ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Know a sure sign that things are going south? That maybe it's time to toss the blueprint in the shredder and throw up your hands?
When your manager is talking about his underwear.
"Money no buy happiness," Ozzie Guillen was saying the other day. "I was more happy with one pair of shoes. One pair of underwear. One shirt.
"Now, I have everything. And I'm not too happy every day."
He was talking about the miserable situation that is Adam Dunn's. Monster contract and monstrous disappointment. He was also talking a little bit about himself, and this summer's long sink into the quicksand.
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What general manager Kenny Williams and Guillen together have constructed in 2011 essentially is a bad Katy Perry song. Up then they're down, in then they're out, hot then they're cold.
Mostly, down, out and cold. No team in the game has been more disappointing. Nobody has been more of a tease.
They should have been left in the dust weeks ago, but Detroit refused to let them go quietly. The Tigers remained mediocre enough for the White Sox to hang around.
So here they are after Wednesday's 8-0 loss, 34 games left, 6½ games behind Detroit -- largest deficit since June 5 -- and:
In or out?
Chicago's season in a nutshell, Part I: Paul Konerko cracks his 2,000th career hit Tuesday night, just the 13th player in club history to reach that milestone. What surely meant even more to the classy Konerko was that it was a game-tying hit in the eighth inning. What overrode everything was, the ChiSox lost in the ninth.
Chicago's season in a nutshell, Part II: Second inning Wednesday, Alex Rios and Dunn look neutered while fanning against Angels ace Jered Weaver. These are two hitters who were vitally important to a team that broke camp this spring a contender. Rios was hitting .214 with eight homers; Dunn .167 and ranks second in the majors in strikeouts.
There are dozens and dozens of other nutshells like those strewn about in a season that looks like the floor of a peanut-serving tavern.
|Chicago expected a lot more production from Adam Dunn than 11 HRs and 40 RBI. (AP)|
"Usually when you get hit by a pitch, it doesn't last for weeks on end," Konerko said. "It wasn't the hardest one I've ever been hit with. It was just in a bad spot."
That's the White Sox.
"The best-laid plans don't always go the way you lay them," Konerko said. "As players, we understand how fragile things are. Personal performance. Team performance.
"So many variables can change the outcome of how a season goes."
Jake Peavy's comeback didn't take. No everyday player has been as awful as Dunn since Rob Deer, who batted .179 for Detroit in 1991. Rios is a dud. Gordon Beckham (.238, nine homers, 34 RBI) has gone backward. A.J. Pierzynski (fractured wrist) is on the disabled list, and Carlos Quentin (strained left shoulder) was out of the lineup for a third consecutive game Wednesday.
The Cold War between Williams and Guillen continues to rage, according to multiple sources, creating dysfunction in the clubhouse and disharmony in the organization. The atmosphere surrounding the club is such that owner Jerry Reinsdorf is going to be forced into some hard and unpleasant decisions this winter.
Speculation already is rampant that Guillen will be romanced by the Florida Marlins. Owner Jeffrey Loria loves him. But as bad as things currently are on Chicago's South Side, I'm not convinced he's looking for an exit. He loves the White Sox and he loves Chicago. I'm not sure his outsized personality would fit inside of many other cities.
Questions are, failing a hot last month that propels the Sox into the playoffs and erases five months of bad memories:
Must Guillen, signed through this season with a 2012 option, go?
Must Williams, whose contract rolls over from year to year and pays him one year of severance if terminated, go?
Or will Reinsdorf haul them in for another scolding, ala 2010, and end the nonsense?
That's not all. Rick Hahn, the highly respected Sox assistant GM, is getting prominent mention as a candidate for the Cubs' GM job. If he crosses town and builds a winner in Wrigley while the Sox continue to sink, how embarrassing will that be for the ol' White Sox owner?
To that degree, as Reinsdorf evaluates Williams vs. Guillen, he's going to have to at least consider the option of promoting Williams to, say, club president and making Hahn the GM, isn't he? But Williams is so hands on, would that configuration even come close to working? And would a Hahn-Guillen relationship work?
Desperate Housewives can only hope to have as much drama this fall.
Of course, these are the Sox, so check back in another week.
In the clubhouse, they're shellshocked and perplexed. You can see the end of the season from here, and it is not pretty.
"You feel for the guy," Pierzynski said "We've all been there, been through it. Obviously not to the extent he's at. ..."
What Guillen and the Sox are praying for is one good month from Dunn, and maybe others can sail strongly in his wake. Since May 7, White Sox pitchers have produced a combined 3.57 ERA, best in the AL. The lineup, though, is 10th in the AL in runs scored in 2011.
Key to the last 34 games?
"Hit," Guillen said. "Hit. Offense. If we get offense, we'll be better. I don't know if we'll be fine, because we're competing with two clubs [Detroit and Cleveland] that are playing well."