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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Hope springs eternal!

That is the rallying cry of Cub fans.  They never think in the present.  They are so stuck in the mindset of a hopeful future that last summer they talked about bringing up young talent when they were in first place.  I doubt they even realized what was coming out of their hope springs eternal mouths. 

There is nothing wrong with having hope.  Hope for better things in the future helps us get through the present.  But any hope should be tempered with a dose of reality.   

Fans can laugh off the 19-0 Sox loss to the Angels as one bad game.  However, this wasn’t just one bad game.  There was 10-0, 16-1, and 15-4.  Serving up this many double-figure games in a span of two weeks can’t be laughed off.  This kind of pitching will catch up with the Sox in more than ways than one if the 3,4, 5 starters can’t put up some consistent and quality starts. 

Losing lopsided games isn’t the only problem.  The starters need to get their team into the late innings so the bullpen doesn’t wear out.  The bullpen shouldn’t be expected to be out there three to four innings three out of every five starts. 

“He made our staff better because of the innings he pitched,” former Sox GM Roland Hemond told me in referring to Wilbur Wood, Sox 70’s pitching ace. 

“He would go the distance and so the bullpen would be rested on the day he pitched,” Hemond recalled.  “And the bullpen could pick up pitchers on other days rather than being used so often.” 

Wood was an amazing pitcher who would log in almost 50 starts a season.  But after Wood the Sox starting staff was thin.  By the time Wood left baseball in the late ‘70’s, the White Sox hadn’t won a division title much less a World Series.  That is a sobering thought for fans of the 2002 team. 

On the bright side the Indians are showing they are as bad as we thought they would be.  The Twins have proved nothing, running up a good record against bad teams.  As of May 12, they lost two in a row to the Yankees and tougher tests await them.  Let’s see where the Twins are in August. 

I am one fan, though, that is not happy with merely winning a weak division.  The White Sox showed real character in taking four of six from Seattle and the A’s after that dreadful weekend in Oakland.  Yet, the Sox took two series from the A’s and Mariners on the road in late August 2000, and then went three and out in the playoffs.  We fans should want more than that. 

Presently, the Sox claim they cannot afford an experienced pitching staff.  I say they cannot afford not to invest in some veteran pitchers, if one or two are available.  After all, the 1997 White Flag Trade was for pitching.  Why are we still looking at a young staff almost five years later?  And how much are they are hurting young pitchers by bringing them up too early?  How long will it take for Jon Rauch to get his confidence back after the shellacking he took this season?

Editor's Note:  Dan Helpingstine is a free lance writer living in Highland, Indiana.  In the early 80's, he worked as a stringer for The Times, then based in Hammond, Indiana, covering business-labor news.  For six years, he worked as a part-time sportswriter for the Merrillville Herald, a weekly that was a part of a chain of weeklies in Lake and Porter Counties.  He covered high school football and basketball.  In 1995, Helpingstine had a short story published in a murder mystery anthology entitled Murder Is My Business.  He also has had articles on the JFK murder published in the Post-Tribune of Gary.  His new book is titled "Through Hope and Despair."  It is the story of one fan's roller coaster ride with the luckless White Sox.

More features from Dan Helpingstine here!

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