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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Eyes on the Prize?

"I spend all my time, believing all the lies, to keep the dream alive."

                                                    –Billy Idol "Eyes Without A Face"

The White Sox over the years may not have been the best on the field, but they sure know how to grab the headlines off it.

How can you forget such memorable statements as...

"We’re going to run a first class organization."
–Eddie Einhorn,
January, 1981

"Harry and Jimmy, wherever you are, I hope you realize what scum you really are." –Jerry Reinsdorf, September 1983

"Whether we win or lose, other teams are going to know they’re in for a hell of a battle." –Hawk Harrelson, November 1985.

"Larry Himes got us from Point A to Point B, we think Ron Schueler’s the guy to get us to Point C."
– Jerry Reinsdorf, September 1990

"I’m a dove, until they strike." –Jerry Reinsdorf, August 1994

"Anybody who thinks this team can catch Cleveland is crazy."
–Jerry Reinsdorf, July 1997

"I don’t want to just make the playoffs, I want us to get to the next level." –Kenny Williams, March 2002

That last statement is the one we focus on today. Williams uttered that comment at least twice, as reported by Chicago reporters this past Spring in Arizona.

Now take a look at this recent comment to the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan, by Manager Jerry Manuel...’What about the belief that although hitting might get a team into postseason play, it's rarely enough to win a playoff series against an opponent that features pitching and defense? "Absolutely. No doubt," Manuel said. "But if you go into the playoffs on a roll, you can roll through them."

Like the Sox "rolled" through Seattle in 2000 with their robust hitting?

Here’s my point... Kenny Williams has built this team on hitting, at the expense of everything you actually need to win a championship... namely pitching, defense and execution of fundamentals because he doesn’t need to spend as much money. In short everything that the Sox were known for. His own manager says that’s not the way to win a World Championship. So what exactly are the Sox trying to win?

What Manuel’s comments tell me is that the Sox are "hoping" that if they get into the post season, they might do some damage.

Is that what it’s come down to, that the Sox have to "hope" to get lucky in October? Why can’t the Sox, just one time, go into October knowing that they can play with anybody because they will not beat themselves.

And can we look at Manuel’s comments as implying that he doesn’t care for the way this team is being built? Remember a few years ago when the Sox front office was spewing the "kids can play" theme for two seasons, that Manuel was quoted as saying, it’s time to start winning, that the "inexperience" excuse only lasts so long. In other words he was getting impatient.

You wonder if Manuel read the story in The Sporting News in November 2000 as senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal interviewed Commissioner Bud Selig. I know when I read Selig’s comments, I almost fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it when I saw nothing said about it in the Chicago media.

Rosenthal interviewed Selig after the World Series, concerning the new labor negotiations. Rosenthal mentioned that three medium to small market payroll teams, the A’s, Giants, and White Sox had made the playoffs and would that hurt the owners stance on needing a change in the competitive structure of the game.

Selig first talked about the Giants, then made this stunning revelation. "As far as the Athletics and the White Sox, I spoke with members of their front offices and they both told me it was an aberration that they won."

An "aberration"... a "fluke"... they got "lucky".

If that’s how the front office really feels, then why is Williams making these ludicrous statements to the media and the fans? His actions speak louder then his words don’t they?

Everyone realizes that unless Mark Cuban, Bill Gates or Paul Allen buys the White Sox, they’ll never have a payroll in the high 90's. However it’s very clear that you can barely break even with a payroll in the high 50's.

The numbers speak for themselves. The last five completed seasons, the Sox have won a total of 414 games or an average of 83 per season. 81 is exactly .500.

The Sox define the word "mediocrity".

So please, somebody alert someone in the Sox public relations and marketing department to put a muzzle on the General Manager. His comments only further embarrass an organization that’s done a great job of doing that by themselves, long before he came to power. Start talking about making "the next level" when you have a payroll that actually allows you to do that!

As always, questions, comments or insults are welcomed. 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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