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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sportsblab Ignorance!
by Hal Vickery

The absolute stupidity one hears on sportsblab radio is appalling.  You would think that these guys never read a headline or looked at a box score, and perhaps that’s true when it comes to the White Sox.  After all, as many media types have pointed out over the past year, “The Cubs are the story.” 

This apparently gives those who are supposed to at least have a rudimentary knowledge of sports in this town license to ignore the South Side. 

The latest in a long string of examples came just this Saturday on WSCR on the blabfest hosted by Dave Baum and Steve Rosenbloom.  Baum once again showed why he is better suited to regular talk radio while Rosenbloom once again proved that all he’s good for is a wisecrack. 

In the midst of a debate over Dusty’s treatment of Sammy on the Cute and Cuddlies, a regular caller, “South Side Bob” injected a bit of White Sox talk. 

Bob said that based on the Sox’ performance this year both GM Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen should be offered contract extensions.  This is a topic worthy of debate.  Williams has tried to pick up some of what the Sox lost when Magglio Ordoñez and Frank Thomas both went down with season-ending injuries.  On the other hand, the Sox have gone into a skid ever since both went down. 

This topic has been debated on message boards here at WSI and elsewhere, usually with some degree of intelligence.  Unfortunately, this was The Score, the station that is moving Mike North to the morning drive slot.  Intelligence is a rare commodity on that station. 

As a result, what we got was comments about how this club under Ozzie Guillen has done no better than they did under Gen. Disarray.   

This was almost identical to comments being made by a poster on one of the message boards I frequent when I’m away from WSI.  A poster there who shall remain anonymous, has been posting similar slams at Guillen, complaining that he has shown nothing as a manager and that the club is underachieving under him.

To all of those who are so quick to condemn Ozzie as being a bad manager, I would like to ask one question.  What do you base your condemnation on?  The Sox were in the thick of the race, fighting it out tooth an nail when not just Thomas, and not just Ordoñez, but both went down.  Without Ordoñez, the Sox played just under .500 ball (thereby proving his value to the club to those who were saying he wasn’t worth the money he was asking for before his injury).  Without both, the roof fell in. 

It isn’t very often that a ball club loses two hitters of the caliber of Thomas and Ordoñez for close to half a season.  Just exactly what do Guillen’s critics expect him to do? 

I was quickly able to find one precedent for a disaster of this type befalling a very good ball club.  That was the 1925 New York Yankees.  The Yankees had a sensational rookie named Lou Gehrig who was about to take over first base after Wally Pipp’s beaning early in the season.  They also might have had Babe Ruth. 

Now Frank Thomas is no Babe Ruth.  Neither is Magglio Ordoñez, but together they might equal one Babe Ruth in his prime.  In 1924 the Yankees lost the pennant to the Washington Senators, led by “boy wonder” manager Bucky Harris and the pitching of Walter Johnson.  For once the Senators actually had a good ball club, and the Yankees were making the transition from the pennant winners of 1921-23 to the legendary Murderer’s Row club of the late ‘20s. 

Most of the nucleus of the ’27 club was there.  The only pieces of that team who were not regulars were Mark Koenig, who was on the bench, and Tony Lazzeri, who was still playing in the Pacific Coast League.  After Pipp’s injury, Gehrig was in the lineup for 126 games. 

But in April, while on a train trip with the club, Ruth went down with, depending on the source, either an intestinal abscess or gonorrhea.  At any rate, Ruth only got into 98 games in 1925.  The Yankees, who had one 89 games in 1924, finishing two behind the Senators, struggled. 

Now these Yankees were led by Miller Huggins, whose managerial exploits got him elected to the Hall of Fame!  So you know the story, right?  Due to the extraordinary leadership of Huggins, the Yankees persevered despite the lack of Ruth, and they went on to win the pennant and World Series. 

In your dreams!  The Yankees, with a rookie Lou Gehrig tearing up the league, with Bob Meusel, Earle Combs, and Jumping Joe Dugan, and with Hall-of-Famers Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt on the pitching staff, and led by Hall-of-Fame manager Huggins finished in seventh place.  Their record was 69-85. 

Had Huggins been fired for his club’s poor performance in 1925, he never would have managed the 1927 Yankees.  If he hadn’t managed the 1927 Yankees, he never would have made the Hall-of-Fame. 

Ozzie Guillen’s handling of the Sox is being compared to the job done by Gen. Disarray.  Let’s keep one thing in mind.  Ozzie Guillen’s Sox as this is written have played slightly better than .500 ball in 2004, despite the loss of Thomas and Ordoñez.  Under Gen. Disarray, the Sox played just better than .500 ball with both players. 

I don’t know if Baum and Rosenbloom (or for that matter posters on message boards) think we’re all stupid or if it is they who are stupid.  What I do know is that there is a big difference in the situation Ozzie Guillen finds himself in and the one that Gen. Disarray managed to butcher since 2000.


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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