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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Worse than Expansion Teams

Some thoughts after taking a week off for first quarter grades.

Yet another expansion team has made it into the World Series since the last time the White Sox won an American League championship.† The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels played their first game the year after the Sox played in their last World Series, and theyíve won it.† Much has been made of the fact that the Angles had played 41 years without having appeared in a World Series.† Well, the Sox have gone a year longer.† The Sox have also played 84 consecutive seasons without a World Series championship, too.† Thatís twice as long as the Angels had to wait.†

Fourteen franchises have been added to Major League Baseball since the Sox last won a pennant.† Of those, nine have appeared in the World Series.†

The first round of expansion came during the 1961 and 1962 seasons.† The Angels and Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) joined the American League that first year while the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s (now the Astros), joined the National League the following year.† The Rangers and Astros still havenít made it to the Series.†

The second expansion came in 1969 when four teams were added.† The Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers) and Kansas City Royals were added to the AL while the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres were added to the National League.† The teams added during this expansion, ten years after the Sox won their last pennant have been more successful in making at least one World Series appearance than those from the first expansion.† Only the Expos have failed to win a National League championship from this group.†

There were two expansions in quick succession in the 1990s.† In the first round in 1993, the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins were added to the National League.† The Marlins have already appeared in a World Series.† In the second round in 1998 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays joined the American League while the Arizona Diamondbacks joined the National League.† The Diamondbacks won a World Series championship last year after just four years of play.†

Think of that.† Since the Sox last appeared a World Series eight out of fourteen expansion clubs have beaten them to their next appearance.† Since divisional play was created in 1969, the Sox have only won their division three times.† †

I guess we should all be thankful for that much.†

----------

Does anyone really think that Frank Thomas will leave the White Sox?† To begin with, it is doubtful that anyone will the $40 million he is guaranteed if he stays with the White Sox.† Itís obvious that no one from the National League will be interested in him, so that leaves the other thirteen clubs in the American League.†

Those clubs have to be thinking that Thomas is still a question mark following his 2001 injury.† So they are not going to be willing to match the bucks the Sox have guaranteed him.†

Unless things have changed recently, Thomasís family is still in Chicago, and there have been stories circulated that he wants to stay in Chicago to be with his kids.† If thatís the case, and contrary to what certain writers from a newspaper that is owned by the same corporation that owns a National League franchise in Chicago, heís not going to want to spend the baseball season away from them.† †

The reports before Thomas announced his conditional free agency were that the Sox were willing to come up with an annual payment well above the $250,000 minimum that they could pay him.† Apparently that figure is a lower limit.

In an interview on the Soxí flagship station conducted on the day Thomas made his announcement, Prof. Chaos said that he thought Thomas would sign with them.† He also issued a warning that day that if he decided to return, Thomas would have to fit into the Soxí current idea of a team concept.† †

When all is said and done, though, there is the fact that Thomasís new agent has had a long term working relationship with The Chairman.† If the Sox want to get a deal done, they can.† †

Interestingly enough, it may be Thomas who holds the trump card here.† If the Sox want to get rid of him, all the badmouthing theyíve engaged in over the years, could come back to haunt them.† All the wrongful accusations in 1999 and again in 2001 that Thomas was jaking it when he was, in fact, injured could very well have made him suspect in the eyes of other GMs.† †

If this has happened, Frank will have return to the Sox, and The Chairman will have to decide how much of Thomasís salary he wants to defer.† The thing that really makes this all so interesting is that just before game 6 of the World Series, one radio stationís ďbaseball expertĒ reported that in an interview he had done with Thomas, Frank had indicated that he was in pain through most of the first four months of the season.† The expert speculated that this was the cause of the flaw in Thomasís swing where he was dropping his shoulder.†

The expert went on to report that Frank was relatively pain free the last two months of the season when his hitting returned to its old form.† †

And thatís where Thomas plays his trump card.† If he is healthy once again, and if the Sox defer too much of his salary, they will once again look like fools.†

Of course the trump card could backfire on Thomas just because of this.† Sox management has looked like a bunch of fools for years, and it never seems to have bothered them.


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 nsmf@aol.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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