8:57 PM CDT, September 27, 2012
Barring some miraculous turn of events this weekend, these are our final chances to reflect on the improbable 2012 White Sox.
Much of the audience already has headed for the exits, so I'm going to roll closing credits now and avoid an empty theater next week.
While Ken Williams never would term a season successful when it concludes after 162 games, he arguably turned in one of his best performances since he succeeded Ron Schueler in 2000.
I would be remiss to give the Sox their final report cards and not heap some praise on Williams, this year's MVP.
Almost all observers mocked the Sox GM when he hired Robin Ventura as his manager. It proved to be a good choice.
Ventura had a calming influence on a team full of kids and even veterans who had grown tired of the reality-TV star wannabe who previously occupied the manager's office. I refuse to point the finger at Ozzie Guillen for the two years of hiccups from Alex Rios and Jake Peavy or the disaster that was Adam Dunn's 2011 season, but it can't be a complete coincidence that all three performed to expectations in a more settled environment.
After the Tigers stumbled early, Williams, as is his history, went for it and pulled off a stunning deal with Boston when he got Kevin Youkilis to fix the White Sox's dreadful third base situation. Remember Brent Morel?
Williams gave up nothing, and the Sox got Youkilis at a bargain. He sparked the club offensively and was an enormous part of its ascent to the top of the division.
Williams bought a cheap insurance policy for rookie closer Addison Reed when he traded for Brett Myers. He acquired Francisco Liriano when Philip Humber and Gavin Floyd were tanking and/or battling injuries.
It all means so very little when you don't participate in the postseason, but Williams and the White Sox made it a decidedly more interesting year than was anticipated.
In Bridgeport, however, interesting doesn't mean enjoyable. Very few Sox fans have termed the season a "fun" ride. Instead, they seem overly eager to get off the roller coaster. I also am guilty of it.
Has there ever been a local team — in any sport — that headed into the final week of a season with playoff hopes still alive, only to be greeted by such palpable indifference? Instead of "Hey, you wanna go?" it's "Hey, when's the next piano going to fall from the sky and land on my head?"
I have no interest in crafting an amendment to the longest book ever written — "Why I Don't Go to White Sox Games" — but if we're recapping the year, it would be a glaring omission if we didn't take the blade to Sox fans for the overwhelming apathy.
This team deserved more affection than it garnered. The "performance" by White Sox fans is more embarrassing than the 100 losses soon to be recorded by the team eight miles north.
These last couple of homestands with sparse crowds have illuminated a curious comment Williams made earlier this season. Eyebrows raised when the Sox boss said he doesn't "enjoy" a baseball season.
How could he when he also has to battle the bottom line, 29 other teams and his own fan base?
I give Ken Williams a B+ for this year's product. And a pat on the back for building us a reasonable bridge to the NFL season.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
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