan, it’s been too long of a wait again for that elusive title. 

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