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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sox crossroads?

Regardless of the sport, regardless of the team, regardless of who’s in charge of the organization, there comes a time when a season stands at the crossroads.

Success or failure, support or apathy, winning or losing, it’s all in sight. It’s so close you can feel its breath and you instinctively know, "it’s now or never..."

The 2002 White Sox stand at that intersection.

It used to be that Sox fans were treated to the annual rite of passage called a "June Swoon..." It was usually in June when the Sox showed their true colors and that was more often then not, a pennant PREtender then a CONtender. This year the Sox changed the script. They moved it up to May and treated their fans to a dismal 12-16 month that included three games where they blew a lead in the 7th inning or later and lost, a four game losing streak, as well as a five game losing streak (which spilled over into June and reached seven in a row.)

I haven’t come to praise the Sox nor to bury them.

The Sox will do that for themselves, one way or another, by the end of the month.

The troubles of the Sox against "no name" or young pitchers is clear to everyone. Bill Melton on the Sox post game report, following another loss to a young pitcher with an ERA of over seven, said "the pattern continues..." Melton also added that regardless of whether the pitcher is young or old, if the Sox haven’t seen them, they have trouble.

This sentence should give the Sox some real chills: interleague play is ready to start...

And this time we’re not talking about teams that the Sox have seen before. In the next few weeks the Sox will face for the first time ever, the Expos, Mets, Phillies and Braves.

Because the Sox train in Arizona they won’t even have had the luxury of seeing these clubs in spring training. That means when pitchers like Javier Vasquez, Pedro Astacio, Shawn Estes, Vince Padilla, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Kevin Millwood take the mound they’ll be complete strangers to most of the hitters. Only six position players have spent any time in the National League and in some of those cases, like Sandy Alomar Junior, that was years ago.

You have the makings of a difficult situation.

Add to that the compounding problems with the benching / attitude of Royce Clayton, the slumps of Paul Konerko and Magglio Ordonez, the lack of a power / RBI hitter at 3rd base, a 5th starter who can’t go beyond five innings, an unstable bullpen and worse, an unstable manager who said this to the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday," when we begin to struggle, I love tinkering and messing around with things... a lot of times that doesn't work," and without question, you are at a season at the crossroads.

One positive thing about all this though. We’ll know by the end of the month if the Sox still have a shot in the weakest division in baseball, or if we are to start counting down the number of days until the Bears begin training camp.

As always comments, questions or insults are always welcome. Feel free to contact me at mliptak1@ida.net 


Editor's Note:  Mark Liptak is an experienced sports journalist, holding several awards for both his electronic and print media work.  He has held numerous sports reporting positions for various TV and newspaper organizations, including Director of Sports for KNOE-TV (Monroe, Louisiana) and KPVI-TV (Pocatello, Idaho), and sports writer for the Idaho Falls Free Press, where his column "Lip Service" has appeared for for a number of years.  "Lip", his wife, and cats presently live in Chubbuck, Idaho, where they collectively comprise 100 percent of the Pocatello River Valley's long-time Sox Fan population.

More features from Mark Liptak here! 

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