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Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Unflappable Ozzie Flap!

by George Bova

"The secret of managing is keeping the five guys who hate you away from the 20 others who are still undecided."
-- Earl Weaver

When the topic of media coverage of the White Sox is discussed, there is one certainty any Sox Fan can always take to the bank:  The media will get the message exactly backwards.  Once this is established, the next-biggest certainty is what the media will then insist upon:  Sox Fans are never satisfied about the media or anything else.

Go ahead Sox Fans, kill the messenger.  They've got it coming and the recent flap over the unflappable Ozzie Guillen's public comments only underscore the point.  Their ignorance of the subject is only eclipsed by their incompetence for analyzing the situation.

There was no real news in the manager of the White Sox calling for roster moves from his GM.  Ozzie was speaking the plain truth:  The players given to him to win baseball games were failing.  After several sub-par road game performances by the most accomplished veteran hitters on the entire roster, who amongst the media could doubt the point Ozzie was making?  As it turns out, all of them.  Typical...

It was especially amusing to hear the two pseudo-intellectuals hosting their afternoon sportsblab show, the toilet-bowl humor twins whose biggest claim to fame is their ongoing feature, "Who you crappin'?"  Yuck, yuck, yuck... "Now on to another gentlemen's club radio ad!"

These two maroons spent most of an entire show alternately stroking and teasing callers with one silly comment after another until one of them finally gave up with this spasm, "Ozzie shouldn't have said it.  He's management."  Did this bore really think Ozzie had it in his power to act upon his spoken desire -- trade ballplayers?  We always knew they were no-talent dopes; We never thought they would ever admit to it.

Last Tuesday's Sox line up was comprised from the same 25 guys Ozzie Guillen has been choosing from for several weeks now.  There have been no Sox trades completed without GM Kenny Williams pushing the buttons, not Ozzie.  No trades have happened since and none appear imminent as the first-place Sox keep winning and extending their lead.  That's Ozzie's first-place team, playing with Kenny Williams' division-leading ballplayers. 

But there are more reasons to dismiss this flap surrounding the unflappable Ozzie.  To state the obvious that the sportsblab geniuses neglect to note, there are no solutions for either Ozzie Guillen or Kenny Williams to implement that don't include precisely the hitters currently comprising the middle of the everyday Sox line up.  There is no 2008 replacement for Jim Thome, nor for Paul Konerko or Jermaine Dye either.  The Sox are stuck with these guys for the remainder of this season, or at least until the July deadline when the Sox would be selling worthless talent for 2009, not for a 2008 pennant rush.  No amount of yelping by the manager will ever change this fact.  Would it help if we drew Dan Bernstein a picture? 

It's noteworthy that Jim Thome thought enough of the situation to publicly utter his support for his manager, noting it's his prerogative to say and do what he wants.  A wise man, Mr. Thome.  He knows he and others are the ones causing Ozzie all this distress, not because of what he has been doing with the bat this year but because of what he has done year after year for many prior seasons as a sure future hall-of-famer.  Ozzie has every right to expect his veteran hitters to hit.  Blaming hitting coach Greg Walker was a square-pegged excuse to fit the round-hole problem for what's wrong with these veteran hitters: Thome, Konerko and Dye.  Not even Greg Walker was dumb enough to take any (great) offense.  He wised up and clammed up soon enough.  No rational observer could ever blame him, though plenty of irrational ones surely would.

The best part of this Ozzie flap was the point most overlooked.  At a moment in time when the White Sox are only the second of two first-place Chicago baseball teams -- a date when overmatched boobs the size of Harry Tiny-wits are all but reaching orgasms over a 7-win homestand -- it's not the Chicago Cubs capturing all the sportsblab discussion.  It's OUR Chicago White Sox and OUR loose-cannon manager, the excitable Ozzie Guillen.

You can't pay for this sort of publicity.  Just ask the 2003 Sox, a first-place team that Chicago's sports mediots nearly forgot about in September while swooning over crosstown chokers still one month from meeting their laughable fate.  Ozzie offers more daily quotable quotes than Jerry Manuel ever offered in a whole season, not counting of course his mean-spirited dismissals of Sox talent the likes of Frank Thomas, Jon Garland or Jim Parque.

The plain truth is Ozzie Guillen is good copy.  If the Sox are winning, he's good copy.  If the Sox are losing, he's good copy.  The only bad copy is the copy you never get.  (See "Sox, 2003" above.)  Better still is how hardly anyone ever knows what the hell Ozzie is even talking about.  Whether in English or Spanish, Ozzie always leaves his audience guessing.  In a kids' game being played by grown men, is this such a bad thing?  Far more major league managers have done harm to their team's playoff chances for things they said than by the things they never said.  (See "Sox, 2003 above.)

The ultimate test of Ozzie Guillen as manager is how his ballplayers respond to him.  Unlike a little league manager -- or even a college or minor league skipper -- all of Ozzie's talent is highly-skilled and most of it veteran-tested.  If they don't believe in their manager, the results become obvious soon enough.  There is little doubt the 2000 Sox believed in Jerry Manuel and there is little doubt the 2005 Sox believed in Ozzie Guillen, too.  But there is little doubt the 2008 Sox believe in their manager, too.  They respond.  When they stop responding  we can be pretty sure the numbers quoted above by ex-Orioles managerial legend Earl Weaver have reversed themselves.  Ozzie's clubhouse is a long way from that.

They respond for reasons maybe we as outsiders can never understand.  Can we take them at their word that the hardest part of their job is simply dealing with the pressure of performing well every day in a sport where failing two of every three times makes you an all star?  We ought to.

When Ozzie Guillen is making headlines, the mediots are there to hound Ozzie.  To persecute Ozzie.  To cry like the whiney babies they are about how "Ozzie should shut up; He's management." 

More noteworthy, they're not hounding Thome, Konerko or Dye.  They have only so much air time and column-inches to fill.  Breathless "Heavenly Bodies" ads fill up the rest.

Personally I doubt Ozzie was doing anything more than blowing off steam.  The fact he chose to blow off steam in a very public way and in a manner that clearly telegraphed the impossibility of the situation makes him an effective manager, not an ineffective one.  His ballplayers respond.  The fact the mediots respond, too, is only positive.  Better to talk more about the Sox than fall back into the routine they're most used to:  Ignoring them.

The most perceptive members of the media openly admit when they're being manipulated.  However I doubt any of Chicago's sports mediots would ever give Ozzie credit for manipulating his ballplayers, never mind manipulating their own coverage of his team. 

What makes this situation so delicious for this Sox Fan is knowing they think we're turning on our manager over flaps like this -- and earning ratings for having us tune in to hear them rip on him, too. 

Quite the contrary. 

We find them to be contemptible ignoramuses for the best reason of all.  They've earned it.


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive.  You can write George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com

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