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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Rant Sox!
by Hal Vickery

Before I start this little rant, I do want everyone to know that I am aware that the Sox’ starting rotation has an ERA a full run above last year, and that is the main reason the Sox have fallen to 1.5 games below the Twins in the AL Wild Card race. That being said, there are several other things that need to be said.

First of all, I never, ever want to see Rob Mackowiak in centerfield again unless there is an emergency. He simply cannot play the position, and his inability to do so once again cost the Sox dearly Saturday night. In a column early in the season, I expressed concern that the Sox were going into the pennant race with no outfielders in reserve. As a result, Ozzie Guillen has had to use Ross Gload, Pablo Ozuna, and Mackowiak.

Mackowiak might be all right as a corner outfielder, but he is terrible at trying to judge fly balls while standing in center. How many balls have we had to watch fly over his head this year as he impotently ran after them because he couldn’t get a good read?

Yes, his use in centerfield may have been justified when Brian Anderson was struggling to keep his batting average over .150, but those days are long gone. Anderson has figured out how to hit major league pitching, and has raised his batting average by about .070 since early June.

Anderson should be playing every day. Let Mackowiak play a corner infield position or a corner outfield position or DH or something. Just keep his sorry keister out of centerfield.

Then there is the little matter of Neal Cotts. Last year Cotts and Cliff Politte were lights out coming out of the bullpen. This year has been a different story, and Politte is long gone. Cotts has been ineffective now for a couple of months. Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has recognized the problem (at least to some extent) by moving Cotts from his set-up role.

That hasn’t been enough, though. How long do we have to continue seeing the following scenario?

A Sox starter gets into trouble in the fifth or sixth inning with a left-handed hitter coming to bat. Ozzie signals to his bullpen for the lefty. Out comes Cotts.

One of three things happens:

1) Cotts walks the batter he was brought in to get out;

2) Cotts gives up one or more hits and all the runners he inherited score;

3) Cotts gives up a home run.

Neal Cotts should never, ever be brought into the game in those situations. He should be relegated to mop-up duty. Period!

One definition of insanity is that you keep doing the same things even though it never works. Yet, here we see Ozzie Guillen continuing to cause losses by putting Mackowiak into centerfield and Cotts in relief in game situations. When will the insanity end?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is silent testimony to the popularity of this column that no one asked last week, “Where’s Vickery’s column?” Despite the obvious lack of any interest, I’m going to tell you what happened.

I was just plain beat. That’s all. Call it mental exhaustion if you will. Last week began with a Sunday night/Monday morning trip to the ER with a case of hives. Nobody knows what caused them, but it took a shot of Benadryl and a dose of Prednisone to get rid of them.

However, just a couple of days later I received a call from my mother who said she thought she had a kidney stone. She let me know she was taking a trip to the ER. Naturally I immediately drove down to Kankakee to keep her company for at least part of the six or seven hours she spent there before they were able to secure a room for her.

A couple of days later she was able to go home, but the stone was still in place. She still may have to have surgery, but at least she’s no longer having pain from it.

My first day back at work was this past Friday which meant that what I was trying to do while all this was going on was to finalize my lesson plans for the first few weeks. I spent most of the weekend doing just that, so when it came time to think of something to write, well, I just emailed Palehose George that there was no way.

My mind was mush. There are those who after reading this week’s column will say that it still is.

______________________________________________________________________

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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