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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kenny puffing his wares?

Does Doctor Chaos have ANY business acumen?

From Ron Rappaport’s column in Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times

“Front-office executives of an American League club were stunned at Ken Williams' harsh depiction of several White Sox players when he called to judge trade interest before backing up the truck. The kindest thing Williams called Frank Thomas was lazy.” 

Assuming this report is true, let’s take a closer look..   

  • Prof. Chaos was calling to judge the trade value of his players before actually talking deals with any other GM.
  • He commented on the abilities of “several” of his players before even starting to talk trade.
  • He gave a “harsh depiction” (read “tore them down”) of his players to the other GMs before he even began discussing any trades.

One can only wonder, if Rappaport is correct, what the Professor could have been thinking, if anything.  Here he is, in the preliminary steps to trade talks, diminishing the value of the very people he’s going to be trying to deal.   

Granted, the report states that this report is from just one club, but if he did it once, that’s one time too many.  I would think that if the Sox are trying to deal any players, they would like to get maximum value.  When you start tearing down the merchandise before you even try to sell it, that’s called bad business

It also appears that he was referring, not to the health of players (perhaps to avoid another Sirotka-Wells type of situation in which he’d be accused of dealing damaged goods.  This appears to be attacking such attributes of players as their work ethic. 

The only possible positive explanation for this that I can see is that perhaps Prof. Chaos either didn’t want to trade the players he was knocking or that he didn’t want to deal with the club(s) he made those comments to.   

Neither explanation makes much sense, though.  The former doesn’t cut it because all you have to do to avoid discussing trading certain players is to say, “He’s not on the market at this time.”  The latter doesn’t make sense because it looks from the report as if Williams initiated the call. 

The truly baffling part of this is just that.  Why would anyone in his right mind call another club to discuss who might be available for a potential trade and then turn around and knock the very players he may be trying to deal? 

The one thing this does is clarify why the Sox got back a lot less than most people thought Ray Durham was worth.  Can you hear the conversation with Billy Beane? 

“Billy, before we do this deal let me tell you about some of these guys you may be interested in.  Ray Durham?  Stupidest base runner I’ve ever seen.  Plays defense with his head up his butt….  Oh, you’re interested in him?  Tell you what.  I’ll let you take him off my hands for a non-prospect, and we’ll throw in a good chunk of his salary because he’s so bad….You got any pitchers who can fill roster space in the high minors?...Adkins?  Who’s he?...6.03 ERA?  Perfect.  Thanks for helping me get rid of that creep!” 

In the end, Groucho Marx said it best in Duck Soup (just substitute the name of our GM for that of the Marx Brother in question):  “Chicolini may look like and idiot, and Chicolini may talk like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you.  He really is an idiot.”   

In fact, Groucho (aka Rufus T. Firefly) probably ran Freedonia a whole lot better than Prof. Chaos runs the Sox.  Hey!  Mr. Chairman!  I’ve got a great idea!  Let the Marx Bros. run the club.  They couldn’t do any worse than the stiffs you have running it now!

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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