The South Side has all year witnessed a team crippled by offensive woes, yet refrain from affixing meaningful change when backups outplayed starters, top prospects cleared service time cutoffs, at the trade deadline, when call-ups outplayed starters, when productive hitters were injured and demanded replacements, and now, finally, it appears they're going to stand pat through the waiver period. The last window has closed, right when they're 7 games back of Detroit.
This is it. Now, we can really get mad.
By standing by Alex Rios, standing by Adam Dunn, by laughing off any suggestion that there could ever be a hitter that deserved more plate appearances than Juan Pierre, the White Sox brain trust has bravely stood pat with their original plan from the beginning of season, ignoring every warning sign while trusting their veterans and their vision to bear fruit.
As it would happen, they've wound up facilitating the worst individual offensive season in baseball history from Dunn, a horrific season that might getting more historical reflection in another year from Rios, and have not only failed to win perhaps the worst division in baseball, but look to get blown away.
Those are the type of results that get the pitchforks and torches out (torches! at 4 in the afternoon!), no matter what the ultimately misguided mindset was.
Kenny Williams often gets bad rap for being short-sighted, and the wretched state of the pitching staff of every single minor-league affiliate certainly bears that out. Yet 2011 was viewed with excitement under the perception that this season would at least see Williams take his thirst for immediate glory to its logical conclusion; that no stone would go unturned, no card would go unplayed in trying to drag this aging squad to a division crown.
That's what that throwaway quote from the Winter Meetings about "going all in" meant, right?
There's a lot to suggest now that this isn't the case. Or never was
-Phenomenal patience given to players through extreme, season-endangering struggles
-Refusal to "make a spot" for prospects who could offer immediate assistance
-Shedding payroll and talent at the deadline
-Giving starts to overmatched rookies down the stretch to "see what they have"
Maybe that makes the events of 2011 more rational, but no less of a misread. It's not wrong to say this team was probably cooked when their Opening Day No. 3 and No. 5 hitters never showed up for duty, and if ownership truly was unwilling to step farther after the massive investment of the off-season, that'd be a fair stance (if undermined by the suggested improvement being of minimal cost)
But the AL Central is at a time of intense weakness, and to believe that this roster will not continue to experience aging in uneven and disorienting bursts is to place more faith in Herm Schneider than probably should be placed in any single man, magic apron or not.
I can't imagine that the White Sox will regret all those extra Triple-A at-bats Dayan Viciedo got, or regret letting Adam Dunn know they still believe in him, as much as they may regret the security those decisions came from when the Royals are a consistent power throughout the middle portion of the decade, or the Twins go another half-dozen seasons without ever being so snakebitten again.
2011 does not look to be Chicago's year, but hell if it was anybody else's. I thought we were all staring at the same vacuum, the same abdicated throne.