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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Back Talk from Ex-Sox

by
Guy Bacci

It was only a matter of time before envy reared its ugly head. Simply put, you can’t say sayonara to eight guys who helped you win a World Series without somebody’s feelings getting hurt. How those players feel about you after you’ve kicked them to the curb says a lot about how you’re perceived.

A few weeks ago, Frank Thomas took a beating—from me included—for his comments in the Southtown regarding his former club. Somewhat surprisingly, Sox fans didn’t exactly swarm to support the Big Hurt. (I figured I would receive at least one distraught email … I didn’t hear a peep.) The consensus seems to be that it was time for Frank to go, and he may as well just get over it.

But many—again, me included—neglected to point a finger at Kenny Williams, possibly because the glow from the championship trophy is still distorting our view. In the wake of Frank’s comments, Williams and the White Sox learned a valuable lesson about life as World Series champs—everything is magnified. Talk radio, from coast to coast, was ablaze with the Thomas/Williams showdown. And from a national perspective, many were disappointed that Williams missed an opportunity to be the bigger man.

Let’s be clear about on thing: Rings don’t make you invincible. Williams only needs to look across town and note that Jerry Krause had six of them, and still managed to flush his franchise town the toilet. Sometimes you have to accept that you’re in a thankless position. You coddle to grown babies who play a game for a living. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Krause became so disliked by players that he couldn’t find anyone who wanted to play for his post-Jordan Bulls. He made the costly mistake of believing that he deserved to be adored as much as those who put on the uniform.

This is not to suggest that Williams has made mistakes in his personnel decisions. It’s certainly possible that Williams has rebuilt this team a little too much, but most Sox fans would take their chances with the squad Williams designed for ’06 than the champs of ’05. It may seem like fuzzy logic, but baseball is a fuzzy game. Although Carl Everett—the king of fuzzy logic—has a different view of the subject.

"Being me and being honest, I'm going to say, no, they can't repeat," Everett said. "They are not going to have the same chemistry. (Aaron) Rowand, myself, even Willie (Harris) and Frank (Thomas), we all had a presence in there, and now the new guys will have to fit in. You are bringing in guys to fit in."

Crazy Carl may turn out to be right. And maybe dinosaurs never existed, either. Of more pressing concern is that Williams and Everett were seen having an “animated” discussion afterward. After the chat, Everett made a point to say, "Nothing has changed. Interpret it any way you want to."

This is the second time Williams has attempted to have a heart-to-heart with a former player only to come away with a negative reaction. A few weeks ago, Thomas called Williams immediately after their fiasco became public and reportedly had an unproductive discussion with the GM.

Sox nation is hoping Williams is not getting too big for his britches. Calling a franchise hero an “idiot” is not the maneuver of a man with the upper hand. He’s the GM of the champs; he should know better.

To be fair, Thomas and Everett are the only ones complaining, at least publicly. The pair seemed to have formed a bond in their shared-DH role last season. Thomas even said Williams put “too many good players together,” which was the most cringe-inducing comment of the interview. It’s obvious that neither was thrilled with the situation last year, so why are they so grumpy about not being back?

"You don't have any voices in there to say, 'Hey, let's get this going,'" Everett said, which brings one to wonder if anyone ever really listened to Crazy Carl in the first place, let alone the Big Hurt. Neither have a track record of being great clubhouse guys. And if the Sox need a voice, their manager has one that’s never-ending. Doesn’t Ozzie Guillen have enough of a voice for one dugout?

In the long run, Thomas and Everett will likely be the fools, at least that’s what Sox fans are hoping. But that doesn’t excuse Williams for acting like a child when he’s supposed to be the leader of the best team in baseball. The higher you get on the perch, the longer you fall. Williams has an edge to him that has served him well. But now that he’s enjoyed success, people will start to search for ways to turn his attributes against him.

So maybe Williams needs to do a little more butt-kissing despite the ring on his finger. To stay at the top, it’s not a bad tradeoff, especially when you consider how far the fall from grace would be.


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.

More features from Guy Bacci here!

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