The Chicago White Sox announced today that they have signed Gavin Floyd to a four-year, $15.5 million contract, with a $9.5 million option for 2013. Floyd posted a 17-8 record in 33 starts for the Sox last year, with a 3.84 ERA.
You may recall that Floyd was drafted by the Phillies with the fourth overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft. He never quite lived up to expectations with the Phillies, posting a record of 1-2 with a 10.04 ERA in 7 games in 2005, and 4-3 with a 7.29 ERA in 11 games in 2006.
Too often while on the mound for the Phillies, he had that “deer in the headlights” look. This photo of Floyd is from a 2005 game against the Atlanta Braves, in which he gave up 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings of work:
After being traded to the White Sox in the off-season (as part of the Freddie Garcia trade – we won’t even discuss that right now), he didn’t fare much better in 2007, going 1-5 with a 5.27 ERA in 16 games. But the pieces finally fell into place for Gavin last year.
Here’s hoping that Floyd has gained some much-needed confidence following his breakout 2008 season, and will repay the Sox in kind with more of the same in 2009.
(Floyd photo by me)
In an effort to speed up our stadium quest, in August 1997 we decided to go on an organized stadium trip for our vacation. There are several companies that run these kinds of tours – Broach Sports Tours and Sports Travel and Tours are two that come to mind.
[Unfortunately we chose one called Sport Tours – it was apparently run by someone who had split away from Sports Travel and Tours to run his own company. The webpages and brochures looked so similar, it was easy to get them mixed up. The tour itself went fine, but it seems that shortly thereafter the company went under, and some of the hotels were not paid by the tour operator, and one of them then tried to recoup the cost of the stay from the credit card I used for “incidental expenses”. I won’t go into all the gory details, but it was a total pain in the butt for us for about a year afterwards.]
The first stop on the tour itinerary was Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox. This of course was not “old” Comiskey Park, vacated after the 1990 season, but “new” Comiskey Park, which opened in 1991.
On August 20, 1997 we arrived at Comiskey Park to see the White Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Robert Person (who would later become a Phillie) was on the mound for the Jays, and James Baldwin was pitching for the Sox.
I can’t say that I was impressed with this stadium. Instead of being oriented to provide a view of the downtown Chicago skyline beyond the outfield, it instead looks towards some housing projects on the South Side of Chicago:
All the white on the steel girders in the outfield contributed to an almost sterile feel to the stadium.
For a game featuring a lot of well-known names, it wasn’t particularly memorable. The Blue Jays at this time had Shannon Stewart, ex-Phillie Mariano Duncan, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado, and Shawn Green. The Sox lineup that day included Frank Thomas, Albert Belle, Robin Ventura, Mike Cameron, and some guy named Ozzie Guillen 🙂 at shortstop.
Another ex-Phillie, and the hitter of the foul ball I got at my very first game, Benito Santiago was catching for the Blue Jays that night. Here he is singling to left:
This game was definitely not a pitchers’ duel. Delgado and Robert Perez homered for the Jays, and Belle launched one for the Sox. When one of the White Sox players hits a home run, the pinwheels atop the scoreboard light up and spin (though you obviously can’t see the spinning motion here):
The Sox had a 12-1 lead at one point in the game (actually right after Belle’s homer in the above photo), and the final score ended up 12-6, White Sox.
Since our visit, there have been many changes to this stadium. For one thing, it is now called U.S. Cellular Field. The outfield fences have been moved in, making it even more homer-happy. The batters’ eye has been redesigned with a plaza on top of it, and there are statues of famous White Sox on the outfield concourse. The blue seats have been changed to green, and the white steel supports have been painted a darker color. Pictures I have seen on other websites (check out baseballparks.com for an in-depth review) show a remarkable improvement over its appearance when I visited.
Next stop, Milwaukee County Stadium.
There is not much new going on right now in Phillies-land, as yesterday was an off day in the Phils’ exhibition schedule. Cole Hamels will get his first start of the spring later today, when the Phillies take on Team Canada in Clearwater.
I’m really wishing I was there right now – I’m trying to type with frozen hands, as our propane is on its last molecules. We have the heat turned waaay down to try to conserve, and the propane people better get here NOW! They were supposed to come Monday, but the weather did not cooperate. They were then supposed to come Tuesday, but their truck was down for repair.
“What kind of rinky-dink operation are we using, that they only have ONE truck??”, I semi-yelled at my husband this morning.
He was not in the mood to hear it.
What to write about?
I’ve mentioned previously that we have an ongoing quest to visit every major-league ballpark. So far we are two-thirds of the way there, having been to 20 of the 30 parks. It’s only taken 14 years J. Well, there were a few time-outs for having children.
So in the spirit of the MLB Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days”, I offer up “20 Stadiums in 20 Days.” Okay, actually 19, as I’ve already written about my first visit to Veteran’s Stadium in a prior post. But hey, I can add Citizen’s Bank Park to the list, so that bumps it back up to 20!
Obviously, the Vet was first on the list, being the Phillies home. Close proximity to Baltimore led to Camden Yards being number two on the stadium countdown. It’s full name is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but I think most people just refer to it as Camden Yards, so I will too. Camden Yards opened in 1992, and pretty much started the whole “retro” ballpark trend. It’s very easy to get to; a quick exit from I-95 takes you almost directly to the stadium parking lots.
Since it is so close, we’ve actually been to Camden Yards a number of times. Our first visit occurred July 9, 1993. The Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox, 15-6. My main memory of that day is the fact that it was so stinking hot and humid, I thought I was going to throw up, pass out, or maybe both. There wasn’t the slightest hint of a breeze, and the air felt thick enough to cut through. You can see how hazy it was in the pictures I took that night:
Bo Jackson was the DH for the White Sox in that game, shown here at bat:
You may remember Bo from his “Bo Knows” ad campaign for Nike, or from winning the Heisman trophy in 1985. He was the first athlete to be an all-star in two sports: he was an All-Star in 1989 for the Kansas City Royals, and appeared in the Pro Bowl in 1990 for the Raiders.
I’ll also mention a couple other memorable games we’ve seen at Camden Yards.
May 17, 1996 – Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners: this nine-inning game lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes! Several times during the course of the evening I suffered severe head bobs and missed an at-bat or two. But thankfully I was awake for what has to be one of the most dramatic finishes I’ve ever witnessed. In the bottom of the ninth, the O’s were down 13-10. The bases were loaded with two outs. At bat was Chris Hoiles, the only Orioles’ starter that night without a hit. Hoiles ran the count full, and then hit a walk-off grand slam to win the game, 14-13.
May 30, 1997 – Orioles vs. Cleveland Indians: Mike Mussina took a perfect game into the ninth inning. Then Sandy Alomar, Jr. singled with one out to break it up. Mussina retired the next two batters to get the 3-0 victory. The entire stadium let out one huge collective sigh when Alomar got that hit.
Mussina has flirted with perfection several times since then as well. Hopefully one of these days before he retires, he’ll finally achieve it.
Check back tomorrow for the next ballpark on the countdown, Fenway Park.
Update: Husband has just advised me that Mussina has already retired. Not sure how I forgot about that, seeing that he announced it last November. Oops!