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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Nitpicking the Sox?

For the benefit of those of you who don’t read the message boards here, there has been some criticism of the “negativity” that supposedly permeates the front page here.  Someone suggested that one way that I could make those who would like more positivism in these Fallen Arches columns would be for me to start each article with something positive. 

As one who always wishes to accommodate the readership here, I’d like to present the following positive factoid:  The White Sox, as I write this, are in the midst of a three-game losing streak but are still tied with the Twins for first place. 

Of course the problem is how the losing streak got started.  The Sox were leading the Twins 8-2 last Tuesday night and Gen. Disarray (Jerry Manuel) decided to use recent acquisition Jose Paniagua as mop-up man in the ninth inning.  Three hits (including a ground rule double and a triple) and a walk later, Paniagua was ejected after cursing at the plate umpire and making an obscene to everyone in general.  

The Twins scored four runs before it was all over.  The Sox won the battle, but that incident could end up as a big factor if they lose the war.  More than one reporter in the Twins clubhouse after the game stated that the rally had completely changed the Twins’ attitude.  The Sox had them on the ropes, and the Twins rallied.   

The general attitude suddenly changed from, “We’re getting the snot kicked out of us” to “Hey!  We can beat these guys!”  Which they did the next two nights. 

Meanwhile the Sox bats cooled off while the Twins bats heated up just enough to beat Jon Garland and Esteban Loaiza.   

Around the end of August or beginning of September, Gen. Disarray speculated that he might soon go to a four-man rotation.  There are arguments pro and con.  The main argument against it is that it puts more strain on arms that are already tired from pitching so many innings already, and with the Sox staff, this is definitely a problem.  Colon, Buehrle, and Loaiza all have over two hundred innings pitched, and as of Saturday morning, ranking fourth through sixth in this category in the American League. 

Score a point for Gen. Disarray.  Wright had to start on Friday.  The four-man rotation is not an option at this point with the number of innings pitched. 

On the other hand, there was one move by the general question that was inexplicable.   “Why Jose Paniagua?”  The logic is there perhaps.  He was available and he was signed for some unknown reason by Kenny Williams.  An 8-2 blowout seems reasonable.  Still, when you see a reliever come in and give up a double and a triple for starters, that should set off alarm bells that say, “Get this guy out of here!”  So why was now no one else ready when Paniagua showed that he was a stiff?   

There have been pitchers who have been underutilized by the general for weeks as he continually goes to Damaso Marte and Tom Gordon in the late innings.  How about Kelly Wunsch?  Could he have done the job?  One thing is certain.  Wunsch will be on the playoff roster if the Sox win the division.  Paniagua, acquired after September 1, would have been watching the playoffs on TV. 

But maybe that’s nitpicking.  As this is written the Sox are tied for first place despite the three game losing streak.  And maybe it’s just nitpicking to suggest that the Sox should have a much larger lead than they do and to lay the blame on Gen. Disarray for his tinkering and blundering throughout the season. 

The problem is those nits are huge. 


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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