The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 12

Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox

Saturday, July 5, 1997 - 7:05pm

Comiskey Park

Chicago, Illinois

Pre-Game Report
 The classic between the Red Stockings and the White Stockings doesn't have all the pop it used to. But, with Albert Belle and Frank Thomas in the same lineup, no team should ever feel safe visiting. The Red Sox will have to fight to stay in this game if the Big Hurt and his buddy get hot.

Stadium Stats - Comiskey Park

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 44,321
Dimensions: Left Field: 347 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Field: 347 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Red Sox Logo

Boston Red Sox

 I had the pleasure of watching the Boston Red Sox play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards back in the first few weeks of the season. Sitting with the Red Sox faithful, it was demonstrated to me how the Red Sox, and manager Jimy Williams showcase some dynamite pitching and a potent young lineup.

 As expected, the offseason losses of pitching ace Roger Clemens, slugger Jose Canseco, and clubhouse leader Mike Greenwell have weakened this team both on the field and off. Starting pitchers Aaron Sele, Steve Avery, and left-hander Chris Hammond lead a strong pitching rotation and assuming he can avoid injury, Tim Wakefield will continue to baffle hitters with is magical knuckleball. Heathcliff Slocumb and Mike Maddux fill out a young bullpen but are ready to slam the door shut on American League East opponents.

 The Red Sox boast terrific balance between their offense and defense. Depending on which night you attend a game, the Red Sox outfield will be shared by a different battery of players. But, what the Sox lack in the outfield, they more than make up for with their infield. The combination of Mo Vaughn at first, John Valentin at second, Tim Naehring at third, and rookie of the year candidate Nomar Garciaparra (who blasted a game winning homer against the Orioles) at shortstop have given the Red Sox one of the most talented infields in baseball.

White Sox Logo

Chicago White Sox

 The Chicago White Sox collapsed at the end of the 1996 season, losing the wild card spot to Baltimore in the final weeks of the season. So, during the winter, owner Jerry Reinsdorf made some changes, including opening his wallet to make Albert Belle the highest paid player in baseball history. In the process however, Reinsdorf lost the bidding war for pitcher Alex Fernandez to the Marlins and was forced to sign Jaime Navarro to make up for the loss. Needless to say, the 1997 White Sox will have very different chemistry.

 The White Sox starting rotation has all the potential in the world, but a lot of questions waiting to be answered. Wilson Alvarez remains the key to the rotation, and is joined by Navarro, second year starter James Baldwin and Doug Drabek. But, Alvarez tired at the end of last season and may do so again, Baldwin's rookie successes may have been a fluke, and Drabek was terrible last season in Houston. The Sox are left to hope that one or two of the young pitchers in the bullpen will join Tony Castillo and Roberto Hernandez as consistent relievers.

 The combination of Belle and two-time MVP Frank Thomas is sure to make opposing pitchers nervous. But the White Sox have more talent hiding in the shadows. Both Robin Ventura, who set career highs in homeruns (34) and RBIs (105) while winning his fourth gold glove, and DH Harold Baines, are coming off their best seasons in years. And prospects Chris Snopek and Norberto Martin, who hit .350 last season in 140 at bats, give manager Terry Bevington lots of creative options for his lineup.

Post-Game Report
 The longest day of the trip brought me to Chicago for a personal tour of Comiskey park and an offensive battle between the White Sox and the visiting Red Stockings from Boston. Click here for all the details. . .

Highlights from the Windy City

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