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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

The End of Civilization?
by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends, bits and pieces…

• One thing I remember from my childhood is that whenever things seemed to be going badly, my mom would simply say, “This too shall pass.” And of course it always did.

As I read the post-game threads on the WSI message boards, I am reminded of my mom. I haven’t complained to her about the Sox’ play lately, but I’m sure if I did, she’d just say, “This too shall pass.”

And she’d be one hundred percent correct. Nothing lasts forever, even losing streaks. This bad period will end. All one has to do is look for the bright spots.

For the first three months of the season, the pitching and hitting weren’t exactly in sync. They still aren’t. The only difference is that up through the All-Star break, it was the hitting that carried the team while the starting pitching and bullpen struggled a bit.

Now the tables seem to have turned. The starting pitching seems to be coming around a bit, despite big innings given up last week by Javier Vazquez and Mark Buehrle. The bullpen seems improved by the subtraction of Cliff Politte, who either was unable to recover from his shoulder problems or who just couldn’t put his pitching back together.

But now it is the hitting tat seemed to have tanked, especially the top four batters in the lineup. A lot of fans seem to put down Ken Harrelson when he talks about the Sox not putting it all together yet, but he is correct. The Sox haven’t hit on all cylinders consistently for even a short period this season.

If and when they do, it should be something to behold. The problem is whether or not they’ll start clicking before it’s too late.

• It was fun watching tape during Saturday night’s Sox telecast of Ozzie Guillen showing his players how to bunt. Ozzie is disgusted with his team’s ability to lay down bunts with anything resembling consistency, so he took it upon himself to demonstrate how to do it.

Ozzie has been vocal about the lack of fundamentals taught in the minor leagues. He doesn’t appear to be singling out the Sox farm system in particular, but he has noted on more than one occasion that players coming up to the minor leagues can’t bunt and are poor situational hitters.

The odd thing is that the Sox did a pretty good job at both last year, but seem to have regressed. It might just be that the Sox are so good at the 3-4-5 slots in the batting order, that they have lapsed into a station to station/wait for the three run homer mindset. That’s something Ozzie seems to be trying to address with his extra bunting practice.

• It’s during losing streaks that fans seem to lose any sense of perspective. Even here at WSI, where the average poster seems to have at least some knowledge of the game and its peaks and valleys, we see it whenever the Sox put together, oh, say one loss in a row.

Last year as the Sox were going 12-16 in August, I positively feared that some of the people posting on the message boards were going to go to the top of the Sears Tower and jump off the roof.

You would think that losing 13.5 games to the surging Indians and seeing a fifteen game lead shrink to 1.5 games, that Sox fans would have a bit of perspective. I’m glad to report that some do. However, an alarming number of fans seem to think that the current rough stretch marks the end of civilization as we know it.

I commented on these fans last week, and unfortunately as the Sox fortunes have further sunk this week, so has the despair of the “dark clouds.” It’s not even August first, and a few have said that it the past couple of series are “crucial.” In one respect they are right. The Sox have dug themselves a hole, and every win in now important. But then again every win is important beginning in April because that’s one win you won’t need in September.

The loss of perspective is truly sad. The Sox have dug themselves a bit of a hole beginning with the Boston series before the All-Star break, but it’s certainly not insurmountable. All one has to do is look at the Indians last year. They made up more than twice the deficit the Sox have sunk to.

These are not yet desperate times. If we were at this point sometime after Labor Day, I’d really be worried, but I’ll still have one more column to write before we’re past July!

So here’s a memo to the “dark clouds” around here:

I’m going to wait at least another six weeks to panic. You might want to do the same.


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.

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