Report false on Sox's plan to forfeit

Report false on Sox's plan to forfeit

MINNEAPOLIS -- It would have been easy for the White Sox to laugh off a weekend report in the New York Daily News that they had voted unanimously to forfeit a makeup game in Boston if the game was to be played during a scheduled off-day on Labor Day.

After all, the White Sox have a few more pressing issues on their mind. They carry a 1-7 record over their last eight games into the start of a 10-game, three-city road trip, opening Tuesday night against Minnesota and defending American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana.

There's also the little matter of the White Sox not being able to forfeit any such makeup game, with Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball ultimately setting the new date for the game that was rained out on Aug. 14. Yet, manager Ozzie Guillen and his players were more than a little irked over the erroneous report out of New York.

The White Sox did meet prior to Friday's game against the New York Yankees, a meeting held in a private area of the clubhouse, led by assistant player rep Chris Widger. After the brief get-together, Widger spoke to and another reporter and stressed that the team would rather make up the game on Oct. 3, the day after the regular season ended, instead of on Labor Day.

But Widger also understood the power of suggestion was all his team possessed in this situation. Needless to say, he was more than a little confused and irritated when Monday's news broke late in the afternoon.

"It's aggravating to hear that because it's not a rumor, it's a lie," said Widger of the report from New York. "Someone just lied. There was nobody else even that could have overheard the conversation. It was back there in the [training] room and we went back and stretched right after that. It was over.

"It's trying to sell newspapers and trying to cause a lot of [problems] amongst this clubhouse. It's not going to work, especially a lie as bad as that one. It's too bad you don't have anything better to write about and you have to go put lies in there."

Mark Buehrle, the White Sox's player rep, had no knowledge of his team's reported decision to forfeit the Boston game until he received a call Monday morning from Gene Orza. The chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association asked Buehrle if the team was going to forfeit, to which Buehrle responded, "That's news to me."

Buehrle reassured Orza that their vote was only expressing a preference, if they ultimately had a choice, and nothing more. He also felt absolutely no embarrassment over the report going national, mainly because Buehrle said it wasn't close to accurate.

"It's someone making up something, throwing it out there to make the team look bad," Buehrle said. "I don't feel bad because we aren't guilty of anything. We decided what we decided, and someone else made up something."

Sept. 5 appears to be the makeup date, according to Buehrle, who said Tuesday it's "about 90 percent sure." With the White Sox having seven games left against Cleveland and three against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, both of whom are in playoff contention, the American League wants to hold Oct. 3 for a possible rain date in those scenarios. It also would be the date for a possible Wild Card or divisional tiebreaker.

With the AL playoffs scheduled to begin the following day, there wouldn't be time to get all the necessary games in if the Boston game were held until season's end. So, the White Sox appear headed to Fenway Park, following a four-game homestand against Detroit and prior to three home games against Kansas City and three more against the Angels.

The specter of this makeup game always existed in the White Sox's collective minds, even following last Friday's meeting. It certainly was far more plausible than any sort of forfeit.

"It wasn't even brought up. It wasn't even joked about, forfeiting the game," Widger said. "There wasn't even an under-your-breath whisper about it. It was flat out, 'We play the fifth or the end of the year, and which would you prefer?' But they are going to decide. We don't even have a choice."

"Whoever wrote that thing is wrong," Guillen added. "You can get a team or players into real big trouble saying that -- especially the team. We could get fined. We could get suspended. [General manager] Kenny [Williams] or I could have problems. I was there when it happened, and whoever said that was lying. Our thought was the Commissioner has to make the decision, not the White Sox."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.