When asked about Viciedo's impending promotion, Ozzie Guillen responded with a mock-enthusiastic, "We're in a pennant race!"
You can see his sarcasm in full bloom 20 seconds into this video:
I hated the line when I saw it come across Twitter. I hated it a little less when I saw it on video, because Guillen truly delivered the hell out of it. If this were 2004, with the Sox 10 games out due to major injuries and circumstances beyond Guillen's control, I would've laughed out loud.
Instead, it's insulting to people who sank money into this enterprise. Once again, the White Sox remain blissfully unaware -- at least to we the unwashed masses -- of how poorly they have handled this season. Had Guillen and the Sox promoted Viciedo six weeks earlier, after his service time became only a very minor issue and before his thumb flared up, they might still be in a pennant race. Instead, we're left to wonder whether the Sox have truly any idea how horrible Alex Rios and Adam Dunn have been. Since it took an injury to Quentin to force the Sox to resort to Viciedo, I'm not optimistic.
Either that, or nobody cares.
It's growing increasingly difficult to rule that out, because Guillen and Kenny Williams have painted themselves into a corner. Based on the events of the season and most of Guillen's quotes about Viciedo, their reputations are on the line. They basically have to hope that Viciedo falls flat on his face in order for White Sox decision-makers to save theirs.
If Viciedo hits in the low .200s and walrus-flops into a strikeout-laden slump, they can point to the stats and say that he wasn't ready. That won't help the greater good, but Pyrrhic victories are the official win of the 2011 White Sox.
On the other hand, if Jackin' Dayan thrashes and bashes a .900+ OPS from his first at-bat, White Sox management will look mighty stupid. Whether that's due to player evaluation or Guillen-Williams Syndrome (a.k.a. organizational chicken) is immaterial.
Guillen prepared everybody for the former outcome. Viciedo will face Michael Pineda later today, and Brett Ballantini tweeted that Guillen found this funny, "chortling" with overtones of "good luck with that." Now, Pineda has talent. He also has a 6.20 ERA since the start of July, and the Sox beat him earlier this year. Nevertheless, he receives the Johan Santana treatment. Leader of men, that Ozzie.
This all gives us extra incentive to root for Viciedo, but it isn't exactly becoming of a franchise when successes must be framed against failures in order to really pop. Viciedo needs to show up the brain trust in the same fashion that Alejandro De Aza has to play circles around Rios, or Brent Lillibridge has to play David to Dunn's Goliath (he couldn't catch up to high, hard stuff either). It's a sick kind of exacta bet that requires one horse to win, and the other to not finish.
That might be the game Guillen and Williams are playing with each other, angling for position in an attempt to send the other to the glue factory. One of them could very well survive, but onlookers will be mortified, regardless.