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Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova


by George Bova

The Sox lose, they're out of the pennant race (many, many weeks now) and the only question any Sox Fan is left to ask is, "Will Ozzie go off in his post-game comments?"

It's been that kind of year.

What's the big difference between the 2008 Sox that blew a first-place lead but clawed their way back towards winning a one-game playoff with Minnesota for the division crown, and the 2009 Sox on pace to lose 85 games and finish a weak third?  When you think about it, not very much is different at all.  Is this what has Ozzie so upset?

Ozzie knows how well this team is capable of playing and most every Sox Fan agrees this team ought to be a pennant contender, too.  Instead Ozzie must rail about a lethargic group of players who seemingly understand their season is over and no longer appear ready to jump whenever their manager flares his nostrils and opens his mouth wide.

Do these Sox still belong to Ozzie Guillen?  Only Kenny Williams know for sure.

We Sox Fans have endured some truly awful teams.  Sometimes the horrendous on-field disasters following a managerial change (1988-89) turned to near-glorious success (1990).  Other times the promising future of a Sox manager's success (1993-94) has seemingly been scuttled as the front office reverses course unexpectedly (1995).   Ultimately it hardly matters what any Sox Fan thinks about the current clubhouse situation or the manager in charge of making the best of it.  Only the Sox GM (and his boss Jerry Reinsdorf) have any real vote.

Williams definitely made moves in 2009 to help inject youth into the roster of this edition of the Sox.  He counted on established major league producers like Carlos Quentin to keep up their numbers in 2009, too.  For whatever reason, these players didn't deliver.  Furthermore the older players -- especially the middle of the order guys -- simply didn't produce.  They looked every bit the aging veterans they truly are.

When catcher A.J. Pierzynski is your most consistent offensive threat throughout a six-month season, you know you have trouble.  No less a sage than Ozzie Guillen himselft noted as much, too.  The Sox have delivered exactly that for their fans.

It's scary to imagine how bad this '09 Sox team might have performed if not for the unlikely heroics of A.J. Pierzynski.  It's scarier still to imagine the wreckage this season might have turned into had Williams not made the move to get Scott Podsednik -- the seemingly washed up hero of the 2005 season -- back on the South Side and setting the table for the Sox offense from his lead-off position.  90+ losses is a completely plausible reality for such a sorry bunch as the '09 Sox without these two guys to prevent the free fall.

If Ozzie's veterans aren't delivering, is there any hope he can bring the best out of the younger players Williams gives him to work with?  Though it's debatable whether Ozzie has the managerial acumen to win with youth, not even the sad sack defenders of such a mediocrity the likes of Brian Anderson can possibly blame Ozzie and the Sox for why this poster child of underachievement has spent most of his summer riding minor league busses inside Boston's farm system.   If there is a debate to be made about Ozzie's inability with younger talent let it revolve around better examples than what Anderson and his partner in underachievement, Brandon McCarthy, can offer the nay-sayers.

What ought not be debatable is how frustrated Ozzie Guillen gets with losing.  He knows what a bummer of a season this has been and -- like the totally biased Sox Fans who live and die with the team -- expresses his frustrations in a manner that gets noticed, both good and bad.  What separates Guillen from all the rest of us who give a shit about the Sox wins total is this:  He's the manager.  When we Sox Fans spout off, the only people who care are the sports blab radio hosts who probably goaded one of us into saying something outrageous across the airwaves that a 50,000 watt channel can offer.  

Guillen is a different case.  When he spouts off, the players must either take it to heart or make the mental leap of blowing it off.  Either way, it's their subsequent performance that we Sox Fans and the wide, wide world of sports mediots turn into news stories.  Right or wrong, Guillen becomes the center of the controversy -- not the inept play of his team that caused his outburst in the first place.

Bummer seasons like 2009 aren't always greeted with fiery diatribes by a Sox manager.  Gene Lamont serves as a recent example of how a mild-mannered style can sink both a Sox team and its manager, too.  Guillen won't ever suffer his ultimate fate quietly, that's for sure!

Instead it's up to Williams to decide.  When Guillen fires on his players for underperforming, the only real yardstick of its success is their subsequent play.  Guillen flat-out told the world back in September, 2005 that his team sucks, and shortly thereafter they went on a tear and never looked back in winning the world championship.  Nobody doubted either Guillen's rationale or his honesty in saying such a thing, and quite apparently the players were grateful the media spotlight was off them for a brief period and squarely on their manager for saying such a thing.  Ozzie's outburst worked.

However poorly the 2009 Sox finish is hardly the point anymore.  Second, third or fourth, this team is going home.  The real story is how WILLIAMS responds.  He will be making the moves this October and beyond, not Guillen.  It's Williams who decides how the Sox roster looks in Glendale next February.  He's proven an impatient man when the topic turns to on-field results.

Here's betting every move he makes is strictly with Ozzie Guillen in mind to manage his team.  The quiet, safe route is not his style either. 

That suits most thinking Sox Fans just fine, bummer 2009 or not.

George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive.  You can write George at

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