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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

"If only..."

...and plenty of "what ifs" for Sox Fans to ponder!

This baseball season reminds me of an old saying my dad used to use whenever he heard someone bemoaning his or her situation by saying, “If only such and such had happened, then things would be better.”   

Dad’s standard reply to this was, “And if the dog hadn’t stopped to [relieve himself], he’d have caught a rabbit.”  This season for the Sox has been a series of “What ifs” and “If onlys.”  I don’t know if we would have caught the Twins, but we probably would have been in the race.   

If only Prof. Chaos hadn’t listened to all of the griping about Jose Valentin’s defense in 2000 and made the deal for Royce Clayton…

The impact of that trade is still reverberating, even now that Clayton is gone.  Had the trade not been made, then Clayton’s weak bat would not have hurt the Sox during the first half of both seasons.  Herbert Perry could have been retained as an interim third baseman, which is what he was advertised as to begin with, to allow Joe Crede to develop during the 2001 season at Charlotte.  Crede was ready for to play for the Sox this spring, but Clayton had another year on his contract.  Valentin had two years left on his, and Crede was odd man out.  We sure could have used his bat in the lineup as the team was collapsing this past June. 

If only Prof. Chaos hadn’t traded three pitchers for Todd Ritchie…. 

Even if the combined records of Kip Wells and Josh Fogg are under .500 at the end of the season, their combined records would still be better than Ritchie’s.  Of course that assumes the next item 

If only the Sox could evaluate and develop talent as well as other clubs… 

They would have put Wells and Fogg out there as starters from the very beginning and let them take their lumps.  In Fogg’s case, it’s unlikely the Sox were going to use him as a starter.  He seemed destined for the bullpen.  It’s obvious that the Pirates saw something in him that our crack talent evaluation team didn’t.  In Wells’ case, he was shunted off to the bullpen every time he had a couple of bad outings.  Contrast that with Ritchie who was trotted out there every time his turn came up, even as his pitching became worse.  Of course the entire discussion leads to the next item. 

If only Prof. Chaos and Gen. Disarray had recognized that most of the problems in the pitching staff....

Apparently they didn’t recognize what Sox fans have been saying for a couple of years.  Whatever Contreras was doing, it wasn’t working.  It turns out that his entire pitching philosophy was bass ackwards.  Now that he is gone, former pitchers have come out and said that he was telling them to pitch to the hitter’s weakness instead of challenging hitters by utilizing their own strengths.  Is it any wonder why a visit by Nardi caused the fans in Comiskey Park to audibly groan?  They knew what to expect as soon as he went back to the dugout:  first pitch home run. 

If only Gen. Disarray would decide who he wants to play every day… 

We should have expected this when he talked about how the Clayton trade would give him lots of options.  It turns out that the General never saw an option he wouldn’t try.  As a result, on the twenty-five man roster, the Sox probably have three players who are sure of their rolls:  Frank, Thomas, Paul Konerko, and Magglio Ordoñez.  The rest seem to play or rest at the General’s whim. 

And that’s the problem.  This entire ball club seems to have been put together by whim.  If only we had someone in charge who actually knew what they were doing….

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

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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