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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Manuel must go!

Signs point to Yes!

Could the end be drawing near for Gen. Disarray?  It all depends on how much stock you put in what is being said on the White Sox own house organ, their pre-game and post-game shows.  If you put a lot of stock in what is being said on those shows, it could be that the general’s days are numbered. 

After Saturday afternoon’s win against the Cleveland Indians, only the second in eight games up to that point of the Sox’ ten-game pre-All Star Game road trip, ex-Sox slugger Bill Melton and was especially critical of the general’s constant tinkering with the line up.  

“How many games area left in the season?” the former Sox slugger asked.  “It’s time to quit experimenting.  You should find a lineup that works and go with it for the rest of the way.  The players have to know their roles.” 

It is particularly notable that Wills, who often defends the general’s actions when he is criticized by telephone callers, did not disagree with Melton.  Up to this point, the one thing Wills has conceded is that Gen. Disarray’s handling of the bullpen leaves something to be desired.  But it’s pretty hard to disagree with a former player who is saying that the constant tinkering with the lineup is discouraging to the rest of the team. 

Melton was particularly critical of the general putting Carlos Lee in the second spot in the lineup, even against left handed starters.  Before checking on his batting average, Melton said, “Carlos doesn’t have the bat control necessary to hit in the second spot.”   

When Wills noted after looking up Lee’s batting statistics that Lee is batting around .020 under the Mendoza line against lefties, Melton said, “That’s amazing.  He can’t hit lefthanders.  That just shows that he shouldn’t be there.  Going by the book isn’t going to work here.” 

So now it’s out.  The fans, who have been critical of Gen. Disarray’s incessant tinkering with the lineup, tinkering that the general himself long ago admitted “usually doesn’t work,” have been right all along.  Gen. Disarray has been playing lefty-righty percentages in the face of the actual statistical data that shows that it doesn’t work in the case of Lee.   

Gen. Disarray seems to have a fondness for putting sub-.200 hitters in the first two spots in the batting order.  Who can forget that one-two punch of Willie Harris and Aaron Rowand shortly before the trades for Roberty Alomar and Carl Everett.  Both were hitting under .200 at the time. 

Now against lefthanders, he is doing the exact same thing by putting Carlos Lee in the two hole.  It doesn’t make sense. 

Of course a lot of things the general does don’t make sense.  For example, what is this man’s obsession with giving players rest?  Magglio Ordoñez apparently was too exhausted to play on Saturday, June 5 against the Devil Rays, even though the Sox had off-days on June third and June 7.  Since then, Carl Everett, Sandy Alomar, and Brian Daubach have been benched for a game.   

Does Gen. Disarray even look at the schedule?  Two days off in five calendar days with a three-day break the following week for the All-Star game, and he’s resting key players? 

Apparently the general thought that he could afford to tinker with the lineup and give key players the day off because the Sox were up against weak sisters Tampa Bay and Detroit.  If that’s what he thought, it blew up in his face.   

All of this should be of concern to The Chairman, who has been amazingly silent through this season.  A little over a week ago, the White Sox were the talk of the American League.  Pundits thought the Alomar and Everett deals had given the Sox the AL Central flag on a silver platter.  That was before Gen. Disarray figured out that the trade game him even more opportunity to tinker with the lineup. 

Now the Sox are once more the laughingstock of the American League.  People around the country are asking how the Sox can end up with a losing record on a road trip after actually strengthening their club. 

Sox fans, who on the Fourth of July were proudly wearing silver and black along with red, white, and blue have now burrowed back into their holes.  All of the goodwill built up after the Cubs and Minnesota series has been frittered away. 

After the sweep of the Cubs at The Cell, the Sox had over 20,000 walk up ticket sales in the first two games against the Twins.  Sox fans were dreaming pennant dreams, fueled by The GM’s insistence that the Sox would only be satisfied by going deep into the playoffs. 

Now all of that hope in the hearts of fans has evaporated.  The Sox might have had a chance to reach 2 million in attendance.  Now they will be lucky if they draw 1.5 million. 

Somehow, though the skid of the past week, the Sox still have a shot at winning the AL Central.  The Chairman has a decision to make.  Despite several huge trades over the past three seasons, the Sox remain at best a .500 club.  There are only two constants through this entire time, the GM and Gen. Disarray. 

Despite the additions of the likes of Bartolo Colon, Carl Everett, Roberto Alomar, and Billy Koch, the Sox fail to improve.  The Sox continue to play .500 or lower ball.  Despite going through close to one hitting coach per year during Gen. Disarray’s watch, despite overhauling the coaching staff, the Sox continue to flounder.  

If improving the players on the field doesn’t help, and if changing the coaches below him doesn’t help, then the accountability has to fall on the man in charge on the field. 

The question is, will The Chairman listen to the demands of the fans that a change be made?  Will he allow, or perhaps order, his GM to make a change on the field, and try to make a run for it?  Such a move might once again restore fan interest, especially if the Sox have a good run after the All-Star break. 

The problem is, however, as it has always been.  Gen. Disarray is under contract through the 2004 season.  

We can only hope that a reluctance to pay the general for not working will blind The Chairman to the fan interest (read fannies in the seats) that would be generated if, for once, The Chairman actually showed that he gives a damn. 


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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