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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Get Over It!
by Hal Vickery

Leave it to the media to create problems where there are none. This time it is the supposed lingering bitterness Frank Thomas holds for the White Sox because of his supposed mistreatment when they refused to pick up his option after the 2005 World Series.

Last week an Associated Press article filled with optimism by Thomas about his return to form following a second surgical repair of his broken ankle concluded with three paragraphs regarding the end of Thomas’s playing career with the Sox.

Thomas was described as feeling “lingering bitterness” toward the Sox about the way that sixteen-year relationship came to an end. Thomas, who was described just two years ago as not returning phone calls from the Sox after a supposed slight by newly hired manager Ozzie Guillen, is described as saying that he would have liked to have received a call from the Sox about his option not being picked up.

Of course, that is pretty much a rehash of what Thomas has said before, but then he went on to explain why he decided not to join his former teammates in Washington to visit the President at the White House.

The article quotes Thomas as saying, "I was still a little uncomfortable going and being around everybody after everything that happened. I couldn't go there and act like everything was fine, because it wasn't fine in my eyes. The chapter had to close a little better than that."

According to the article, Thomas now says he is “getting past that,” but at the time he was still chafing from the supposed slight by the Sox.

The day after that article appeared, I happened to turn on one of the sportsblab stations. They were making a big deal out of the fact that Thomas was still bitter about the slight and that this caused him to snub his former teammates. The premise is that in Thomas’s mind everything is still “all about Frank,” and that he is just a selfish, ungrateful bigmouth.

I guess one could reach that conclusion about Thomas if one didn’t read the entire quote. The sportsblab types picked up on the “lingering bitterness” aspect (the words of the AP writer) rather than the words directly attributed to Thomas. If one actually reads what Thomas said, it appears that he was hurt that he wasn’t called by the Sox before the decision was made to buy out his option.

I’m not sure how the Sox are supposed to call him about a decision before they make it. It is unlikely that the Sox didn’t call Thomas after they made the decision. Chalk this up as being lingering hurt from being let go.

After watching players come and go for over fifty years, I’ve come to the conclusion that a player who is cut or traded by a team feels something like a jilted lover. It hurts to be dumped, and the longer you’re with the person (or team) the more it hurts.

The more one reads the article, the more it seems like the end of a love affair. Take what Kenny Williams said about this at SoxFest. He said that the team tried to end the relationship in “a first-class manner.” This was also quoted in the AP article.

It sounds like the person dumping the lover saying, “I didn’t want to hurt his (or her) feelings. I tried to be kind.”

Long-term relationships rarely end easily. I remember Luis Aparicio cursing the Sox to another forty years without a pennant when he learned the Sox had traded him to the Orioles. Who can forget the acrimony when Jack McDowell was let go, or when Carlton Fisk was dumped in Cleveland, or when Ozzie Guillen was let go?

Oddly enough when those relationships came to an end, Sox management was vilified by the media. However, things are different this time. In a town where Sammy Sosa was made a hero by the media, Thomas became a villain. So this time, it is Thomas who is being unreasonable about being traded.

Thomas honestly expressed the fact that it hurt to be dumped after sixteen years, and that he needed time for that to heal. He said that a few weeks ago it still hurt to much to be with his former teammates, let alone Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams at a White House ceremony.

To those in the media who blame Thomas for this attitude, I’d like to ask this question. Have you ever been fired after sixteen years with an employer? Would you have gone to a company party to see your former workers and bosses just a couple of months after being fired?

Thomas may be inconsistent in wanting to be notified by phone when he is known to not return phone calls, but when you’re hurt, you don’t think very logically. It appears from the tone of the AP article that Thomas is already looking more ahead than backward. His ankle feels good, and he’s ready to prepare for the 2006 season with a new club.

From his own description of his feelings, it is obvious that the pain of separation is already starting to fade as he prepares to wear an A’s uniform. I can almost guarantee that whenever Thomas retires, all the pain will be gone.

At SoxFest Ozzie Guillen made this observation. “I felt that way too when I was let go. I know what Frank is feeling. He’ll get over it.”

The real question might be, “Will the media let him get over it?”

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

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