I’m going to miss Our Ozzie.
I’ll miss his bewildering stream of conciousness, his fall-down-laughing humor, his solid managing and his debunking of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Most of all, though, I’ll miss that we had “one of us” at the helm of the White Sox who no longer will be the face of the franchise.
Having said all that as a fan of Ozzie since he put on the Sox uniform in 1985 and one who saw him guide the Sox to a World Series title, it’s time for the skipper, and for us, to move on. Nothing lasts forever and it became obvious when Ozzie began campaigning for a contract extension. Sorry, Oz, but that was bad timing if you really wanted to stay in Chicago. A contract extension after presiding over one of the most disappointing seasons in the teams’s history? There was no way that was going to fly with the Chairman.
So, what now? I think it would be an exercise in futility to try and find someone as colorful and fits as perfectly as Ozzie did in the context of his Sox bloodline. That person doesn’t exist. That’s not to say we won’t hire an outstanding manager with the potential of getting better results–even someone with a high profile who will help bring the fans back into the fold. But there’s only one Ozzie and we shouldn’t look for a clone.
The names of candidates are out there, though Kenny Williams hasn’t tipped his hand. Tony LaRussa is a longshot at best. There’s Dave Martinez, Sandy Alomar, Jr., up and coming AAA manager Joe McEwing, former manager and Sox player development director Buddy Bell, among them. Williams has said that because of Ozzie’s “warning” the Sox already have been focusing on a possible replacement and the decision could come sooner than later.
Last offseason, the Sox were “All In” for 2011. This offseason there undoubtedly will be substantial changes. A new manager, certainly new coaches and a belt-tightening that might see more familiar names–like Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton and Carlos Quentin–leaving as well.
It’s a time of change on the South Side. While I’ll miss Ozzie and some of the others, an overhaul is the right thing to do. We need to move on.
It is what it is, we are where we are and it’s a long way from where we thought we’d be. The stark reality is that we’re one game above .500 and nine games behind the Tigers with 21 games to go.
Ozzie has said that it doesn’t matter where the White Sox finish in the standings if we don’t win the division. I’m a big fan of the skipper, but I respectfully disagree. Let’s capitalize on the eight games left against the Indians and finish in second place. And while we’re at it, how about getting a bit of revenge by making the last three games against Detroit uncomfortable for the soon-to-be division champions. It would also be nice in the upcoming 13 home games to reach the .500 mark or above at U.S. Cellular Field. We’re presently six below.
Achieving these goals won’t make up for a season we’d all like to forget, but it’ll help us get through the winter a little easier and boost our hopes for 2012.
The conventional wisdom in the media is that lists, polls and surveys are sure to create buzz among its viewers, listeners and readers. So, everybody does it.
I was particularly amused today when I saw a poll in the Chicago Tribune asking readers to answer the question, “Who is most to blame for the Adam Dunn debacle?” The question is certainly a legitimate one so I have no problem with the paper posing the inquiry. What made me chuckle was the responses from the 2,462 individuals who participated as of this morning.
–68 percent blamed Dunn himself
–24 percent pointed to GM Kenny Williams, who signed the slugger
–4 percent said skipper Ozzie Guillen
–4 percent said Greg Walker
I don’t know if you agree, but how can only 68 percent blame Dunn himself? I know that nothing is black and white and I can see small percentages for Guillen and Walker if you are so inclined to believe they have had a negative effect. And even though he thought he was getting a proven 40 homer, 100 RBI man, I can see why some blame Williams. But to me, the percentages are way off.
Here’s the way I think it should measure up:
–Dunn: 90 percent…he’s the one who has been unable to hit and has given new meaning to the phrases “mental block” and “being out of shape.”
–Williams: 10 percent…He made the right move, but the player didn’t deliver…Why am I giving him any blame at all? It’s a token gesture since he was the architect of the signing.
–Walker: 0 percent…he’s a hitting coach, not a shrink.
–Guillen: 0 percent…No manager could have been more patient. He played Dunn in an effort to get him out of his doldrums, played him at first in case his inexperience at DH was the problem and rested him when he thought it was prudent. And I don’t buy the argument that Ozzie should have benched Dunn early and often. The hope was that he would turn it around and he couldn’t do that from a seat on the bench. Whether the Big Donkey was in the lineup or sitting next to the skipper in the dugout, the truth is that we were going nowhere without him hitting.
Yesterday’s blog featured a photo that included Monday night heroes A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Sergio Santos celebrating after the game. Also in the photo was Brent Morel, who went 0 for 4 and committed what could have been a fatal fielding error if the Sox hadn’t rallied to win.
What a difference a day makes. Last night, Morel bounced back and was at the center of the offense as the Sox won their fifth in a row, 4-3. He drove in the Sox’s second run in the second inning with a single and homered in the fourth to widen the Pale Hose lead to 4-0.
While Morel’s bat, along with Carlos Quentin‘s 24th homer and Pierzynski’s RBI double, paced the attack, it was the shutdown bullpen that was most impressive as it held the O’s to only the three runs they scored off starter Gavin Floyd in the fifth. Granted, the pen hasn’t been perfect as evidenced by Jesse Crain surrendering the three-run homer to J.J. Hardy on Monday. But the talent and versatility that Ozzie has at his disposal gives the Sox an advantage over most of their opponents.
Here was last night’s scenario:
* Despite showing signs of tiring, Floyd began the seventh. He gave up a double to Felix Pie, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Floyd then retired the red-hot J.J. Hardy on a grounder to third. Two outs, runner on third, Sox killer Nick Markakis at the plate. Ozzie makes the call to the pen and lefty Will Ohman ends the threat by striking out Markakis.
* Jason Frasor came on to start the eighth. He walked Adam Jones and struck out Vlad Guerrero. With the lefty Chris Davis coming up, Ozzie called on Chris Sale, who retired Davis on a popup and then struck out Mark Reynolds.
* Instead of calling on Santos to begin the ninth, the skipper chose to have Sale face switch-hitter Matt Wieters. He struck him out. With the Orioles opting to call on Josh Bell to pinch-hit for lefty Felix Pie against Sale, Ozzie decided to stay with his lefthander. Bell grounded out to shortstop. Two outs, nobody on.
*Making his final move, Ozzie then called on Santos to face righthanded hitter Robert Andino and he proceeded to strike him out, the way he did with the three batters he faced the night before. For Santos, save number 24.
And at the risk of burying the lead, the Indians extra-inning win over the Tigers helped the Sox narrow the Detroit lead to four games. A win tonight and the Sox are back at the .500, something we doubted might happen again this season after last week’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.
Headline: White Sox shut out Indians, 3-0.
Last night’s game began like so many others as the Sox stranded seven runners in the first three innings. Witnessing that familiar phenomenon, it was a “throw up your hands in disgust” moment for me, especially since it appeared that Ozzie’s rant in Kansas City had absolutely no effect on the troops.
But the South Siders overcame the slow start out of the blocks with a second straight post-All-Star Game gem by Gavin Floyd and a three-run homer by Carlos Quentin to go 4-3 on the road trip.
The win is certainly cause for cautious optimism, but not celebration–yet. There’s still two more games in Cleveland, then a stretch where the Sox will host the Tigers (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees (4) before heading to Minnesota (3). And our offense is still far from clicking. Case in point: Quentin, with three, has the only Sox homers since the break.
Where do we go from here? One day at a time.
I wrote yesterday that unless there was something new to write about, I would wait until there was.
My hope was that I could blog today about the start of a Sox turnaround. As we all know, that didn’t happen last night as the Sox dropped a disheartening 2-1, 11-inning decision to the Royals–but something fresh and new did occur. There are a whole slew of critical comments from Ozzie, many of which reflect the disappointment and and frustration of White Sox Nation.
Here’s a sampling:
* “(Bleeping) pathetic. No (bleeping) energy. We just go by the motions. We take the day off instead of (Thursday).”
* “One day we’re good, three days we’re bad. We don’t have energy in the dugout. A horse (bleep) approach at the plate for the 90th time.”
* “If we go to Cleveland and play the way we did in Kansas City, it’s going to be a (bleeping), dead-(bleep) July. That’s very bad. We’re wasting our money on this club if we go to Cleveland the way we were here.”
* “That’s the team we have all year long. I talk (trash) because what I see. That’s all is see. Nothing against the Kansas City pitching staff. The way we go about our business here, horse (bleep).
I think you get the picture.