On this date 11 years ago, the Chicago White Sox clinched the AL Central with a win over the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox would strap on their ski goggles for the champagne shower three more times after that day in Detroit, en route to a World Series championship.
Fast forward to the present date, and the White Sox are the furthest thing from the sweet burn of champagne in the eyes. In fact, the only thing burning is the dumpster fire that is the current state of the franchise. It’s a sad day to be a White Sox fan; it is truly the first time in 26 years that I have felt like I have nothing to believe in when it comes to my beloved White Sox.
We have a consistently under-achieving team, with a lame duck manager, a front office at odds on the vision of the team, all seemingly being led by a clueless owner. It pains me to feel this way, it really does, but this is what over a decade of failed patch jobs and organizational dysfunction will do to a fan. I said to myself last night, “I think this must be what it feels like to be a Cleveland Browns fan.” The CLEVELAND BROWNS! The NFL’s poster child for chronic organizational incompetence, the laughingstock of professional football, Cleveland Browns. Sorry Browns’ fans if you somehow stumbled upon this article — at least you can take solace in the fact that the Indians own the White Sox for the foreseeable future.
Where do I even begin with this flaccid garden hose pile of a tangled mess? Well, you’re aware, I’m sure, of the old saying about certain human bodily excretions rolling down hill, so I’ll start at the top of the hill today. Jerry Reinsdorf is running this organization into the ground with years of mediocrity, public relations blunder after blunder, and poor decisions. His loyalty to “his guys” is exactly why we have Kenny Williams handcuffing an otherwise competent general manager in Rick Hahn, while he chases every past-his-prime, cheap free agent that he can get his hands on.
How many times this season alone were you as a White Sox fan embarrassed at a PR blunder that came out of the south side of Chicago? LaRoche-gate, and of course the ensuing Chris Sale public ripping of the front office in which he told his boss Kenny Williams to get lost, and stay out of the players clubhouse in front of the entire team. Don’t forget that Sale nearly organized the players sitting out a spring training game in protest of an organization telling a player that he can’t bring his teenage son with him to his place of employment on a daily basis like the rest of us average Joes.
Then, of course, you have the red-hot start, followed only by a White Sox-ish epic collapse by around Memorial Day, lasting just long enough for fans to get genuinely excited … just in time for the slap in the face from the reality that is White Sox fandom. Toss in the often unstable Sale taking a pair of scissors to the throwback jerseys because he didn’t feel like wearing them, all while you have Robin Ventura sitting in the dugout half asleep, running Matt Albers out there seemingly every other night to blow a lead. Top it all off with the chairman, and all of his genius, inking a 13-year deal with Guaranteed Rate Mortgage for the naming rights to what will be formerly known as U.S. Cellular Field. Guaranteed Rate Mortgage is a company that dons a giant red downward facing arrow as its logo, meaning our stadium will be plastered in the awful looking logo. At this point the logo is only fitting for what we have going on at 333 West 35th Street nowadays.
Then you have the best of all so far this season, and I say so far with extreme caution: Bob Nightengale pens a story claiming that his “source” inside the front office stated that the White Sox want Ventura to return as manager in 2017, if he wished to do so. After an evening of outrage, disappointment, and confusion by the White Sox fan base, Mr. Nightengale publishes an updated version of his original story, virtually slamming the entire fanbase, and calling all of us whiny ungrateful babies, as if we owed Reinsdorf something for a single World Series win in the last century, that happened over a decade ago! Nightengale is Williams’ go-to-guy for leaking information, and this was no exception by any stretch of the imagination.
Then you have Williams, who struck oil with a blindfold on while building the 2005 championship team as general manager. Since then, the White Sox have drafted poorly year after year, sold off the few bright prospects they did end up with for aging veterans, and vacuumed up nearly every washed up free agent who would answer the phone. All for his “retool” and “win now” plans, which left Rick Hahn to inherit a core of primarily dead money and a depleted farm system. Even after Williams took his Baseball Operations position as the chairman’s right-hand man, Williams has handcuffed Hahn into the same foolish practices that somehow got him a promotion in this backwards organization.
I won’t pick on Ventura very long, because I believe that he was talked into taking this job five seasons ago, and really never was cut out to be a major-league manager. Before this year, I said that Ventura wasn’t given a fair chance at winning by the front office with the players they were giving him. I jumped off of that train in about June this year, and while I loved Ventura as a player, he absolutely has to be relieved of his managerial duties. Not because the White Sox need a scapegoat, but because they need someone who has any sort of feel for how to manage a game tactically.
So how does it change? How do the White Sox extinguish the dumpster fire? Reinsdorf is not selling the team any time soon, unfortunately. That being said, Ventura and hitting coach Todd Steverson have to be gone come next week at the minimum. For Hahn to have any chance at building a winning product, Williams has to become completely hands-off, or gone entirely if he can’t be okay with that.
Beyond personnel moves, the White Sox can go in two directions in the attempt to put a winning product in front of the fans at the big red arrow, err, Guaranteed Rate Field. Obviously, they could keep the core that they have now, and make sensible free-agent acquisitions this winter by actually opening the wallet to fill the current holes. Or they could sell off Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and any other veterans with trade value and dig in for a complete overhaul over the next few years.
I would be content with either one of those scenarios as a fan, with the key word being ONE of those. Pick one direction, dig in, and commit to the process. The moral of this story is that the White Sox fanbase is drained, and we need this franchise to wake up! Jerry, you struggle to fill the stadium every year, you sit in the bottom of Major League Baseball in attendance, and now you can’t even get the fans to watch the games on TV with the maddening direction of the franchise, or lack thereof. The only team in all of baseball with lower television ratings than the Chicago White Sox are the Oakland Athletics.
Things are in really bad shape on the south side of Chicago right now, and any remaining optimism from the fanbase is wearing increasingly thin with each organizational blunder.
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