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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Making Sense of a Mess

by George Bova

For a franchise whose history is filled with disappointment, 2007 figures to be another watershed year for disaster. The calendar hasn't yet turned to July yet the Sox' season is now all but impossibly ruined. It has eerily brought back the worst memories many Sox Fans can remember. Worse still, it has brought out some of the most abborrent behavior to afflict Sox Fans, too.

Unlike our neighbors, we Sox Fans don't glorify losing. Instead we just wallow in it. And yes, it seems a certain type of Sox Fan truly enjoys his own misery... happier to rage at the darkness than to turn on a light. Strange behavior indeed...

Today the hyperbole boils over anyplace Sox Fans congregate. The discussion quickly becomes a race to the bottom... who can make the most outrageous (read "absurd") statement about the current state of affairs surrounding the Sox. Anything less than predicting the apocalypse is dismissed as optimism. This is what passes for rational discourse on the street, along with the airwaves of 50,000-watt radio stations, too. Very bizarre behavior indeed...

Is it too much to ask for a bit of sanity when discussing the 2007 White Sox?

There are some serious flaws in the thinking that went into building the 2007 edition of the Sox and certainly they have underperformed in countless facets of the game. However there are at least as many flaws in the logic underpinning the arguments of those that see nothing but doom and gloom for the future of the ballclub, too.

Is it fair to suggest, as many Sox Fans now claim, that the Sox should have known several of their ballplayers were injury prone? It's an interesting notion. Too bad for them the history of the ballclub would indicate keeping injury-prone ballplayers healthy is a specialty of the Sox, not a liability. Ellis Burks and Bo Jackson are only the first of many Sox ballplayers who had some of their most productive seasons playing on the South Side, while avoiding injuries that had plagued them earlier in their career.

Is it fair to suggest, as many Sox Fans now claim, that the Sox play too much station-to-station baseball and aren't playing "Ozzie ball"... whatever that means? It's an interesting notion. I personally wish I could have seen how much more speed a team with Scott Podsednik, Darin Erstad, and Tadahito Iguchi sharing duties at the top of the order might be able to do to play "small ball" or do the "little things"... whatever that means. With most of the remainder of 2007 looking to be garbage time, I guess none of us will ever know what such a ballclub might do offensively. It will simply remain a mystery for the ages. When the games still counted this trio was never heard from... one or more always on the disabled list.

Is it fair to suggest, as many Sox Fans now claim, that the offense is horribly flawed and the team's horrendous offensive production can be pinpointed to the ineptness of hitting coach Greg Walker? It's an interesting notion. It was the offense that carried the White Sox in 2006. Furthermore all the key components from 2006 were brought back for 2007, too. The fretfulness last winter wasn't surrounding the Sox offense but rather everything besides the Sox offense. It certainly wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest the very ones complaining about the Sox offense today are merely demonstrating a perfect example of 20/20 hindsight. The truth is, if they had any beef at all about the offense, they had 3-times as many complaints about the pitching staff, too. The truth can hurt...

Is it fair to suggest, as many Sox Fans now claim, that the roster itself is horribly flawed, filled with too many mediocre performers to ever pass as a playoff contender, let alone a championship team. It's an interesting notion. I tend to agree that ballplayers the caliber of Alex Cintron and Rob Mackowiak should not be getting everyday playing time like they have for the 2007 Sox. But what real choice do the Sox have when everyday ballplayers aren't available? The players on the Sox' disabled list constitutes nearly a better everyday line up than what Ozzie Guillen can place on the field. And lest anyone believe the answers are in Charlotte, the very best of the ballplayers who have arrived north haven't remotely stemmed the team's mortal hemorrhaging. There are no medical procedures for ballclubs with multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Is it fair to suggest, as many Sox Fans now claim, that the Sox bullpen is a shambles and was horribly assembled these past 18 months by GM Kenny Williams? It's an interesting notion. In years past, the Sox bullpen has been comprised of pitchers chosen to throw opposing hitters off-balance with different looks and release points, albeit not necessarily with that much mustard on their pitches. This inevitably led to complaints by some Sox Fans that opposing baserunners had too many opportunities to steal bases on off-speed pitches thrown by Sox relievers in critical late-inning situations. Kenny Williams specifically intended to address this issue by loading up on power arms to fill out the bullpen, sacrificing several relievers who no longer fit his new model. And where did Williams get the idea for this new power pitching model for the Sox bullpen? He told us himself last winter: the Minnesota Twins' bullpen. I'm guessing most Sox Fans will gladly keep the one world championship our bullpen helped us win over any of the four -- or even all four -- division championships the Twins' bullpen helped them win.

The 2007 Sox are all but dead, but the grieving over their fate won't end anytime soon. The hand-wringing and finger-pointing won't end anytime soon either. It shouldn't be too much to ask for a bit of perspective rather than ranting over it.

These aren't the White Sox losing all these fateful games. It's a team built from the fate of the White Sox... the White Sox team that began breaking apart over two months ago. It's time to begin figuring out what from the fateful pieces might be worth salvaging. Ranting and wallowing in defeat -- as much as it feels good to the most demented segment of Sox Fandom -- has no place in this discussion.

George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive. You can write George at

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