We’re done here
By James Fegan
5-17 is a stretch that sinks seasons far better than this one, but it’s what the White Sox have and they’re in no position to reject surplus value.
As it is, with a hysterical flameout against the dregs of the league in the middle of the softest part of a schedule that should have built up the myth of their ability to contend, the White Sox will at least be spared from the ending they have suffered every year I have blogged about this team–a disillusioning evisceration at the hands of the eventual AL Central winner in a crucial late-season showdown.
Instead of lionizing the accomplishments of a second-place team, the White Sox will go and are already going through the relatively new experience–and certainly new for the coaching staff and GM–of being adrift in June and sifting through a torent of calls to do something. React, to the disaster.
For the past week, the practice du jour in the news has been of grabbing “The ship be sinking,” quotes from every prominent former White Sox player hanging around. It’s been a mixed bag, to say the least.
Hawk Harrelson was corralled to say what was readily apparent to anyone who has listened to him this year and to plenty who have not, that this season has been a waking, torturous nightmare for him.
"“It’s been hell on me, I can tell you that,’’"
Perhaps it’s just the result of listening to him closer, but Hawk has seemed more immediately emotionally vulnerable during games in recent years, so this year has come at the worst possible time. It’s like they’re trying to kill him out there.
Typically, Harrelson’s analysis is too shaded by these emotions to deserve much attention, and even his criticism remains parental in tone. That makes it interesting to hear him slam players, even if by anonymous implication.
"“I feel so bad for some of the players — not all of them,’’ he said. “And I feel bad for Robin and his staff because this is a helluva staff.‘’"
Bill Melton, despite working for a network that sort of wants people to watch White Sox games on the TV and being around the team a lot, went full-on in advocating a scorched earth rebuild. I should invite him to join the blog.
"“Everybody’s in the mix. You really have to get rid of what will get you the most. I don’t think anyone’s untouchable when you’re in this situation, when you got a ball club that’s pretty much depleted in the minor leagues.”"
But while Melton and Hawk were about all purging a roster where the talent and #TWTW has run dry, Frank Thomas smells blood and punishment, and doesn’t make it hard to discern that he’s thinking about Jeff Manto’s hold on the hitting coach’s job.
"“Robin has showed a great trait as a very good manager in protecting his coaches, in protecting his players, but I’ve been in this organization for 20 years. I saw the heat [former White Sox hitting coach] Greg Walker had everyday and he had some very good hitting ball clubs,” Thomas said. “Sooner or later, the finger is going to start pointing and the blame is going to come out, and we’re going to see that very shortly.”"
And here I was wondering what would inspire Scot Gregor to write an article speculating on Thomas’ interest in the hitting coach position…beyond, of course, his previously well-established interest in the position. All the furor is enough to force Robin Ventura into the process of issuing votes of confidence.
Not to launch into some defense of Manto, since besides my general distaste for blaming coaches when I can’t really know what they’re doing and his record of success at this point is just Alex Rios, but this is not a treatment in line with the Sox season.
They’re not the 2011 version of themselves, or even 2012 Marlins while we’re piling on Ozzie. They were not the sort of pre-season juggernaut whose talent is so unimpeachable that only the coaching could be responsible. Even the Royals had a bigger obligation to do something year, which is important since jamming Frank into the dugout would basically mirror the situaton in Kansas City.
This White Sox team figured to not be that good and had been staving off age-related disaster for a while. That they’re actually awful and shirking their PECOTA projections in the wrong is bad, but the coaching staff deserves a shot with some decent talent as much as vice-versa.
It’s always true, but if the failure of the 2013 White Sox brings about job losses, it had better be because there’s an opportunity to bring in someone better, not to fulfill desires for punishment. I can sympathize with those who see the Sox go 1-6 against the Twins and Astros and think someone needs to fall for this dreck of a viewing experience, but I watch it and think–there was never a chance. Never…Withdraw…Retreat
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan