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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Bad to Horrible...
by Hal Vickery

It just keeps getting worse. The Sox just keep losing and they keep falling farther behind the Royals. One win a week is about all theyíre good for nowadays.

Less than two weeks ago Jerry Reinsdorf in a radio interview said that heíd give Ozzie Guillen a grade of A for this year because the team hadnít quit on him. I wonder what The Chairman is thinking now, because if they havenít quit, theyíre sure giving a good imitation of it.

There is a relationship between the baseball season and my employment in real life. When the season starts in April and May, itís difficult to watch games. The school year is coming to a close. There are exams to prepare and grade. Itís hard to pay attention to the baseball season.

When the season is coming to an end in September, school is back in session. Thatís also a busy time of year, and itís difficult to pay as much attention as one would like to the stretch drives.

Let me qualify that. If the Sox are doing well, you kind of make time during both times of the year. This year I didnít make a whole lot of time to pay attention after about mid-May, and Iím certainly not paying a whole lot of attention to them now.

The Sox have become impossible to watch. They have graduated from being a bad team to being a horrible team. The pitchers canít pitch. The fielders canít field. The hitters canít hit.

Someone on the WSI message boards asked how bad this team was. How it compares to other horrible Sox teams weíve seen. I donít think this team is as bad as the 1970 White Sox. Itís hard to be much worse than 56-106 unless youíre the í62 Mets or the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

But this team is bad. It is certainly as bad as the couple of years after the Southside HItmen. It may even be as bad as the í88 team. Although the í89 Sox had a worse record than that í88 squad, the Sox turned it around the last couple of months of the season, and fans actually were optimistic about 1990. This year there is absolutely nothing to be optimistic about.

The bullpen, the part of the club that seemed to be most improved before the season began, is a shambles. The starting pitching, which had been the unexpected strong point is mediocre to bad with the exception of Mark Buehrle. (I wonder how heís feeling now about signing that extension.)

Joe Crede is out, and if and when he returns to the Sox in 2008, his back is still questionable. The surgery he had this season only relieved the pressure caused by his disc problem. It didnít correct it.

Jim Thome is looking old, and his back is only going to continue giving him problems. Still Thomeís quest for home run number 500 is about the only reason we have to even bother watching the games.

Darrin Estrad was a waste of money. Scott Podsednik has worn out his welcome with his continual injuries. Jermaine Dye has had an off year. Paul Konerko has had an off year. Toby Hall injured himself at the start of the season, and has been an inadequate substitute for A.J. Pierzynski on those days when Pierzynski needs a rest.

Juan Uribe has pretty much returned to the indifferent player he was accused of being before he came to the Sox. That leaves the rookies, and I wonít presume to evaluate them. At least they should be given adequate playing time in September for the Sox to make some judgments about what positions need to be filled by trades or free-agent signings.

Ozzie Guillen has been philosophical all season. In late June he told a gathering, ďI take the blame. When you win the manager gets the credit. When youíre losing, the manager has to take the blame.Ē

Injuries were a legitimate excuse for the Sox problems earlier in the season. Now there is little excuse. These guys seem to be mailing it in. They are playing like September 30 canít come too soon for them.

The feeling is mutual.

______________________________________________________________________

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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