9:08 AM CDT, August 1, 2011
You can get mad at White Sox general manager Ken Williams for not making a trade Sunday to improve a team that claims to be in a race but plays like it’s lying about that.
Look, no deal is going to matter if the general manager is going to bring in absolute stiffs such as Alex Rios and no deal is going to matter if the manager is going to make the continued soul-crushing decision to start the guy.
Rios looks like the biggest dog to play for the Sox in two decades.
Forget the fact that he can’t hit. The Sox have a lot of those guys and you can’t hide all of the offensive disasters. What’s inexcusable, however, is that Rios plays the outfield as if nothing matters. What’s further mind-numbing is that Rios gets to play the outfield the next day.
I never expected Williams and Guillen to tolerate a guy who refuses to hustle, but they do. Rios is proof. Rios spent the weekend pantsing them.
In Saturday’s embarrassing loss, Rios dawdled to balls twice. Twice. He shouldn’t have done it once. That’s on him. But when he does it a second time, that’s on the manager.
The first aggravating play Saturday came in the fifth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove a Philip Humber pitch to right center. Rios seemed to be taking his time, looking at right fielder Carlos Quentin instead of urgently trying to get the ball. Carl Crawford, meanwhile, was scoring the game’s first run.
The more damning play came in the eighth after Josh Reddick walked with two outs and the Sox trying to keep their deficit at three runs. Marco Scutaro dropped a single to right-center, not much more than one of Hawk Harrelson’s duck snorts. Rios took his sweet time getting to the ball, then appeared to handle it like it was a Faberge egg. Rios held it, held it, held it, looked it over, and then, wait, oh yeah, the game is still going on.
And then Rios threw to the wrong base, natch. And then Reddick scored from first. Scored from first, do you hear me? Scored from first on a dunker because Rios couldn’t be bothered to play baseball close to the right way.
Rios should’ve been taken out of the game right then and there. Rios certainly should’ve been benched Sunday. In fact, he should’ve been barred from the clubhouse.
Nope, nope and nope. Rios was starting in center the next day, and his heartless play cost the Sox in a big way.
With the Sox up 3-2 in the seventh, Boston had runners on second and third with one out when Dustin Pedroia singled to center. Rios didn’t show much urgency getting to the ball. Nope, he loped laterally instead of charging hard at an angle, and that allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to score from second even though Ellsbury got a late break because he had to make sure the ball got down. Silly boy. He should’ve known better. He should’ve known it would get down easily because it was Rios’ play.
The eventual tying and winning runs scored.
The Sox lost more ground thanks to a guy who could’ve and should’ve been benched.
If Rios can make these plays all weekend and still be in the lineup --- he has been this bad most of the season and kept his job much of the time --- then it’s OK for everyone else to play lazy and uninspired.
The Sox can try to ignore it, but the fans beat them to it. The Sox didn’t sell out even one game over a summer weekend against Boston. The Sox drew one crowd over 30,000. The Sox got stuck with about 30,000 unsold tickets altogether.
Why should the fans care if one of the guys in the starting lineup doesn’t seem to? Why should the fans care if the manager and GM endorse uncaring effort by supporting and playing Rios?
I’ll hang up and listen for Rios’ outright release.
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