Home News Chicago Cubs, White Sox look to escape summertime blues

Chicago Cubs, White Sox look to escape summertime blues

9
0


Summer rerun season is upon us, which means Chicago baseball fans are being force-fed the same episodes they viewed last year.

The Cubs are in another swoon, with most of the same cast from 2023 and a new manager in Craig Counsell. A two-game mini-sweep of the White Sox did not provide the balm the Cubs hoped for, despite the entertainment value of the City Series.

The Sox, meanwhile, are in another free fall, with fans eagerly lampooning the team, the owner, the manager and the new announcer who dons blinders daily and pretends all is well. Even partner Steve Stone has often been rendered speechless.

As we head into the sweet spot of June, here’s what we know so far:

Wake-up call

The Cubs woke up Sunday in Cincinnati three games under .500 and tied for last place in the National League Central, 7½ games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. One year earlier, on June 9, 2023, they entered the day 10 games under .500 at 26-36 and 7½ games out of first.

Deja vu all over again?

Maybe. The 2023 Cubs went 50-28 over their next 78 games, aided by Cody Bellinger’s bat, moving into wild-card position before faltering down the stretch. Can another 2½-month summer run help the Cubs — who salvaged the finale of their four-game series in Cincinnati on Sunday — escape their blues?

“Definitely, I think so,” Bellinger recently told me. “A lot of the same guys and a few improvements on top of it. It’s been a little harder than we want it to be, but at the end of the day, there is so much baseball left. We’ve got to wake up, keep fighting and try to be the best version of ourselves every day.”

The operative words are “wake up.”

Channeling his inner Hawk

White Sox broadcasters Steve Stone, center, and John Schriffen, right, have a laugh with manager Pedro Grifol on opening day against the Tigers on March 28, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
White Sox broadcasters Steve Stone, center, and John Schriffen, right, have a laugh with manager Pedro Grifol on opening day against the Tigers on March 28, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Sox broadcaster John Schriffen did a solid for former Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. Schriffen did his best Hawk impersonation Saturday on his call of Paul DeJong’s solo home run, bellowing: “Put it on the board, yeeeee-ess!”

Social media went wild, as it often does when Schriffen goes “Full Metal Schriff,” exaggerating a moment to compensate for the Sox remaining the worst team in baseball and the worst in franchise history. He has become a regular feature on the “Awful Announcing” blog and seems to enjoy his newfound notoriety.

Schriffen’s faux pas have been chronicled ad nauseam. During the Cubs-Sox game Tuesday he said: “And the Cubs retake the lead, their first lead of the game.”

Some Sox fans were upset Schriffen used Harrelson’s patented call. But Schriffen has Hawk’s stamp of approval, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, so repeating “Hawkisms” is probably kosher. Like Harrelson, calling attention to himself is part of Schriffen’s shtick.

Mercy.

Welcome to Wrigley

Former White Sox player and manager Ozzie Guillen waves to the crowd before opening day against the Tigers on March 28, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Former White Sox player and manager Ozzie Guillen waves to the crowd before opening day against the Tigers on March 28, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

NBC Sports Chicago analyst Ozzie Guillén was charged $60 to park in the Wrigley Field lot Wednesday, even though he is a full-fledged member of the media. Someone from the station neglected to put him on the media pass list.

Guillén was happy to pay the fee out of his pocket but later said: “For that kind of money I should be parking in the bullpen.”

As Sox manager, Guillén famously complained there were “20,000 rats” running around under the Wrigley bleachers. Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney, then the team chairman, politely listened to Guillén’s rant before a game in 2008 and replied: “But Ozzie, the rats are part of the Wrigley Field ambience.”

Kenney insists every revenue stream goes right back into the ballclub, so the Cubs can thank Guillén for helping to pay the players’ salaries.

MLB partners with White House

MLB is stepping up as part of the White House’s “Challenge to Save Lives from Overdose,” an initiative to increase access to overdose reversal medications.

MLB announced that naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication, will now be stored in multiple locations such as clubhouses, weight rooms, dugouts and umpires dressing rooms. All certified athletic trainers also will travel with naloxone on the road.

Players have been subject to testing for pain pills and other drugs of abuse since 2020 after the 2019 death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died after ingesting fentanyl.

Wham! Pham! Thank you, ma’am!

Tommy Pham of the White Sox is restrained by coaches during the eighth inning against the Brewers on June 2, 2024, in Milwaukee. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Tommy Pham of the White Sox is restrained by coaches during the eighth inning against the Brewers on June 2, 2024, in Milwaukee. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Before Saturday’s Boston Red Sox-White Sox game, MLB Network was on in the visitors clubhouse with a segment listing five players you wouldn’t want to get into a fight with. One was White Sox outfielder Tommy Pham, who was shown shadow boxing after his incident last week with Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras. (Another classic Schriffren call, by the way).

Pham said afterward he works on his fighting in the offseason because “I’m prepared to f— somebody up.” Pham injured himself on the slide into Contreras and went on the IL two days later. The MLB Network list also included former Cubs pitcher Kyle Farnsworth, who slammed the Reds’ Paul Wilson to the field in an epic fight in 2003.

But the list somehow left off the late White Sox infielder Tony Phillips, who didn’t just talk tough. Phillips actually took himself out of a game in 1996 at County Stadium to confront a heckling Brewers fan in the bleachers and then knocked him out. Phillips was arrested, but charges were dropped and he received only a $5,000 fine from MLB and no suspension.

In a fight between Pham and Phillips, I’d bet on Phillips.

Epic fail

Red Sox reliever Liam Hendriks poses for a photograph with a group of cancer survivors before a game against the White Sox on June 6, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Red Sox reliever Liam Hendriks poses for a photograph with a group of cancer survivors before a game against the White Sox on June 6, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Kudos to former White Sox closer Liam Hendriks for pointing out the obvious in the downfall of the team in 2022 and ’23. Hendriks, currently with the Red Sox and rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, said the players “failed the city. We failed the front office. We failed everyone around that fan base. And it’s a tough pill to swallow.”

That’s true, of course, but it should be added that the owner and front office failed the team, the city and the fan base with decisions that greased the skids for the downfall. Yet we’re still waiting for an admission of guilt from Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, former executives Ken Willams and Rick Hahn or former manager-turned-adviser Tony La Russa.

Don’t hold your breath, Sox fans.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here