Baseball players rarely make farewell tours. For every Mariano Rivera -- who was still great in his last season -- there are tons guys who want to keep playing, but are told they can't cut it so pack it up.
White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is adding more and more evidence to the case that he can't cut it. Since Jose Abreu has been out of the lineup, he's gone 2-for-15. Yes, both hits drove in runs, and yes, one of them was a two-run homer crushed to center at Kaufmann Stadium. That still leaves Konerko with a .133/.133/.333 batting line. That's after his .208/.259/.333 start as a part-time DH/pinch hitter.
Maybe it's hard to come off the bench and perform in sporadic duty. And maybe Konerko needs some time to settle back into a starting rhythm again. I think to believe those excuses you really have to ignore the fact that Paulie has been terrible since June of 2012.
If Konerko can't hold up to the rigors of everyday play anymore, and he can't be effective as a part-timer, he's got no value to the team outside of his role of ambassador, clubhouse leader, historical treasure, mascot, or whatever it is he was brought back for.
When this season looked for sure like it would be a lost one for the Sox, that might have been acceptable. But besides the fact that even at two games under .500, the Sox are still nominally in the playoff picture, the team just has better uses for Konerko's at-bats and roster spot than letting him take an extended bow before the fans.
They might want to use those at-bats to give Alejandro De Aza a better chance of righting his ship so he can be traded for something useful. Or the Sox might want to keep Marcus Semien's bat from atrophying on the bench.
If third base prospect Matt Davidson turns his season around at Triple-A Charlotte, he could begin his seasoning at the big league level later this year, and current third baseman Conor Gillaspie certainly doesn't deserve to be pulled from the lineup.
It's possible the Sox lose 10 in a row, or 15 of 20, or 20 of 25 and put an end to any idea of contending. And maybe that opens the door for trades of De Aza, Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham and even Dayan Viciedo.
By that point, more younger players might have pushed themselves into the picture, like Micah Johnson. And despite their earlier MLB failures, it would probably be prudent of the Sox to give Jordan Danks and Josh Phegley more chances to try adjusting to a higher level with both not having much left to prove at Triple-A.
As unlikely as it might be that Danks or Phegley can stick, there's a chance they might, while one way or another, this is going to be the end for Konerko.
It'd be nice if it didn't come down to another situation like the one the Sox were in 21 years ago when they unceremoniously released Carlton Fisk. Fisk believed up until the end that he could still play, though I don't think many other people believed it. Fisk had played well as recently as Konerko has.
Perhaps Konerko could pick his own spot. As a long-time team fixture, he deserves to do that more than John Kruk did during his season with the Sox.
Maybe the decision is going to be for everyone to not make a decision. To wait for an injury, or just play out the string. And maybe the Sox just want to give Konerko that luxury more than they want to move on.