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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Too Bitter to Watch?

by
Guy Bacci

With two thrilling League Championship Series in the books, and Kenny Williams already making some interesting off-season comments, itís time for a few random thoughts and observations:

Is anyone else amazed at how many hittable pitches David Ortiz continues to get? I remember watching Ortiz against the White Sox this season and thinking he was the closest thing the American League has to Barry Bonds. Many White Sox fans will remember Ortiz hitting three homers in six games, two of them game-winners. But what some fans might not remember is that when Ortiz made an out, it was typically a long out. Particularly during the series in Bostonóit seemed Ortiz was driving the ball to the warning track every time up. I remember screaming at the television in hopes of convincing Ozzie Guillen to pitch around or intentionally walk him. Not surprisingly, Ortiz has three walk-off RBIs in this post-season. Itís simply astounding that teams continue to pitch to him.

Itís also interesting to note how reluctant people are to criticize Joe Torre. Even if the Yankees had won, I would have said that Torre had a bad series. In Game Four, he decided to bring Mariano Rivera in for a two-inning save, which implied he had no faith in any of his set-up men. But the next night, he allowed Tom Gordon to essentially blow the lead (Rivera entered with no outs in the 8th and gave up a game-tying sac-fly). Personally, I would have thought to do just the opposite. In Game Four, when you still have three more chances to win, have some faith in your set-up man and let him try to get the job done. If he fails, then bring your closer in for two innings the next night, when turning to desperate measures makes more sense. On a different note, why did Torre choose Kevin Brown for Game Seven after he was shellacked in Game Three? Javier Vazquez appeared to be throwing much better. Another option would have been to go with a combination of Vazquez, El Duque and Esteban Loaiza (who shockingly looked decent in his few ALCS opportunities).

Speaking of our old friend Loaiza, another former ChiSox, Keith Foulke, pitched brilliantly throughout the series. Thatís enough to make you want to puke...

And speaking of puking, Peter Gammonsí comment about Game Seven being ďthe most anticipated game in baseball historyĒ was utterly repulsive. That kind of over-the-top, exaggerated statement belongs nowhere in the world of journalism. Leave it to a sports writer, especially one from Boston.

And speaking of Boston... Why does everyone think itís so great they beat the Yankees? Bostonís payroll is nearly as high. If the Yankees are the Evil Empire, then Boston is the Empire in Training. Red Sox fans love to feel sorry for themselves. Like anyone in Chicago wants to hear their whining. (Check out the fabulous recent column about Chicago baseball misery by Dave van Dyck in the Tribune.) On top of that, their club contains arrogant loud-mouths like Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. Sure, it must be thrilling to finally overcome the Yankees, and I have to admit it was interesting to watch New York collapse. But now, ďGo Cardinals.Ē

To be truthful, Iím not entirely sure which team I should pull for in the Series. The upside of Boston finally winning would be to silence the irritating talk of The Curse. The downside is that the media might just look for the next-best AL curse, which obviously belongs to our beloved Pale Hose. Iím not sure what it would be calledóthe curse of the Black Sox, maybeóbut one thing is certain: Sox fans donít want pity. We donít want to blame a curse. We want to keep all that crap on the Northside.

Letís start to give credit where credit is due: The Wild Card has completely changed post-season baseball. If not for the Wild Card, the Angels wouldnít have won their first title, the Astros wouldnít have won their first play-off series (nor would the Cubs, for that matter) and the Red Sox wouldnít be in the World Series in 2004. Heck, the Marlins wouldnít have either of their titles. All of these long post-season droughts and curses are going to vanish forever. With the smaller divisions and expanded playoffs, it will be tough for any team to not win at least one play-off series over an 80-year span. Yes, believe it or not, even the Chicago teams will have their day in the sun. At least I hope.

Another thing I hope is that the St. Louis fans continue the ďWhoís Your DaddyĒ chant when Pedro is on the mound. That has got to be the best taunt in baseball playoff history. (But you wonít hear that from Mr. Gammons.)

And while these great games are being played, White Sox GM Kenny Williams isnít watching a second of them. As was reported in a helpful WSI thread, Williams stated during a Comcast interview that heís too bitter to watch post-season baseball. Youíd think a general manager would want to keep a close eye on all players in the league. Youíd think this would be a great opportunity to see what certain players can do in pressure situations. For example, Carlos Beltran has opened up a lot of eyes, including mine. And Dave Roberts showed all of us how a minor role player can save a season. Iím sure Kenny Williams has watched a lot of baseball in his life, but isnít there always more to learn? Isnít it his job to watch baseball? Am I being too critical?

According to Williams, a flaw in Joe Credeís swing has been corrected. Thatís wonderful, except itís about 162 games too late.

Williams also said he was glad to see the Royals lose Beltran. Thatís pathetic. Is this what it has come to? We must now root for other teams in our division to fall apart, because we canít win anything on our own?

To his credit, Williams did say something promising when he implied that Joe Borchard is not ready to become an everyday player. Maybe Borchardís current 2-22 slump in the Mexican Pacific League tipped Kenny off.

I find my attitude toward Williams changing drastically. While I still appreciate his candor and emotional exposure, Iím starting to think it will never translate into a winning product on the field. A lousy off-season and a lackluster 2005 campaign could signal the end for Williams. With the Indians on the rise and Frank Thomas on his last leg, Ď05 may be the final opportunity the Sox have for quite some time. If Williams canít do something with it, he should be shown the door.


Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back.† He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player.† His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay).† Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at guybacci@yahoo.com.

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