Sox fans took over the Loop this past weekend as SoxFest came to the Palmer House Hilton. Having never gone before, I figured why not give it a shot and see what it’s all about. Here are some of my major takeaways from the weekend:
You’re not the only person concerned about our lack of catcher. That at least seemed to be the biggest buzz this weekend among SoxFest attendees. Probably the most overheard conversations started with What the hell are they going to do about that catching situation? Why did we sign Flowers? Why is Phegley here signing autographs but not Flowers? Can we just get A.J. Pierzynski back already, I mean c’mon!
But I think Rick Hahn handled the moans and groans pretty well at Friday’s panel, essentially offering the “patience is key” mantra that no one wanted to hear. He wants to allow time for Flowers, Phegley, and Nieto to develop—and really, why wouldn’t he? Just bringing on a new catcher isn’t cheap or always practical:
“Outside of that, we could have signed some guy on the other side of 30, couple-year contract, spend a few million on it, and I could have sat here right now and been like, Hey it’s different, so it’s going to be better…But it wouldn’t have been consistent with what we’re doing, which is trying to fit for an extended period of time.”
…Or Adam Dunn. One of the funniest—albeit sad—parts of Saturday’s panel of Cuban ball players is when a fan asked Jose Abreu if he’ll be pushing Adam Dunn out or down in the lineup, and was immediately met with cheers throughout the ballroom. Jose Abreu couldn’t even get out his pre-rehearsed response because people were so excited even at the thought.
Robin Ventura has a pulse. In one of the most awkward parts of Saturday’s panel held by Rick Hahn, Robin Ventura, and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson (and trust me, there were many awkward parts), a man stood at the microphone and asked Ventura if he had a pulse. “No really. Do you have a pulse?”
It wasn’t just the question that made it so uncomfortable; it was the cold, unconvinced manner in which it was said. But Ventura just laughed it off and responded, “I do have a pulse, I swear.”
Robin Ventura is not Ozzie Guillen. Ozzie probably had 12 pulses. His personality beamed from the field, and you could feel it from the right field corner of the top deck. Ozzie often broadcasted player affairs, issues in the clubhouse, and pretty much everything and anything that was on his mind. But that’s not how all managers run their clubs—as is the case for Ventura.
So does he have a pulse, of course. But it’s not on show for our speculation. Rick Hahn put it best in coming to Ventura’s defense:
“You need to understand that outside the organization you only get to see a percentage of what goes on. You don’t see what happens on the plane, you don’t see what happens when the clubhouse is closed, you don’t see what happens when he’s in his office 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 with a player. That’s how we prefer it.…Just because we don’t air our dirty laundry publicly, just because we don’t throw players under the bus publicly, doesn’t mean that that message isn’t being communicated in a very effective manner behind closed doors.”
Paulywood’s phase-out has begun. In an article back when Paul Konerko was re-signed, I made a statement that there’s no way this season would be a “goodbye Pauly” tour. Well it appears I was wrong.
I know that the impending plan is to have him around to mentor Abreu and serve in team leadership affairs, but I guess I just imagined his on-field work would outweigh the off-field. I am completely on board if they’re training him to be a coach (he deserves it), but I feel like we may not be seeing him as much on the field as we all thought we would.
I need to reiterate that this is only my general gut feeling after sitting in on panels and getting the chance to talk to Pauly. And ultimately, whatever he decides to do, I support it. But I will be really bummed if I don’t get to see one more Paul Konerko Sox game.
Jose Abreu loves his mom. In the panel of Cuban players (a great line-up of Minnie Minoso, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Jose Abreu…and their translators), the soon-to-be first baseman told fans that the first thing he thought about when he saw his name on the outfield scoreboard was how thankful he is for his mom. What a guy!
Hawk is boss. But we knew that already. (Check me out– modeling his White Sox bling!)
So what do you think White Sox fans? Will Paulywood retreat to coaching duties too soon? Will Adam Dunn prove everyone wrong? Was that man correct in saying Robin Ventura has no pulse, because he’s a famous zombie hunter and can magically detect these things? You tell me.