While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
In the wake of Ozzie Guillen's final game at the helm of the White Sox, let's take a look at a snapshot of the skipper in happier, World Series-winning days, which originally ran as a "Playoff Prospectus" article on October 6, 2005.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must preface what I'm about to say with the admission that I do not like the Chicago White Sox.
No, let's try that again. I loathe the White Sox. Despise them. Can't stand them. It's a hatred that was forged in the late '80s and early '90s, when Hawk Harrelson divided the baseball world into good guys and bad guys (and I rooted for the bad guys), when a team named for the color of snow decided to make their dominant color the color of pitch. Everyone needs a rival to hate, and for me that was the team in Chicago that played in a ballpark named after a skinflint, a ballpark they replaced with a new one that was hopelessly outdated barely a year after it opened.
If it was possible to hate them any more than I already did, I hate them even more in the Ozzie Guillen era. They now have a manager even more annoying than their TV announcer, a manager who seems to perpetually be one pointed question away from starting a fistfight in a press conference. During this season, a local sports-radio station started challenging its listeners to identify an audio clip they would run. Listeners would have to determine the voice in the clip: Guillen, or Tony Montana from "Scarface".
Let's put it this way: I can envision an ALCS scenario in which I wind up rooting for the Yankees…and then take a nice, long Clorox shower.
I do not like the White Sox, but I respect them. Guillen might give me hives, but he sure knows how to run a pitching staff.
For proof, look no further than yesterday's ALDS Game Two. On the basis of one big inning and one horrible defensive gaffe, the White Sox entered the eighth inning clinging to a 5-4 lead. Guillen had a number of options to choose from as the Red Sox came to the plate. He could stick with
Instead, he used a tactic straight out of a bygone era, an era more associated with Winning Ugly than Moneyball. He didn't bring the game to a screeching halt while shuffling through half a dozen relievers to get the platoon edge three times. He brought in his closer in the eighth inning, and he rode his closer for six outs, two scoreless innings…and one win.
That was admirable enough in itself, although not wholly unprecedented in modern postseason history, thanks to Joe Torre and his intrepid use of
At the end of the 2004 season,
But Guillen is nothing if not fearless, and he had absolutely no fear in making Jenks–with barely two months of major league experience to his name–his closer down the stretch when
One of these years the notion that closers are born and not made will finally be exposed as the silly canard that it is. Bobby Jenks was not born a closer. His ability to nail down a one-run lead in October was not forged by years of experience. He did not bring the White Sox within a game of their first playoff series win in 88 years because he wears a magical "C" on his back.
Bobby Jenks isn't a good closer because he has that special fire in his stomach that allows him to pitch the ninth inning when men of lesser fortitude would fail. He's a good closer because he's a good reliever, and because he has a manager who decided he should pitch the ninth inning. And last night, the eighth.
Even some of the closers who we think of as indelibly linked to the notion of the closer as a unique entity were themselves questioned at one time as to whether they had the requisite moral fiber for the job. You can't name a pitcher who has benefited more from the magical aura surrounding closers than
So give the Ozzeroo his props. Unless you want to, ahem, say hello to his little friend.