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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sinking Sox!
by Hal Vickery

Random thoughts as the Sox sink slowly beneath the waves…. 

I just hope Ozzie Guillen, in his quest for pitching and defense also lets Kenny Williams know that offensive balance is what this club also needs and needs desperately.  Hawk Harrelson may mock Billy Bean, but I’ve watched the Kane County Cougars, the A’s low Class A club, all year.  They emphasize getting men on base, they have some power, and they’ve had tremendous pitching.  As this is being written, they are in the final game of the Midwest League playoffs. 

The balance that the A’s show on their major league squad permeates their farm system.  You can see that the A’s have a philosophy and a plan.  I doubt if anyone could tell you what the Sox philosophy or plan is.  The best I can determine is that their plan is “cross your fingers and hope.” 

This club reminds me of the Chicago Cubs in the 1950s with guys like Hank Sauer and Ernie Banks who could just pummel the ball, but they didn’t have anyone who could get on base.  The pitching on the current Sox squad is probably better than the Cubs had in those days, so rather than finishing last, the Sox may just finish second and may even break .500.  But station-to-station and the solo home run just aren’t working. 

If the Sox are really looking to improve this club they need the following:

      -A starting pitcher good enough to drop Jon Garland to the number 5 slot.

      -A catcher who is capable of playing good defense.

      -A second baseman and shortstop who can get on base and play defense.

      -A third baseman who can hit more than his weight.

      -A right fielder who can hit the ball (assuming Magglo Ordoñez does not return)

      -Aaron Rowand in the number-two hole in the lineup.

      -A healthy Frank Thomas.

      -A first baseman other than Ross Gload if Paul Konerko is traded.

      -A second set-up man in the bullpen. 

As I noted in an earlier column, the injuries to Thomas and Ordoñez showed just how many holes this club has. 

A group of fans from the AOL Sox message board had a gathering at The Cell Saturday night.  Billed as “DrudgeryFest” after the nickname “Team Drudgery” given this club by “Aggravated Sox Fan Bob” who is a regular on the message board there, the group was treated to anything but drudgery as the Sox won 9-8.   

The game featured catches by Willie Harris in centerfield and Carlos Lee in left that are among the best I’ve ever witnessed.  It also featured heads-up running by Joe Borchard who scored from second base on an infield single. 

It’s really too bad that the Sox haven’t played more games like that the past few months. 

I have a proposal to make.  A batting average of .200 has been known for a few of decades as the “Mendoza Line” after Mario Mendoza, a notoriously weak hitter who was lucky if he cleared that number.  Based on Joe Borchard’s performance this year, I suggest that we draw a “Borchard Line.”  Based on Borchard’s performance this season, the logical level would be .150. 

A little over six months ago when we were purchasing tickets, we made sure to get some for the upcoming series against the Twins and Royals because those late-season contests would probably be have some effect on how the AL Central played out this year. 

Little did we suspect that the Royals would be eliminated in April and that the Sox would be struggling to keep their heads above .500.  We may have been right, though.  The Twins series could be the one in which the Sox are mathematically eliminated.  As they say, “That’s why they play the games.” 


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.

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