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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Stop the Vacillating!

How about making decisions and sticking to them?

The June 19 loss to the Phillies was hard to take.† The game seemed to be in hand as the White Sox took a 3-1 lead into the ninth.† During a 14-inning span, pathetic looking Philadelphia had scored but one run against Sox pitching.† Most fans had to assume that the Phillies would not push three across to take the game.†

Alas, we all know that assumptions cannot be made, especially when it comes to the Sox.† Losing ninth inning leads happens to all teams, even good ones.† But losing this game came as a result of goofy logic by field management.† If anyone can explain to me what Jerry Manuel is thinking, Iíd be more than open to listening.† †

Many fans are somewhat relieved that the Sox are in a weak division.† Put them in either of the other two divisions would mean their playoff chances would be very slim.† With Minnesota in the lead, however, the Sox are just close enough to give themselves hope.† A good stretch, even for 10 games or so, could put them in first or within a game or two of first.† So when management looks out on the field and sees many of the players who helped the team win the 2000 division title, it makes it difficult to change things.† After all, these guys did it before, didnít they?† And why make any big decisions when the team is in striking distance of the division lead?†

The simple fact is that winning the division will have a hollow feeling if the Sox go three and out in the playoffs.† Secondly, the team should want more than first place in a weak division.† A World Series is way overdue.†

So, some decisive actions need to be taken.† Many fans like to suggest trades like dumpling Carlos Lee on some unsuspecting soul.† Pulling off a big trade is never easy even in the best of times.† With a strike looming, that may be even more difficult.† This doesnít mean the Sox can make some long term decisions with the personnel they do have.† Making decisions would at least give the club a chance to right themselves and become legitimate contenders.†

They can start by taking the closer role away from Keith Foulke, or at least vow not send him in to pitch the eighth and ninth.† The shell-shocked Foulke has proved that he has not been effective when going past the closing ninth inning role.† Isnít the memory of Edgar Martinezís 10th inning home run in the 2000 playoffs fresh enough?†

Donít play Kenny Lofton until he is well.† The Sox offense will thrive with a productive Lofton.† His average is down to .276 at this writing, and he just isnít providing the spark that was there in April.† Sending out a less than a 100% Lofton has proved to be counter-productive.†

For God sakes, donít let Frank Thomas pinch-hit anymore.†

Make some firm decisions about the left side of the infield.† If the Sox are hesitant to call up Joe Crede, then they will have to settle for the erratic throwing Valentin at third.† Just donít vacillate.† †

This isnít 2000 anymore.† Herbert Perry, an unspectacular but steady influence at third, is gone.† Keith Foulke is traumatized.† Frank Thomas has some respectable power numbers, but his average is down, and he just doesnít look the same.† The 2000 team made a habit of pulling games out of the fire in late innings.† The 2002 team has driven its fans crazy with late game collapses.†

We are not quite at the All-Star break, but it is not too early to take a good hard look at the club.† These players are no longer just kids.† They are veteran major leaguers.† The White Sox have done some good things since the hated White Flag Trade of 1997.† However, the franchise has not proved it can build a World Series class team.† Leadership is desperately needed.† Just hoping Minnesota starts losing doesnít cut it.

Editor's Note:† Dan Helpingstine is a free lance writer living in Highland, Indiana.† In the early 80's, he worked as a stringer for The Times, then based in Hammond, Indiana, covering business-labor news.† For six years, he worked as a part-time sportswriter for the Merrillville Herald, a weekly that was a part of a chain of weeklies in Lake and Porter Counties.† He covered high school football and basketball.† In 1995, Helpingstine had a short story published in a murder mystery anthology entitled Murder Is My Business.† He also has had articles on the JFK murder published in the Post-Tribune of Gary.† His new book is titled "Through Hope and Despair."† It is the story of one fan's roller coaster ride with the luckless White Sox.

More features from Dan Helpingstine here!

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