So last weekend we had The Cubs Convention and now this weekend, if you’re a South Side fan there’s SoxFest, at the Hilton Chicago. If you’re willing to brave the cold, (make sure you can still get tickets) then thoughts of summer and sitting in the bleachers, with a beer, cheering on your favorite player is a warming thought indeed! Pitchers and catchers for both squads report around the 12th of February and the first Spring Training games start on the 22nd. After the Bears disappointing loss in the playoffs and the Bulls and the Black Hawks both dwelling at the bottom of their respective sports, Spring and baseball can’t seen to get here soon enough! The sports wizard Paul Sullivan has SoxFest all laid out for you:
Just in time for weary fans, SoxFest finally arrives this weekend at the Hilton Chicago. Coming off a 100-loss season and starting Year 3 of the rebuild, the White Sox find themselves in an unusual place, waiting for their top prospects to blossom while trying to add a nine-figure free agent for the first time in franchise history. Patience may be a virtue, but fans wouldn’t mind if the Sox fast-forwarded this thing a bit. The Sox have spent most of the winter pursuing free agent Manny Machado like a dog chasing a car, making a lot of noise but so far failing to land their prey. Spring training is just around the corner, and Machado reportedly has an offer from only one team — the Sox. Whether it’s for $175 million over seven years, as ESPN reported, or more, as Machado’s agent hinted while denying the report, it obviously wasn’t enough to put Machado in a Sox uniform — yet. Despite his absence, Machado will be the most discussed player at SoxFest, even more than Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson or Daniel Palka, the self-described “best-looking player on the team.” Machado’s table is ready, even if he is not. So what can we expect from SoxFest ’19? Here are some of the expected highlights from the weekend seminars: Friday SportsTalk Live: Television broadcaster Jason Benetti and in-game reporter Chuck Garfien interview the Sox brain trust of Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria. Wonder if Machado’s name will come up? Of course, Hahn is not allowed to talk about negotiations with free agents, so he won’t discuss specifics. He can’t talk about Joc Pederson, either, unless Hahn makes a deal with the Dodgers by then. But he can talk about Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s patience level, and Hahn told me at the start of the offseason: “He believes in the plan. He believes in the vision. He’s very optimistic about the progress we’ve made in the last 18 months, and he’s having some difficult nights in the short term.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? A Perfect Day: Sox radio analyst Darrin Jackson interviews Dewayne Wise, Ozzie Guillen and Ken Williams. I assume this is about Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, but really it should be about Guillen’s return to SoxFest eight years after an acrimonious split with the organization in 2011, when he left to manage the Marlins. Williams was glad to see him go, but the two have since mended fences. These are two headstrong individuals who don’t mince words. Hopefully they’ll discuss the breakup and how they’ve reconciled. Sox fans deserve to know. The Journey to Cooperstown: Sox TV analyst Steve Stone interviews Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, Tim Raines, Frank Thomas and Jim Thome. Baines’ selection by a veterans committee that included Reinsdorf and former Sox manager Tony La Russa became one of the most controversial Hall of Fame picks in recent memory. Baines was virtually ignored when he became eligible on the writers ballot, and his selection angered the analytically bent crowd. But here he’ll be in calmer waters with former teammates and friends who will welcome him to the club with open arms. Saturday Your 2019 White Sox: Benetti with Hahn and Renteria again. More Machado talk? Why not? Perhaps some fans will ask Hahn whether Jimenez will get a chance to break with the team to open the season instead of waiting until late April to get an extra year of service time. It’s a question Hahn loves to answer, sources say. Kids Club Press Conference: NBC-5 newscaster Zoraida Sambolin hosts a news conference in which kids pose questions to Yolmer Sanchez, Anderson, Nicky Delmonico and Adam Engel. Anything with Sanchez bears watching. A Night to Remember: The 2008 Blackout Game: Retired broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson returns to discuss Game 163 of 2008 — when the Sox beat the Twins to advance to the postseason — with Guillen and Wise. It would be the Sox’s last postseason appearance. The OzzieHawk reunion is the real draw. Hopefully they’ll bring up Guillen’s classic rant before a 2008 game in Toronto: “We won it a couple years ago, and we’re horse (bleep). The Cubs haven’t won in (100) years, and they’re the (bleeping) best. (Bleep) it, we’re good. (Bleep) everybody. We’re horse (bleep), and we’re going to be horse (bleep) the rest of our lives, no matter how many World Series we win. We are the (bleep) of Chicago. We’re the Chicago (bleep). We have the worst owner. The guy’s got seven (bleeping) rings, and he’s the (bleeping) horse (bleep) owner.” Welcome back, Oz. Sunday Bo’s Bounce Back: Harrelson interviews Bo Jackson and trainer emeritus Herm Schneider about Jackson’s comeback from a serious hip injury in 1993, when he homered in his first at-bat on opening day on the South Side. Jackson also might have a thought or two about Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who soon will decide between a career in the NFL or with the Athletics. Bo knows. He’s the only athlete to be an MLB All-Star and NFL Pro Bowl selection. Life & Baseball: Sanchez will interview newcomer Yonder Alonso, Jace Fry and Reynaldo Lopez. Maybe Sanchez can ask Alonso about life with brother-in-law Machado.