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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Decision Time
by Hal Vickery

Every January as SoxFest approaches, I start getting ready for baseball. Baseball seems so wonderful in the dead of winter when itís dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and it doesnít get light until after 7:00 a.m. When spring training starts, I feel as if winter is over and despite the mostly sub-freezing temperatures in February and much of March, it really does feel as if warm weather is coming.

In April, when Nature is renewing herself and the baseball season is young, even an older person such as myself doesnít mind sitting through the 40-degree (or less) nights to watch the summer game. The season is new, and your team is in the raceÖat least if you donít live in Kansas City.

But when the temperature is in the 80s or 90s in June, and your team is eight or nine games below .500, baseball starts to get tiresome. You start to think that maybe your team has a snowballís chance in hell on the Fourth of July of turning it around and contending. This is especially true if your bullpen stinks and you have a third of your starting nine on the Disabled List.

Sox fans havenít had to deal with that much in the past fifteen years or so, but thatís the situation weíre dealing with now. So the question is, ďWhat should the Sox do? Is it time for White Flag II?Ē

The time is coming close for Kenny Williams to make that decision. After putting together a bullpen made of ďlive armsĒ that turned out to be quite hittable, after re-signing Scott Podsednik who has been plagued by injuries since the second half of the 2005 season, and after signing Darin Erstad who was coming off an injury plagued 2006 season, Williams has opened himself up to criticism.

Sox fans are strongly divided on what Williams should do, and whatever he does will spark criticism. Heís between a rock and a hard place. Every Sox fan knows that something has to be done. This is a bad teamÖa very bad team. But how do you turn it around?

ďTrade Mark Buehrle before the deadline,Ē say some. ďItís his free-agency year,Ē they argue, ďand we all know heís going to St. Louis or some NL team. So get what you can from some team who is contending now. His trade value is high.Ē

ďNO!Ē shouts the opposition. ďHow many pitchers are capable of going two hundred plus innings like he does year after year? You canít let him go. Heís what you rebuild around.Ē

Well, Iím staying out of this argument. Iím not going to offer Kenny Williams any advice. He managed to put together a World Series Championship team in 2005, and heís quite capable of putting another one together.

The only thing I have to add to any discussion of this season is that itís amazing how far and how fast a team can fall in this game. Just 20 months ago we were at the pinnacle. The Sox had won the World Series for the first time in the memory of all but nonagenarians and older. Now weíre questioning the manager, the coaches, and the general manager.

The really funny thing about this in my case is that Iíve kind of given up caring. Iíve seen my World Championship, and knowing the history of this club, it will probably be the only one I ever see. But I have been to the mountaintop and the view is pretty thrilling.

But when the Sox put a team such as this yearís on the field, Iíve pretty much decided Iím beyond caring. They looked good on paper, much better than last yearís ninety-game winners. But it all went bad.

Iím near the end of my sixth decade of life, and Iím well aware of the fact that time for me is growing shorter and shorter. Sure, Iíll support the Sox, but I donít have the time to invest in them when they lose. Iíll watch an occasional game, but I wonít get mad when the bullpen blows yet another game. I wonít get mad at the little league defense. I wonít get mad at the batters flailing at the ball. I donít have the time for that anymore.

So Iíll check out WSI and the Sox web site to see whatís going on. Iíll go to an occasional game and hope they win. But thatís about it.

It took the first fifty-five years of my life to see a World Series Championship come to Chicago. Iím not going to wait another fifty-five. Iím not going to spend my time and money watching substandard baseball. I have better things to do with the time I have remaining on this earth.

Next week Iíll be traveling to Elkhart, IN for their annual jazz festival. Iíll be there from Friday through Sunday, so there will be no column next week. Unless there is some news coming from the Sox or some excitement from the field, I really donít know if Iíll have anything to write about after that. Weíll see.

Right now Iím tired of the bad baseball.

______________________________________________________________________

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
Decision Time?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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