By Chris Zois
Even though the city of Chicago was still stinging from the hype and disappointment from the Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago White Sox wrapped up their yearly Sox Fest convention which was held on the weekend of January 21-23 in downtown Chicago.
Most SoxFest festivities either have the aura of disappointment or in excitement in them. The attitude of this year’s event was a lot calmer and relaxed opposed to 2010’s.
Soxfest 2010 started off on a bad note as controversy had surrounded Oney Guillen, Ozzie’s son, and his twitter account where he had some not so pleasant things to say about the organization.
Tensions were high to say the least between manager Ozzie Guillen and General Manager Kenny Williams, but this year the atmosphere was more subdued than last.
"Right now, I feel -- wow," Guillen told mlb.com. “"Everything in 2010 started the wrong way for me. Everything they hear about Jim Thome, [going into] Spring Training and the problems we had, I think that's left behind. I'm not saying I'm a new man, but I have to be more relaxed. I don't want to go through the same stuff we did."
The weekend started with Williams announcing Guillen’s 2012 option had been picked up, meaning he will be managaing the team for at least two more years.
"We anticipate Ozzie will be here for a long time," Reinsdorf told mlb.com "Ozzie says he doesn't want to manage anyplace else. We just thought let's eliminate the uncertainty. We knew we were going to pick it up at the end of the year, so why not do it now."
But along with the drama of Williams and Guillen their was still baseball matters to attend too.
The White Sox went big this off-season and it is time for them to either put up or shut up. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the payroll for the 2011 season will be a organization high of $125 million.
“I spent more money this off-season than I ever thought, and we’re tapped out,’’ Williams told the Sun-Times. “I can’t go back to Jerry [Reinsdorf] anymore because we’ve just overextended ourselves beyond belief.”
But Williams was wise with his money this year, re-signing first baseman Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski were key. Williams also added slugger Adam Dunn, who as hit at least 35 home runs the past seven seasons.
Many critics were arguing that Williams was just concerned with the offense, but Williams and Guillen will definitely be very creative with their lineups.
Along with building up their bullpen with relievers Jesse Crain and Will Ohman, many other White Sox players look to improve on defense from last year.
Gordon Beckham, who had a sub-par 2010 season, wants to live up to expectations.
“I think everyone’s excited for the season,” Beckham told Mlb.com. “It doesn’t matter what happened last season…I started of slow, everyone knows that, I stayed horrible for about half the year….this offseason we’ve had has added to my confidence.”
Time will tell if Beckham is ready, but starting the year strong will set the tone for the team.
The White Sox definitely look more relaxed and prepared this year and with the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers slacking during the offseason it will definitely be imperative the White Sox start strong.
Check back again next week for another column on the 2011 White Sox. Follow me on twitter at zoischicago
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