emmaloui.se

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

That time of year already…

Posted on

Well this post is risky for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve not done a baseball post for a while and I know that a lot of my new followers are probably expecting books, books and more books, so if you don’t have an interest in baseball, this post probably isn’t for you.

Secondly, I think I must post a bit too much about a certain Detroit Tiger whose name may rhyme with Dustin Berlander. A quick look at Google searches that have brought users to my website kind of confirms that:

Top search terms for the last year...

Top search terms for the last year…

But I digress. First of all, a quick mention of my beloved White Sox, who were having an unexpectedly awesome season, before fading away down the stretch to let the Tigers clinch the division in the last week. It sucks, but it sure made things exciting. Especially for what was supposed to be a ‘rebuilding’ year after losing Buehrle, Guillen, and many others last offseason.

So it came to the postseason and I had to pick a team to root for, and who better to root for than the underdog. So Nationals and Orioles it was – what a story for both teams this year. But alas it wasn’t meant to be (either that or I’m a huge jinx), and both teams were knocked out in thrilling Game 5 action. Whether the Nationals could have made it with Strasburg is a whole ‘nother blog post. So now I’m of course cheering for the AL which leaves me with either the Yankees or the Tigers – I think we all know this leaves me with really only one choice – GO TIGERS!!

Which is not too bad for me, because my favourite non-Sox player happens to be their star pitcher.

My name is Louise Radcliffe, and I do NOT post too much about Justin Verlander...

My name is Louise Radcliffe, and I do NOT post too much about Justin Verlander…

He’s pitched lights-out this season, and I think there’s a very good chance that he’ll be up for Cy Young again, as much I would like Chris Sale to win after his stellar season. Verlander pitched a complete game shutout in his last game against the Oakland A’s – the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS. He also had a 9 – 2 record with a 1.65 ERA for the season at Comerica Park, which put the odds firmly in his favour – especially opposing a Yankees team stripped of their Captain after Jeter suffered a fractured ankle putting him out for the rest of the post season.

Yes, another gratuitous Justin Verlander picture, just because I can...

Yes, another gratuitous Justin Verlander picture, just because I can…

So although I can’t stay up to watch this game tomorrow (why do all postseason games start at 8pm ET – 1pm BST?!), I’ll definitely be supporting the Tigers in spirit – at least if I’m not watching I’m not jinxing, right?

Player love or Team Pride?

Posted on

It’s been a while since I posted about baseball, so if you’ve started following my blog recently and are expecting back to back book reviews, I’m sorry! It’s not been the best season so far for the White Sox, but we’re slowly climbing our way back up the standings. There are a few bright sparks on our team, like the fact that Paul Konerko is leading the AL in batting average, and Chris Sale and Jake Peavy are both in the top 5 for ERA in the AL.

But back to the reason for my blog post, MLB Europe posed this question on Twitter earlier:

(If your favourite MLB team switched rosters with its biggest rival, which team would you root for? Player love or team pride?!)

It’s an interesting question because the players really make a team, so my first instinct was to say that I’d root for the players. But if you think about it more closely, the trade market in baseball is always so active that a team one year will almost certainly be different from the next, and two or three years down the line you might not even recognise it. It’s easy to get attached to the players on your team, but the chances are that unless you have a homegrown talent with a strong desire to play for the team, you’re going to lose him to a different team sooner or later.

There are players like Derek Jeter who are ‘franchise players’ and you know they’ll never leave, but most other players have a price – look at Prince Fielder, and more to the point, Albert Pujols. Both signed for new teams earlier this year and you wouldn’t have expected that to happen. So saying that you’d stick by your players is silly, because you’d eventually end up supporting every team in the league and it’d be a bit hard to keep up.

Another thing that would influence my decision is the fact that our biggest rival is the Detroit Tigers, and there are a lot of players on their team that I wouldn’t mind joining the White Sox; Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to name a few. And who wouldn’t?! Of course, I’d rather have these three alongside my favourites like Konerko, Pierzynski, Floyd and Sale, but we all know that’s probably not going to happen!

whitesox-tigers-lineup

So for me, it’s definitely Team Pride all the way. Players are a big part of a team, but there are many other factors too. I love the team, the coaches, the ballpark, the city and the history.  It would be hard to give all that up and switch to the team you’ve been programmed to hate.

So I’ll ask you the same question (if you’ve actually managed to read this far). Player love, or team pride? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Back to Baseball: Off-Season recap

Posted on

Philip Humber, Simon Castro, Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Nestor MolinaIt’s that time of year again, and although I’ve been a bit quiet about baseball during Spring Training, there’s less than a week left until the first game of the season so there’ll be more baseball blogs coming. The regular season actually kicked off earlier this week with the series in Japan between the A’s and the Mariners. This actually gave me the opposite problem to usual as the games were on too early for me to watch, starting at 11am British time, about 13 hours earlier than usual!

At the end of last season, I wrote a blog post about my hopes for the off season, so I’m going to use this post to catch up on those and see if I managed to predict anything right! Here goes…

1. Re-sign Mark Buehrle
This was my biggest hope for the off-season, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. We traded Buehrle to the Marlins quite early on, and while I was disappointed to start with, I actually think that it’s a good move now. We have a strong rotation with Chris Sale’s transition to a starter, along with Danks, Floyd, Peavy and Humber. Of course Buehrle is a great pitcher, but I don’t think we are that much weaker without him. And at least he’s switched leagues so we don’t have to face him too often!

2. Bring Back Omar Vizquel
colorado-rockies-starting-pitcher-jamie-moyer-off-to-average-start-mlb-news-1388730 for 2 now as this didn’t happen either.  He’s now playing for the Blue Jays, and at 45, I wish him all the best. He’s a great player, and he deserves to end his career on a high note. But even at 45, he’s not the oldest player in the MLB, as today we’ve just got the news that Jamie Moyer has made a place in the starting rotation for the Rockies. At 49, he’s coming to the end of a long career (in fact, he’s been playing baseball longer than the Rockies have even been a team)! He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery which is not easy at any age, but at 49 I look forward to seeing how his season goes.

3. Farewell to Juan Pierre
Finally, one that I got right.  Pierre is now playing for the Phillies, and we have ample replacements for him in the outfield department. We’ve had a good look at DeAza and Viciedo in spring training, and we also signed Kosuke Fukudome this off season too. Apart from his speed (which will be hard to replace), I think we’ll be better off without him this season.

4. Welcome Robin Ventura
628x4712Robin really seems to have settled in well during Spring Training, and although our record has not been brilliant, he seems to be making good decisions and the players all seem to love him. It’s very nice not to have all the controversy like there used to be with Ozzie, and it’s definitely nice to be able to read the comments on the MLB site without scrolling through pages of ‘Fire Ozzie’ comments.

5. Get Jake Peavy Healthy
This seems to be going well, although we’ll only really know when the season gets underway. We really need him to be able to pitch late into games to save the bullpen, and he needs to last to the end of the year, especially as Chris Sale is likely to be on an innings limit in his first year as a starter.

chris-saleI have to say, my predictions were really not that good, but I’m feeling very confident about the team this year. We’ve set our 25 man roster today, including a couple of surprises in Jones and Escobar, the only real mystery now is how the bullpen is going to shape up. Reed and Santiago have been pitching very well, but I think Thornton should get the closing nod, at least to start with. He didn’t do very well at it last year, but I think he’s more ready for it now. And if not, we’ve always got a couple of other candidates ready to take his place!

There’ll be more baseball related posts coming up this week with the season so close, but if you made any predictions for the offseason, let me know if you were more successful than me!

No Baseball until next year? Not quite…

Posted on

Now that the season is over (although it seems like a long time since the White Sox actually played baseball), it’s time to focus on trades and free agents and hot stove goodness until baseball returns for spring training next year. I can’t see the White Sox having much scope for adding new players, especially without getting rid of a few big contracts, so here’s what I hope for this winter:

Re-sign Mark Buehrle
mark-buehrleThis is the one thing that I really really hope we do this offseason. I know we have a full starting rotation with a lot of options, but Mark Buehrle is a dominant (and highly underrated)  number 1 starter. But more than that, he is a long established veteran with the team, and I’m sure he is a great influence on the younger players in the clubhouse. If we lose him, I think we lose more than just a piece of the rotation.  On a related note, I really wish MLB would hyphenate ‘re-sign’ when writing article headlines. Reading headlines like last year’s ‘White Sox resign Paul Konerko’ immediately makes me think the player has been let go from the team.

Bring back Omar Vizquel
As much as I would love this to happen, I know that it probably won’t. Omar has been great the last couple of years, at times carrying the team with his defence, and his influence on our young infield has been fantastic. Even though he’ll be 45 at the start of next season, he is still a superb player showing no signs of decline, but he’s probably too much budget for the White Sox. If he ever decides to retire, he would make a great coach, so he could re-join the Sox in that capacity in the future.

CT sox14

Farewell to Juan Pierre
juan-pierreI’ve loved Pierre while he has played for us. He may have struggled a little this year, but he is a speedy guy, and a great leadoff hitter. Unfortunately for him, we have a lot of guys in the minor leagues who are ready to take his place, and for far less salary. I have no doubt that he would be able to find a place with another team, but I don’t think he is a fit for the White Sox next year, and would be an ideal place to shed some budget.

Welcome Robin Ventura
robin-venturaAs much as I loved Ozzie Guillen, it will be a refreshing change to have a new guy at the helm. He’s coming into the team at a tricky time after a very disappointing season, but it will give him a great chance to turn things around. He’s not had managerial experience at any level, so he is being thrown in at the deep end, but he has a vast amount of baseball knowledge which puts him in good stead for the year ahead.

Get Jake Peavy healthy
jake-peavyPeavy has had a difficult time the last year and a half, having surgery to repair a detached lat muscle in July 2010. They estimated at least a year for his recovery, but he came back ahead of schedule, only to be shut down with fatigue at the start of September. Understandable really as he was going through a rehab program last winter so he never got a chance to rest before the season started. Hopefully he’ll get back into his normal off season program and come back in March ready to go for a full season next year. It would be nice for him to return to the Cy Young award winning Peavy of 2007.

Let me know what you think – do you agree, or do you have your own hopes for the offseason?

Who Saw That Coming?

Posted on

Well I guess pretty much everyone did.

ozzie-guillen-story-reutersI woke up this morning to an email on my phone saying that the White Sox had released manager Ozzie Guillen from his contract, at his request. While I’m not too surprised that it happened, I was surprised that it happened with only 2 games to go before the end of the season. Guillen has had talks with owner Jerry Reinsdorf over the last few days, and obviously the outcome was that he no longer wanted to stay with the team.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, there have been numerous rumours about us trading Ozzie to the Marlins, and Ozzie himself all but shouted it from the rooftops when he inadvertently published a post on his website saying how glad he was to be joining the Marlins. If it’s true, the official announcement for the Marlins will likely come on Wednesday after the season has ended, with rumours that we will be getting infielder Osvaldo Martinez and AA reliever Jahn Marinez.

ozzie-guillen-chokeThe comments pages on the White Sox website are full of people saying good riddance to Guillen, but I for one am sorry to see him go. He’s been a fantastic (if outspoken) manager, and had a 678-617 record with the White Sox. He’s also the only manager in White Sox history to lead the team to more than one division/league title. I agree that this year has been shocking, but you can’t attribute all the blame for that to the Manager. I agree that he makes the decisions on who to play and who to bench, but you can’t hold him responsible for factors like Adam Dunn’s massive contract and the fact that he has been atrocious most of the year.

I look forward to seeing who is named as the new manager; I’m hoping it will come internally from someone who knows a lot about the team. I also wouldn’t mind someone like Sandy Alomar Jr, as he seems like a decent guy with a very solid baseball background.

For the remaining two games, Don Cooper is the interim manager, replacing Joey Cora who was apparently told by text that he was no longer needed (and is likely heading to Florida with Guillen anyway).

On a semi-related note, this is apparently the new logo for the Marlins. What do you all think? Personally, I really don’t like any aspect of it, the design is a big change from the current logo, and don’t even get me started on the colours!

new-miami-marlins-logo

3 Strikes, They’re out?

Posted on

After a rather busy, but very enjoyable weekend, I sat down to catch up on baseball for the first time since Friday night. The White Sox are now on a 7 game losing streak, putting us 14.5 games out of first place, and 5 games under .500. Since my last post about the Sox, we’ve been officially eliminated from postseason contention, and it seems like right now, the team has lost any kind of ‘oomph’.

standings

I would have thought they would be playing for pride by now, especially some of the team that have not been contributing as much this year (Dunn, Rios, I’m talking to you…), but the last few games have made it look like they are just looking forward to going home for the winter. The rookies that have come up from Charlotte have been doing very well since the September call-ups, but I think Ozzie is still playing the veterans too much, maybe out of respect, maybe out of loyalty, who knows?!

I’ve read a lot of rumours that Ozzie will be moving to the Marlins when they move stadiums and become the Miami Marlins next year. I’m unsure what I think about this right now. The most recent rumours are that we were looking to trade him for players like Logan Morrison. If this was true, I think I’d be more okay with it. I love Ozzie, and most of the time I like his management style, but I find the constant disagreements and rumours of infighting with Ken Williams quite distracting.

start_the_trade_talk_ozzie_guillen_for_logan_morrison

I know something needs to happen before the start of next season, but how drastic it will be, we’ll just have to wait and see! I just hope that my favourite players (Paulie, Beckham, AJ, Buehrle, Humber) are still with us next season, so I can see them on my trip to Chicago, although I’ll be writing more about that soon when I’ve got dates sorted out!

Walking off with the White Sox season?

Posted on

Last night was one of the rare occurences where a White Sox game starts early enough for me to watch all of it. Although now I kind of wish I didn’t! It was looking so promising, a 3 run homer by Alexei, then back to back jacks by De Aza and Morel. But typical of this year’s White Sox season, we still managed to give up an 8-1 lead and lose 9-8 on a walk off home run by Miguel Cabrera.

alejandro-deaza-3rd-sep

It had to be against the Tigers too, moving us to 7.5 games back, and 1 game back of the Indians. It’s gonna be a struggle to make anything of this season I think, but at least we have now seen some promising young talent coming up from Charlotte and proving themselves better (at least for now) than some of the multi-million dollar contracts on the team. That said, I’m not giving up hope until that ‘E’ appears on the standings.

Chris Sale

There was also a 36 minute rain delay in the game last night – although how it went from 98° to torrential rain, I have no idea. Seeing fans scurrying from their seats to run for cover while the umpires let the game carry on was pretty amusing – although I can’t imagine it’s much fun for the players when they are getting absolutely soaked.

One More Until PK2K!

Posted on

Here’s number 1999!

pk
I’m just gutted he didn’t get it today, as I probably won’t see it now. West Coast baseball means all the games start at 3 in the morning (UK time), so unless there’s a rain delay and I can watch it while I’m getting ready for work, I just have to make do with the highlights!