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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Repeated Mistakes!
by Hal Vickery

Well, it happened again Friday night. The Sox were playing against one of the worst teams in baseball, the Kansas City Royals, and once again, they lost. Only this time it wasnít just the fact that they lost, but how they lost.

Once again Ozzie Guillen put Rob Mackowiak in centerfield, and once again a misplay cost the Sox dearly. Granted, Mackowiakís error was only one of three that led to a six-run inning that put the Royals out of reach, the other two being committed by Alex Cintron and Joe Crede.

However, that doesnít diminish the fact that the only reason Mackowiak committed the error was because for some reason, manager Ozzie Guillen insists on substituting Mackowiak two or three times a week for Brian Anderson, who actually knows how to play the position.

Mackowiak has had experience in centerfield before this season, playing 110 games there for the Pirates (as opposed to 278 games in the corner outfield positions and 231 games in the infield). Of particular note is that his range factor, one of the few meaningful defensive statistics, shows him well below the league average at that position. Well below.

That means he gets to far fewer balls than the average centerfielder. On the other hand, heís taking one or two games a week away from Brian Anderson, who has been among the top outfielders in baseball for most of the season.

Between April and early June the regular substitution of Mackowiak for Anderson made sense. Andersonís batting average was hovering between .150 and .160. Since then, Anderson has raised his batting average nearly eighty points. Yet Ozzie Guillen insists on trotting out Mackowiak a couple of times a week to chase after fly balls that Anderson would easily snag.

I highly doubt that Guillen reads this column, but I havenít been the only one critical of his handling of the centerfield situation. Apparently the comments about Mackowiak playing in Andersonís stead have gotten loud enough for him to comment on, as he did in Sundayís Chicago Tribune.

Guillen was quoted there as saying, "Why you play Mackowiak? Well, we've been playing Mackowiak since the beginning of the season. We are not going to change anything. One thing about it is if I start changing the way we play all year long, they start to panic. I'm not panicking. I will go with the guys I trust. We go with the guys we've had all year long and, hopefully, they perform well."

Thatís all well and good except it is costing the team games at a time when the Sox canít afford to give them away. Had the Sox won Friday night, by the end of play Saturday they could have been only 3.5 behind the Tigers instead of the 4.5 they are now. The Tigers are there for the taking, and Guillen takes the opportunity to yet again play a substitute who canít play the position.

I said it last week and Iíll say it again. To repeat the same mistake over and over without learning from it is one definition of insanity. If that doesnít describe what Ozzie Guillen has been doing in centerfield with Mackowiak, I donít know what does.

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

Hereís a shout out to Steve Dahl, who gave a nice plug to the Windy City Sox Fans Tuesday afternoon. Last month Dahl donated a pair of Scout Seat tickets to the club to auction at their August luncheon. The tickets raised $470.00 for Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities, earmarked for Childrenís Memorial Hospital.

Dahl was talking with Sox play-by-play host Ed Farmer, who asked him if he was going to that nightís game. Steve mentioned that he had donated the tickets to a ďbooster clubĒ that Chris Rongey was involved with. Rongey was the emcee at the clubís August and September luncheon.

After a commercial break, Dahl played Rongeyís description of the luncheon, which included a great deal of information about the club and the auction. I called the program after hearing that because Dahl still wasnít sure if the tickets were for that nightís game.

I wanted to let them know they were, and I got as far as being put on hold, waiting to be on the air, but the topic was changed, so I didnít get on the show. Thatís probably a good thing, though, because I have a tendency to freeze up when I know Iím on a broadcast.

It was very nice of Dahl to play that clip with all the information about the club and the auction.

______________________________________________________________________

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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Repeated Mistakes?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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