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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

"Point C" Sox GM

Guy Bacci

With the possible exception of Willie Harris, everyone nowadays loves Kenny Williams. He’s suddenly King of the Hill, one of the most likeable front-office personalities Chicago has seen in ages. Just a year removed from the beating he took at SoxFest ’04, Williams has completely reshaped his team for the better and patched every hole imaginable. He dropped a cherry on top of his stellar off-season by signing Japanese star Tadahito Iguchi last week. Everything Williams wanted to accomplish, he did.

Go ahead and pinch yourself Sox fans. This is really happening.

Yes, a true five-man rotation – five veterans, no less. A deep bullpen. A complete lineup without any unproven talent covering up blemishes. And to top it all off, the former hero of the Northside is about to be shipped to Baltimore.

Sammy Sosa and his homer hop are history. And shockingly, the Cubs aren’t getting much in return: Jerry Hairston Jr. and a pair of mediocre prospects. It seems the Cubbies are taking a page out of the Sox past – they’re going to try to survive the start of the season with a few question marks in hopes of making a splashy signing or two at the trading deadline. Sox fans know how well that tends to work.

As much as Frank Thomas has been brutalized in the media during his career, you’d have been a fool to suggest Sosa would leave town before the Big Hurt. But things can change in a hurry.

Williams knows this better than anyone. He was called “da man” and “MVP” at SoxFest in mid-January. Twelve months ago, fans were using an array of much more unflattering terms to label him.

But through the ups and downs, Williams has taken it all in stride. His comments at this year’s SoxFest exemplify his class and grace. “For some of the fans that publicly will acknowledge, 'Hey, I haven't agreed with everything,' at least nobody is questioning the effort,” Williams said. “Nobody is questioning our desire to put the best club on the field that we can.”

Williams sounds as if he’s learned from his mistakes, and that’s all we can really ask of anybody. No longer does he believe he can survive without an MLB-quality fifth starter or second baseman. No longer does he dismiss contact hitters or speed on the bases. He appreciates a well-rounded team. And now that he finally appears comfortable in his role, Sox fans can start to forget about David Wells, Todd Ritchie and Billy Koch.

Southsiders are becoming agreeable to the idea of Williams running the ship for years to come, because one thing Kenny does is go after titles each and every season. “I've learned to expect the other side of it, but that's great,” said Williams of the positive reactions. “I think that what it shows is that we weren't alone in our thinking about this team beating its head against the wall trying to accomplish the goals of the last few years.”

Indeed, we’ve all been beating our heads against the wall. But knowing that the GM cares as much as we do makes us appreciate him all the more.

For all the heat Jerry Reinsdorf takes, he may soon be getting the last laugh, considering the way John Paxson has resurrected the Bulls. Reinsdorf now has two sharp and classy GM’s running his franchises, and both teams seem hungry and on the way up. Some people will always see Reinsdorf as evil, no matter what he does. But those willing to consider the new landscape might start to give Uncle Jerry a tad bit of credit. His basketball team did win six titles in the ‘90s and appears ready to storm back into contention, and his baseball team was competitive through most of the ‘90s and has increased its payroll to record highs.

But whether you want to share some love with Williams and Reinsdorf or not, you simply can’t deny the Sox will be an interesting team to watch. With two stars from Japan on the roster, White Sox paraphernalia may start to appear in corners of the world never seen before. Finally, it’s an exciting time to be a Sox fan. And as an added bonus, there will be no more Sosa highlights on the local news.

How quickly can we get this season started?

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

More features from Guy Bacci here!

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