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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

More misadventures with our Sox!

Last week was memorable by any standards, and Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox both came out of it stinking like a pile of limburger cheese. 

We’ll start with the disgraceful display by MLB in what could have been one of the most exciting All-Star games in history.  One could almost put up with the Super-Bowl-esque pre-game show.  It was awfully bad, but seeing Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, and Henry Aaron, and the great film of “Baseball’s 30 Greatest Moments” almost made it worthwhile.  On the other hand, don’t you think they could have gotten a singer who actually knew the words to the Star-Spangled Banner?  Would that be asking too much?  “Gave truth to the sight”. 

The game itself could have been a classic, but somewhere along the line, it has gotten into the minds of the participants in the game that everyone has to make at least a cameo appearance.  So with the score tied 7-7 going into the bottom half of the 11th inning, we are treated to the embarrassing spectacle of Bob Brenly, and Joe Torre conferring with Commissioner Budlight.  I can hear Brenly now, “Um…Mr. Selig…uh…I…uh…ran out of players. 

The Commissioner looked absolutely paralyzed.  As the remaining players waited on the field, the discussion went on…and on…and on….Then came the announcement over the PA system.  While the NL still had a chance to pull it out, the Commissioner issued his surrender.  The game would be called at the end of 11 if the NL did not score. 

The crowd at the ball park, the one built by Budlight’s daughter, was livid.  “Let them play!  Let them play!’ they shouted.  (Yes, the fans in Beertown know their “Bad News Bears” movies.)  But it was not to be, and we were treated to the spectacle of fans booing as the game ended.  Booing the players, booing the Commissioner, booing baseball in general for the black eyes it has been taking due to its continuing labor problems.

Fox Television tried to get Commissioner Budlight to explain to the fans that the managers did not want to risk other franchises’ pitchers arms for the rest of the season by having them go too long in what is, after all, an exhibition game.  But Budlight got cold feet at the last minute and rushed down the tunnel from the dugout without a word of explanation during a commercial break.  How many millions has Fox spent on baseball, Mr. Commissioner?  Don’t you owe them and the fans, who pay millions each year to go to your games, some kind of explanation? 

Much was made over the naming of the All-Star MVP award after the late Ted Williams this year.  Paul Konerko of the Sox was a prime candidate for the award.  But since no one won the game, no one apparently played well enough to be an MVP.  Could co-MVPs have been named?  Apparently not.  Baseball and the Chevrolet Division of GM apparently weren’t ready to pony up for two Blazers for the winner.  Budlight can look back at this mess and be proud of the fact that he saved GM the cost of one Chevy Blazer which they can now sell instead.

One thing good can be said about the All-Star break, though.  The White Sox didn’t lose any games over those three days.  That’s far better than can be said for what followed.  We heard before the break that this month would be time for the Sox to make some hay and gain some ground against the Minnesota Twins.  It didn’t help, though when in their final series before the break that they lost two out of three to the hapless Detroit Tigers.

The fiasco wasn’t limited to losing on the field, though.  Professor Chaos’s (GM Kenny Williams) faithful servant Gen. Disarray (manager Jerry Manuel) finally decided to bench Frank Thomas when “The Big Hurt’s” average dropped to a lowly .239.  Thomas responded by showing up late for Saturday’s game and missing the team’s stretching exercises.  Paul Konerko responded by accusing Thomas of not being a team player.  Jack McDowell in an interview said that was nothing new about Thomas.

After the break Prof. Chaos and Gen. Disarray meant with their errant minions, and things seemed to calm down.  The Sox came out slugging on Thursday, and fans were hoping that this might just be the start of a reversal in the Sox’ fortunes.

The Sox had a chance to win five games in four days, right?  Wrong.  In less than twenty-four hours, the Sox managed to lose three games.  Corpseball was back worse than ever.  The Sox again showed their lack of comprehension of the fundamentals of baserunning.  (When will Ray Durham ever learn that you don’t go for third base on a ball hit to the left side of the infield?)  Ed Farmer went ballistic when Royce Clayton botched a routine play that the official scorer called a hit.  After Saturday’s loss, Bill Melton stopped just short of calling for Gen. Disarray’s head.

It is rumored now that Prof. Chaos is finally thinking about trading some of these clowns.  Bravo!  Too bad he didn’t think about doing that about June 1, when the club still had a chance to turn things around and actually go somewhere this season.  Of course, Sox fans will be the first to admit that if Prof. Chaos does make a trade it will probably be Paul Konerko and Magglio Ordoñez for Ted Williams’s frozen corpse.

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at

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