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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Media's short memory!
by Hal Vickery

More spring-time musings about our Sox….

• You don’t realize how dependent you are on the internet until something goes wrong. In this case it is probably something to do with the broadband cable running into our house. It has been on the fritz for a couple of weeks, but I haven’t been able to schedule time to have a repair person come over and check things out. It makes life interesting, but it sure makes it difficult.

As of last night the most email I was unable to download was about 70 items. Unfortunately, I’m unable to delete anything because I keep losing my connection. As a result, as of last night I had 280 emails in my box, dating back to last Monday. If you’re reading this, I was able to somehow send it.

• Last week Frank Thomas called several radio stations and gave interviews. He appeared on WSCR, in WMVP’s broadcasting booth with John Rooney and Ed Farmer during a game that same afternoon, and also on tape with Mac, Jurko, and Harry, also on WMVP.

The next day MJ&H had a poll question on their web site asking if Frank Thomas could redeem himself in the eyes of Chicago fans. Judging from the message boards here at WSI, Thomas has little or nothing to redeem. From the posters here it would seem that Frank has never been in the doghouse as far as most of the fans posting are concerned.

It was quite interesting that Dan McNeil said that there was no need to repeat the numerous things that Thomas has done to alienate fans here. However, a couple of things did come up from the hosts. One was that he has a tendency to “stick his foot in his mouth.” There was no elaboration except that he “says what is on his mind.” The other charge against him apparently is that he refused to run Jerry Manuel's (AKA Gen. Disarray) shuttle drill after coming back from surgery to remove a walnut-sized bone spur from his ankle.

It isn’t our job at WSI to defend Frank Thomas, but it seems to me that most of the time when he has “stuck his foot in his mouth,” it has had something to do with his contract. Perhaps it’s just me, but I really don’t care what Thomas has to say about his contract. It has no effect on my life, and he can say whatever he wants.

I do understand that some people find millionaires complaining about their salaries to be offensive. The most common criticism is that Thomas, as well as other major leaguers, are making millions of dollars “playing a kids’ game.” Many of the people who say this also make the claim that they would play for free.

What these critics fail to comprehend is that there are 750 major leaguers, so those players who are making millions represent a miniscule fraction of one percent of all people who have ever played the game. According to the law of supply and demand, their talent is in very short supply relative to consumer demand for it. If a high value is placed on that kind of talent (and it is), then ball players deserve to make millions.

In addition to that, Frank Thomas has not been treated well by the powers that be in the White Sox front office. The second point the hosts of MJ&H brought up is a perfect illustration.

Everybody remembers that Thomas refused to run the General’s shuttle drill. What they don’t remember is what led up to the shouting match he had with Jerry Manuel. The previous August, Thomas complained about having pain in his ankle. The Sox doctors apparently missed detecting the bone spur if they examined him at all.

As a result, when Thomas’s complaints about the pain became too great for the general to stand anymore, he was sent home. The general made it perfectly clear that he thought Frank didn’t want to play and that he was being dismissed. It was not long after that the walnut-sized spur was discovered.

However, rather than admit that he had made a mistake, self-appointed Dr. Disarray refused to accept a not from Thomas’s real doctor stating that he shouldn’t run that particular drill so soon after his surgery. According to MJ&H, this is irrefutable evidence that Thomas is not a team player and is looking out only for Frank Thomas.

I tend to see it another way. I look at it as more proof that Gen. Disarray was an incompetent nincompoop who did everything he could to make his star player look bad.

McNeil finished his extremely brief litany of Thomas’s offenses by mentioning that Thomas often decides that he will not talk to anyone from the media, which he sees as the “conduit” by which the fans are kept informed as to the views of the players.

Again, perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t need to hear yet another player doing the Crash Davis routine. We all can predict exactly what any player will say in any given situation. If Thomas prefers not to go through that routine, it’s fine by me.

When it gets right down to it, even though McNeil flat out said this wasn’t the case, it seems to me that the only reason Thomas is controversial is because he sometimes gets fed up and refuses to speak to the media.

For those of you who think I’ve lost my mind, just remember this: another player in this town probably did a lot worse things on and off the field than Frank Thomas ever did. However, all he ever had to do is smile and say, “Baseball been berry berry good to me,” and the media gave him a pass until last year when they helped the North Side Baseball Club drive that player out of town.

Then suddenly all the things that this player had been doing became “news,” even though he had been doing them for over a decade.

And people wonder why we devote so much space here to criticizing the media….


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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