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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Why can't they win?

Once again it seems the "great expectations" placed upon the Sox by their ever loyal fans is going to go unfulfilled.

Another season and more underachieving, more late inning meltdowns, more bad managerial moves, more undisciplined hitting, more base running blunders and more mediocre defense.

Which begs the ultimate question, WHY canít the Sox ever win?

Since the White Flag Trade the Sox have tried going with inexperienced kids, they have traded for veterans, they have signed some free agents, the have scoured the waiver wire, they have hired and fired assistant coaches and they have even changed general managers.

The result of all the moves? Mediocrity at best.

So WHY canít the Sox ever win?

There is no one answer. For the most part it is a combination of things.

There are the obvious reasons... an owner who usually†pays "lip service" (no pun intended) towards winning because no matter what Jerry Reinsdorf does, or how he tries to do it, with a payroll at best, in the middle 50's thereís only so much you can do. Put it another way... the Minnesota Twins have a larger payroll then the White Sox. So do the Cleveland do the Detroit Tigers!

This same owner refuses to hire experienced top of the line upper management. The reality is that Jerry Reinsdorf will not spend top dollar regardless of color, to bring in the best. Jerry Reinsdorf turned down or didnít even bother to look at African Americans like Bob Watson, Felipe Alou or "Dusty" Baker just like he turned down or didnít even bother to look at Caucasians like Lou Piniella, Tony LaRussa, Walt Jocketty or Pat Gillick. Our owner does not want anyone who dare think for himself, refuse to go along with the owners' dictates or heaven forbid, demand that the organization spend money equal to what a team representing the 3rd largest market in the country deserves.

But those are the obvious reasons, I think there are more subtle ones at work.

A person on the WSI message boards asked why the Sox always underachieve and brought up the fact that the players the Sox brought in, by and large, do poorly on the South Side but as soon as they leave, for the most part, they go back to being productive. That was a brilliant observation. It canít all be chance or an accident that this seems to happen.

So why does it happen?

My thinking is because the South Side of Chicago hasnít been a consistent "winner" in so long (the early 90's?) That players either overtly or subconsciously donít want to be here..

I think that affects their performance

Before you dismiss this as fantasy stop and think for a moment.

Here is an organization "that shot itself in the foot" (Authorís Note: Quote attributed to former Sox relief pitcher Paul Assenmacher when he was pitching for the Indians upon returning to Comiskey Park and seeing basically no one in the stands.) by supporting to the extreme (and to some causing) the 1994 labor impasse that cost the Sox a post season spot.

This is the organization that was torn apart and laughed at locally and nationally for the ill fated, and ill advised White Flag Trade.

This is the organization that has a confrontational mentality towards the Chicago media.

This is the organization that refuses to negotiate with top drawer and in many cases their own free agents (some of whom have said they would have stayed with the Sox had they been made an offer.)

This is the organization almost universally disliked by agents including the most powerful of them all, Scott Boras.

This is the organization that spent millions of dollars and had to sell naming rights to try to transform a twelve year old stadium that was already disliked and was virtually obsolete instead of spending that money towards improving the on field product..

This is the organization that four of its own, or former players, just last year criticized for having "spies" among the coaching staff.

This is the organization that gave its principal rival the Cubs, its two biggest draws in Harry Caray and Sammy Sosa.

This is the organization that has been castigated in print by such diverse players as Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, Ozzie Guillen, Carlton Fisk, Wilson Alvarez, Ellis Burks, Frank Thomas, Jeff Liefer, Keith Foulke, Tony Phillips, Roberto Hernandez and Ray Durham. Can all of those players be bitter? Can every one of those players be self centered egotists?

This is the organization where the owner went on Chicago radio to say "the city has always belonged to the Cubs."

All of this is not ancient history....players see for themselves, players hear what other players tell them, players remember the events of the past, particularly the last six years.

I think thereís something to my theory. For this organization to win it needs an "attitude adjustment" from the top down. The "defeatist" mentality that Bob Vanderberg talked about has to go the way of the double windup, pitchers hitting for themselves (at least in the American League!) and wool uniforms.

Until that happens youíre going to continue to see underachieving teams and players, who if you get right down to it, would probably rather be someplace... anyplace†else then on the South Side of Chicago in a half empty ballpark, constantly hovering around the .500 mark year after year with no real chance to win a championship.†

As always your questions, comments and insights are appreciated. Feel free to contact me at

Editor's Note: †Mark Liptak is an experienced sports journalist, holding several awards for both his electronic and print media work. †He has held numerous sports reporting positions for various TV and newspaper†organizations, including Director of Sports for KNOE-TV (Monroe, Louisiana)†and KPVI-TV (Pocatello, Idaho), and sports writer for the Idaho Falls Free Press, where his column "Lip Service" has appeared for for a number of years. †"Lip", his wife, and cats presently live in Chubbuck, Idaho, where they collectively comprise 100 percent of the Pocatello River Valley's long-time Sox Fan population.

More features from Mark Liptak here!

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