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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

The Chairman Fiddles!

The sounds of silence are deafening from 35th & Shields.

As the White Sox crash and burn, The Chairman continues to fiddle.  The silence is deafening, and it only sends one message.  The White Sox will wait until July and have another fire sale. 

It is obvious that The Chairman is too tight with a buck to let go of anyone in authority who has any time left on a contract.  So expect to see Prof. Chaos in charge with his underling Gen. Disarray in tow through the entire 2003 season. 

Expect the fans to stay away from the ball park in droves except for the Cubs series and the All-Star Game, which will be populated mainly by bigwigs, celebrities, and season ticket holders.  Expect also to hear from the media, encouraged by the Sox front office, that Sox fans fail to support their club and it is the fans’ fault that payroll will have to be slashed, as if the payroll were high in the first place. 

Every week of inaction simply makes the fans all that more apathetic about the club on the south side.  Of course, that is to be expected.  After all, if The Chairman himself doesn’t care, why should the fans?   

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of the fiasco that is the Sox’ 2003 season is that the people in charge are running out of places to hide.  Under the field leadership of Gen. Disarray the Sox have gone through more coaches teams like the Yankees go through players.  Yet, except for the first half of the 2000 season, the Sox are basically a .500 team under the general.  Some of the fans have caught on that the problem might not be the coaches. 

Meanwhile Prof. Chaos is still under heavy scrutiny by the fan base.  The book in which A’s general manager Billy Beane stated that he snookered the professor in a couple of deals simply confirms what most Sox fans feared from the days of “Shouldergate.”  The Sox GM is out of his league. 

There is something puzzling about Chaos’s deals.  Even those players the fans think will help the Sox somehow fall apart once they come to Chicago.  Bartolo Colon has pitched well, but he isn’t the Colon we’ve seen in Cleveland and Montreal.  Most of the others deals and signing have been disasters with a few exceptions. 

Why do players’ skills suddenly deteriorate when they come to Chicago?  Is it because they are over the hill?  Is it because they see they can get by without working as hard as in other organizations, and so they take the easy way out?  Is it that they want to get out of Chicago as quickly as possible?   

-------- 

Late last week Peter Gammons shot off his mouth saying that the Sox are a candidate for contraction because of their low attendance.  Let it be said that Gammons is and always has been a blowhard and little of what comes out of his mouth can be given any kind of credibility. 

With that being said, however, it is interesting to note that Sox attendance as of last week was twenty-fifth in the major leagues.  A once proud franchise, that was consistently drawing at least 2.5 million fans just a decade ago is now right down there with Montreal, the Florida teams, and the Tigers. 

This entire process has been overseen, aided and abetted by The Chairman.  From this ownership’s dissing of Bill Veeck, to the design of a ball park that was sterile and uninviting, to the treatment of Carlton Fisk when he “retired,” to the leadership of the hawks in the strike of 1993 that may have cost the Sox a shot at the World Series, to the hiring of inept people to run and market the team, this organization has consistently alienated its fan base. 

The Sox fan base isn’t fickle.  It is practical.  The Sox fans are passionate about their club.  All you have to do is check out the message boards on this web site and elsewhere to see that.  But Sox fans will not go to the ball park unless they feel that club ownership has a strong commitment to winning.  Despite The Chairman’s words, Sox fans do not feel the commitment is there. 

They see a club that tries trots out teams with payrolls somewhere in the $40-$50 million range when the Yankees are spending $125 million.  They see a club that is stocked by right handed first baseman/outfielder/DH types, something that hasn’t changed in years.  They see a club lacking in fundamentals.  And they stay away. 

Maybe Gammons is right.  On the other side of town, the fans have spent years going to see the Cute and Cuddlies when they had no hope of winning anything.  But except for a few fans who want to spend less than $1500 for a ticket to this week’s Yankees series, they don’t really care about that.  They have another agenda entirely.  So the north side franchise is healthy and their fans are happy, even moreso this year since they are actually winning some games. 

Sox fans can’t be that way.  It just isn’t in their constitution.  Sox fans hate losing.  They hate managers, general managers, and owners who seem tolerant of losing.  And right there is the problem.  The message being sent, whether intentional or not, is that management really doesn’t give a damn. 

So Gammons spouts off about the Sox being contracted, fans go into an uproar, and once again, the Chairman does nothing.


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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