In the end, did it matter who hit leadoff and played center? Was any other option really that much better? To put it another way, was a one-dimensional player going to help a team so desperately in need of help on all fronts? Was there really that much of a difference between the zero-dimensional player who initially got the job and the one-dimensional player who deserved it?
The Catch (you know the one I’m talking about) was pretty cool, and no one, not even the most embittered fan/beat reporter/blogger can take that away from him. Ever. His offense was non-existent but he made The Catch. His judgment on the basepaths was suspect, but he made The Catch. He didn’t understand that he wasn’t the answer to the Sox’ problems, but he made The Catch. In a way, he was like Juan Uribe without the reckless power, or Scott Podsednik without the calculated bursts of precisely-rationed speed; in another, more precise way, he was Dewayne Wise.
Say this for Dewayne Wise: the guy is a testament to drive and motivation. As bad as he ever played (and no matter how badly we treated him) he stuck to it, kept his eyes on the prize and refused to let people wear him down, and you have to respect that. Have to. On the other hand, drive and motivation don’t mean much when you’re a supposedly speedy leadoff guy with 52 total bases in 142 at-bats and a 4-for-9 success rate in stolen base attempts.
Dewayne Wise posted a terrible offensive line in 2009. Terrible. But you know what? So did most White Sox outfielders. Alex Rios was less effective a hitter than Wise. Carlos Quentin hit a mere 11 points higher than Wise; Jermaine Dye’s second-half average was actually worse than Wise’s. This is of course misleading – the difference being that Quentin et al believably could do better because they already have done better; Dewayne Wise’s best season fell short of any of those players’ worst. In the end, Dewayne Wise becomes more than a season or a catch or a blind refusal to quit; Dewayne Wise is where White Sox outfielders go when they die.