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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

More Chaos from the Professor!

Kenny Williams on the hot seat he deserves!

You have to give credit where it is due.  While many in the Chicago sports media were holding the third annual Jerry Manuel deathwatch, one writer in Chicago actually came close to the root of what is wrong with the Chicago White Sox.  In a column in Friday’s Daily Southtown Cowley took on Prof. Chaos. 

In doing so, Cowley printed the opinions of several people in the Sox organization, and the picture they painted isn’t pretty.  Take for example the feelings of one Sox player.  Cowley quotes him as saying, “Not that I want to speak for others, but you won't find many compliments being thrown out there about our GM.  Maybe not just in here, but from what I'm hearing, across the league.   I will say that we haven't seen as much of him (in the clubhouse) as we have in previous years, so I guess that's a good thing." 

Last year Prof. Chaos’s clubhouse behavior reportedly included using profanity when addressing the players (gasp!), overturning a buffet table to show his displeasure with their play, and engaging in shouting matches with individual players for their lackadaisical play.  That has to be one thing on this player’s mind, but the comment about the lack of compliments across the league point to another thing, something that was addressed by A’s GM Billy Beane in the new book Moneyball:  The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.   

Apparently an entire chapter of the book is devoted to how Beane has snookered the professor in trade after trade.  Couple that with “shouldergate,” Todd Ritchie, David Wells, and especially Royce Clayton, and you can get an idea of what this player is talking about. 

Prof. Chaos was not happy with Beane’s comments, and let the media know it.  "I've heard of those (kind of) people,” he said.  “It's called 'ego-it is.'  When the ego weighs more than the brain and swells, it affects your powers of memory and recall.”   

Maybe the professor has forgotten some of his more sterling moments, like confusing an aging career minor league outfielder with a young pitcher with a similar name.  The running joke at the time is that Prof. Chaos was suffering from Berry-Barry. 

Cowley asked a Sox player about Prof. Chaos’s rantings against Beane.  He answered, "That's a joke.  It's almost embarrassing. Beane's considered one of the best GMs in the game. You can't even compare the two. They're not in the same league."   

One thing Cowley fails to point out is whether or not the opinions expressed by the players are widespread in the Sox clubhouse.  The degree to which this opinion is held is critical.  If it is widespread, the implications for the Sox organization are profound.  If this opinion is held by a large percentage of the guys in the Sox clubhouse, then there is no respect for the man in charge.  It would go a long way towards explaining the seeming lack of effort by the players when they get out on the field. 

There is one other place where the professor seems to have lost respect, and that is in the Sox front office.  Cowley quotes one of the “people surrounding [the professor]” in the front office as saying late in the 2002 season, "[Prof. Chaos is] one of those guys that when you mention a good idea to him, he says, 'Oh, yeah, I was already thinking that,' " 

This implies a couple of things.  First, it shows that the professor is quick to take credit for the ideas of others, something that is not good for morale in any workplace.  It also implies that he is may be the type who doesn’t have an original thought.  This is deadly when you’re a general manager in the major leagues.   

It allows you to be snookered by the likes of Billy Beane.


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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