Friday, May 18, 2018

Out Of Office - Scott Hutchinson Edition

                Didn’t have the heart to do an Out Of Office last week with the news of Scott Hutchinson’s passing. Finding out the internal battles an artist goes through is always tough, and the finality of suicide always hurts especially.

                My favorite memory of Scott is from Frightened Rabbit’s stop at University of Illinois’ Pygmalion Festival years back. It was a theater show that had more of a lecture hall vibe, with the crowd seated and enthusiastic as such. Somewhat of an odd vibe for the first few songs, the lively music of the band a contradiction of the respectful audience. Starting as a few working their way up, turned spontaneous rush of people to the stage, a pit had gathered right in front of Scott. He did a full song with his eyes closed, turned his back for a quick break, then back around to see the swarm of fans suddenly a lot closer. Look of sheer, thrilled surprise on his face, he smiled and threw his arms to sky, exclaiming “NOW it’s a concert!”. I wish a little bit of that same joy was with him in his last few days, and I hope fans have many similar moments like that of him.
Lust For Life – Iggy Pop, Lust For Life

Humbug Mountain Song – Fruit Bats, Absolute Loser

Clasped Hands – Blithe Field, Warm Blood

First Breath After Coma – Explosions In The Sky, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

Ring Ding Dong – Dr. Dre, Friday

Amongst Your Earthiest Words The Angels Stray – Years Of Rice And Salt, Nothing Of Cities

My Backwards Walk – Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight

Do's and Don't 's for Comiskey - An Old Disco Yells At Clouds Guide

                Let’s set some ground rules early on for games at Comiskey this year, since there are White Sox ways to have fun at the ol’ ballpark despite the White Sox not being a fun watch at the ol’ ballpark (Nicky just watched run number 4 sail over his head as I’m writing this).

                This is mostly an account of things from the last Friday night game at the start of the month, the good news being a seat upgrade from the upper deck being closed off and the bad news being the new designated seat several rows up in the left field corner. A great vantage point of whenever anyone in the first 15 rows in the 10 sections over stands up, and being close enough to know when something’s happening in the bleachers but being too far to really see what’s going on. Not being able to partake in Friday night bleacher fun is not going to Prom times a billion.

                But I digress. The game was some parts good, some parts bad, as was the crowd. And I wouldn’t be Disco No Fun, writer of the Happiest White Sox Site around, if I didn’t offer some not so gentle suggestions for how we can all get through this together. (Lopez just gave up another 2 runs as I’m writing this.) Heading into the homestand, what NOT to do at Comiskey tonight, and what to do at Comiskey.

                Let’s cut these out of the ballpark, first and foremost:

1.      DON’T boo our players

The growing pains should be pretty obvious by now. Dumb mistakes will be made, outings will fall flat, bad losses will be aplenty. This game it was Fulmer’s home runs given up: they were bad, but they were young pitcher mistakes. Quite a few boos after those.

The mistakes will either go away with practice, or adjusted going forward. Chances are if a player doesn’t get it together, he won’t be a part of the plan after this season or the next. Let’s have their back until then and take those frustrations to the bottom of a Modelo souvenir cup like true Sox fans.

2.      DON’T do the wave early

Usually I’m anti-wave at a baseball game, because doing an entire article on being an old fogie about baseball means I have to be.  But I recognize that the majority of our fanbase is families and anything that can keep them coming to the park is a pro. Let’s hold it off until, I don’t know, top of six though? Started going around right at the top of the fourth and felt a little desperate. Unless it’s a really bad affair, let’s wait until an actual lull in the game to bust it out.


There are a lot of things Cubs fans and Sox fans can unite on.  We’ve both seen 3 Stanley Cups. We freeze ourselves alive at Bears games. Whether it’s Wrigley’s Ville Dogs or 35th Red Hots, that hot dog ain’t getting served with ketchup on it. We’re Chicagoans, we share more than we don’t.

If there’s one thing to take away from my ranting, though, it’s this: THROWING BACK HOME RUN BALLS IS NOT A SOUTHSIDE THING. CEASE AND DESIST.

I’m not sure the origins of throwing home run balls back at Wrigley, but I’m guessing it goes back to the 1600’s when balls hit into the outfield stands were still in play and throwing them away from the outfielder was an actual advantage. But it’s a WRIGLEY tradition, as documented in 97% of opposing home runs there since the dawn of time and that one scene from Rookie Of The Year, the 8,974th best sports movie ever made. That ballpark’s traditions go ivy, the scoreboard, the W & L flags, and throwing home run balls back, essentially in that order.

We have seats made for 20th century human beings, none of which have a pole in front of them. We have a scoreboard that explodes. We have tickets you don’t need to readjust mortgage payments to afford. Let them have this one, Sox fans. It isn’t the same when we do it. Us throwing home run balls is like seeing an ex’s post on Facebook about their date night at Girl & The Goat, and immediately booking a table for two for you and yours. It’s the hardest possible souvenir to get at a baseball game- keep it or give it to the nearest kid.

Now, for the DO’s:

1.      DO keep some of the traditions alive, and know when to do them

Per my Twitter bio, this basically is just making sure to do Na Na Hey Hey when an opposing pitcher gets pulled and we have the lead (only works when both are happening). I’m still a sucker for this and it does sound pretty menacing when the whole crowd joins in for it.

Some are being phased out, which I can’t really argue with. I like You Shook Me All Night Long as a late inning rally call as well, but I’m pretty sure it’s had a 0.08% success rate for inspiring comeback wins since that first time. C’est la vie. As long as Mullet Night doesn’t get cancelled, let’s see what cool new stuff is coming up. Can’t think of any that are gaining traction and should absolutely happen… let me clear my throat and try to think…[1]

2.      DO get Stretch Beers

If you’ve made it this far, this is the best advice I can give you. It’s part planning ahead for a bad bullpen making for longer games, and part spreading out available resources. Sometime between mid-6th to mid-7th inning, grab one last beer to last you through the end of the game, should you be the type to stay for the duration. This is going to be a season where bullpen adventures, #fakerallys and real rallys alike happen, making it completely feasible that the stretch to the end of the game takes about an hour. Have some fun at the park, grab one last Modelo to make it more fun.

(Disclaimer, of course, to not ruin the sanctity of the bleachers by being a sloppy egghead drunk or if a stretch beer would put you over the edge if you’re driving home. Be a good fan and party on, Wayne.)

3.      DO show up

This team, of course, looking much more like an “if” than “when” this rebuild pays off this year. The alternative is continuing the plug and chug and having Q and Sale still on the team with a combined 3 wins and 2 runs of support. Said it last year, I’ll say it again: this might be the last season for quite a while where you can see this team in great seats for not a lot of money. If nothing else, going to games this year is a vote in support of what looks like a pretty bright future. While you can still get $5 tickets, sit wherever, and hopefully get some nice weather coming in, come have some fun at the ballpark. Just keep those home run balls in your pocket.

[1] - For those that don’t know, a decent percent of Sox twitter is trying to get Let Me Clear My Throat as the home run song, and I’m absolutely all for it. Believe it was Jump Around last time, so getting closer.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Out Of Office - Third Of May Edition

Inspired by a recurring thing one of the bands here used to put on their blog, and to keep adding some variety here, I'll start posting songs I've found/listened to throughout the week every Friday (hopefully). Usually lean towards indie/records your Dad plays in the car. Do with it what you will, can make Spotify playlists if these have enough interest.

Anyway, this week...

We Used To Vacation  (Live)  - Cold War Kids, Audience

Behind The World - Balmorhea, Clear Language

Sam's Town - The Killers, Sam's Town

Where I End And You Begin (Live in Santiago, Chile 2018) - Radiohead, YouTube

New York - St. Vincent, Masseduction

Drunk Drivers / Killer Waves - Car Seat Headrest, Teens Of Denial

Tuscaloosa - Old Salt Union, Old Salt Union

Not Too Late - Moon Taxi, Let The Record Play

Third of May / Ōdaigahara - Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Google - vs. Mariners (W 10-4, L 0-1, L 3-4)

                Your White Sox are now 5-16, but the record means nothing compared to everything else this week. The Danny Farquhar news has been well covered by now, a scary situation I think we’re all still trying to wrap our heads around. I really wasn’t sure what to write about it here: I’m certainly not an expert on aneurysms and the prayers have been sent skyward for quite a few days now. I will say that I am familiar with the team treating him at Rush, and he’s in the best hands possible.  Keep his family in your thoughts, and get well, Danny.
                Even with this and additional injuries to Miguel and Avi[i], some positives to draw on from this series. Moncada continued his slight resurgence with hitting the hardest part of the cycle Monday and a moonshot today. Strikeouts still an issue and probably will be through the rest of the year. So be it if the hits come hard.
                I can see why he’s been demoted out of the leadoff, but I do like Anderson in that seven slot more than Yoan.  The top of the order’s hitting (relatively) well enough to back up a strikeout heavy Moncada, where a productive Anderson brings up what’s been a pretty stagnant bottom of the order (averages behind him today: .136, .138, .148. Sample size, but still.). The unpredictable hitting approach is also a huge asset at that spot in the order, with pitchers having to pitch carefully in a spot in the lineup that’s more straight forward.
                Starting pitching the biggest bright spot this series, Volstad really doing well in the quasi-emergency situation. Fulmer adding another solid outing to his “starter or not year”. Shields continues as a pleasant surprise.
                Two tough losses that we probably should have had. Bigger things than baseball this week. Onto Kansas City where we play our next 87 games in half as many days.

[i] - A “shit happens” injury, but pulled hamstrings in not extreme weather when trainers are there specifically for this will always drive me a little nuts.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

See No Evil - at Oakland (L 1-8, L 2-10, L 11-12)

               At least we weren't awake to see this one. Two bad losses and an "it's getaway day, it's the fourteenth inning, screw it, 11 runs is good". Gonna be a long season if the bullpen doesn't progress to halfway decent.

               The bright spot? Moncada's heating up (literally figuratively etc.). My honest to God theory: playing in awful cold weather might just be a misery he isn't used to. Here's a list of all the professional teams he's played for (hint: the weather's great):

                - Elefantes de Cienfuegos (Cuba)
                - Greenville Drive (South Carolina)
                - Salem Red Sox (Massachusetts)
                - Portland Sea Dogs (Maine)
                - Boston Red Sox (Check any map)
                - Surprise Saguaros (Arizona)
                - Charlotte Knights (North Carolina)
                - Chicago White Sox (Illinois/South Arctic Circle)

                Unless Salem (of the Carolina league) had April snow a few years back, this would be Yoan's first professional season with lingering winter weather. (His Portland tenure was in the month of June, Boston early September). It's been an especially brutal winter just from a being here standpoint, let alone trying to play baseball in it. He was going to be streaky to begin with going in, so this wasn't too much of a surprise, but we should see more production out of him now that the weather might be trending upwards. Quick trip to a warm weather state to recharge the batteries: the true Chicago way.

                Lastly, just announced today: welcome back Thompson and Sensai, we hardly knew ye. Trayce now has a solid audition slot with Engel not hitting, and it should be an entertaining battle to watch. Saladino, though: even though it makes sense and is better for both teams, it's always tough for this squad to see a grinder go. It may not have always been pretty, or productive, but damned if it wasn't hard-nosed and fun to watch. Thanks for last year and eight at-bats this year, Tyler.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Grand Opening, Grand Closing - Or Why The First Game Back Is Always The Best

                Might be that it means good weather is on the way (certainly didn’t feel like it).  Might be that sometimes you go early enough in the year that the season doesn’t feel lost yet (also didn’t feel like it).  Might be that first whiff of breeze off the lake, the first bit of sunshine coming over the field, the first sound of the organ… just about anything the first home game back of the year feels that much better after a long winter offseason (that was, uh, still certainly lingering Saturday).  

                Even if it’s not actually Opening Day, the sights and sounds are always exciting that first game of the year.  It’s the little things, like…

                … the first meal at the regular pregame spot. Mine's 35th Red Hots: piping hot double and fries was just what the doctor ordered before three hours in the freezing cold

                … getting the voucher card right when you walk in, and making it goal at some point during the year to just ask for two

                … for the first weekend, the team going all out for ceremonial first pitches for no reason other than it being the first games back. This game: Kendall Coyne shooting the baseball with a hockey stick. Only gimmicky if it doesn’t work, and she went high and hard and made it look easy (er, Thin Mints. You just published that hockey article, Disco)[1].  Having stayed up for the gold medal game, this was really cool to see[2].

                … also having opening series as an excuse to bring back old players. This game: Magglio Ordonez. Was pretty torn between enjoying seeing a childhood idol back on the field, and yelling “THANKS FOR JERMAINE DYE”

                … seeing a long line at Casa Modelo in right minutes before gametime.  The word is out, but in the best way.  The Casa Modelo is a casa for todos.

                … the bleachers. Just, the bleachers.

                … and the creatures who reside there.  Always seems to be one of “those guys” there, be it “guy heckling adamantly waiting for the one laugh” (I’ve been him), “guy talking about how things once were (I’ve been him, to myself)”, and “guy with enough conspiracy theories to make you want to listen but not engage” (probably a Sox fanbase only thing). One person happened to be all three at once somehow. We realized this when he was giving the vendor a hard time about the price of hot dogs, at one point trying to haggle the price down. The vendor, in a customer service moment that he should be promoted for, responded with “it’s VIENNA beef though, it’s the good stuff!” The perfect response. Blatantly false, but fair enough to make you think he might know something you don’t.

                … speaking of vendors, with the announcement of Goose Island as the official craft beer of the White Sox[3], there’s now a guy that yells “THE GOOSE IS LOOSE” to sell Green Lines and 312s. If people just old enough to drink don’t remember the trial, it’s not in bad taste, right?

                … the walk-up songs that you know will get old eventually, but it’s the first game of the season for you so you pretty easily ignore it.  This year: I’ll allow it, Davidson, but once the home runs stop the Imagine Dragons has to as well.

                … the opposite: the things you know will never get old. My favorite in game promo of all time, and unintentional comedy gold: the Papa John’s commercial played on the jumbotron in the early innings. It features five college aged girls, but you don’t know that in the early portion because it zooms in on each of them VERY INTENTLY watching this thrilling regular season baseball game. Lord and behold, their beloved White Sox walk off with the win, and they go bezerk, bezerk I tell you! Jumping around, high fiving, the most genuine of emotions! They even cheers their not used at all red solo cups at the end in exultation!  This is absolutely something that’s happened at some point somewhere!
                Yeah, it’s a doozy. My favorite reaction was some little kid behind me at a game last year who watched it, then told his Mom in a pouting tone, “They look more like Cubs fans”     

                … hearing the continuation of Hot Dog Haggler.  “You know who WAS on steroids? Brian Anderson[4]

                … justifying going down in the game by it still being early, and it being Miguel Cabrera who did the damage. Actually, I’d probably say this any other game just because it’s Miguel Cabrera.

                … the bummer double plays not quite as soul-crushing when it hasn’t been all year for them just yet. (Guy behind us: “We’re rebuilding!”).

                … Hot Dog Haggler now moving on to the price of beer. Modelo, of all beers! Thank God Section 108 wasn’t there. “Was $9.75 this year, it’s $10 this year! Goes up a quarter every year!” There were people who actually kept that quarter last year? We expecting vendors to carry around a sack of coins to make sure everyone gets exact change? New prices mean Comiskey’s hardest workers are bring home an extra $7.50 a thirty rack, that’s a double dog for him and a single dog for junior! Pay the man!

                … staying ‘till the end, cus it’s been a long winter, and because we had to get circulation going again in our frozen legs before we could leave (have I mentioned the game was cold?). It wasn’t great baseball, but it was baseball, and that was good enough for us.
                I’m sure you’d want a complete dissection of the Detroit series as much as I want to write about it. I’m also not even sure the series against Tampa Bay this week even took place. Sure, there are pictures and the records changed, but does anyone know anyone who went [5]?

                (Ok, I kid: I took my Grandpa- we’ll call him Ol’ 59er here – on Wednesday for his birthday. Despite the age difference, I was closer to napping during some of those Shields at-bats than he was).

[1] - Speaking of:

[2] - Wanted to do a quick write up of that but wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Some quick thoughts way in hindsight:

                1. Shootouts area dumb way to decide the championship game. Though I’m not sure we win if it was golden goal.

                2. Should probably clarify the check vs. non-check rule after that tackle in front of the net.

                3. Great celebration by the goalie at the end. Seeing that puck right in front of you on the game ending. Those 29 saves deserve a parade in D.C.

[3] - What’s next for this, by the way? Pipeworks as the official craft-ier beer of the White Sox? Pabst as the official “we’ll just be upfront that you’re paying 800% above market price for this”? Blue Moon as the official cocktail?

[4] - I actually did see him in spring training last year where he loudly told Daryl Boston how awesome retiring and starting doing steroids was. “You gotta try it!” So, can confirm no on that one.

[5] - Probably my favorite story from the sparsely attended series: supposedly a higher than normal amount of Cubs fans went to the game on Monday after their opener got cancelled, just because they took the day off anyway and wanted to see some baseball.  Don't hate it, especially after a week of poor attendance jabs. (Favorite response: "I want to wind up with someone who cares about me as much as Cubs fans care about White Sox attendance")

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Disco On Ice: NHL Playoff Predictions

           NHL playoffs start tomorrow, and for the first time since diagramming the sentence “a 1-3-1 power play becomes easy to defend when the other team knows it’s coming” in freshman English[i], the Chicago Blackhawks will not be participating.  With a dissection of what went wrong to come soon (because we haven’t seen enough of those), I thought I’d still throw in some playoff picks anyway.  Very exciting set of teams going for the Cup this year and well worth watching even without a team in the fight. Some bonus content: Disco on Ice, Stanley Cup Playoffs

Nashville (1) vs. Colorado (WC)

Thank you Colorado for showing that sometimes every player has a career low year at once and that teams do poorly for that reason (no, I’m not trying to draw anything positive from this Hawks season over here, no sir).  Big step forward from last year. Still dealing with the PTSD from our series against the Cats last year (“Sometimes the sound of Panik getting beat to the puck wakes me up in the middle of the night”), so am obligated to just extend a disclaimer and my sympathies in advance. Also think I’m contractually obligated to bring up you beating out the Blues for this spot. So there, I did it.

Pick: Predators in 5

Winnipeg (2) vs. Minnesota (3)

                Of any team heading to the playoffs this year, I am so happy the Jets are going back.  I get Thornton’s age, I get Ovi’s drought, I DEFINITELY get Toronto’s drought as a Sox fan. But if anyone deserves a long playoff run, it’s the fans that packed their stadium before and after they were moved, through a lot of bad years.  There’s also something delightfully terrifying about 18,000 people dressed in white making jet engine noises for three full periods.  Picking this to go seven because of the Jets’ playoff inexperience and because I don’t think I want anything more in this year’s playoffs than an overtime win at MTS, and this gives us more chances of witnessing that.  If any Wild fans are mad, well, they do have a strong opinion on who the “True North” is…

Pick: Jets in 7

Las Vegas (1) vs. Los Angeles (WC)

                There’s some peer pressure to remain objective in sports coverage, as being too much of a homer can rub people the wrong way.  Those people also didn’t get their dynasty snatched away from them in the 2014 Western Conference Finals on a luck bounce in a game 7.
                Matthew Perry is the worst of the Friends six and Nick Leddy was slashed.

                Pick: Knights in 6

                Anaheim (2) vs. San Jose (3)

Is Joe Thornton going to miss most, if not all, of the games this series? Yes.  Would picking the Ducks mean Corey Perry provides the leadership and maturity necessary to give them this edge with Joe out? Yes.

Pick: Sharks in 7

Tampa Bay (1) vs. New Jersey (WC)

Remember when that core of Kucherov, Johnson, Hedman and Stamkos bailed after making it to the Cup Finals years ago? Neither do I.

Pick: Tampa in 6

Boston (2) vs. Toronto (3)

Morgan Freeman voice

“I wish I could tell you that Toronto fought the good fight, and the Bruins let them be.  I wish I could tell you that- but the first round is no fairy tale world”[ii]

Not much longer to go in the sewer pipes until the Maple Leafs get to Zihuatanejo.  Just feels too much like a Bruins juggernaut kind of year to put the poster up in the cell just yet.

Pick: Bruins in 6

Washington (1) vs. Columbus (WC)

Went back and forth on this one. Scouting report says that Ovechkin’s shot is still very much Ovechkin’s shot. All I need to justify.

Pick: Capitals in 6

Pittsburgh (2) vs. Philadelphia (3)

I mean… at some point the exhaustion has to hit Pittsburgh, but not NOW right? Sid couldn’t possibly let his team lose to his worst enemies, right? Especially in a cursed sports city like Philly.  When was the last time Philadelphia had a team that rose to the occasion and…

Oh, right.

Will be the bigger man and not even make a Philly fans joke here[iii]. Aside from any Jets home game, these are the first round games I’m looking forward to the most.

Pick: Flyers in 5

Conference Semifinals

Nashville vs. Winnipeg

Sigh. Is a complete hypothetical at this point and someone’s season ending in the semi final still bums me out.  I get how the restructuring of the playoff seeding makes for more competitive (or at least more interesting, depending on your interests) matchups. But that we won’t see either the MTS Whiteout or Batshit Crazy Bridgestone in the Western Conference Finals is a huge bummer.  If parity’s the way to get people interested in the game, this is a huge blow. (Yeah, Nashville was the runner up last year. But tell me you’d rather watch a Sharks-Bruins final than Predators-Capitals).

It’s also my “the Central is a lot better and faster and stronger and hungrier to bring the Cup to town and by God I hear a window closing HAVE THE LAMBS STOPPED SCREAMING CLARICE” talking, but this feels like the sort of series where, even if it’s early, whoever wins it goes on to win it all.  (Spoilers, I do feel that).  Defense narrowly sends the Jets landing in this one.

Pick: Predators in 7

Las Vegas vs. San Jose

I want to.  You know I do.  Pretty sure everyone outside of Silicon does as well.

I can’t. Experience alone makes the difference here. Sharks keep swimming and the Knights’ watch ends here.

Pick: Sharks in 6

Tampa Bay vs. Boston

This would be a fun one.  Tampa has the edge if they can keep their composure and limit the Bruins’ offense, Boston has the edge if they can keep up in the inevitable shootouts this series would be destined for. Have a better feeling about the latter.

Pick: Bruins in 7

Washington vs. Philadelphia

Went back and forth on this one. Scouting report says that Caps past the first round are still very much Caps past the first round. All I need to justify.

(In reality the Flyers just have that juggernaut feel to them and I think this group surprises)

Pick: Flyers in 6

Conference Finals

Nashville vs. San Jose

All games go into double overtime with a final score of 2-1, except for the clinching game which lasts two full days as Subban curling throws Arvidsson’s REM cycle sleeping body down the ice, who wakes up just in time to helicopter the puck into the net. This game occurs in Nashville, where alcohol sales are not cut off at any point. Not only is the Campbell Bowl touched, but the top is sawed off and every player and fan left standing is required to take a shot of Jack Daniels from it. Predators sleep until 15 minutes before puck drop of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Pick: Predators in 5

Boston vs. Philadelphia

All games begin with a line brawl. One game ends in overtime from a 2 on 1 breakaway, as every player except two Flyers and one Bruin are ejected. UFC 225 is moved from June 9th in Chicago to before game 5 in the TD Garden parking lot, and is a live stream of all fan brawls from after the game until dawn.  Chris Pronger unretires before game 6, checks Brad Marchand and immediately re-retires.  Bruins fans start to celebrate clinching win, until hackers from Philly switch all game broadcasts to highlights of Super Bowl

Pick: Bruins in 7

Stanley Cup Finals

Nashville vs. Boston

All five games combine for a 0.0 TV rating in Montreal. Series is so brutal hitwise that the saber tooth tiger under Bridgestone and the frozen head of Ted Williams have to play center while all other available centermen undergo concussion protocol. All but three minutes of the entire series are penalty minutes. The Stanley Cup’s night on Broadway comes to an abrupt end after it gets dented from being thrown off the mechanical bull at Tequila Cowboy.

Pick: Predators in 6

There you have it. If you’re a Predators fan and can’t believe a Hawks fan picked you to win it… I had Cleveland winning the World Series in my predictions last year.

[i]  - Ok, not an actual question. But we did learn about its origins from Egyptian times in World History.

[ii] - At the risk of going full Bill Simmons, the Bruins have to be the Sisters of the NHL, right? Even if I imagine every Marchand player safety meeting going like Red’s rehabilitation scene

[iii] - Fine, one cheap shot: “If the Penguins run out of batteries at least opposing fans have some ready to throw at them”