Monday, September 24, 2012

Not sure who gets to “championship” level first – Guillen or Ventura

I’m starting to wonder if the Chicago White Sox are determined to make me look like a “genius” when it comes to baseball prognostication.

For I’m the guy who used this very weblog last November to predict that Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen would have a championship-level ballclub before either Chicago team would.

THE CHICAGO CUBS have done their part to make me look like I know what I’m talking about. But it has been the White Sox who threatened to make me look bad.

For while the Marlins are in last place in their division, and there is speculation in Miami that Guillen could lose his job at season’s end because of the dismal performance, the White Sox are in a pennant race.

Sort of!

I don’t know what to make of this ballclub that seems absolutely determined to throw away what could be a playoff-bound team and turn itself into a second-place team that nobody will remember.

AND NO, WHITE Sox fans aren’t like those of the Cubs. Nobody will remember 2012 with the same “aura” that Cubs fans think the 1969 team deserves for collapsing in September to the New York Mets.

This was literally a team that managed to go from a 3-game lead over the Detroit Tigers one week ago Monday to a team that is on the brink of baseball destruction -- they've literally lost their last five ball games.

A 3-game lead with 2 ½ weeks in the regular season to go ought to be safe. It ought to be a case of just running out the clock, so to speak. Just keep playing winning ball.

Which certainly didn’t happen this weekend with the White Sox this weekend in Anaheim, Calif., with the Los Angeles Angels showing why they still deserve to be thought of as contenders in their division while the White Sox have us scratching our heads wondering, “Wha’ happened?”

TWICE THIS SEASON, the Tigers have managed to “catch” the White Sox and tie them, only to have the White Sox suddenly surge back into the lead. Could the third time be “the charm” for Detroit? Or do the White Sox really have what it takes to put Guillen’s spirit in their past?

The only reason Detroit isn’t in first place all by themselves right now is because the Minnesota Twins managed to whomp on the Tigers in the first of two games they played Sunday, then pull off a second victory in extra innings. Thank the almighty for the Twins that the White Sox can claim to have a one-game lead over the Tigers.

My prediction would turn out to be completely wrong if the White Sox win their division this season, while the Marlins lose so badly and Guillen winds up having to take the blame for a dismal season (which really shouldn’t be blamed on him, but will be anyway).

I make that latter comment not because I’m an Ozzie-apologist, but because I comprehend the scattershot approach to baseball often taken by the Marlins’ organization.

THIS IS THE team that employed one-time Chicago Cub catcher Joe Girardi as their manager for a season and he did well enough to be National League manager of the year. Yet he got fired for displeasing owner Jeffrey Loria – the same man who now is looking for someone to blame for the crummy ballclub that likely turned off people from wanting to visit their new stadium.

And as for those who will want to claim that Guillen will be gone because of what he said earlier this season about Fidel Castro, that’s nonsense. A 66-87 won-loss record as of Sunday is more significant than anything else. It’s the old baseball adage proven true – you’re only as smart as your batting average (or earned run average, or winning percentage).

But what about the White Sox and if they manage to fall short this season?

One-time third baseman-turned-manager Robin Ventura will be back in 2013 regardless of what happens – although many of the veteran ballplayers likely will be let go as part of a cost-cutting/youth movement.

WHICH COULD COMPLICATE Ventura’s chances of overseeing a winning ballclub in future seasons. This season may well turn out to be Ventura’s best chance of turning his White Sox stint into a winning ballclub.

That makes me wonder if there’s still a chance my 2011 post-season prediction can come true!

For Joe Girardi went on to manage the New York Yankees, who won a World Series title under his leadership in 2009 and remains the head of a perennially-contending ballclub.

Could Guillen wind up going somewhere else and leading that team to a championship before the White Sox can finally get their act together for an entire season – instead of five-sixths of one like they seem to want to do in 2012?


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