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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

20 Game Losers!

Todd Ritchie denied his chance for greatness?

In the good old days, back when he was broadcasting for the White Sox, Harry Caray used to say "It takes a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games."

Sox Fan, and Hollywood celebrity, Senor Sock!

At the time, he was right. 3 Time Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton lost 20 games for a bad Phillies team in 1973, just one year after he won 27. That same year, the White Sox had not just one, but TWO twenty game losers. Stan Bahnsen got tagged for 21 losses in 1973 while winning just 18. But it could hardly be Bahnsen's fault. The right hander posted an e.r.a. of just 3.57 while throwing 14 complete games, including 3 shut outs. While staff ace Wilber Wood won 24 games, he also lost 20, but pitched an eye-popping 359 innings, which included 21 complete games and four shut outs of his own. His e.r.a.? An impressive 3.46.

Thirty years later, Harry's old adage is sadly no longer true. Guys like Carlton, Wood and Bahnsen got the opportunity to lose twenty games because they were good pitchers and always kept their teams in the game. Today, the Sox have a new potential 20 game loser. He gets rocked every time he goes out. The league is hitting .318 against him. His ERA is a fat 6.12 He hasn't come close to a complete game. But he makes a lot of money, and he was acquired in a big trade, so they have to use him.

He is, of course, Todd Ritchie.

Week after week Ritchie has been sent out to the mound to pitch batting practice to happy American League batters. You would think that the manager would remove him from the rotation until such time as he regained the ability to get someone-anyone out. You would think anyone could see how demoralizing this would be to the rest of the team, who knew every outing they would be spotting their opposition 5-6 runs.

But apparently taking Ritchie out of the rotation would reflect badly on the general manager who traded not 1, not 2, but 3 pitchers for him. Those pitchers have gone on to post a 24-16 record (and given the Pirates a lot of innings) while Ritchie has gone 5-14. This may have been the worst Sox trade since they gave up young Doug Drabek for aging Roy Smalley Jr. Or since they let Detroit steal Denny McLain. (I won't mention the Norm Cash trade, it's too depressing).

Yet another pleasant distraction for Hollywood celebrity Senor Sock during another losing Sox season.

So week after week, poor Todd Ritchie was sent out to prove the general manager right. Instead he was on a direct heading to be the first Sox pitcher to lose 20 (or more) since Wood did it again in 1975 for a really bad Sox team (his ERA ballooned up to 4.11-better than any starter but Mark Buerhle on today's staff).

Then something miraculous happened: Ritchie was scratched from Sunday's game due to a mysterious arm injury. Relieved not to be down 6 runs in the second, the rest of the team rallied to win 4-2 and sweep the Royals.

So what's the real story? Is Ritchie really hurt or is this a scam to save him the embarrassment of losing 20, and give Williams the excuse he needs for making one of the worst trades in team/baseball history (It wasn't my fault, he was secretly injured all season) ?

Either way, I hope the team uses this to send Todd down on a rehab assignment-preferably to that Bermuda Triangle affiliate where they sent Joe Cowley after he threw his no hitter and then completely lost the strike zone. A place no one returns from.

While I'd like to have Ritchie and Williams live with the disgrace of losing 20 games, I don't think Ritchie's fit to be in the company of guys like Carlton, Bahnsen and Wood, guys who had to be pretty good pitchers in order to lose twenty.


Editor's Note:  An idol in his native Argentina, Senor Sock became the toast of the entertainment world while a regular on E! Entertainment Television's Emmy-award winning "Talk Soup". He has been romantically linked to many of the world's most beautiful women, including Suzanne Somers, Monica Bellucci, Donna D'Errico, Halle Berry and Peri Gelpin. He has his own website at http://go.to/senor_sock and is of course, a lifelong White Sox fan.

More features from Senor Sock here!

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