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for better or worse!

Just when you think there is time to take a breather and maybe write a nice column about the stupidity of Cubs fans in light of last week’s series at The Cell, the GM pulls a rabbit out of a hat.  Make that two rabbits. 

The first came last Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that the Sox traded three minor leaguers for veteran second baseman Roberto Alomar from the New York Mets.  Then after Tuesday’s game, another bombshell:  the Sox acquired the services of outfielder Carl Everett from the Texas Rangers for two or three minor league players to be named later. 

Not only that, but in a move that must be music to The Chairman’s ears, the Sox received cash considerations for both players, meaning the Mets and Rangers are picking up the tab for these guys’ salaries!  No more paying clubs to take the likes of Ray Durham.  Now other clubs are paying us to take players off of their hands. 

Of course there are always nay-sayers, and most of them focused on Alomar, and most of them were from New York.  We’ve been told that Alomar’s performance with the Mets was pathetic.  He basically spent the last year-and-a-half phoning in his performances, according to his critics.  They told how Alomar, once he determined that the Mets were going nowhere just quit playing. 

The Sox propaganda machine, led by Ken Harrelson, was quick to point out that Roberto would be back with his brother Sandy Alomar, Jr. and implied that this in itself would make him happy.  Besides, they noted, with the Sox recent offensive upsurge, they were now true contenders.  This, they noted, would give Alomar extra incentive to achieve. 

A few columnists in the mainstream media brought back an old issue:  “Sandy Alomar once spit in an umpire’s face,” they cried.  “If Sox fans take a moral stance on Sammy Sosa, then if they accept Alomar they must be hypocrites.” 

One thing they failed to mention is that Alomar apologized to John Hirschbeck, the umpire in question, who had lost a son to a genetic disorder not long before the incident.  He also apologized to the fans.  In addition, Alomar put his money where his mouth was and donated a considerable sum of money the organization that supports research into the disease.  In other words, Alomar did his penance. 

As far as Sosa is concerned, he apologized “to my many fans” by saying, “It was a mistake.”  However, when you look at what Sosa called a mistake, it was mistaking a corked bat for a game bat because he was so wrapped up in the game.  He has never apologized for cheating.  Instead he made up an excuse to absolve himself from the blame.   

There is no hypocrisy in knowing the difference between a genuine apology and one written by a lawyer.   

Everett came with his own baggage.  He was involved in a bumping incident a few years ago when he was playing with the Red Sox.  He didn’t get along with Boston reporters.  He was involved in a child abuse case for which his daughter was removed from the custody of Everett and his wife.  He holds rather bizarre religious beliefs. 

However, all reports from Texas are that in his time with the Rangers, Everett was a model citizen.  The only negative on his resumé was a minor run-in with former Sox third baseman Herbert Perry in spring training.  Nothing of serious consequence came out of this. 

As far as his personal problems are concerned, they apparently stem from his insistence on the importance of corporal punishment which in term stem from his religious beliefs.  There have been no reports on the degree of the alleged abuse, but the child in question is out of his custody, and there are apparently no complaints against him for the treatment of the children remaining in his custody.  Everett has said that he has an explanation but hasn’t articulated it to reporters.

As for his other religious beliefs, the story that he believes dinosaur bones were “made by man” made the rounds early, as did his doubts that men have walked on the moon.  Comments like these will serve as fodder for reporters to continue baiting him when they are in search of a good quote to round out a bad story. 

The thing to realize, however, is that of most concern to Sox fans is, “What can these guys do for us?  Are they enough to get us deep into the playoffs?”  That, after all, is the GM’s stated goal in making these trades. 

The answer is, unfortunately, no.  Alomar will be better at second base than either the departed D’Angelo Jimenez or the benched Willie Harris.  He will probably hit better than either of them, too.  As long as he thinks he has something to play for, he will help. 

Everett, on the other hand, could actually end up hurting the Sox.  After a fast start, he barely hit .200 in June.  He is not a centerfielder.  He is lacking the speed requisite to that position, and that quickly became apparent on a couple of fly balls in his first game when he couldn’t get to two fly balls.  He should have made a play on at least one of the, if not both.  Everett is a corner outfielder these days.  Unfortunately, the corners are locked up by Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordoñez. 

Did the Sox improve?  Definitely.  Did they improve enough to advance beyond the first round of playoffs, assuming they even win the AL Central?  No way. 

Does the GM get points for trying?  Well, you’ll notice that this week we’ve avoided calling him “Prof. Chaos.” 


On the other hand:  Our worst fears about Billy Koch seem to have come true.  When he was first traded to the Sox we quoted Oakland writer Monte Poole who called Koch “a one trick pony.”  Here is what he had to say at the time of the trade: 

“He had the blazing fastball, often getting it up around 100 mph.  After that, he had another blazing fastball.  And if you hit that, he'd try to slip a blazing fastball past you.”  The problem this year is that he has thrown the ball as fast as 96 mph once.  All season.  Most of the rest of his blazing fastballs have been in the 88-92 mph range.  They have fooled nobody. 

Poole also described Koch as “walking peril.  An adventure on every pitch.”  He added, “While relief pitching is by nature a high-wire act, Koch too often took it to another level. He frequently pitched from behind in the count, and he often walked the leadoff batter, two sins of relief pitching.”   Sound familiar? 

Poole also explained why the A’s were so anxious to trade Koch:  ”Koch's lack of control irritated fans, teammates, manager Art Howe, general manager Billy Beane and owner Steve Schott.”  Anyone reading internet message boards, hear at WSI or elsewhere, knows how irritated the fans are, especially now that Koch can’t bail himself out with blazing speed.   

After three months of Koch failing to meet expectations, Gen. Disaray has finally decided that the closer role needs to go elsewhere while Koch is relegated to a lesser role.  This is similar to his treatment of Keith Foulke last year after blowing some crucial saves.  All Sox fans can say is, “It’s about time!”   

As for the GM, the Koch trade is now looking as bad as the David Wells and Todd Ritchie trades.  And that leads to The Rumor.  In an interview on WSCR radio, Sox play-by-play announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson said that there was another blockbuster trade in the works.  Whether or not this trade comes off could very well decide the Sox fate for the 2003 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

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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