WBEZ | Texas Rangers http://www.wbez.org/tags/texas-rangers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en One of the most colorful players in Chicago is gone - A.J. Pierzynski http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/one-most-colorful-players-chicago-gone-aj-pierzynski-104524 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_aj-barrett.jpg" style="float: left; height: 374px; width: 300px;" title="May 20, 2006 Cubs-Sox game: Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punches Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. (AP File)" />And then there was one&hellip;</div><p>The 2005 White Sox World Series felt more distant after catcher A.J. Pierzynski agreed to play for the Texas Rangers. Now Paul Konerko is the last player from that World Championship team. It almost feels rather melancholy to think that there will be no more of the colorful and sometimes controversial player behind the plate for the South Siders.</p><p>It seemed every year A.J. was anointed as the most hated player in baseball and he loved it.&nbsp; Pierzynski is the kind of player from the outside who seemed like a pain and a difficult person to have on a team. He was to some extent. But what you learn being around him for eight years is he is one of the smartest players in the game. He gets under other people&#39;s skin because he knows all the nuances of the game better than most &mdash; and he lets you know it.</p><p>After covering him and Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, you realize that those types of players are special in baseball. They are perfectionists in a game they love more than you know. Without blinking an eye, they can tell you everything and anything about a play, a pitch, a situation and have no problem explaining it.</p><p>Both players are hard-headed, want the game to be played right and would use anything to get an advantage.</p><p>It really galled A.J. when some sports talk show hosts were intimating that he was taking performance enhancing drugs last year since he was putting up big numbers at age 35. He may be difficult, but he is a baseball purist and it just doesn&rsquo;t fit what we know about him.</p><p>&nbsp;Here are some of the things A.J. will be remembered for during his tenure with the Sox:</p><ul><li>Game 2 of the ALCS against the Angels: A.J. claimed first base after a dropped third strike from Josh Paul when the LA catcher rolled the ball to the mound. Although Pierzynski was the focus of the play, he took advantage of an opportunity that any player would. (And then Pablo Ozuna came in as a pinch runner for Pierzynski and scored the game winning run.)</li><li>The famous Cubs-Sox game when A.J. came home from third on a sacrifice fly, knocked catcher Michael Barrett down, slapped home plate and then was punched in the face by Barrett. He loved it and so did the fans on both side of town.</li><li>Pierzynski caught Mark Buerhle&#39;s first no hitter and last year&#39;s perfect game by Phillip Humber.</li><li>He was a vote-in All-Star in 2006 after the White Sox had a campaign to &quot;Punch A.J.&quot;</li><li>It was A.J., Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand that came up with the Journey song &quot;Don&#39;t Stop Believing&quot; as the theme for 2005 &mdash; they heard it in a bar together.</li><li>There are other aspects about his career here of annoying pitchers (his own) and managers/coaches. When Ozzie Guillen managed him he called A.J. a pain. But he was good for the team.</li><li>A.J. helped a Sox pitching staff win a World Series. Don&rsquo;t underestimate how much he did behind the plate to help that team accomplish a feat that had not been seen in decades in Chicago.</li></ul><p>And one last story about the now former Sox catcher:</p><p>Last fall, back-up (and now presumed starting) catcher Tyler Flowers was in a bind. His wife left a message that she was in labor and the White Sox were on the road in Baltimore. It was 11 p.m. after a game and Flowers knew he was too late to catch a flight to get back to Chicago for the birth of his first child. A.J. heard about Tyler&rsquo;s plight and quickly went into action; he got Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy and Paul Konerko to contribute to a private flight. Flowers told me that Pierzynski didn&rsquo;t want Tyler to miss this event. It enabled the younger Sox catcher to be at the hospital for the arrival of his daughter Mia.</p><p>Now it looks like the White Sox will turn the catching duties to Tyler Flowers, if he was observant, he learned a thing or two from Anthony John Pierzynski. It wasn&rsquo;t all bad.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">#AtTheGame </a></p></p> Wed, 26 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/one-most-colorful-players-chicago-gone-aj-pierzynski-104524 Politicizing sports: Do the Packers represent 'The Right'? http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/politicizing-sports-do-packers-represent-right <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Obama-GreenBay.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 378px;" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-31/Obama-GreenBay.jpg" /></p><p>This weekend, I received this e-mail from a relative:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: left;">Subject: The Green Bay Packers Are Good For America</p><p style="text-align: left;">Every Red Blooded American should jump in line to support the Green Bay Packers! The Packers defeated the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon thus earning them the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. By doing so, they saved the Hard-Working, Red Blooded, Taxpaying Americans literally several million dollars of tax money. How you say?&nbsp; <br /><br />Simple... we were told that if the Chicago Bears had won that President Obama (and probably his family) would be attending the Super Bowl to cheer on his hometown team. Since the Bears lost...the President won't be attending.</p></blockquote><blockquote><p style="text-align: left;">The money saved from not using Air Force 1, the limosines, all the additional security, and let's not forget&nbsp; Michelle Obama's entourage, is literally several million dollars!&nbsp; Therefore everyAmerican should cheer on the Green Bay Packers at the Super Bowl to show them our gratitude.&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: left;">Ah, now that's one aspect of this great rivalry I hadn't considered: the politics. Green Bay (unwittingly?) has become the football representation of the Republican party, whereas a team like the Chicago Bears have become an arm for the Democrats. This isn't the first time that politics and sports have intertwined, so this may not come as a surprise to many.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Big game sporting events have always reeked of nationalism and over-the-top theatrics.&nbsp; World Cup soccer, anyone?&nbsp; Olympics?&nbsp; Air Force jets to show international audiences we still have super power?&nbsp; But I don't remember getting this e-mail when former presidents attended sporting events.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Last year, most people didn't think twice when former President George W. Bush was prominently featured as the Texas Rangers hosted the San Fransisco Giants during the 2010 World Series.&nbsp;After all, he did own the Rangers at one point.</p><p style="text-align: left;">But not only were he and his wife (and I believe his Father/Mother) in attendance,&nbsp; they saddled up to the field in a special box behind home plate. That meant every camera angle for every pitch (about 300 thrown in a game) showed the former president in the background. Big deal, except that the game in question was played the Monday night before the mid-term election in October.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">That's not all.&nbsp; When Fox showed the &quot;God Bless America&quot; 7th inning stretch, the cameras zoomed in on two images: President Bush and the American flag - over and over again. Ironically, the Giants won the game and celebrated on the Rangers' diamond. But I&nbsp;believe Bush (and Fox) helped stir up their base.&nbsp;So let's call it a draw, Texas. &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">And now the focus of attention turns to Chicago.&nbsp; With the&nbsp;Windy City's&nbsp; &quot;First Fan&quot; in the White House, Chicago sport teams will undoubtedly attract the ire of those looking for another way to oppose the President.&nbsp; Jay Cutler, Derrick Rose and Ozzie Guillen all will be synonymous with Obama, Pelosi and Clinton. And eek, what will happen if Rahm&nbsp;Emanuel is elected mayor?</p><p style="text-align: left;">I, for one, embrace the political bias. You want to rally against our Bears for other purposes than what's on the field?&nbsp;Great. Politics aside, we can use as much bulletin-board fodder as possible in this town.&nbsp; And frankly, if the Green Bay Packers represent &quot;Red&nbsp;Blooded Americans,&quot; I'm fine with representing something else.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Gee, I wonder if America will rally around the Chicago White Sox if they sweep through the American League this year. What if they draw someone like the Rangers in the ALCS, or even worse,&nbsp; the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series?&nbsp;<br /><br />I'm already dreading the e-mails.</p></p> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 14:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/politicizing-sports-do-packers-represent-right