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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Trollin' for answers!

Sox Fans are complaining--spring is finally here!

“Carlos Lee sucks!” 

“Jose Valentin sucks!”   

“Paul Konerko sucks!” 

“Frank Thomas sucks!” 

“Jon Garland sucks!” 

Message board comments from a Cubs-fan troll perhaps?   

No, these are the sentiments of Sox fans.  And why do you ask?  What exactly have these guys done to deserve such comments? 

In the case of Lee, it’s that he is off to a slow start offensively.  In Valentin’s case, it is because he is off to a slow start defensively, and apparently no amount of offensive production can counteract the errors he’s made.  In Konerko’s case, it’s his perceived lack of production on offense coupled with a few defensive faux pas.  Thomas?  Well, he’s still hovering around the .240-.250 mark.  And Garland?  Well, he has had some bad moments in his first two starts. 

The thing I find amazing is that the howler monkeys were out after the first game of the young season in Kansas City!  They stuck around as the Sox took three straight from the Tigers (after all, they are only the Tigers), and continued even as the Sox took two of three from the Indians. 

The problem with being a White Sox fan is that we are all so fed up with not winning championships that we sometimes cant see the forest because all those damn trees get in the way.  Rather than focusing on the long term, we tend to overreact in both directions over short term trends?  

Do you really think Carlos Lee is going to hit .100 all year?  But the message board topic asks if we should have traded him when he still had value.  Carlos Lee is having a slow offensive start playing in early season conditions that are among the worst ever experienced.  Ditto Konerko and Thomas.  It’s hard to hit in cold weather.   

Konerko actually has come under the least criticism.  Still the boo birds have been out for him.  Konerko’s offensive game hasn’t gotten on track yet, and the defensive side of his game has been hurting, too.  But take a look at how he’s dressed in the early season with the hood under his cap.  Think he might have problems with cold weather? 

Thomas, Valentin, and Garland are in a different category, though.   

Thomas’s production was down enough for the Sox to invoke the infamous “diminished skills” clause in his old contract and for him to negotiate a new contract at a lower salary.  His current batting average is hovering around where it was at the tail end of last season.  Thomas is another batter who doesn’t like it cold.  Thomas was killing the ball in Arizona.  He’s not in Chicago and Cleveland in early April.  He’s cold.  Give him time. 

Valentin’s defense has always come under fire, despite an attempt by WSI to show that those 36 errors in 2000 didn’t cause all that much damage to the Sox, Prof. Chaos went out and got Royce Clayton to stabilize the shortstop position.  Problem was Clayton couldn’t hit his weight during most of his tenure in Chicago.  Until Valentin stops hitting in the clutch and until he stops making the big play and the big double play, he belongs at shortstop.  Period. 

Garland?  Boy, there’s a problem for you.  People have actually said that trading the great Matt Karchner for him was a mistake.  So what exactly has Karchner been doing at the major league level lately?  People have actually said that Garland will never pan out as a major league pitcher, and he has the track record to prove it.  This is Garland’s fourth major league season.  Garland turns 24 on September 27.  Garland is older than the following players on the Sox’ 25-man roster: 


 (this space intentionally blank.)



Garland will be all right.  One sane voice crying in the wilderness, a person who has actually done some scouting, says this about Garland’s start:  “Some pitchers really do depend on the feel of the ball.  You just can’t get that when it’s that cold out.  Garland will be all right.”  I concur. 

Now as for all of the Sox fans having panic attacks, one word of advice:  chill.  These guys haven’t given up.  In fact if their performance is suffering now, it could very well be because they are trying too hard.  That often happens during slumps, offensive, defensive, or pitching.  Players press and things just get worse.  These guys are highly competitive.  They want to play well and win, but they need time to work through problems. 

Every player who has been coming under criticism has a track record to be proud of.  None of them is over the hill.  Every one of them will come around, probably about the time the weather gets warm and they start feeling comfortable at the plate, in the field, or on the mound. 

One more thing:  the Sox are the only team we have.  For heaven’s sake don’t start booing these guys on the field when they are having a bad day or even a bad season.  Nothing has been more disgusting than hearing the same fans who were shouting, “MVP!  MVP!” for Frank Thomas in 2000 booing him last year.

Sox fans claim to be intelligent.  If they really are as intelligent as they’d like to say they are, then they should know that encouragement increases the chances of success more than non-constructive criticism.  Booing is not encouragement, and it isn’t constructive.  After all, we want these guys to succeed.  Right? 

If you want to criticize, save it for the way this club has been run for more than two decades.

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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