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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Bench Coach Baines?
by Hal Vickery

Some random thoughts as spring training grinds on:†

With the announcement that Harold Baines has replaced Joe Nossek as the White Sox bench coach, one wonders what his function will be.† Traditionally the bench coach has advised the manager on possible strategies he could use or perhaps, as was the case with Nossek, he would let the manager know that he had figured out what the other clubís signs were.†

I donít pretend to know if Baines is that much of a student of the game, but whether he is or not, the loss of Nossek has to hurt.† His departure leaves Art Kusnyer as the coach with the longest tenure with the Sox.† Nossek was an adept sign stealer, and he apparently actually did take over the reins as acting manager on those rare occasions when Gen. Disarray was thrown out of the game.†

Iíve only been a firsthand witness to the interactions between Guillen and Baines once at a luncheon.† During the entire meal, Ozzie held court while Baines smiled when Ozzie said something funny.† I donít think Baines said more than six words during the entire meal.†

The relationship reminded me of that of Joe DiMaggio and Lefty Gomez, who roomed together on the road during a time when players slept two to a room on the road.† DiMaggio was as well-known for his reticence as Gomez (whose nickname was ďGoofyĒ) was for his talkativeness. †

Gomez would sit in hotel lobbies with his roommate and talk to anyone who would approach him while DiMaggio would sit in utter silence.† Both were happy with that arrangement.† Guillen and Baines seemed to have a similar arrangement.† †

So the question arises, if Baines has an idea, will Guillen even know?† Will Baines tell him?† Will he even be able to get a word in edgewise?† Maybe someone can convince Fox or WGN to put an isolated camera on Baines so they can do an instant replay anytime he speaks.†

--------

After listening to idiot Cubs fans gloating when their first string beat our B-team a week ago, it was good to see that the Sox A-team could do the same thing to the Cubs B-team.† I only know of one Sox fan who wept and wailed at the Sox defeat.† He was roundly criticized, and rightly so.† Most sane Sox fans, or at least those who can pass for it, know these games are meaningless.† †

The one fan I know who was upset by the loss hardly qualifies as a sane Sox fan.† (And heíll admit it himself, which is a sign that a cure is possible.)† I can only imagine his state of mind when the Sox won the ďrematch.Ē†

--------

Can it be possible that August will mark the ten-year anniversary of the playersí strike that many Sox fans say cost us a World Series victory?† One thing this anniversary proves is that Sox fans are like elephants.† They never forget.†

Many of them still use that strike as an excuse for not going to The Cell.† Thatís really too bad because theyíve missed a lot of good baseball.† Of course, Iím one of those fans who some Sox fans might classify as Cub-like.† My protest following the strike was to cut my visits to the ball park to five games.† I was back to my usual quota in 1995 and havenít looked back.†

Of course they might just come around if the Sox put a winner on the field.† Thatís where Ozzie Guillen is so crucial to this club.† Under Gen. Disarray, the Sox would usually collapse in May, just when fans are taking a look at what their plans might be for the vacation months of June through August.† †

The Sox prime attendance period is from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.† If the Sox are stinking up the joint in May, they will never recover enough to reach that mystical 2-million mark in attendance.†

Itís interesting that no one in the media or in the Sox organization has picked up on this little fact, one that weíve been harping on here for a few years now.† Had the Sox actually made some moves this winter, their season ticket base might be a bit higher.† Still if they win, especially in April and May, the fans will come out in the warm months if they sustain the same level of play.†

So what about 2000?† The Sox got off to a great start.† I donít know if the archives exist on the WSI message boards from that year, but I recall the general tone of Sox fans is that the Sox were going to collapse during the last half, and if you recall, they barely played .500 ball during that period.† †

They were unable to sustain the same level of play as they did in the first half.† And the fans expected the Twins to catch up.† We were at the series in Minnesota when the Sox clinched.† In a manner befitting of the Gen.-Disarray-era, they lost the game on the day they clinched.†

Give the Sox fans hope, not just for one season, but for the future, and they will come.† The history of this franchise shows it.† Iím even willing to go out on the limb and say that if the fans think The Chairman is putting together a team that he expect to win with over a sustained period of time, Sox fans will come out in droves.†

The problem is that The Chairman would rather try to catch lightning in a bottle.† The problem with this is, you canít.


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!

Have a Thought about
Baines the Bench Coach?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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