Paul Konerko Has Asserted Himself As An ALL-Time South Sider
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By Brian Madsen (White Sox Correspondent): Follow @brianm731
The South Side of Chicago. U.S. Cellular Field. You’re likely to have heard chants of “Let’s go White Sox!!”, “Ozzie!! Ozzie!!, and maybe even “Oh-E-Oh, Magglio!!”, over the years at this beautiful, yet underrated ball park. But, for the last 14 seasons, you probably would have heard “Paulie!! Paulie!!”, more than any other. No, not Paulie from Rocky fame. Paul Konerko, the 6 time ALL-Star and 2005 World Series Champion First Baseman of the Chicago White Sox. Some would say he’s underrated, much like the stadium he’s called home since 1999. Acquired via trade from the Cincinnati Reds in late 1998 by the White Sox for Mike Cameron, Konerko has been a consistent producer for them for 14 seasons.
He’s averaged more than 32 HRs and 101 RBI in that time frame for the Sox – and has combined for a few quality 1-2 punches over the years with some big hitters. Frank Thomas, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, and now Adam Dunn, to name a few. He is said to be one of White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s favorite players of ALL-time. He should be, as he helped guide the White Sox to their first World Series Championship in 88 years back in 2005. Konerko even presented the “3rd and final out ball” to Reinsdorf at the victory parade, bringing the owner to tears in front of thousands of screaming Sox fans.
Paul Konerko 2012 Highlights: Mature Lyrics – Parental Guidance is Advised:
Konerko played for controversial manager Ozzie Guillen for 8 seasons. In late 2010, Konerko resigned with the White Sox for what was considered a “home-town discount” contract. It was widely thought that Konerko would sign with a team closer to his home in Arizona, the Diamondbacks. But, Konerko decided to re-up with the Sox, and will once again enter free-agency after the 2013 season. After Guillen and the Sox parted ways, Kenny Williams hired first time manager, and former Sox Third Baseman, Robin Ventura. Oddly enough, Konerko and Ventura missed playing WITH each other by one season, Ventura moving on to the Mets in 1999. In fact, Konerko’s and Ventura’s paths crossed much earlier than this. During the infamous “Nolan Ryan put Robin Ventura in a headlock game”, Konerko was in the stands in Texas with the Junior Olympic baseball team to witness the encounter. This probably makes for some pretty entertaining conversations during rain delays.
So, who are some comparables to Konerko through the years? Jeff Bagwell? Carlos Delgado? Fred McGriff? His predecessor, Frank Thomas? I’m not sure any of these players are a great comparison to Konerko, but, let’s give Bagwell and Thomas a try. Bagwell averaged 34 HRs and 115 RBI per season in his Career, while hitting .297. He has a ROY award to his credit as well as being named MVP in 1994. The Big Hurt averaged 36 HRs and 119 RBI per season – while hitting a Career .301. He also won a World Series with the White Sox in 2005, sharing the trophy with Konerko. Konerko’s statistics are certainly comparable. He has averaged 32 HRs, 101 RBI and has hit .283 for a Lifetime Average.
Now, Frank Thomas is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer in 2014 (Or at least he should be. The voters couldn’t find one name to put in this year. But next year should be different with Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine being eligible. But that’s meant for a different article.) Jeff Bagwell may still get in the HOF. He’s been eligible since 2010, having played in his last game in 2005 against, you guessed it, Paul Konerko and the White Sox in the World Series. Is Konerko Hall of Fame worthy? Any die-hard White Sox fan will probably tell you absolutely.
They’ll also tell you that A.J. Pierzynski belongs in the HOF when his career is over as well. But, that’s not because Sox fans aren’t realistic, they’re just very passionate about their team. No one is more beloved on the South Side of Chicago than Paul Konerko. Having been hit in the face TWICE with pitches in his career, he’s one of the toughest guys you’ll find on the diamond. He’s also very tough on himself. White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson has told countless stories about Paulie spending hours upon hours in the batting cage trying to take the ball the other way, or hitting into the alley-way in Left-Center Field. You can see the frustration is his face when he pops out to shallow center in a must have RBI situation. But, no one works harder to correct their mistake in his previous At-Bat than Konerko.
Prior to hiring Robin Ventura as White Sox manager in 2012, it was a surprise to no one (OK, some people were a little surprised) that, Kenny Williams gave the notion of making Konerko player/manager a good, hard thought. Maybe some day, Konerko will manage somewhere. For now, he’s entering what could be his final season with the Sox in 2013. Of course, this is also what most thought in 2010 when Konerko was a Free Agent, but he returned to the Sox. This time around, Adam Dunn is on staff, along with Dayan Viciedo, who could be a prime candidate for First Base or DH. Either way, Konerko is looking to improve on his 2012 campaign. While the Sox had a reasonably successful season, the team faded in late September after holding onto first place in the AL Central for over 100 days.
Konerko started the season on a tear, flirting with .400 for a couple of months. But, after dealing with a sore wrist (something that’s plagued him off and on for a few years), his stats steadily declined in the second half of 2012. Unfortunately for the Sox, Konerko was one of a few players who struggled down the stretch. That said, 2013 could be a very important season for Konerko. Konerko still had a 3 Slash Line of .298/.371/.857 for the year – with 26 HRs and 75 RBI in 144 Games Played. If he fairs well in 2013, he could be in line for a decent 2 year pay-day. Whether that is with the White Sox, or another team, is yet to be determined.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A big thank-you goes out to our ‘White Sox Correspondent’ Brian Madsen for preparing todays featured article. Brian was born and raised in Chicago Heights, IL, a south suburb of Chicago. He attended Illinois St. University, majoring in education/teaching. Brian now lives in Joliet, IL with my wife Suzanne two daughters, Abby, 9, and Grace, 3. He has worked at The Little Guys Home Technology for 12 years as a salesman/system designer/custom integrator. Brian is an avid White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls fan. Follow @brianm731
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Posted on January 13, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged 2005 World Series Champions, @brianm731 on twitter, a.j. pierzynski, adam dunn, AL ALL-Star Appearances, al central, al mvp, arizona diamondbacks, barry bonds, baseball hall of fame, Brian Madsen, carlos delgado, chicago white sox, cincinnati reds, dayan viciedo, ernie banks, frank thomas, fred mcGriff, Greg Maddux, hank aaron, harmon killebrew, harold baines, hawk harrelson, jeff bagwell, jerry reinsdorf, kenny williams, lou gehrig, magglio ordonez, mickey mantle, mike cameron, mike schmidt, nolan ryan, ozzie guillen, paul konerko, robin ventura, sammy sosa, tom glavine, us cellular field, willlie mays. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.