“FIRE GREG WALKER! and while you’re at it, get rid of Ozzie and Kenny Williams as well.” This is basically the company line of the white sox fan base at the moment. The team now was a win-loss record of 7-11 and most likely is just about the worst team in MLB at present (not really — there are actually worse teams, but you’d never know it listening to White Sox fans). While that all sounds good in theory, firing Walker is not the issue with the team and those who call for his firing really don’t get the purpose of a hitting coach or understand some things about the game. (in my crazy opinion). When a hitting coach is fired it is 1) he is being used as a scapegoat because others around him are feeling heat for a bad team, 2) it is done to appease the fan base (bad idea in my opinion) or 3) the guy really does suck and just shows up to the park to collect a paycheck and does absolutely nothing. Reason number 3 IS a legitimate reason to get rid of a hitting coach.
Yes the White Sox are currently bad. Yes, US Cellular Field can play like a band box in the summer when the temps are up. Yes, you need some guys to hit the ball out of the park on your team because the other team will have those guys. But first, you need guys to hit the ball period. The hitting coach can and does provide the information to a GROWN MAN, make sure that man is doing what he needs to, etc. And that same grown man can be locked in and hitting amazing bombs with BP fastballs. Don’t forget, guys have usually been playing baseball their entire lives and are pretty locked into whatever habits they have for hitting a baseball LONG before getting to the majors and dealing with new hitting coaches, etc. However, once you are facing a real live pitcher who is pitching to get a WIN for HIS team, all bets are off. As Ted Williams once said, “the hardest thing to do in baseball is to hit a round baseball with a round bat, squarely.” Why do you think it is such an amazing accomplishment for a guy to be hitting .300? If it were as simple as getting a new hitting coach, don’t you think teams would replace them all the time when their guys are batting at all? How can you expect that a hitting coach is going to solve the unknown variable of what the opposing pitcher is going to do?
Sadly, it is a lot easier to fire one guy than it is to fire 25. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all is well in White Sox land at the moment. I’m just saying that going after an easy scapegoat is just dumb if you truly get what is happening. The guys just aren’t “getting lucky” so to speak with the hits. Don’t believe? Check the stats of teams who have fired the hitting coaches. Usually, the new guy makes a difference for a couple of weeks and whatever issues the players had previous to the replacement show up again. Personally, I think there are too many guys who are too into their own heads and letting whatever demons they have get in the way. Other guys are just unfortunate souls who hit the ball at someone. These are the guys who I think will break through soon as they are making solid contact with the ball, it is just finding someone on the opposing team to make an out.
I’m still hopeful the boys will turn things around and I still stand on the sidelines of the Panic Bus that is rushing through town. There is hope. After all, the last 2 games played, the guys did get walk off wins in the bottom of the 9th. A few more of these as well as getting leads and holding them with some added insurance runs and hopefully the panic bus pulls over to the side of the road and stays there permanently. What I hope doesn’t happen is that the Twins get too far ahead where the Sox will need for the Twins to go on a 30-game skid (because we all know that is a wild fantasy) and the Sox go on an incredible tear.