For the last week, the attention of the sports world has been fixed on the baseball career of now former Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, and rightfully so.
Who has been more clutch, more classy, more consistent than #2 in Yankee pinstripes?
But lost in Jeter-palooza is the simultaneous end of the career of White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Paul Konerko.
Konerko, in many ways, has done the same thing in Chicago in the same method as Jeter did in New York.
His career numbers show Konerko batted .279, he smashed 439 career home runs and drove in over 1,400 runs. Compare that to Jeter's .309 average with only 260 homers and just over 1,300 RBI's.
Jeter is a sure-thing Hall Of Famer. Konerko…?
Jeter gets credit for being a leader–for the intangibles.
Well ask anyone who's been in or around the White Sox clubhouse in the last 16 years and you will hear them speak with respect about a guy who played in over 140 games in 12 of those years. They will tell you how he went quietly about his business, but when he spoke his words were weighty.
They will not point to a homer or a game-winning hit as the moment that will define Konerko's mettle.
Nope. It was a game in September of 2010. Konerko was standing in against Minnesota's Carl Povano and took a fast ball right in the face. I mean right in the mouth! He went down fast and rolled in pain. The Sox trainer came sprinting onto the field with a towel expecting at least a cut or maybe lost teeth.
After a few minutes Konerko stood up, took a deep breath, and walked to first base.
HE STAYED IN THE GAME!
Dude gets hit in the face and stays in the game…that's someone other guys want to follow. That's who you want your captain to be.
My sense is Paul Konerko will probably not get into the Hall Of Fame. He should, but he won't. Not enough flash. Not enough self promotion. Not enough sizzle. And he didn't play in New York, Boston or LA.
Still, White Sox fans have known for more than a decade who their leader was–who they could count on.
It's been Pauly.
As a Cubs fan, I don't have much nice to say about the White Sox. But these lips (and my keyboard) will never utter a bad word about Paul Konerko.