Columnist Paul Ladewski: White Sox haven't been the same since Shines replaced joey Cora as third-base coach.
This Hindenburg of a baseball season on the South Side is all Razor Shines’ fault, if you ask me. Because ever since Shines replaced Joey Cora as third-base coach last season, the White Sox haven’t been the same team.
Yeah, that explains it. Razor Shines.
Hey, why not? We’ve already blamed the owner, the general manager, the farm director, the manager, the hitting coach, the pitching coach - just about everybody except the groundskeeper and the scoreboard operator, it seems. So why should Razor Shines get a free pass here?
Strange, but the ones who are really to blame for the Bummer of ’07 have been way too quiet, gotten off way too easy.
Yeah, the players themselves.
Take a look at the roster. See any All-Stars there? Not a one. Other than Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Bobby Jenks, A.J. Pierzynski and Jim Thome, no veteran player has been as much as mediocre thus far, for godsakes.
Blame Ozzie Guillen and Ken Williams all you want. If they’re part of the team, then they’re part of the problem. But the massive collapse isn’t about a manager who can’t motivate his players or a general manager who can’t rebuild a bullpen. No, the nose-dive is about 25 well-fed, well-paid, well-trained players who haven't gotten it done for whatever reasons, pure and simple.
What else can you say about a team that Cubs leadoff man Alfonso Soriano outscored by himself in a three-game series except that it needs a shake-up in, say, the next 30 minutes if not sooner.
“Yes,” Williams promised changes even before the North Siders brought out the brooms at The Cell on Sunday afternoon. “Something’s gotta happen. I’m tired of watching this.”
So long, Mark Buehrle? You, too, Jermaine Dye?
Until then, just once I’d like to hear a “We stink like rotten eggs, and there’s no excuse for it” out of the mouths of any of these guys, in no particular order:
Alex Cintron. Him and his anorexic .258 on-base percentage.
Jose Contreras. Fifteen starts, five wins, 4.63 ERA, 9 million bucks.
Jermaine Dye. His .230 batting average is 44 points lower than his career mark.
Darin Erstad. Even before he was hurt again, his .311 on-base percentage wasn’t exactly Ichiro stuff.
Toby Hall. Five hits, zero RBI, 28 at-bats, $85 per diem.
Tadahito Iguchi. Word is he wants to play on the West Coast next season. Seems like his head is already there at times.
Paul Konerko. Hasn’t been this bad since Jerry Manuel was the manager years ago.
Rob Mackowiak. Seven extra-base hits, 162 at-bats.
Mike MacDougal. Four years ago, he was an All-Star selection. Now he has a 7.23 ERA.
Juan Uribe. Looks fat, plays lazy. Is his head in the Dominican Republic, where he claims to have been the victim of an extortion attempt?
Matt Thornton. He was supposed to be one of the best left-handed relievers in the game, but his fastball is straighter than John McCain right now.
Javier Vazquez. Score two runs, the $12.5 million man allows three. Score five, he coughs up six. Not even Lindsay Lohan is this big of a tease.
Mind you, these guys aren’t scrubs. This is the nucleus of the 2005 World Series champion team. Every one of them had experienced various degrees of success in his career.
As Williams put it, “I don’t need to address this team. These guys are veteran guys. They’ve been through the rigors of the season. They’ve had a lot of success in their careers. I have coaches and a manager who have talked until they’re blue in the face and have given everyone the information. They’ve made efforts to motivate. They’ve pushed and prodded in every way, every shape.”
As downright pathetic as the Sox have been lately, there remains a window of opportunity for them to get back in the race in the next three weeks. Check out the schedule. Last-place Baltimore Orioles, eight games. Last-place Kansas City Royals, four games. Fourth-place Tampa Bay Devil Rays, three games. Third-place Minnesota Twins, three games. The competition is so soft that Huggies wants to sponsor it.
But for the season to be saved - that is, if it can be saved at all - Williams needs to work his magic and work it now.
“I wish I knew. I wish I knew, really,” K-Will said in a search for answers. “The thought of trading people who just helped you win the World Series two years ago makes my stomach turn.”
Hand them a mirror and it will hurt a lot less, I say.
Paul Ladewski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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