The 2011 White Sox in a nutshell: just when it appears they've reached the precipice of sunnier days, or at least calmer ones, their manager goes out of his way to ruin it. OK, so maybe that assessment is a tad harsh for a historically solid manager like Guillen, but damn if the way this season has unfolded doesn't warrant such thoughts.
Guillen's supernatural touch of doom has afflicted the Sox since early summer, when a slow start began to turn into a full season stuck in neutral. It isn't unreasonable to believe Guillen's worst moments (see: Viciedo, Dayan) prevented the team from being in serious contention for the division crown. Even as the Sox make a vague and likely fruitless playoff push as the calendars turn to September, here stands Guillen, still doing seemingly whatever it takes to destroy any positive vibes his team has built up. Unfortunately, it appears the theme will endure until the very end.
Let's begin with Ozzie's words before Tuesday's 8-6 win over Minnesota put Chicago a season-high three games over .500. Somehow, Guillen still found a way to generate poisonous headlines the next morning by taking the media's bait on a question about his contract situation after this season. From CSN Chicago:
"I’m not going to be back here for a one-year contract [without knowing] what to do next year," Guillen said before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins. "Eight years with this organization, I’m guessing I — we — did a pretty good job. The players did it for me. We deserve more than [a lame-duck contract]."
Agree or disagree with Guillen as you wish, but the answer -- and the small controversy it created -- was wholly unnecessary. It was facepalm inducing. And It makes you think: no one else could flip a six-game winning streak on its head quicker than Ozzie, at least this season.
The lunacy is hardly limited to open mic sessions. When Ozzie turned in his scorecard for the next day's series finale against Minnesota, it featured two highly-questionable decisions.
1. Playing Alex Rios over Alejandro De Aza in centerfield.
2. Hitting Rios fourth.
Need to know how bad Rios has been this year? His .570 OPS is actually lower than Adam Dunn's, he the owner of the lowest batting average Major League Baseball has seen since the Dead Ball Era. Rios is terrible -- three steps below replacement level -- and has only caught a bit of a break from fans and media because of the historic ineptitude Dunn has provided in his first year in Chicago. And, oh yeah, de Aza was the hero of Tuesday night, driving in four runs.
And as for hitting Rios, baseball's most hopeless hitter -- no hyperbole -- in the cleanup spot? Only Ozzie, man. Only Ozzie. While Rios would go on to drive in a run on a 1-for-5 day, he also struck out looking to end the game. This while Viciedo churned out two more hits to *drop* his average to .538 and de Aza doubled in his lone plate appearance as a pinch hitter. Or, as J.J. put it at Beer Leaguer:
No sane manager in baseball would bat his worst hitter, the worst hitter in the game, fourth when they're trying to close a five, now six-game deficit
Given some of the decisions Ozzie has made this season, 'sane' seems debatable.