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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Incompetence!

Led astray by the White Sox again.

You weren’t the only ones sucked in by the hype during the off-season.  A lot of us thought that the addition of Bartolo Colon to the pitching staff would be just what was needed to put the Sox over the top.  And while I expressed some reservations in this column over trading for Billy Koch, I have to admit that I was generally in favor of that deal. 

What all, except the most prescient, of us forgot was that the Sox were still being run by the same old inept crew, led by The Chairman, Prof. Chaos, and Gen. Disarray. 

Perhaps it is just an effort on my part to save face for not seeing the weaknesses of the additions to the club made by Prof. Chaos in the off-season.  Colon could still have a twenty game year, but then again he may not (more on that later).  But the Koch deal was as bad as the Oakland writers predicted.  No doubt Keith Foulke will have his bad stretch sometime this summer where he can’t control his change-up, but he’ll come out of it, just as he has every summer. 

The problem is that Koch still throws a laser-straight fastball, still walks batters to start innings, and now has the additional problem that he no longer is throwing in the high 90s.  It kind of gives one the feeling that Billy Beane maybe knew something that Prof. Chaos didn’t.  All of us should have heeded the alarm bells:  three teams in as many seasons?  Something has to be wrong.   

Why do I get the feeling that now we’ll be stuck with an ineffective Koch because nobody will want him after failing with three clubs? 

On the other hand, I really do have to give Prof. Chaos his due with the signing of Colon.  Even if he fails, the professor did the right thing in grabbing him when he could.  Where you really have to start questioning the Sox is in what happened to Colon after he was acquired. 

A couple of weeks ago on Gen. Disarray’s pre-game show, John Rooney asked the general about Colon.  The general’s response was shocking to say the least.  “We’ve been trying to get [Colon] to take a different approach in his pitch selection during the game,” said the general. 

Of course that was necessary.  Colon only won 20 games in 2002.  Why should we be satisfied with keeping what works.? Instead, let’s give the guy something to distract him.  Let’s change the approach that, after all, was only successful!  It makes perfect sense, at least if you think like Gen. Disarray. 

This three ring circus, of course, is presided over the ringmaster, aka The Chairman.  It is the Chairman who personally hired both Prof. Chaos and Gen. Disarray.  It is The Chairman whose budgetary philosophy prevents the sacking of Gen. Disarray who is signed through 2004.   

The chairman does not like paying for two managers at once, so you can rest assured that no matter how much the fans howl that Gen. Disarray be fired, it just isn’t going to happen, at least not until sometime during the 2004 season when The Chairman’s losses will be minimized. 

So like it or not, we’re stuck with the say this club has been run for another year or so.  The sad thing is that in the long run The Chairman is costing his club money by his stubbornness in refusing to let go of people who prove to be incompetent.  In trying to save a buck he’s probably losing five.  

Imagine how Sox fans would react if someone competent were put in charge of the club instead of the rookie managers we’ve had since the sacking of Jeff Torborg.  They might actually come to the games.  Imagine how Sox fans might react if the Sox actually had a decent record in late May-early June.  The Sox might actually draw over 1.6 million fans. 

Sox fans were pumped in February at SoxFest.  They had Colon, a highly regarded closer, and the All-Star Game coming to town this year.  It looked as if the Sox had turned a corner and were on their way back to becoming a power in the American League.

Instead, the same old shortsightedness from the front office reared its ugly head.  “Now we can pick up some big bucks,” thought The Chairman.  “We have the All-Star Game coming.  Season ticket sales will go up.  We can raise the price of seats.  We can raise the price of parking.  We can keep our payroll down to the level of the Expos and Blue Jays!”  And so it came to pass. 

Now after a month of baseball the Sox are hanging around the .500 mark and looking more horrible with each passing game.  Yet nothing is done because The Chairman doesn’t want to pay a manager for close to two years for not working. 

After over a decade of Ron Schueler and Kenny Williams in the front office and Gene Lamont, Terry Bevington, and Gen. Disarray in the dugout, The Chairman still hasn’t figured out that it takes competent people to run a ball club.  Of course that means competent ownership, and that is something the Sox haven’t had since Dorothy Comiskey sold her share of the Sox to Bill Veeck after the 1958 season.


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.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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