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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sox under General Disarray
Is it time for the Manuel era to end?

We have to learn to take Gen. Disarray at his word!  This spring when he told the media that the big problem with last year was that the Sox tried too hard to get off to a good start, no one (except a column in WSI) even thought twice about it.  Well, it turns out that we should have taken the general at his word. 

The Sox don’t have to worry any more about a good start.  Against the dregs of the American League, Gen. Disarray has led his troops to a stumbling 12-10 start.  Against the likes of the unconscious (and who can say how much we contributed to that) Kansas City Royals, the AA level Detroit Tigers, the woeful Cleveland Indians, and the Baltimore Orioles, the best the White Sox could do was 12-10.  Two out of three versus Minnesota is all that separates the Sox from abject mediocrity.

It is true that Gen. Disarray can’t hit for his batters, can’t pitch for his pitchers, and can’t run the bases for his base runners.  However, what he can do is stop trotting out Rick White and Tom Gordon from the bullpen for their daily shelling.   

What he can do is bench players who can neither hit nor field.  He can bench players who can’t run the bases without getting thrown out by making stupid mistakes.  He can warm sit players down in the bullpen who continuously throw gasoline on fires. 

And most of all, when an umpire makes a horrendous call, he can actually let the umpire know that he blew the call.  The sad thing is that Gen. Disarray’s passivity towards third base umpire Eric Cooper’s blown call of what should have been Joe Crede’s home run shot is that it occurred in the city in which Earl Weaver once managed. 

Can you imagine what Weaver’s reaction would have been when Cooper signaled “foul ball”?  He would have been in Cooper’s face three seconds after he made the call.  He would have had his cap turned backwards in another second, and he would be spitting in Cooper’s face with ever ”p” he pronounced. 

Gen. Disarray’s response on the other hand was to trot out, say a few words, wait for the umpires to huddle, listen to their non-call, and then trot back.  Hardly a response to earn the respect of your players.   

Time and time again, the general has failed to adequately take up the cause of his players when bad calls go against them.  Time and time again the Sox seem to get the shaft on bad calls by umpires.  This is not a coincidence.  The umpires know they can make whatever calls they want against the Sox, and the general will say a few words and trot back to the dugout. 

“But these guys are professionals,” you say.  “Why do they need the manager getting thrown out to inspire them.”  The answer is that there are two reasons.   

The first is that much of any sport involves emotion.  Baseball is a thinking man’s sport, they say.  However, players will tell you that they do hear the cheers of the fans and that it gets them up in crucial situations.  Many attributed the Sox’ success in 2000 to the team spirit that was engendered by the fight they had against the Tigers in April that year.  There’s a lot to be said for emotion. 

The second is more practical.  What message does it send to the players when their manager doesn’t become livid when an umpire blows a call that a first grader could have made?  It’s a good guess that the message the players are getting is that he’s not willing to stick his neck out for them.  The natural response to that is, “Then why should I stick my neck out for him.”   

The obvious answer is that when the manager doesn’t care, it’s highly unlikely that the players will care.  Does Gen. Disarray care what happens to the Chicago White Sox?  From his responses in crucial situations, it would appear that he doesn’t. 

The problem is, the fans do care.  The Sox have complained about lack of attendance.  Yet for the past two years, the Sox have been lethargic in the early season.  They’re annual collapse has occurred before June 1, that is before school is out and before people start coming out to the ball park. 

This year hopes were high.  The fans at SoxFest couldn’t wait for the season to start.  And what do the Sox do under the tutelage of Gen. Disarray?  They barely play above .500 ball against horrible teams.   

If the Sox really want to do something about attendance, they are going to have to right their sinking ship during the month of May.  If not, the fans won’t come out.  Why should they?  The Sox look like zombies on the field.  It’s not surprising since they’re led by a guy who looks like a zombie when he has to protest any umpire decisions. 

Prof. Chaos has only one choice to make.  He needs to sit down with The Chairman and tell him that there is no way Sox fans are going to think that there is any sense of commitment on the part of upper management unless something is done to stop this club from going out day after day and playing corpseball. 

This team needs shaking up, and as the saying goes, you can’t fire 25 players.  That leaves only one person who needs to be fired.  Don’t forget to write, Gen. Disarray!


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 hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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