Blog Night At The Cell

Buddy answering questions at Blog Night

Tuesday night, the Chicago White Sox hosted their sixth annual Blog Night. It is a chance for fans to chat with some key people in the Sox organization as well as interact with each other. Somehow, I have missed hearing about the previous Blog Nights, but I made sure to go this year. Guest speakers were Buddy Bell, Brooks Boyer and Ron Kittle. Below is a summary of what was talked about. Scott Reifert acted as emcee for the event and it was a lot of fun to participate in.

Most of the discussions were answering questions from us fans rather than any prepared speeches about things and then answer questions. Scott Reifert got thing going by filling us in on some upcoming things at the park. There will be another social media night, like the tweet up earlier in the season. This one will have some giveaways involved before the event for things that wil happen at the event.

As for other events, Mayor Daley will be honored on August 3rd. Aside from the President, he is probably the most famous White Sox fan. Moose Skowran was supposed to attend the night, but he wasn’t feeling well. He is toward the end of his treatment, but overall is doing very well.

Roland Hemond, who was recently awarded the Buck O’Neil award will be able to receive congratulatory messages from fans. There will be a table set up soon (if not already) at the park near the White Sox Charities that you can write messages to him. They are looking into doing something similar for fans who’d like to send well wishes to Moose as well.

For things going on with the team specifically:

On getting Hawk Harrelson and Ozzie Guillen to tone down on the Twins love: Scott basically said that given how open Ozzie is, if you don’t want him to do something, it is best not to ask him to not do it. I chuckled at this. Ozzie in that way reminds me of when you tell children to not do things, that what they want to do most is exactly what you don’t want. We all know Ozzie is very open and honest. That is something I really love about him, that he won’t hand you a line of bs just to make you feel better. Sure, his love of the Twins is annoying, but if they Sox would play the team without wetting their pants, I’d be less annoyed with hearing Ozzie praise how they do things. And honestly, I think a lot of fans would love to see the Sox do some of the things the Twins do as an organization.

On more players joining twitter: Overall, Scott thinks that baseball players are underrepresented on Twitter compared to other sports. He also said that he has seen a handful of players that using Twitter and other social media platforms that it has helped their careers, yet a very long list of players who have had instances where their careers have been ruined or taken a serious hit because of things that were said or posted. Minor leaguers get lessons on use of social media and get extreme examples of things that have gone wrong. As a way to show personality, it is fine, but it gets to be extremely dangerous when a player might talk about things in the locker room, things the manager or another coach has said or stuff about another player. I can understand this and while I’d love to see more baseball players on twitter (and showing who they are as a person) I completely understand the need to want to shy away from those things so as not to put something out there you end up regretting and trying to recover from due to the disaster it has cause.

On how much teaching occurs in the minors: Buddy said there is a lot of teaching from day one. There are different coordinators for each of the positions. While it may seem like guys have no clue when they get to the majors, a lot of this has to do the speed of the game. It is so much faster at the show than it is in the minors and it will take players time to adjust to how fast things are going.

An example used to illustrate this was Alexei Ramirez and his bunting ability. Looking at how he does it now compared to two months ago, you can see that Ramirez has matured in this part of his game. Bottom line, the guys who are your best players are usually the ones who execute what is needed of them on the field.

On whether the game is different today as compared to when Buddy’s father played: Not really, aside from the athletes being bigger ands stronger these days. Nowadays, players can rely on their physical abilities and the mental stuff gets lost.

In a follow-up to the mental side of the game, on what is done in the minors to help players work on the mental side of the game: The big thing with the players it to work on patience. Young players will see every at-bat as the be-all-end-all and if they don’t produce, they could be released. This is particularly true when they look around and see their buddies get released. It’s a matter of patience and getting guys to realize that if a guy like Albert Pujols can get through an 0-for-four day, so can he.

There is also some tough love involved in giving guys honest answers on ability and what they have to do. Part of teaching the guys is letting them know exactly what they have to do in any given situation, no matter where he is batting in the lineup. This is so that when he does make it to the Majors, he knows what he should do because there may not be time to say, you have to move this guy along. I also found out that when players are working on doing something in a particular at-bat, they do it the entire at-bat. For instance, if a guy is working on bunting, he does it even if he down 0-2 in the count.

On exciting players: Buddy is really excited about some of the young kids in the system and the progress they have made. These guys include Jared Mitchell, Saladino Escobar and Thompson. He said that in scouting, Ken Williams looks for impact players and an impact player doesn’t have to be just one position, but could be an impact utility guy.

On managing: Managing is a cake-walk compared to his current job. In his current position, aside from dealing with all the young players, there are the agents and players moms. With managing, there is a lot of stuf outside of the clubhouse and off the field to deal with. He likes that the kids are so eager to learn and get better and he really loves the Sox organization.

Words of wisdom for young players: Play as much as you can and find out if you really want to play. He does think that the travel leagues can burn a kid out. He also suggests playing as many positions as possible to find out what your niche is. Bell said that baseball is a great game, but unfortunately, you can’t play it forever.

Brooks Boyer also stopped by to talk about marketing and other ideas going on with the White Sox.

On honoring players who were around with the team prior to numbers: There has been discussions about doing something and I’m sure when something is figured out, they will let us know.

On a promotion for weird jerseys and new promotions: Brooks said he sees these all the time, so it seems every night this happens. He did see a guy wearing 8 Belle jersey and he also saw a guy wearing a Cubs jersey with a Sox hat. On the back of the Cubs jersey was the number 21 and the name ASSO. You figure that one out. He did have to stop and get a picture of it.

On access to the lower deck: The reason for the restricted access for 500 level ticket holders has a lot to do with safety. In the past when there was access, people would just stand around on the concourse and it did cause issues with access for fire marshalls, etc. Still an annoying thing if you have tickets there, but if allowing it would cause bigger issues, then I guess you just have to find a way to get a ticket there so you can gain access. This also led to discussions about the job the guest service reps do and basically, Brooks hopes that they use common sense when talking to patrons. For the most part, I have had good experiences with them and they do a good job.

Scott Reifert and Ron Kittle

Ron Kittle was the last speaker. We learned that his dog Harley is the only one he likes and he does not mind being Kitty. Greg Walker calls him Cat and he is the only one who does. Kittle also shared his story of what happened when he first made the majors and his amazing comeback. It’s a tremendous story and Ron is a very cool guy.

Blog night was a lot of fun. I only wish there were more time to hear from each of the speakers. Too bad the game got a bit crazy and was a loss, but at least the Sox did win the series.

 

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