In a meeting with beat writers at SoxFest on Friday, general manager Kenny Williams recalled how he was the toast of the town just one short year ago.
He had recently signed free-agent slugger Adam Dunn, brought back Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and added two veteran arms, Jesse Crain and Will Ohman, to the bullpen.
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Right before SoxFest 2011, Williams, his girlfriend and some other friends went out for dinner at Chicago Cut Steakhouse.
"One table stood up and started clapping, and then the whole dining room started cheering." Williams said. "So a couple days later my girlfriend asked me, 'Do you get that? Does that happened a lot?' 'No, but it's happening more and more.'
"But I said, 'That's today. If the same guys we just acquired aren't playing very well in June, it will be a complete opposite response and not only will I not get cheered, I will get booed and people will want to send me on my way for acquiring the very same players that they were cheering about a short while ago.'
"I explained it to her, and unfortunately it came to fruition. But it's the perspective that I've grown to understand. That's just the way it is."
Fast forward to the Palmer House Hilton late Friday afternoon, and new manager Robin Ventura, Konerko, Pierzynski, Harold Baines and 2005 World Series hero Joe Crede were greeted with raucous applause during the opening introductions.
Williams was well received, but some boos were mixed in.
"It kind of comes with the territory," Williams said as he enters his 12th season as White Sox GM. "When the team plays well, the players and the coaching staff get the accolades. That's great. It's as it should be. When the team plays poorly, it's the GM and owner's fault. It is what it is. It's part of the deal."
Here is the deal with Williams -- his long run as general manager could be nearing the end if the Sox have another down season.
Williams said he offered to step down "several times" last season, but chairman Jerry Reinsdorf apparently saw no reason to make a GM change while releasing manager Ozzie Guillen from his contract.
This time around, Williams might walk away if Reinsdorf does not act first.
When asked about his long-term plans, Williams said: "I think I'll pass on answering that."
Williams has had better weeks.
On Sunday, his son Kyle made two costly mistakes that cost the San Francisco 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl.
Williams said Kyle is doing just fine, and a strong support system is helping him move forward.
After hearing the boos Friday, Williams said he still believes the White Sox have enough talent to contend for the playoffs. But having to reduce payroll by moving productive players like Mark Buehrle, Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos on the heels of a 79-83 season has taken a toll.
"Given my druthers, I would always like to be competitive and like to be aggressive," Williams said. "That is my nature. But at some point -- and listen it's very difficult, especially with the kind of financial parameters you have -- it's very difficult to compete for the length of time that we've competed and not have to have a tear down at some point in time.
"I don't expect anyone to appreciate that that hasn't sat in this chair."
Williams did say the Sox are rebuilding after trading Santos at the winter meetings, but he said the second part of his statement was widely ignored.
"Nobody said anything about what I said immediately after that, where I said there was not going to be a domino falling kind of (rebuilding)," Williams said. "So what you've got is a little bit of a hybrid."
Call it what you want, the White Sox are ready to make amends for 2011 with the talent on hand.
"It's always easier to have less pressure, less expectations, and then go out and do it," second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "Nobody thought Arizona would win the NL West last year and they did. So it's just one of those things. If we mesh well and do what we're supposed to do, I really think we have a great chance."
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