You see, after 2000, I was expecting Jerry to be on the cusp of being one of the next great managers in the American League. I mean, after all, he had resolved problems with Frank Thomas and had skippered the Big Hurt through his best season in a Hall of Fame career. He had taken young kids like Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko, Carlos Lee, Chris Singleton, and Mark Johnson and turned them collectively into a 95-game winning machine.
A bevy of arm injuries sidelined the Sox throughout the 2001 season. No problem, I thought … next year, the staff will be back, the club will be healthy, and we'll contend.
2002, another disappointment, came and mercifully went. I blamed the incompetence that surrounded Manuel (in the forms of Nardi Contreras, Gary Ward, Gary Pettis and Wallace Johnson) and banked on the Sox being back in 2003 with new coaches and a team literally brimming with talent.
I guess not. Now, I'm not taking anything away from the Royals, who played superb baseball in the season opening series. They did everything right for all 27 innings. If the Sox were swept by just "getting beat," I don't think I'd be sitting here right now writing this. In the span of the season, three games are just three games. So while I would be disappointed if the Sox were just "getting beat," I could find solace in the fact that someone else was just hotter than we were.
Instead, we lost three games with horrible hitting, unbearable defense and simply bad managerial decisions. I'm amazed no one decided to just walk out of the dugout and hand Tony Pena his wallet, too.
So that's it. No more waiting. No more expectations. Jerry Manuel has got to go. Who should replace him? Stick me in the Wally Backman camp. Maybe what these guys need is someone to come up and make them run laps, yell at them when they screw up, and not accept anything but success.
However, I lament that as long as Jerry Reinsdorf is holding the purse strings and Kenny Williams is putting his own friends in charge, I can't imagine this team winning anything without Roger Bullard replacing U.S. Cellular's grass with three-leaf clovers.
But, no matter what, these are my Sox and I love them. Here's hoping for a fun summer on the South Side … but as long as Manuel insists on sleeping during the games, I won't be holding my breath,
But hey, at least he's better than Terry Bevington.