Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Talk About Your Disappointments

Given the clearer view that hindsight always provides, ask yourself which team in baseball was more disappointing, Cleveland or Chicago?

We've chronicled the mess that was the Indians seasons several times. In doing so, we've analyzed ad nauseum what went wrong and why. We've also beat into the ground exactly why the Indians season was doomed from the start when cheapskate owners Larry and Paul Dolan shortchanged the team and the fans by not delivering the promised dollars once the team was on the cusp. And we've beaten the stuffing out of the notion that the expectations heaped on this team were unrealistic because they either ignored or greatly minimized the impact the Dolans cheapness would have. So in retrospect, and while it may be fashionable for commentators like ESPN's John Kruk to say, we don't believe the Indians are the most disappointing team in the league. Far from it.

That honor (?) has to go to the Chicago White Sox, last year's World Series champs. Everyone recalls how the Sox laid waste to all that got in their path in last year's playoffs. In the offseason, they enlarged their budget, further strengthened their pitching staff, traded for Jim Thome and dropped team malcontent Frank Thomas. Of all the off season moves made in the league, the consensus was that the Sox got stronger and were poised for another championship.

So what happened? Thome had a remarkable resurgence, although so too did Thomas with Oakland. The point though is that the White Sox received greatly increased production from the DH position. In fact, the White Sox offense was strong all year. They also didn't really have any major injuries to speak of, which is usually what causes a juggernaut to fall short. In the end, the Sox pitchers stunk, particularly their starting pitchers and particularly later in the season. There are many theories as to why this occurred of course, chief among them being last year's long season and subsequent short off season. But in the end, they didn't get it done and couldn't run down hotter, but less talented teams like Detroit and Minnesota.

We can cry and moan all we want about the Indians, and we've done plenty of that. But, again, the expectations for them this season were unrealistic for the reasons noted and thus, in context, it is hard to consider them a major disappointment. But the expectations for the Sox were realistic. In that context, it shouldn't be Joe Giraldi, manager of the Florida Marlins who should be looking for a job next season. It ought to be resident loose cannon Ozzie Guillen, manager of the White Sox. His team, the strongest in the majors from top to bottom, simply didn't produce. Of course, Guillen is the quintessential "players manager", whatever that means, and so he'll get a pass for at least another season.

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