Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

The term "All-In" is one the White Sox have used all offseason to describe how important this season will be. Sox management, from the Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, to GM Kenny Williams, to manager Ozzie Guillen, has made it clear that this is the year. They have emptied the wallets and they believe the time to win is now.

And while they have all the right to use the slogan, the organization has to be careful of the amount of pressure this will surely put on the players.

The term "All-In" originated from a game I hold very dear to my heart (despite not being so good at it), No Limit Texas Hold 'Em. Certainly it was used before the World Series of Poker, but never did it become as popular a saying as it is now until ESPN decided to start broadcasting the event. In poker, when you are "All-In" you have all of your chips at stake. You win that hand, or you go home.

The White Sox have a few of the necessary principles. They certainly have all their money "in." It may very well be their last chance with a number of these players. But is it really fair to say this is it. That if the Sox don't "win" (are we talking the Central, AL, World Series?) that they will blow the team up and start over?

I just really doubt that. Too many people are locked up for too long to take one stab at it and then quit.

I will say though, this is a critical year for the Sox. They do have a lot invested in this season. But that's where this pressure that I'm so concerned about keeps coming in.

The Sox are begging fans to buy tickets. Pleading to the players to start hot so the tickets sell themselves. Even changing the way the back end of Spring Training will work, most likely to bring more excitement to the ballparks in Arizona.

I believe this team is good. I think they have the chance to be great. But the magnitude of saying you are "All-In" simply frightens me. Young players don't always take well to the win or go home home scenario. Players tend to seize up and play tense instead of the loose fun brand of ball Ozzie loves.

So my message to the Sox organization is this. Relax. You have a good ballclub. A good pitching staff, a solid bullpen, a team that can hit, field, and run. So just calm down. Let the guys go do what they should.

Maybe it's a ploy to sell tickets. Tell the fans that the organization truly needs them (which they actually do). And it may work. But the toll it could take on the players if the slogan "All-In" keeps up could simply be too much.

Hopefully it's just an offseason pump-up term. But, my fear is that it's as stuck as "The Kids Can Play." And we all know how that went.

Welcome to the New TCB

Over the past year and a half or so the founders of TalkingChicagoBaseball have learned a lot. In this time we joined a blog network, left the blog network, copied our posts onto another blog, had a live podcast, wrote about the Bulls, Fire, Olympics, NCAA football and basketball, and for a few months completely shut down TCB to write for another site.

Though we had some minor successes with each of our escapades, we have decided to go back to our bread and butter. Our site, our rules, on our time. TCB will be run solely by the three founders of the original We design the site, and we control the content on the site.

Back to basics. Simple, easy to read, timely, heavily-biased coverage of the Cubs and Sox. You won't get any fluff about other Chicago teams, or constant links trying to get you to read other blogs on our "network."

Just us. Justin, Ken, and Greg. That's all.

The same guys who run the Twitter (@TalkChiBaseball) that has continued to flourish through all of this. The same guys who hopefully make you laugh; make you think; make you call yourself, your friends, or any of us idiots. The same guys who have all graduated with varying levels of Journalism degrees, who just want to keep writing... on their own time... for their own entertainment (and hopefully yours too).

So welcome to the new TCB. The design has changed, but the content, the writers, and the domain have not.

Welcome back! Sorry we were "gone" for so long.