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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

The General's Madness!

...and there is no method to any of it!

Unbelievable!  That’s all you can say after reading Teddy Greenstein’s column in Saturday’s Chicago Tribune.  Gen. Disarray finally explained the madness behind his “method,” and like much of what occurs in the enigma that is the general’s brain, it doesn’t make sense. 

When the general was asked about the fact that he has suddenly seemed to hit upon a fixed lineup after the first four months of the season, he replied, "In the first half, I try to make sure everybody plays.  When you're not winning, you can justify making [lineup] decisions based on matchups.  But when you're winning and everything's clicking, you leave it alone.

"That's the thinking behind that madness." 

Let’s break that down.  In the first half, the general tries to make sure everybody plays, and he can justify it when they are not winning, but when you’re winning, you have to stop tinkering.  It seems that what Gen. Disarray is saying here is that he wants to tinker during the first half of the season so he can play everybody, but if he is winning he can’t do that. 

Read that again.  If the Sox win, the general can’t do what he wants to do, but if they lose he can justify making all of those lineup changes.  It sounds like there is a whole lot more madness than there is thinking there.  Here is the simple translation of the general’s reasoning.  “I like to tinker the first half of the season.  If we win, I can’t tinker.”  The only logical conclusion to this little syllogism is, “Therefore, we must keep losing.” 

And so the Sox have every April and May since the 2001 season. 

If I were The Chairman I would be concerned.  While Gen. Disarray tinkers and loses into June, the fans are making their ticket-buying plans.  In 2004 there will be no All-Star Game to bolster ticket sales.  The Sox will be more dependent this year on walk-up sales.   

And if the Sox spend another two to three months of losing to start the season, the fans will be making other plans on how they will spend their money between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when Sox attendance is best.  Every year of tinkering by General Disarray hits The Chairman in the wallet. 


Greenstein’s article revealed even more of the complete lack of any sense in the mind of the General.  When he moved Frank Thomas to first base, Thomas responded by going on a hitting rampage.  What would any of us logically do after seeing that?  When you’re Gen. Disarray, you move him back to the designated hitter role..

Apparently, though, Thomas’s recent slump is of less concern to the General than the season-long slump of Paul Konerko.  When asked if he’d move Thomas to first base, the General was adamant, saying, "I like the way Paulie is going about it right now.  Unless there's an emergency of some sort, I probably won't use Frank there." 

Even though Thomas as a DH is batting around .240 while he’s hitting over .350 at first base? 

Manuel has other priorities apparently.  This is apparent in his answer, "Konerko is on fire right now.  He has helped carry us. The lineup doesn't have to be shaken up just because I didn't get a hit the last few nights. I don't think any hitter in this league can swing the bat well every day." 

Who helped carry the Sox until Konerko’s bat finally got hot, General?  Who has carried the Sox on his back for more than a decade? 

Oh, that’s right.  Frank Thomas is a slacker.  Remember how the General criticized Thomas late in the 1999 season for slacking off.  Remember how after Thomas was sent home the surgeon removed a bone spur the size of a walnut from his ankle?   

Remember how not a word was heard from the General following Thomas’s surgery.  There was no public apology following Thomas’s public berating. 

Remember how Thomas and the General got into a shouting match the following spring when Thomas brought a note from his doctor saying that it would not be in the best interest of Thomas’s continued healing following the surgery to run a drill that would have put more stress on that injury? 

Remember how the General said nothing when David Wells criticized Thomas for slacking in the 2001 season after he hurt his arm diving after a foul ball?  Remember how the General remained silent when a few days later it was revealed that Thomas had torn a triceps muscle?  Remember how the General did not step up to defend Thomas when he came under increasing attack in 2002 for his lack of production despite the fact that most injuries like this take a couple of years for the player to completely recover? 

Remember how the General said nothing after Paul Konerko publicly criticized Thomas last year?  Remember how when the shoe was on the other foot, and it was the General himself who was criticized by a player, that player was designated for assignment in less than a week?  Yes fans, that’s what happened to Rick White after he dared to criticize the way the General handles his team. 

So what have we learned today?  We’ve learned if you are certain players, you can criticize other players and then go into a slump that lasts a full season, and Gen. Disarray will talk about how you’ve carried the team for a week.   

We’ve learned that you can be one of the best right handed hitters in the history of the game, but if you’re hurt, you’re still a slacker. 

But most of all, we’ve learned that it is more important to play everybody the first half of the season than it is to win ball games. 

That, folks, is why he’s called Gen. Disarray.

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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