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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Never the same Again!

by
Guy Bacci

Paraphrasing a Cub fan I spoke with recently regarding the departure of Frank Thomas: ďGotta love how the White Sox treated their best player in franchise history. That organization will never get it.Ē

In years past, I may have bothered to put up a fight, or maybe even agreed with the statement. But not anymore. Such comments arenít worth the time of day. Itís a brave new world for Sox fansóa world thatís completely foreign and incomprehensible to the fans up north. Itís as if Soxdom has entered a portal to a universe previously unexplored, while Cub fans wait at the entrance, peering inside, confused and perplexed. Unable to comprehend whatís on the other side, they retreat to their taverns and their ivy and their ancient opinion that the White Sox are a lousy organization.

So instead of bickering, I simply said, ďThe White Sox know what theyíre doing,Ē and quickly changed the subject to Johnny Damon. Little did I know, I hadnít given the Sox enough credit. Not only do they know what theyíre doing, theyíre bound and determined to get it done.

Days later, ALDS hero Orlando Hernandez was South Side history, shipped to Arizona for a live arm that Kenny Williams has been coveting for years: Javier Vazquez. Could it be possible? The í06 pitching staff even better than the í05 version?

Not likely. Surely Jose Contreras or Jon Garland would be sent packing in order to reduce payroll. Or so you might think.

But with the World Baseball Classic threatening the arms of Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia, Williams knows he canít have enough pitching depth. So Garland re-signs for three years, avoiding arbitration and arguably accepting less than what he could have demanded on the open market.

Welcome to the universe on the other side of the portal, a place where people want to play for the White Sox. A place where the club is willing to spend, as long as itís spent wisely. A place where nobody speaks of curses or misery. A place where one championship is no longer enough.

And in this new universe, thereís no time for sentimentality. The list of former heroes continues to grow: Hernandez, Marte, Rowand, Thomas, Everett, Perez, Harris, Blum. If the salary demands of staff-ace Contreras donít come down, nobody will be shocked to see him added to the list of former South Siders. This isnít about pity parties anymore. This is about joining the dance on a consistent basisóreaching the post-season year after year, being spoken of in the same breath as the Yankees and Red Sox.

We know now why a relatively obscure Kenny Williams was surprisingly given the GM job back in October of 2000. The obvious front-runner was Dan Evans, the assistant general manager who was spoken of glowingly in baseball circles. But you can just imagine Williams sitting down in front of Jerry Reinsdorf with that deep, measured voice saying, ďNot only do I want to win a championship, but I want to make this organization an attractive destination for years to come so that this team can compete season after season. Thatís my goal, and I wonít stop until itís achieved.Ē Next to that kind of promise, Dan Evans didnít stand a chance. And Williams wasnít kidding. He hasnít let anything get in the way of his goalónot the media, not the fans, not his attachment to current players.

Thatís not to say the White Sox are all about kicking people on their way out the door. The Sox tried their best to honor Thomas, allowing him to throw out the first pitch in the playoffs and giving time on the podium during the victory parade. There will be more honoring, too. This is an organization that had a dugout full of former players coaching the Sox to a World Series title. So much for Reinsdorf being an ogre that nobody wants anything to do with. He even put a humongous statue of Carlton Fisk in the outfield. If the stubborn Pudge could be drawn back, Thomas will be too.

But when it comes to winning on the field, personal feelings must be set aside. You can fall in love with a crumbling stadium, sunny bleachers, ivy-covered walls and corny seventh-inning stretches, but none of them will get you to the promised land. None of them will give you access to the portal that leads to a new world. None of them will help you understand why Sox fans donít give a ratís ass about how Frank Thomas feels he was treated.

As the calendar turns to a new year, Sox fans enter a brave new world. And theyíll never be the same again.


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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